Despite heavy rain, a good number of local beer enthusiasts turned out for Just Economics of WNC’s annual Just Brew It homebrew festival on May 26. Moved from the original Wedge Brewing Co. to the brewery’s Foundation location, increased parking and space for additional amateur beer-makers encouraged a larger event, though the weather forecast somewhat limited the turnout. And once the sky opened up, sardine-tight conditions beneath the minimal available shelter and rapidly-growing mini-ponds from inadequate drainage in the walking paths led to more than a few early exits.
Those who braved the elements were treated to the usual high-quality offerings from some of the area’s top homebrewers. Options included numerous new creations alongside such returning award-winning favorites as Aaron Fish’s Crunchy Crunchy Carrots double brown ale — the 2016 People’s Choice winner, made with rainbow carrots, Madagascar vanilla beans, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar — and Jesse Helm’s and Tyler Perry’s Coffee Table dark English session ale, which took home Xpress’ inaugural King or Queen of the Mountain prize the same year.
The 2018 winner of the Xpress award, chosen by Tony Kiss and this writer, went to Erich Seigler, Brent Kilby and Heather Gillespie for Don’t Build a Wall Mexican Lager (5.12 percent ABV). An excellent representation of the style and a refreshing antidote to the day’s initial warm weather, the beer earned extra points for being served with a tiny lime wedge on each tasting glass. Don’t Build a Wall also won second place in the People’s Choice voting. A complete list of winners is available below:
- People’s Choice 1st place- Janeen Hulbert with “Chaga Coffee Stout”
- People’s Choice 2nd place- Erich Seigler, Brent Kilby & Heather Gillespie with “Don’t Build a Wall Mexican Lager”
- Hi-Wire Collaborative Brew- Justin Breitzke with “Barrel Aged Chocolate Dessert”
- Asheville Brewer’s Supply Best IPA- David Maida with “Return of the Sanders Episode VI”
- Hole Best Beer to Pair with a Donut- Janeen Hulbert with “Chaga Coffee Stout”
- Urban Orchard Best Local Ingredient- Janeen Hulbert with “Pineapple Sage”
- Peridot Consulting Best Name Award- Fermented Nonsense Brewing (Josh Austin & Matt Vaughn) with “Count Chocula’s Coconuts”
- Wedge Brewing Award- Erin Fletchers & Forrest Samuels with “Local Red Hen Cider”
- JE Most Spirited Award- Chris Hilgar, Andrew Clement, Robb McAdams & Michael Schattschneider
- Mountain Xpress Media Award- Erich Seigler, Brent Kilby & Heather Gillespie with “Don’t Build a Wall Mexican Lager”
- WLOS Media Award (Rob Bradley)- Faw-Keen Brewing (Rich Keen & Faith Faw) with “Venomous Sour Blonde”