Unearthing Burial Beer

CHEERS: Burial Beer Co. co-owners Doug Reiser, left, Jessica Reiser and Tim Gormley, celebrate their brewery's opening in 2013. Photo by Max Cooper

Three Seattle transplants are behind Burial Beer. They chose a scythe for the logo and their website has a lot of black. But when they open their doors in late April or early May, don’t expect loud metal music and surly bartenders.

“If a group of bikers came in expecting that scene, they would probably be disappointed,” says Jess Reiser, one of the three Burial owners.

Instead, the group is trying to create a brewery very much in the spirit of Asheville. “We have a dream of opening a 15-barrel farmhouse brewery outside of the city,” says Jess. “But we’re starting small and close to downtown on purpose. We like the idea of meeting everyone and letting people see things come together step by step.”

When Jess says they will start small, she’s not kidding. The brewery is kicking things off with a one-barrel system at 40 Collier Avenue — that’s the same size Thirsty Monk just outgrew at Gerber Village. Doug Reiser, Jess’s husband and part-owner and co-brewer at Burial, sees an advantage to a modest kick-off. “We want to continue to develop and perfect our recipes [on the one-barrel system] based on feedback. By launching the pilot brewery first and really focusing on the beer, when we scale to 15 barrels we’ll be more confident in what we want to produce,” Doug says.

Starting in late April or early May, Burial will open their taproom around the corner from Greenman and the French Broad Chocolate Factory — complete with a patio out back. The three owners will be the ones pouring the beer. At first they will be there on Saturdays, with hours along the lines of noon to 7 p.m. As spring turns to summer, they hope to expand taproom hours. Pours will vary: 16-ounce mason jars will be the standard size for most beers, but they also plan to offer 7-ounce pours. A 32-ounce bomber will be the way to take beer to-go. Some assortment of light snacks will be offered, and, “partnering with food trucks is on the horizon,” according to Jess. 

Tim Gormley, also a part-owner, is the head brewer at Burial. He joins the company from Sound Brewery, a small but award-winning brewery just outside of Seattle. If you look through the beers brewed at Sound—an eclectic mix that skews toward style-bending Belgians—you may get an idea of what Burial has planned.

In their own words, Burial beers will include, “Traditional German lagers and Belgian ales, brewed with the same creativity as our bigger and bolder American styles.” For a better idea of what that means, the initial lineup as described by the brewers is [directional]. And it’s worth noting that after the frenzied opening period subsides, they eventually hope to produce much more. There are plans to release a farmhouse line of ales and lagers, including varied Saisons, Bière de Gardes and Rauchbiers. They also plan to brew seasonal high gravity beers, including recipes like, “a traditionally lagered Baltic Porter with juniper and a heavily dry-hopped Belgian Dark Strong,” according to Jess.

To stay up-to-date with their progress, including a grand opening party and Asheville Beer Week events, you can find Burial Beer at www.burialbeer.com and www.twitter.com/burialbeer

The Burial beers

Regular Rotation

N.C. Lager (5% ABV): A twist on the traditional German Helles. The only thing light about this beer is the golden color and effervescent body. With a sole addition of Noble hops, this well-conditional lager will have a lemon-fresh aroma and a sharp hay and whole grain bite.

Dark Lager (5% ABV): A tribute to the purest of German lagers: the Dunkel. This dark lager uses a blend of German and Asheville malts to magnify traditionally subtle chocolate and biscuit flavors while maintaining a dry, smooth finish. It’s a perfect blend of fresh, easy-drinking and complex.

Siberian Imperial Stout (10% ABV): A complete meal in a glass, with the balance to please any palate. A blend of roasted malts, oats, and cherrywood-smoked barley are combined with molasses and milk sugars throughout a long and vigorous boil. Great on its own, it is often blended with coffee and wood to add extra layers of complexity. 

Rye Pale Ale (6.5% ABV): The nose of a traditional IPA, with the incredible malt complexity of a European pale ale. We use a healthy dose of rye and Belgian crystal malts and dry hop with a pound per barrel of our favorite under-appreciated American hop. It’s not overly bitter, but you won’t forget the hops.

Amber Saison (6.5% ABV): Inspired by Burial’s future as a farmhouse brewery, this traditional Belgian farmhouse beer is extremely easy drinking with a mild yeast quality. Asheville kilned Pilsner and wheat meets Belgian crystal malt to forge a wonderfully sharp and rounded beer, while French farmhouse yeast imparts a subtle fruit aroma.

Oaked Honey Tripel (8.5% ABV): There is no greater challenge than trying to perfect this Trappist-style beer. We perfected our recipe by using local honey, 6-row malt, medium-charred French oak and a small dose of Citra hops. This beer is a flavor bomb that will please everyone from the casual beer drinker to the wine aficionado.

Grand opening special releases
Donut Stout (7.5% ABV): The perfect beer for your morning, it will remind you of a cup of coffee and a chocolate-glazed donut. All the flavors are there thanks to Riverbend Malt and Biltmore Coffee Traders.

Auckland Farmhouse (7% ABV): Our hoppiest beer utilizes only New Zealand hops over a malt backbone of locally kilned-barley and wheat. An added touch of spelt imparts a fresh, nutty flavor. This is what would happen if a West Coast IPA and a French Saison had a baby in New Zealand.

— Send beer news to avlbeerscout@gmail.com or @avlbeerscout on Twitter.

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