Carolina Beer Guy: What are Asheville brewers and brewery owners drinking for the holidays?

SWISS ARMY BEER: Asheville Brewing Co.'s Ninjabread Man Holiday Porter can be used to make cookies and pies. Photo courtesy Asheville Brewing Co.

We all have our favorite beers for cold weather and the holidays. But what are Asheville-area brewers and brewery owners drinking as 2019 fades to black?

Some will pour their own beers, while others will turn to liquor and wine for Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Xpress checked in with a few industry figures to see what’s in their refrigerators, wine racks and liquor cabinets.

  • Brad Casanova, co-owner of Archetype Brewing, is going with some of his brewery’s new chocolate stout, Thicc Ricc, made with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans. “It’s thick like motor oil, and it’s 7.4% [ABV],” he says. The seasonal beer is available exclusively on draft.
  • Brandi Hillman, co-owner of Hillman Beer, likes her brewery’s Hi-Dee-Ho, an 8.7% ABV imperial porter made with ginger from Rayburn Farms, plus molasses, raisins and cloves. It’s draft only, but you can get a crowler filled at the taproom. “I mostly (drink) beer, but Cultivated Cocktails has this Asheville Coffee Liqueur that’s amazing,” she says. “You can add it to a White Russian, and it’s really nice.”
  • Leah Wong Ashburn, president of Highland Brewing Co., has a stock of the brewery’s Cold Mountain Winter Ale (5.8% ABV) and Black Watch Double Chocolate Milk Stout (8% ABV). She’ll also enjoy some of the barrel-aged Black Watch while spending the holidays at home. “I’m determined to be awake on New Year’s this year,” she says.
  • Ashburn’s father, Highland founder Oscar Wong, will blend Black Watch with his last bottles of Wisconsin Red from New Glarus Brewing Co. That prized cherry beer was purchased during a road trip to New Glarus, Wis. “I thought about it the other day, and I haven’t had a chance to do it,” he says.
  • Zillicoah Beer Co. co-owner Jeremy Chassner will enjoy a wide range of libations this holiday season, including a Bohemian Dark Lager (4.2% ABV) made by his Woodfin brewery. “I’m kind of craving one right now,” he says. He’ll also enjoy some 12-year-old Irish whiskey.
  • Zillicoah brewer John Parks plans to drink the brewery’s stout and Bohemian Dark Lager and will also uncork some robust red wine.
  • Mike Rangel, co-founder and president of Asheville Brewing Co., is a big fan of his brewery’s Ninjabread Man Spiced Holiday Porter (5.6% ABV). He also likes the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Christmas Jam Session Ale (5.3% ABV), a collaboration with Asheville Brewing, and will additionally toast the holidays with Champagne. “It’s a season for trying different things,” he says.
  • Rangel’s wife, brewery co-owner Allison Brown Rangel, identifies herself as “a cocktail girl for the holidays” who’s likewise fond of Champagne. She’ll also be baking Drunken Ninja Apple Pie with the brewery’s Ninjabread Man.
  • At Wedge Brewing Co., owner and founder Tim Schaller will pour some of his Foundation brewery’s nicely approachable barrel-aged 13 Paces Baltic Porter (8.9% ABV). “It’s not like a depth charge,” he says.
  • Billy Pyatt, co-owner of Catawba Brewing Co., will spritz up the season with the brewery’s new Twisp Southern Hard Seltzer.

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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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