Asheville Brewing Co.’s head brewer, Doug Riley, has been making beer at the company’s Merrimon Avenue location since it first opened in December 1997 as Two Moons Brew-N-View. In January 1999, Asheville Pizza took over the business and rebranded it to become Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co., which later expanded to include locations on Coxe Avenue and Hendersonville Road.
Soon, the Merrimon Avenue facility will brew its final beers, and Asheville Brewing will consolidate its brewing equipment downtown at the Coxe Avenue store.
The removal of the brewing equipment will allow for a new walk-in cooler and allow for more keg storage at Merrimon Avenue — up until now, storage has been upstairs at the facility.
“It’s exciting,” Riley says of the move. “Just to have everything under one roof so that we can produce more beer.”
Asheville Brewing released the first Farewell to the Mothership beer on Oct. 1, as part of a going-away celebration for the Merrimon brewing location. Farewell to the Mothership, Part One, is only the second sour beer the brewery has ever produced, and it was made without lactobacillus, the bacteria traditionally used for souring beers.
Instead, Riley used Greek yogurt.
“It’s something people in the Pacific Northwest have been doing for a long time,” he notes. Not to mention, it’s significantly less expensive than purchasing lactobacillus in large quantities.
Asheville Brewing has been ramping up its production of unique, small-batch beers for quite some time now, and the consolidation of all the equipment will help a lot with how much his team can do, Riley says.
“We’re trying to keep up with the trends and keep up with the beer drinkers,” he says. “Give them something new all the time so it’s not just the same beers that they can get anywhere else.
“We can age some more stuff,” he adds. “We can age in barrels and do some blending. It’s going to create a lot more fun stuff and give us more room to do that. It’s exciting.”
Riley says Asheville Brewing is focusing more on pub sales than distribution right now but notes that the consolidation will allow the brewery to put more bottles out on the market as well.
Farewell to the Mothership, Part 2— a chocolate raspberry oatmeal stout spiced with ghost peppers — blasts off on Friday, Oct. 23, and will commemorate the last of the brewing operations at the Merrimon Avenue facility.
Depending on how long it takes to get the permits to move the equipment, Riley says he may end up doing another commemorative brew. “We don’t have permits yet, so we can’t start work,” he says. “It’s not really a big thing, but the city requires permits. It should be fairly quick.”
But if it takes longer, they’ll keep brewing at Merrimon and keep coming up with more interesting beers, he says.
Burnpile Harvest Festival
Last year, Burial Beer Co. hosted its inaugural Burnpile Harvest Festival at the beginning of November to complement its Saison Fest held in the springtime.
“We’ve always loved that season,” Burial’s Jess Reiser says. “Our namesake, Burial, and the farm tools [in our logo] lend themselves to really trying to bring awareness to farms and harvests.”
The event featured live music, and dozens of different beers from more than 20 North Carolina breweries.
Then, of course, it snowed.
“We still had an amazing turnout though,” Reiser says. “But this time we’ll have the back patio enclosed, so there will be more heated space — just in case the weather turns awful again.
“We’ve had like three outdoor events where it’s been sunny and amazing,” she adds. “We’re due for bad weather.”
Burnpile returns this year — bigger, better and hopefully warmer — at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. More than 35 beers from 30 different North Carolina breweries will be represented throughout the day, showcasing a wide variety of brews, including Burial’s own Slasher Sweet Potato Porter.
“What we really encourage is that they are either brewing a beer that is traditionally released in the fall — like a Märzen or an Oktoberfest — or a beer that is seasonally inspired,” Reiser says, mentioning everything from pumpkins, yams and apples to spices like nutmeg and vanilla.
“That gives it a range,” she says. “Although it has a theme to it, the breweries and people can get a range of things from stouts to IPA — all kinds of seasonally inspired beers.”
Beers will rotate in waves in the main bar, patio bar and lower beer garden.
Entry to Burnpile is $4, including a 5-ounce commemorative glass. Tokens for pours are $2 each. Salt & Smoke will serve a harvest feast 2-8 p.m. in the lower beer garden, and live music from Rich People, Camp David and Nest Egg begins at 5 p.m. For more on the festival, visit burialbeer.com.