Anheuser-Busch InBev has announced plans to open a Budweiser brewpub on the South Slope in time for AVL Beer Week 2019. The global brewing giant purchased the former Carquest Auto Parts space at 100 S. Lexington Ave. for $30 million and is in the midst of transforming it into a brand-new five-story building.
“It’s what the people want,” says Gordo Llewelyn, publicity guru for A-B InBev. “Asheville may be Beer City and love its microbrews, but if you go to grocery stores and gas stations, Bud and Bud Light still reign supreme. We want to bring that experience to the South Slope so that normal people can find the beer they want.”
Among the features of the so-called King of Beers’ brewpub — to be known as The Palace — is a first-floor bar with 30 taps serving the aforementioned two varieties of beverages; a second-floor tasting room with the brewery’s full portfolio of Reserve lagers, Select light beers and Clamato-infused Chelada experiments; and a translucent slide from the top floor down to neighboring Wicked Weed Brewing.
Reactions among Asheville’s independently owned breweries to their new neighbor have been mixed. The Asheville Brewers Alliance issued a group statement of, simply, “Goddammit,” and individual members’ comments trended toward language too colorful for this family-friendly publication, though some were kind enough to provide usable copy.
“It’s a godsend,” says Tim Gormley, head brewer of Burial Beer Co. After a long, awkward pause, he clarified that statement. “You have no idea how tired our bartenders are of people asking if we have anything that tastes like Bud Light. Now we can just send them up the hill. Done and done.”
Customers will be able to order food from The Palace’s third-floor kitchen from each taproom. The menu was created by celebrity chef Guy Fieri and includes an extensive selection of corn-based items to complement the available beers. Fieri will be at the grand opening party on Saturday, May 18, an event that also includes an adopt-a-Clydesdale tent, meet-and-greets with the Budweiser frogs and original “Wazzup” guys, performances by an Adolphus Busch hologram and a video booth where attendees can record their pitches for the brewery’s next Super Bowl commercials, signing away all rights to the content before pressing “record.”
Calling all whale hunters! Holy Grail Brewhouse, the world’s smallest brewery and home to the planet’s most exclusive beers, is heading to the Asheville area in March 2019.
“You’ve heard of single-malt, single-hop? What the kids call ‘SMaSH’? Yeah, that’s what we’re doing — literally,” says owner/brewer/wizard Constantine “Connie” Wilson. “And I hate it when people say ‘literally,’ but by golly, it’s appropriate in this context. And don’t get me started on ‘centered around.’”
Prone to laughing out loud and shaking his damn head, Wilson will brew on a 1/1000-barrel system with the help of, in his words, “the same smart insects who worked on Ant-Man,” and will drive up the exclusivity of his beers by serving them in thimbles.
A self-professed “disciple” of The Da Vinci Code, Wilson says he’ll sprinkle clues regarding the beer’s location across Holy Grail’s social media accounts. Once the spot’s identity is solved, customers will have to answer one final riddle to obtain a password necessary to purchase the elusive beverage.
In the years to come, Wilson is considering packaging his products in geltabs. He also hopes to collect enough spent grain to donate to a local farm by 2045.
Scotty doesn’t know (what’s next)
Since being told to pack up his kilt, tam and bagpipes in early 2018, former Highland Brewing Co. mascot Scotty has had difficulty adjusting to the life of an ex-beer icon.
With his beard still professionally trimmed and his charming accent intact, one wouldn’t know that the 46-year-old Scotty (née Hamish MacDonald) blew the bulk of his severance package on a series of unsuccessful cryptocurrencies and that he has little retirement savings of which to speak.
“Back then, I wouldn’t go near something called an IRA if ye paid me, laddie,” he says. “But now? Aye.”
To pay the bills, Scotty got a crash course in the gig economy that defines Asheville. Though he found seasonal work with the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and other regional celebrations of his homeland’s culture, he claims payment was barely enough to cover the gas for his Hummer.
Scotty also says he lost the opportunity to voice Scrooge McDuck in an upcoming “DuckTales” reboot when Sean Connery unexpectedly came out of retirement and won the job without even auditioning. And while Scotty admits a steady salary awaits back in Scotland running his family’s golf store, that possibility is apparently off the table.
“I promised me-self I’d never go back to Dumfries,” he says. “The shame would be unbearable.”
Despite the challenges he’s experienced over the past year, Scotty stresses that he has no hard feelings toward his former employers. He occasionally baby-sits Highland employees’ children and remains a fixture at brewery founder Oscar Wong’s weekly poker game alongside Tony “Carolina Beer Guy” Kiss, Asheville Brewing Co. President Mike Rangel and WLOS anchor Darcel Grimes.
The other root beers
Following the example set by Ginger’s Revenge, Rootin’ Tootin’ Brewin’ will open in February with an array of alternative root-based alcoholic beers.
The brewery is the brainchild of Megan Zapruder, a retired horticulturalist whose late-life discovery of a gluten intolerance led her on a quest for fermented beverages that would “give [her] a buzz without all those other unpleasantries.”
“You know what I’m talking about,” Zapruder says.
Selections include Japancentric beers made from daikon as well as ones derived from the apple-like jicama, the nutty sunchoke and the sugary zuckerwurzel. Also part of the lineup will be an ongoing series of rutabaga beers with Carl Sandberg-themed names, set to roll out in a partnership with the National Parks Service.
Amber Cottontail, president of the Asheville Celiac Society’s Anti-Cider and Ginger committee, praised the new additions to the local beverage scene, likewise making reference to “all those other unpleasantries.” She adds, “You know what I’m talking about.”