Carolina Beer Guy: Beer tasting goes virtual

VIRTUAL SIP: Blue Ridge Community College's brewing program will host a virtual beer tasting Jan. 29. This pre-pandemic photo, taken last year, shows students working with the school's three-barrel brewing systems. Masks are mandatory for current students. Photo courtesy Blue Ridge Community College

Beer events have gone flat for the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic and various regulations to control it have made public gatherings few and far between. But with some serious study, Blue Ridge Community College in Hendersonville has found a way around that. The school’s brewing program will host a virtual beer tasting event on Friday, Jan 29, at 7 p.m.

Three Henderson County breweries are taking part, all owned or managed by graduates of the brewing program. Triskelion Brewing is featuring its Firefly IPA, Oklawaha Brewing presents its Country Roads Marzen and Southern Appalachian Brewery has its Christmas Ale.

The tasting is a way to connect the public with area breweries who “have been struggling” with state-mandated pandemic restrictions, says Blue Ridge Community College brewing instructor and event host Bryan McMahan.

“In Asheville, you’ve got a brewing culture,” he continues. “In Hendersonville, there’s not quite that energy, and I want to encourage that.”

The Blue Ridge program began in 2013 and offers an associate degree in brewing fermentation and distillation. It also offers a diploma and a certificate. The school uses a 3-barrel brewhouse, a semiautomatic canning line and a lab for quality control.

“We are pretty production heavy,” McMahan says.

For the upcoming virtual event, McMahan will be joined by guest hosts Scott Treadway, longtime actor at Flat Rock Playhouse, and Mark Warwick of WTZQ radio.

Tickets are $45 and include 32-ounce crowlers of each beer and two tasting glasses, plus snacks. All items are available for pickup Thursday and Friday, Jan. 28-29, outside the Spillman Building on the college campus, 150 E. Campus Drive, Hendersonville.

Ticket sales end Friday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. To purchase, visit


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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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