Carolina Beer Guy: Local beer makers compete at Plow to Pint Brew-Off  

TROPICÁLIA: Pineapple sage grown at Rayburn Farm was used in beers made for the inaugural Plow to Pint Brew-Off on Dec. 10 at Archetype Brewing Co. Photo courtesy Rayburn Farm

From festivals to fancy sit-down dinners, Asheville sees its share of interesting beer tastings each year. Now there’s a new event adding to that mix: the Plow to Pint Brew-Off competition, happening Sunday, Dec. 10, at Archetype Brewing Co. in West Asheville.

Local brewers were invited to make a beer with pineapple sage, grown at Rayburn Farm in Barnardsville. Fourteen breweries took up the challenge, but members of the Asheville Brewers Alliance trade group whittled them down to just eight finalists, leaving it to the public to pick the winner.

The champion takes home both bragging rights and a trophy. The remaining octet of contenders is Black Star Line Brewing, Burial Beer Co., Whistle Hop Brewing Co., Ginger’s Revenge, Mad Co. Brewing, One World Brewing, Bhramari Brewing Co. and Green Man Brewery. Admission is $10, which includes beer samples and a vote in the Brew-Off.  It’s a blind competition, so the public will not know the name of the competing brewery when sampling and judging the beers.

Farm owner Michael Rayburn, who came up with the competition idea, plans to make Plow to Pint an annual event. He was already well-connected to area breweries through the sale of such herbs as sage, basil, rosemary and ginger.

“It was one of those lightning bolt kind of thoughts,” he says. “’Why don’t we do a competition in this style?’”

Rayburn figured the event would help boost the Rayburn Farm brand and be fun for brewers. Winter is generally a slower time at the farm, so the December date was picked.

The brewers were allowed to make any style of beer they wanted, but it had to include pineapple sage, which was chosen as the common ingredient partly because Rayburn had plenty of it. The tropical herb grows well in the mountains and has a sweet pineapplelike taste.

“We wanted something that was easy to work with and we wanted something that would be interesting to the public,” Rayburn says. “[Brewers] could put any other adjunct they wanted in it, as long as it wasn’t pineapple [fruit, juice or extract].”

Each attendee will have one vote for his or her favorite beer.  The Archetype space can hold up to 100 people, and Rayburn says he’s hoping it will reach capacity.

The inaugural Plow to Pint Brew-Off takes place Sunday, Dec. 10, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., at Archetype Brewing Co., 265 Haywood Road. Tickets are available at


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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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