There are lots of special beer releases and fun festivals coming up in late August and September, as always. Some of my favorite beers are released this time of year — Oktoberfest lagers, pumpkin beers, wet hopped ales and more. I’m salivating just thinking about the crisp carbonation and warm spices of fall.
Oktoberfest beers on the way and other releases coming
Highland Brewing will release its seasonal Clawhammer Oktoberfest beer near Labor Day. The release party will be held at Highland on Friday, Aug. 31. Some proceeds will benefit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. Staff from SAHC and Highland will lead a hike up Clawhammer Mountain on Oct. 6. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to RSVP. Highland now has an outdoor stage for musical acts in the meadow next to the brewery. Weather permitting, they’ll have music there on Fridays and Saturdays when the taproom is open.
Green Man’s Oktoberfest beer also will be released around Sept. 1, while Lexington Avenue Brewing will release a new Oktoberfest beer around Sept. 28. Way to stagger those German-inspired brews! Brewer Chris Whitted says his version will be the LAB’s first true lager beer.
Brewers at Green Man also plan to bottle a few more beers, after successfully capturing Dweller Imperial Stout last winter. By the end of September, a cherry sour ale and a peach lambic will be released in limited bottles in the Green Man taproom and at Bruisin’ Ales. Buy these right away, as they’ll disappear fast.
Pisgah Brewing’s Valdez Coffee Stout will be released in a week or so, using coffee from local roaster, Dynamite Roasting Company. Find this much-anticipated beer on draft around town and (likely) for sale in 22-ounce bottles. I hope it is bottled as it’s a great beer to cellar, although keep it cold if you want the coffee flavor to linger. While you’re waiting for the Valdez, be sure to hunt down Pisgah’s Red Devil, a Belgian brewed with cherries and raspberries, which was recently released around town. It’s a 9-percenter and may make you grow horns.
And now for the festivals
Thirsty Fest: The Thirsty Monk downtown will host its third rare, obscure and unique Thirsty Fest from Aug. 27 until Sept. 3. It’s free to enter — you just pay for your beer. There will be different kegs tapped every afternoon and up to 40 total (although some may be tapped the following week depending on flow). The Monk crew has squirreled away a magnificent stash of beer, including: Dogfish Head Saison du Buff, Founders Brewing KBS, Bell’s Black Note Stout, Catawba Valley Brewing’s Gnarlwahl and Oskar Blues Apple Whiskey Barrel-Aged G’Knight. Check Thirsty Monk’s Facebook events page for daily updates.
Clips of Faith: Future Asheville resident New Belgium Brewing is once again bringing “Clips of Faith,” a short film and beer fest, back to town. The third tour will take place on Roger McGuire Green on Friday, Sept. 7, starting at 7 p.m. Proceeds from beer sales benefit Asheville on Bikes. Clips of Faith manager Christie Catania says that last year’s event raised $2,427 for Asheville on Bikes, and the year before that, the event raised $2,300. Admission is free, but 3-ounce samples are $1.25 and 12-ounce beers are $5. Look for Cocoa Mole Ale, Biere de Mars, Tart Lychee, La Folie, Fat Tire, Ranger, 1554, Trippel, Abbey, Blue Paddle, Belgo IPA, Shift Pale Lager and more. Food will be sold by Avery’s Hot Dogs and Gypsy Queen Cuisine. For more information, visit ashevilleonbikes.com
It’s getting closer. The 18th Great Smokies Craft Brewers Festival, better known as Brewgrass, will take place on Sept. 15 at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in downtown Asheville. At least, I think it’s the 18th — the organizers have stopped counting on the official website. Tickets are sold out, as usual, although pretty much every year a few lucky folks score tickets outside the gates on the day of the festival (at face value, of course).
While there will be great bluegrass music, it’s really the beers that are the star attractions at this festival. More than 40 breweries from all over the country will pour, including a few that you can only taste in North Carolina during Brewgrass — such as COAST Brewing from Charleston. Most breweries bring a special cask or two, which are released throughout the day. I’ll try to tweet the releases as I learn about them from my @brewgasm Twitter handle.
Also this year, there should be a couple of kegs from Grand Rapids, Mich., our sister Beer City, USA, including one or two Founders Brewing beers.
This year, I’ll be leading a couple of tours during the festival. I’m thinking a “Best of Local Beer” tour and a “History of Asheville Beer” tour. I’m open to suggestions, however. I may also be selling my book, Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing,” if the publishing gods are good.
It’s looking to be a particularly fun Brewgrass.