AVL Beer Week for teetotalers: Nondrinking events dot the beer-heavy schedule

THE GIFT OF BEER: Those who want to take a break from Asheville Beer Week's full schedule of beer tastings and other drinking events can learn the art of brewing at Fifth Season Gardening Co. with instructor Kale Buffington, left, pictured with owner Mike Weeks. The 12-pack of IPA that participants take home at the end of the course can be saved for later or gifted to a friend. Photo by Cindy Kunst

When even the ice cream is made with beer, it’s understandable if nondrinkers feel left out of the AVL Beer Week fun. A closer look at the schedule, however, reveals multiple events that don’t involve consuming alcohol — including the aforementioned beer dessert event at The Hop 6-9 p.m. Friday, June 3, where nonbeer flavors will also be served.

One noteworthy educational opportunity takes place at the Thirsty Monk’s downtown bar 5-9 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, where women of the Western North Carolina beer industry and their work will be celebrated. Highland Brewing Co. head brewer Hollie Stephenson and quality control specialist Anna Sauls will be in attendance as well as Mia Pederson, founder of the Asheville chapter of Girls Pint Out, a national craft beer organization for women.

Thirsty Monk beer buyer Joanna Postlethwaite has also invited participants from Pink Boots Brew Day and International Women’s Collaboration Brew Day. She says it will be a casual celebration where attendees can hang out and chat with these local figures and that there will be a toast to women in the industry, during which either she or Stephenson will say a few words.

“In an industry that is still mostly considered ‘a man’s world,’ women are overcoming the stigma and making their mark as brewers, cellarwomen, quality control managers, packaging leads, salespeople, marketing managers and much more,” Postlethwaite says. “There are so many examples of strong leading ladies in Western North Carolina’s craft beer industry, and their stories are inspiring, not only to our local community of friends, family and craft beer lovers, but also to other women across the country and the world who are working towards and succeeding in making a difference in the industry.”

Those interested in emulating these influential women can sign up to brew their own IPA at Fifth Season Gardening Co. 1-3 p.m. Saturday, May 28. The class will be led by brew manager Jeremy Bruder, an experienced brewer and former teacher. In it, up to 20 participants will each make a gallon of Brewcraft Gigantic IPA, a 7.3 percent ABV citrusy, hoppy style that incorporates Magnum, Cascade, Centennial, Crystal and Simcoe hops. After the beer has fermented for two weeks in the store’s climate-controlled environment, brewers will be invited back to bottle up their creations in a 12-pack to take home (and perhaps gift to a loved one).

Fifth Season’s flagship class brews five times as much product and costs $130, but the special AVL Beer Week course goes for $24.99 and includes a pint of local craft beer — for which nondrinkers may substitute a San Pelligrino, specialty coffee or other beverage or donate to a friend. “The idea for this class was to offer something that would be at a lower price point and a chance to see just how good of a beer you can make from a kit without the commitment to five gallons,” says Kristin Weeks, community and media relations for Fifth Season.

And for a purely relaxing time, look no further than Highland’s rooftop patio grand opening 4-9 p.m. Friday, May 27. In addition to the industrial chic ambiance, the new spot offers expansive, 360-degree views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, from which marketing coordinator Molly McQuillan says Cold Mountain is visible on a clear day. Going forward, the rooftop patio will be open during normal operating hours and may also be reserved for private events, giving beer drinkers and teetotalers alike an enticing getaway throughout the year.

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com 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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