Beer Scout: Pisgah’s 10th, a new big beer festival and more

CHEERS FOR 10 YEARS: Pisgah's Benton Wharton, Ron Ingalls, Matt Gordan, Gaines Myer and Dave Quinn gear up for the brewery's 10th anniversary celebrations. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

With Pisgah Pale flowing just about everywhere around town and with an always-busy stage in addition to its popular taproom in Black Mountain, Pisgah Brewing Co. is certainly a local institution. It seems like it’s been around forever.

Yet 2015 marks the company’s 10th anniversary, says public relations director Benton Wharton. In fact, we’re not quite there yet: He says the company sold its first keg — to Barley’s Taproom — on April 13, 2005.

This year, Pisgah plans to kick off a celebration on the same day with a Pisgah Brewing night at Barley’s. Then pint nights will follow to commemorate the first keg sales to other long-standing Asheville pubs and restaurants: April 14 at Mellow Mushroom, April 15 at Westville Pub and April 16 at Thirsty Monk downtown.

The week will wrap up with a big party at the brewery’s outdoor stage on April 19, with live music from Leftover Salmon featuring Bill Payne, Pimps of Joytime, Dead 27s, and The Travers Brothership. The doors open at 2 p.m. and tickets will be $10 — in honor of Pisgah’s 10th anniversary, of course.

While April kicks things off, Pisgah will continue to celebrate the rest of the year with 10 special collaboration beers. It will team up with breweries in Asheville and across the Carolinas — everyone from Burial Beer and Hi-Wire to Holy City and Fonta Flora. It’s also going as local as it gets and brewing one with Asheville’s own MALT homebrew club.

Sierra Nevada to host new Burly Beer and Barleywine Fest

The N.C. Brewers Guild is partnering with Sierra Nevada on a new winter festival that’s all about the biggest of beers. Fifty breweries from across the country will bring their best strong ales, and specifically barleywines, to the brewery’s Mills River location (100 Sierra Nevada Way) on Saturday, March 28. The festival will run from noon-4 pm.

As with Sierra Nevada’s last large festival, this one will have free shuttles running from Pack Place downtown. Unlike the last big event, which featured food trucks, this one will include some of the first dishes to come out of the Sierra Nevada taproom and restaurant. The brewery says to expect beer-inspired and Southern fare, including beer pimento cheese with pretzels, pork belly, buttermilk biscuits and more. There will also be live music, though the band or bands have yet to be announced.

Tickets are $65 for general admission and $30 for designated drivers. Proceeds will benefit the N.C. Brewers Guild. Find tickets online at sierranevada.ticketleap.com/burly-beers

Get ready for Gubna

The yearly release of Oskar Blues’ biggest IPA is just around the corner. The beer, which features different hops every year, will be released nationwide. However, the big release party for the East Coast will be at the Brevard brewery and taproom on Saturday, March 7, starting at 5 p.m.

Oskar Blues will have special versions of the beer on tap, including brandy-barrel aged and cask-conditioned Gubna. The night will also include live music from Darby Wilcox and the Peep Show, food from the CHUBwagon food truck and a giant Nintendo 64 set up on the patio. (So shake off that Mario Kart rust before you head down.)

Highland’s new symphonic beer

Highland Brewing Co. is keeping busy on the small-batch beer front, with new beers debuting just about every week. It’s also planning a variety of new bottle releases this year, including one brewed in partnership with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra to celebrate the Asheville Amadeus Festival.

The beer, a crisp and light-bodied Vienna-style lager, will be called Wolfgang 1756 Symphony Lager. The festival, to be held Saturday, March 14, to Sunday, March 22, at various venues around town, strives to make classical music accessible. (See all the events at: ashevillesymphony.org/asheville-amadeus.)

The brewery officially kicks off the festival with a free event at Highland on Saturday, March 14, at 7 p.m. Pints and bottles of the beer will be sold along with special Asheville Symphony Orchestra pint glasses and gift boxes, with proceeds from the glassware donated to the orchestra. Sirius B will provide the live music.

Lookout for St. Patrick’s Day

While not many breweries had announced St. Patrick’s Day plans at the time of writing, Lookout Brewing Co. in Black Mountain is planning a special release. Owner and brewer John Garcia is brewing an Irish red ale and says the brewery will offer a special stein glass as well.

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About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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