Brews News

Raise a pint in remembrance of Jay Stewart

Jay Stewart did more than almost anyone to support Asheville’s craft beer pioneers, although it was mostly from behind the scenes. Stewart died on Sept. 17 after a long illness. A longtime Asheville real estate investor, Steward was a part owner of Highland Brewing Company and owned the buildings that house Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria and Pisgah Brewing Company.

Jimi Rentz, co-owner of Barley’s, called Stewart the “Julian Price of the craft beer industry in Asheville.”

“Jay and his business partners are economic incubators in themselves,” Rentz says. “If it were not for Stewart’s vision, businesses like Barley’s Taproom, Highland Brewing and Pisgah Brewing may not have been here. Jay laid a solid foundation under these businesses called affordable rent,” Rentz says.

Let’s all raise a local pint for Jay Stewart's contribution to Asheville beer. 

Oktoberfest coming right up

We are blessed with beer. Say it with me, sisters and brothers. Ready for more local drinking? If the answer is “yes,” go purchase Oktoberfest tickets here:

Oktoberfest takes place downtown on Wall Street on Saturday, Oct. 13, from noon until 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include beers from several local breweries (Asheville Brewing, French Broad, Green Man, Highland and Pisgah will all be there — others may come).

The now-renowned Oktoberfest games will also take place, pitting teams from participating local breweries against one another in entertaining competitions such as keg rolling, a pint glass lift and more. And yes, there will be bratwurst for sale.
Wear your lederhosen and beer wench garb if you want to compete in the festival-wide costume competition. Prosit!

Locals represent at Great American Beer Festival

Also in mid-October, a number of Western North Carolina brewers and brewery representatives will attend the annual Great American Beer Festival. GABF is the American brewing industry’s biggest public tasting event and beer competition, held in Denver, Colo., since 1982.

The North Carolina Brewers Guild, the trade organization that represents North Carolina’s breweries, will be serving tastes of several N.C. brews at GABF, including Highland Brewing’s Gaelic Ale and Black Mocha Stout and Asheville Brewing’s Shiva IPA.

Pisgah Brewing, Catawba Valley Brewing and Lexington Avenue Brewing are all sending folks to the festival and entering beers in the nationwide competition.

Pisgah Brewing is entering Wet Hop Rye, Vortex II Imperial Stout, Solstice Tripel, Mexican Lager and Blueberry Wheat.

Catawba Valley Brewing Company is sending beers to GABF for the first time in its 13-year history. The brewery has submitted King Coconut Porter, Arlo’s PB&J, Abul-Abaz Belgian Saison, Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale and Napoleon Berliner-Weisse. CVBC also submitted La Petit Fleur wheat ale and Emperor Charlemagne, an imperial red, to be evaluated by judges who will offer feedback to the brewery.

The LAB has submitted Man in Black IPA and Bricktop IPA for judging. Tastes of both of those beers, plus the Razberry Nitro Porter, will be available to the public at GABF. The LAB also will offer a beer and food pairing one night featuring three low-country-style food offerings paired with three of their high gravity beers.

Brewgrass’ People’s Choice Award

Every year at Asheville’s Brewgrass Festival, as festival goers are leaving, they can vote for their favorite brewery of the day. The top vote-getter is chosen as the People’s Choice Award and honored at the following year’s brewers’ party, held the night before Brewgrass. The 2012 winner was newbie Wicked Weed Brewing, set to open next to the Orange Peel on Biltmore Avenue. Wicked Weed consistently had the longest lines of the day and served up tastes of several different beers, some of which the brewers contract brewed at Craggie Brewing Company.

Catawba Valley Brewing came in a close second in this year's voting, per Brewgrass organizer Jimi Rentz. The 2011 People’s Choice winner was Asheville's French Broad Brewing Company and the previous year (and for several years before that) the winner was Pisgah Brewing of Black Mountain.

Asheville Brewing brewers

The can-plosion that’s taking over the craft beer world definitely is rocking Asheville Brewing Company. The brewery just hired a fifth full-time brewer, Brian Bacuzzi, most recently a brewer at Alewerks Brewing Company in Williamsburg, Va. ABC will brew seven days a week, mostly to keep up with the demand for Shiva IPA and Rocket Girl Lager in cans. While the Ninja Porter was supposed to be released in the same package in time for Brewgrass on Sept. 15, the backlog of local canned-beer love made that impossible.

“It’s neat to have a local IPA in a can, and we’ve been surprised that the Shiva outsells the Rocket Girl two to one,” says ABC president Mike Rangel.

Home brew rock stars

Steve Nance of Winston-Salem won best in show at the annual Blue Ridge Brew Off Competition on Sept. 8. The contest included more than 350 home brew entries, which were judged at Highland Brewing Company. Nance’s winner was an American IPA. Adam Reinke of Arden was second best in show for a kolsch. Laurel Kanan of Seattle took third for a Bohemian Pilsner. The Dr. George Fix Award, which goes to the highest scoring entry for a brewer who has been brewing for a year or less, went to Matt Goodwyn of Winston-Salem for a wood-aged beer. BRBO is a qualifying event for the prestigious North American Masters Championship of Amateur Brewing. For a complete list of winners and more information about the competition, visit


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