Patrons aren’t allowed to bring beer into Asheville’s Pack Memorial Library. But they can celebrate the revered institution’s 100th year of being a free public library over a pint or two and learn more about its services in a unique program that incorporates the skills of several local brewers.
The staff at Pack has teamed with Zillicoah Beer Co., Highland Brewing Co., Wedge Brewing Co., Catawba Brewing Co., Eurisko Beer Co., the forthcoming DSSOLVR brewery and kombucha maker Buchi for a series of one-off releases. At each tapping, Pack’s outreach librarians will be on hand to register new patrons for library cards and share information on its borrowable materials and other offerings.
The partnerships are the brainchild of Erin Makara, adult program coordinator at Pack, who sought to find a fun way to honor the library’s centennial.
“I was thinking who in the community we could involve to get more people aware of the library and make it relevant to people who don’t go to the library anymore,” she says. “Being that this is Beer City, I realized that people love books and beer, so why not involve breweries?”
Makara, who previously worked at Wedge, Catawba, The Whale and Thirsty Monk, contacted some of the city’s many breweries and invited them to take part in the program. “It was through my beer world connections that I knew who I could send this proposal to,” she says. “I found out that many of the brewers in this town are complete bibliophiles.”
The brewers were free to make whatever style of beer they chose, but they were asked to create ones inspired by a favorite book, author or book character. “They could be as creative as they wanted,” she says.
Catawba released its beer on July 11 and called it Ignatius J. Reilly’s Donut Brown Ale, inspired by John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. On Friday, July 19, Zilliocah taps Heart of Darkness, a dunkel that nods to the novel by Joseph Conrad.
The Whale will pour series creations from Catawba, Wedge, Buchi and the DSSOLVR/Eurisko collaboration for its Bibliobrew program on Sunday, July 28. The Wedge will have Papa Hemingway Cuban Mild, and Buchi will bring Avonlea, a kombucha with notes of orange and mango that was inspired by Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. The name and inspiration for the DSSOLVR/Eurisko pineapple coconut DIPA have yet to be released.
Highland will close out the program on Wednesday, July 31, at its Event Center with Thirst for Knowledge, a fruity IPA that was brewed using a Norwegian yeast strain called Kveik. “My own thirst for knowledge was nurtured at the library,” says Highland research and development brewer Trace Redmond. “We are honored to help Pack Library celebrate their centennial.”
Zillicoah co-owner Jeremy Chassner agrees. “We want to do whatever we can to bring awareness [to the library],” he says.
The library will host its own family-friendly celebration — without beer — on Friday, July 26, with activities for children, plus tours and a photo booth.