BEER SCOUT: The tidings of fall

SIX-PACK STYLE: In partnership with Asheville's Custom Packaging, Hi-Wire Brewing designed a new style of six-pack holder for its seasonal beers. Photo by Max Cooper.

Seasonal beers are nothing new for Asheville breweries. Summer is better with a Green Man Summer Ale. Fall isn’t fall without a pint of French Broad’s Zepptemberfest. And of course, many anxiously await winter for the arrival of Highland Brewery’s Cold Mountain.

But for breweries that bottle six-packs, seasonals often present a challenge. "Putting beer into 12-ounce bottles is expensive," says Adam Charnack, part-owner of Hi-Wire Brewing. "Aside from label and bottle costs, six-pack carriers for each individual style are extremely time-consuming and expensive to make. Plus, the limited quantities of each seasonal style make economies of scale hard to achieve."

So Hi-Wire has come up with a solution. In partnership with Asheville's Custom Packaging, they’ve designed a new style of six-pack holder. Thanks to strategically placed cut-out windows, the labels of the beer inside do the heavy lifting, allowing Hi-Wire to use the same holders for seasonals year-round.

The first Hi-Wire beer to appear in six packs will be Strongman Stout, the coffee-milk stout that impressed patrons at their pre-opening back in June. In the spirit of the beer, Hi-Wire will be celebrating with a Strongman Stout Breakfast event at the brewery on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Wicked Weed Brings Home the Gold

The Oct. 10-12 Great American Beer Festival is the Olympics of American craft beer. Breweries from coast to coast bring their best beers, with 4,809 entries across 138 different styles, ranging from American-style India Pale Ales to Leipzig-style Goses. While a few Asheville breweries have medaled before (in 2008, Highland Brewing brought home the silver for its Black Mocha Stout, and in 2011, the LAB brought home the bronze for its Brown Porter), no Asheville brewery has ever gone gold. Until now.

Wicked Weed beat out heavy favorites Russian River Brewing and Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project to win the top award for the American-Style Brett Beer category. For the uninitiated, Brett stands for Brettanomyces, a wild yeast that has been increasing in popularity with American brewers. Congratulations also go to Olde Hickory Brewery, Mother Earth Brewing and Carolina Brewery, the three other North Carolina breweries to bring home medals.

Asheville Brewers’ Alliance Cuts the Cold

With the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau being impacted by the recent government shutdown, many local breweries are feeling the effects. Still, the Asheville Brewers’ Alliance realized that an empty oil tank is much worse than an empty pint glass. “The effects [of the government shutdown] are hitting some of our Western North Carolina citizens. …Life-sustaining programs, like heating-oil subsidies, are among the initiatives that have been stopped,” says John Lyda, ABA president.

On Oct. 13, the ABA made a $1,000 contribution to Eblen Charities' Energy Assistance initiative, which helps cut heating costs for families in need. The gift was matched through the Eblen/WCQS “Cut the Cold Challenge” Program, bringing a total of $2,000 to the cause.

To find out more and make a donation that could be matched, visit the WCQS website at

Osktoberfest Returns

Last year, Oskar Blues held its first-ever Osktoberfest in downtown Brevard. It was a German-festival-meets-Halloween affair, as many attendees came from Brevard’s annual Halloweenfest, which took place earlier in the day. This year, they’re at it again, so expect plenty of locally made bratwurst and beer, along with live music, all down on East Main Street. The event runs 6-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, but you can always go early and check out Brevard Brewing, where head brewer Kyle Williams will likely have his own Oktoberfest, and many other well-made lagers, on tap.


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