Beer Scout: WNC beer industry notables reflect on 2017

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Zillicoah Beer Co. opened Oct. 20 on Riverside Drive and quickly won over fans, including fellow brewers. The Hillman Beer team singles out Zillicoah's Patersbier as one of 2017's top new local brews. Zillicoah Beer Co.

Beer Scout asked representatives of Western North Carolina breweries to reflect on 2017. Here’s what they said:

Hillman Beer team

Favorite new Asheville-area beer from 2017: A tough question, but our top two are from Homeplace Beer Co. and Zillicoah Beer Co. Homeplace is in Burnsville, started by local brewer John Silver. Their Golden Heart Lager is clean and classic, easy drinking. Zillicoah just opened and its Patersbier really caught our attention for being an unusual style with good body and Belgian flavors.

Favorite new beer from 2017 not made in Asheville: [That] would be from Currahee Brewing Co. in Franklin — the Frankenstark. Not totally sure if this was released in 2017, but we just discovered it at a festival. It is a Belgian[-style] Golden Strong, so smooth with delicious aroma and flavor.

Favorite beer-related moment or local industry accomplishment from 2017: [It] would have to be us winning bronze at Great American Beer Festival for our Belgian[-style] Quad, Four Fat Baby. It was so exciting and overwhelming after only being open five months. The other exciting industry event in 2017 would be the first annual Bier de Femme festival that was in Shelby, N.C., organized by Pink Boots Society to celebrate women in beer. The second festival will be March 3, 2018, 1-6 p.m. at Raleigh Beer Garden.

L.A. McCrae, Black Star Line Brewing Co., founder and CEO

Favorite new Asheville-area beer from 2017: Rock of Love [IPA] and Dinde [Saison] by Sanctuary Brewing Co. We love mixing the two of these for a delicious, juicy brew. It’s refreshing, delicious, well-balanced and easily approachable.

Favorite new beer from 2017 not made in Asheville: Flying V by Peabody Heights [Brewery] in Baltimore, Md. This is a super awesome IPA that is smooth, citrusy, complex and a really great mix of hops.

Favorite beer-related moment or local industry accomplishment from 2017: Kendra Penland, the director of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, taking a stance against ICE deportations and holding us industry folks accountable for our responsibility to be involved in creating a more inclusive community for all people.

Tim Schaller, Wedge Brewing Co., owner

Favorite new Asheville-area beer from 2017: Sierra Nevada [Brewing Co.], Hoptimum Triple IPA. Sierra Nevada continues to push the boundaries of hops-forward IPAs.

Favorite new beer from 2017 not made in Asheville: Firestone Walker [Brewing Co.]’s Adversus, a huge unfiltered double IPA that was released in four-packs earlier this year. One of my all-time favorite breweries, brewmaster Matt Brynildson was on the [Sierra Nevada] Beer Camp bus with us. All I wish is that Asheville had access to Firestone Walker.

Favorite beer-related moment or local industry accomplishment from 2017: The gold medal from the [Great American Beer Festival]. We knew [Marzen] was a Gold Medal beer when we drank the first pint. [Wedge brewer Carl Melissas is] one of the best lager brewers in the country.

Zillicoah Beer Co. team

Favorite new Asheville-area beer from 2017: Culture Keepers Festbier [Lager], collaboration between Burial Beer Co. and Creature Comforts [Brewing Co.]. Simply put, they crushed it for the style. Malty. Biscuity. Just excellent.

Favorite new beer from 2017 not made in Asheville: Mutualism, collaboration between Jester King [Brewery] and Creature Comforts. This is actually a 2016 beer, but we got our hands on it mid-2017, and it blew us away. It’s a farmhouse lager, which is a direction we’ve talked about exploring for a while now, and it was just incredibly done. The Jester King and Creature Comforts teams blended their house-mixed cultures to inoculate a base pilsner, and honestly, with those two breweries working together, not much more needs to be said.

Favorite beer-related moment or local industry accomplishment from 2017: Our soft opening on Oct. 20. [The date] marked a tangible realization of a 12-year dream for our co-founders [John Parks, Jeremy Chassner and Jonathan Chassner]. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but the beer community did not disappoint. People showed up in droves, and most importantly, we received overwhelming positive feedback about our beers, our space and our concept. Seeing people with our product in hand was everything to us and continues to be.

About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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