Back in July, the Drinking Made Easy team came to Asheville. Drinking Made Easy is an online television program that showcases alcohol and drinking in cities across the country.
Their goal in Asheville? Visit nine breweries in one day, then identify the local beers they’d tasted in a blind taste test. Host Zane Lamprey and his sidekick Steve McKenna successfully visited nine breweries (partially because Lamprey says it’s easy to get around and find parking here. Of course, he lives in Los Angeles).
Find out which breweries they visited and watch the beer challenge on HDNetTV on Wednesday, Jan. 18. (HDNet networks are available nationally via DIRECTV and Dish Network and locally on AT&T U-Verse, Charter Communications, Comcast and more).
Xpress caught up with Lamprey via phone last week. Here’s what this professional drinker had to say about his time in Asheville.
Xpress: Tell me about your Asheville visit. Or was it all a blur?
Lamprey: Well, we start out every morning sober. It was very cool, although I suppose it was a blur seeing all the places and drinking all that beer. There are not many cities where you can visit nine breweries in a day. As a professional beer drinker it was an awesome place to visit.
Did you do anything fun other than visit our awesome breweries?
I went to Biltmore. I live in L.A., and we don’t get the opportunity to walk around many pretty places, so it was great to walk around the grounds at the Biltmore at the height of summer.
You drink a lot of beer. Were any of the Asheville brewed beers you tasted particularly memorable?
I remember them all. The Oysterhouse Stout — that was interesting because I expected it to have more oyster flavor. It was memorable because it was a well-balanced beer, which is what I consider to be good beer. I was interested that the calcium carbonate on the oyster shells made the stout work. I like drinkability and everything I got to have in Asheville was drinkable.
We had a great time in all the places we went. Asheville’s a nice town. Visiting a town that’s so enthusiastic about its beer is great.
Why did you choose to visit Asheville?
Because it’s Beer City! I hadn’t been there before. We built that trip around Asheville. We film at four or five places on each trip. This one, we hit Memphis, Nashville, Asheville, Charlotte and Charleston and filmed in each. We’d previously filmed in Portland, Ore., your rival, so we had to hit Asheville. Asheville clearly has its own identity around beer and has a specific drinking culture. Good beer is one component and great people are the other. Asheville and the Asheville breweries we visited had both.
The most memorable part of your visit for me was after the Beer Challenge when you mixed nine Asheville beers into a couple of pitchers and served them to those of us sitting behind you at the Beer Challenge…
Was that a sin or a crime?
Both, I think.
Yeah, well, I’d been drinking.
Actually, the mixture tasted like Fire Escape — guess the jalapenos made it palatable.
The (Asheville Brewing Company) Fire Escape isn’t a beer I’d want to drink regularly. It’s a novelty, but it was interesting. I got to eat lunch with the ABC guys in the movie theater and got to taste several of their beers — they were all good. Those guys are a lot of fun.
Why is the show called Drinking Made Easy? Isn’t drinking already easy?
That’s the joke. People know what they like, but they don’t know why they like it. Sometimes it’s a little too easy because people don’t know the difference between fermentation and distillation or different beer styles. We think the better educated people are about what they’re drinking the more they enjoy it. We’re trying to educate people about drinking.
Catawba Valley Brewing Can Release
After more than a year of testing and tinkering, Scott Pyatt is finally ready to release a few of his beers in cans. Pyatt, brewer and co-owner of Catawba Valley Brewing Company in Morganton, will offer Firewater IPA, White Zombie Belgian White and Farmer Ted’s Farmhouse Cream Ale in the highly portable, recyclable packaging. The release party is planned for Friday, Jan. 20, at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria at 42 Biltmore Ave. The CVBC cans also will be available that day from select retailers (Bruisin’ Ales, Weinhaus) and at The Bar of Soap, a new can-centric bar and Laundromat located at 333 Merrimon Ave. The release comes just before the first Canned Craft Beer Day, slated to occur on Jan. 24. Raise a can and say cheers, y’all!
Honoring an Asheville icon
On the one-year anniversary of Asheville artist Vadim Bora’s death, Wedge Brewing Company honored him by naming its raspberry Russian Imperial Stout in his honor. “Vadim was much more than an artist. He was an important part of the community,” says Tim Schaller, Wedge owner. “This is an excuse to keep people talking about him.” Wedge also named beers for deceased community icons Julian Price and John Payne. There will be an official naming event for the Vadim Bora Russian Imperial Stout at the Wedge on Jan. 30.
— Send your brews news to Anne Fitten Glenn at email@example.com