Beer Scout: Behind the Big Top at Hi-Wire Brewing

A few weeks ago, you might have been talking to Chris Frosaker or Matt Kiger about your asthma inhaler. Or maybe your birth control. But starting in June, these two pharmacists will be dispensing something very different. Together with their friend and business partner Adam Charnack, they’re launching Hi-Wire Brewing.

It all started shortly after Craggie closed its garage door for the last time. “We all live in Asheville and we love it here. We’re never going to live anywhere else,” says Frosaker. “Then we found one of the closest locations to downtown for a brewery, and it already had equipment in place … a light bulb went off in our heads.”

The lightbulb moment came thanks to the hobby all three owners share: homebrewing. While Charnack has been at it for just three years, Kiger has an impressive 15 years behind him. Yet the group knows that there’s a big difference between the backyard set-up and a pro-level one, so they hired a couple brewers who are very familiar with the equipment; both Luke Colgate and Nick Alwon-Mount were assistant brewers at Craggie. Now they will create Hi-Wire beers, with Colgate taking the lead as Head Brewer.

“What it comes down to is we could have bought equipment and set-up somewhere else and we still would have hired these guys,” says Kiger. “We really like their beer and we’re fortunate to keep them as part of the Asheville beer scene…and they’re coming up with all new recipes. We’re not going to revamp, retool or reuse any recipes from before [at Craggie].”

So what exactly will make the Hi-Wire beers stand out? Well, the brewery plans to offer six-packs in addition to pints from the day they open — something almost unheard of for a fledgling brewery. “There’s just a huge gap of having readily available local beer out there in six packs. We want to try and fill that gap,” says Frosaker.

As for the taste of Hi-Wire, they’re keeping that somewhat under wraps a little longer. While they’re launching with four year-round beers, none were available to sample at the time of writing. Nevertheless, the brewers did their best to paint us a word picture:
Hi-Wire Lager (4.6 percent ABV): The guys seemed most excited by this one, noting that it’s the ideal beer for selling in six-packs. According to the owners, it’s going to be a “true American Lager…with a delicate body and light hop profile.”
Prime Time Pale Ale (5.5 percent ABV / 37 IBU): This one was described as, “A crisp and dry pale ale featuring Simcoe hops. It’s an easy drinker.”
Hi-Pitch IPA (6.7 percent ABV / 61 IBU): Hi-Wire called this their, “Western North Carolina take on a West Coast style IPA.” They promise lots of citrus hop aroma and a full body to balance the bitterness.
Bed of Nails Brown Ale (6.1 percent ABV): The brown ale is the only British-inspired beer in their core line up. They described it as “exploding with toffee and caramel flavor.”

In addition to the core offerings, Hi-Wire plans to rotate through “Side Show” seasonal offerings. A Hefeweizen will be the first in that series and they also mentioned a Café Con Leche stout, Imperial Red Rye, and Spring Ale were in the pipeline.

The grand opening of the brewery and tasting room will be at some point in June, but Hi-Wire beer will debut during Asheville Beer Week. The owners plan to serve the full lineup at Beer City Fest and the “Grand Premiere” of Hi-Wire will be the day before, May 31, at Thirsty Monk. At the Monk, they’ll bring the core lineup and a half-dozen small-batch beers dubbed “test seasonals.” Charnack says, “We encourage everyone to give us feedback on all our beers that night; we're really looking forward to it.”

Then, when the tasting room opens in June, they’ll be serving 16-ounce pints and a set of four 4-oz tasters as a flight. The price for both is expected to be $4. (Six-pack prices are not yet finalized.) No hours have been decided yet, nor has the food been finalized. They do hope to partner with food trucks in some way. As for entertainment, they say they will host some music eventually but not upon opening. They will have shuffleboard, foosball and “life-size Jenga” in the meantime. Charnack says they’ll also bring in some “old-school” video game systems as soon as they can.

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