SWEET COUPLE: Catawba Brewing and French Broad Chocolate Lounge will marry the flavors of chocolate and beer at a five-course tasting on Friday, March 21. Photo by Nathan Metcalf

Highland announces major expansion

While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of new brewery openings, it’s also exciting to see that Asheville’s oldest craft brewery is not sitting still. According to Highland Brewing Vice President Leah Wong Ashburn, the company is gearing up for an expansion that could allow output to double as soon as it’s complete (from about 32,000 to 64,000 barrels). “About eight years ago we took a leap by moving from downtown to this facility. It's time for our next leap,” says Ashburn. “We're looking at [spending] $6.5 million, all of which will go into our existing facility — there are some rough edges and tons of potential. We'll revive some essentially abandoned space into productive space again. …The expansion will lead to jobs and the opportunity to be more efficient and sustainable.” If all goes according to plan, work would start this year and be completed in 2015.

Catawba + French Broad Tasting

Quite a few breweries around town have dabbled with making chocolate-infused stouts. A few have even collaborated with French Broad Chocolate Lounge. But on Friday, March 21, Catawba’s Asheville tasting room will take the marriage of chocolate and beer a step further with a paired chocolate and beer tasting. Crawford Rizor and Hannah Rechtschaffen of French Broad Chocolate Lounge will join Shelton Steele of Catawba for the five-course tasting. Steele says there will be plenty of diversity, from the expected malted milk chocolate and dark beer pairing to the more unusual. “Bubbie's Almond bar highlights the coriander and orange peel notes of our White Zombie [wit beer],” says Steele. “Lots of chocolate and beer research went into this lineup.”

The event is at 3 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Catawba Brewing’s tasting room, 63 Brooks St. Tickets are $15 per person, available at the tasting room or on

Pisgah Opens the Outdoor Stage

With the warm weather finally arriving, Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain is about to open its outdoor stage. The brewery is kicking things off with a free party for its ninth anniversary, featuring Pimps of Joytime, Dangermuffin, Chalwa, and more starting at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 26. Further out, Pisgah has Charles Bradley and the Extraordinaries with The Broadcast and Bright Light Social Hour on Thursday, May 8, and communications manager Benton Wharton says, “There is much more to come this summer.”

Wicked Weed’s Next Bottle Release

On Saturday, March 1, Wicked Weed released its first beer in bottles, the Great American Beer Festival award-winning Serenity golden ale. On Saturday, March 22, Wicked Weed will be at it again, but this time with a local favorite: Black Angel Cherry Sour Ale. This time, the doors open a little earlier at 11 a.m. However, at 10 a.m., the first 100 people in line will be invited inside for a VIP-only party. No matter what time you arrive or get in, the bottles will be limited to 12 per person. If you can’t make it, start planning for the next one. Wicked Weed has more bottle releases in the works for the coming weeks.

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