Carolina Beer Guy: Biltmore Estate offers exclusive house brews

DESTINATION DRINKS: Cedric's White Ale is one of three Biltmore Brewing Co. house beers sold exclusively at the Biltmore Estate. Photo courtesy of The Biltmore Company

The biggest Western North Carolina brewing companies sell their beers in multiple states or even international markets, while the smallest operations may sell exclusively from their own taprooms.

Then there’s Biltmore Brewing Co., part of Asheville’s famed Biltmore Estate. Its Cedric’s brand beers can only be purchased on the property, though you don’t need an admission ticket to buy bottles at the shop near the gatehouse.

Named in honor of Biltmore founder George Vanderbilt’s St. Bernard, the beers are made by Highland Brewing Co. But Biltmore is licensed as a brewing company and is highly involved in the production of its beers, which it began selling in spring 2010. “There was starting to be some buzz about beer in Asheville, and we wanted to offer something to our guests that we could have on the estate,” says Bryan McIntosh, director of food and beverage at Biltmore’s Antler Hill Village site.

At the same time, Biltmore was building Cedric’s Tavern, an English-Irish pub at Antler Hill. “Those two things kind of collided,” he says.

While the Biltmore Winery is well-known, McIntosh feels many estate guests may not realize that Biltmore also offers its own beers. “We would love to start building our beer brand a little more,” he says. To those ends, having Cedric’s beers on draft at the estate’s restaurants has helped introduce guests to its pale ale, brown ale and white ale.

In developing its beers, Biltmore representatives met with Highland brewers to discuss styles and flavors. “Highland is great about listening to us and picking out the little nuances we like for taste profiles,” McIntosh says. “From there, they help us put out the recipes.”

Some of the ingredients are grown at Biltmore, including the lemon balm used in Cedric’s White Ale. Even some of the grain used in brewing the ales has been grown on the estate and malted at Asheville’s Riverbend Malt House, which also provides grain from its own stock.

“The estate has always been agriculture-focused, and we try to grow our farm-to-table programs in the restaurants,” McIntosh says.

In addition to being available on draft, all three current Cedric’s beers are bottled and sold at the gatehouse, the winery and at the Biltmore House. As for the brews’ namesake, he’s honored with an estate statue and has become even more famous thanks to the beers and existing memorabilia.

“We also have Cedric’s dog collar and lots of photos of him,” McIntosh says. “We get lots of questions about who he was.”

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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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