The men and women who make the area’s most popular brews often work in the background, unknown to most beer drinkers. In honor of their creativity that powers the local brew scene, Xpress is starting a series of brewer profiles, shedding some light on these talents. First up is Pete Langheinrich, who worked his way out of the kitchen to become head brewer at Asheville Brewing Co.
How he got started: Langheinrich, originally from the Chicago area, came to Asheville in 2007 with now-wife, Amanda, unsure what he would do for a career. They now have a son, Arlo. Langheinrich had been in school in Charlotte, studying such subjects as filmmaking. “I had been a kitchen guy my whole life, working in pizza shops,” he says. “We came to Asheville for music and mountain biking.”
Getting into beer: Langheinrich first connected with the local beer scene at French Broad River Brewery, where he learned the brewing process. He also found kitchen work at Asheville Pizza and Brewing, whose family vibe appealed to him. “I was pestering [founding brewer] Doug Riley for a brew shift,” he says. “Finally, a brewer left, and Doug said, ‘Go get it.’ I hit the ground running.”
First beer creations: The Ashevillain Black IPA. Langheinrich also developed Perfect Day IPA, which has become one of the brewery’s best sellers. Since joining the brewery, he’s made well over 100 different beers. “I’m definitely a big hops guy, but I like a lot of different beer styles,” he says.
What makes an IPA: “There is no limit to what you can do with an IPA,” Langheinrich says. “Every time you turn around, someone is approaching IPA in a different way. The hops varieties that come out can add lemon, melon and pepper [flavors]. The definition of IPA is getting broader and broader. It’s a tough question.”
What’s next: Lately, Langheinrich has enjoyed collaborating with other breweries, such as the new Zillicoah Beer Co. He also wants to get into barrel-aging. He’s thinking ahead to warmer weather when Carolina Mountain Imperial Stout returns. “And we will do more experimental beers,” he says.
Paying it forward: Langheinrich says he enjoys giving new employees an opportunity to grow. “There are a couple of people who I have hired and kicked it for us, and now they are head brewers or are opening breweries [in other cities],” he says. “I like to collaborate. If someone has an idea, I want to talk about it.”
Got an idea for a brewer profile? Email Tony Kiss at AVLBeerguy@gmail.com.