Small bites: Hops & Vines offers free workshops

BEHIND THE BUBBLES: In addition to his general brewing classes, Hops & Vines owner Alex Buerckholtz now hosts free workshops on specific aspects of brewing such as yeasts and hops. The detail-oriented curriculum is presented informally, with lots of interactivity along the way. Plus, "we usually have free beer samples on the topic that we’re talking about," he says. Photo by Kat McReynolds

Since day one, homebrewing shop Hops & Vines has offered free tastings and classes. Several months ago, however, owner Alex Buerckholtz and his staff decided to offer the DIY beer community more in-depth learning opportunities on specific homebrewing topics.

These roughly monthly workshops, which are free and open to the public, have previously explored concepts like the effects and varieties of yeast and experimenting with hops types and timing. Next up is a course on making the switch from extracts to all-grain brewing.

“In the last 10 years, homebrewing has come a really long way, and more people actually know the basic process of just extract brewing,” Buerckholtz says. “So in this workshop that’s coming up, we’re going to focus on moving from beginning brewing — which is brewing with extracts — to steeping a small bag of grains to help with flavor, to actually using full grains.

“Getting all your fermentables from grain,” he explains, “requires more equipment and a little more background knowledge.”

Buerckholtz describes these workshops as very laid-back with plenty of question-and-answer opportunities for the dozen or so pupils who attend each session. Where the Internet offers a superfluity of often conflicting opinions on brewing best practices, the West Asheville shop owner’s guidance is “coming from somebody who has been brewing for 15 years.”

Plus, participants are welcome to bring their liquid triumphs and failures back into the shop for further scrutiny, particularly on homebrew nights (the first Thursday of each month), when potluck-style sampling is highly encouraged.

In addition to the store’s free events (beer tastings 5-7 p.m. Fridays and wine tastings 3-6 p.m. Saturdays), Buerckholtz hosts general brewing classes. As a brew-on-premise facility, he’s able to offer students hands-on brewing experiences for a $25 fee, and that includes two sessions — the initial brew day held on the back deck and a bottling class about two weeks later. Participants take home at least a six-pack.

The next brewing course begins on Sunday, Nov. 22, and covers the process of making an imperial stout, which Buerckholtz calls “a high-gravity, big, rich beer that’s perfect for winter.”

Buerckholtz’ free all-grain brewing workshop is at Hops & Vines, 797 Haywood Road, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 6-7 p.m. Visit for details.

Trout Lily Deli & Market’s Bluegrass Oyster Fest

For the sixth year, Trout Lily Deli & Market’s will host its Bluegrass Oyster Fest at the shop. Patrons can feast on the many culinary options — steamed fresh oysters from Cape Fear Seafood, Trout Lily deli meat and veggie dishes, and samples from several new market vendors, to name a few — as the Berry Pickers provide a live soundtrack for the affair. Local beer and Urban Orchard cider will also be available.

The Bluegrass Oyster Fest is at Trout Lily, 1297 Charlotte Highway, Fairview, on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2-5 p.m. Oyster plates are $5 each. Visit for details.

Ultimate Ice Cream’s benefit for Youth Outright

For the duration of November, a portion of proceeds from the sale of Ultimate Ice Cream’s YO’s Flaming Hearts — a spicy cinnamon ice cream with Red Hots folded in — will benefit Youth Outright. The local nonprofit provides support to LGBTQ youths in 18 Western North Carolina counties. “We recognize that it can be an incredibly hard path to find the courage to be one’s true self, especially as a young person,” says shop manager Jaime Walker. “Ultimate Ice Cream values the good work that Youth Outright does in our community and the gifts that the YO youth bring in the powerful, simple act of being themselves.”

Ultimate Ice Cream has locations at 195 Charlotte St. and 1070 Tunnel Road. Hours are 12:30-10 p.m. daily. Visit for more information.

Living Web Farms’ donation-based workshops

Living Web Farms is “where hands-on learning comes to life with organic and sustainable food production for gardeners and farmers,” according to the nonprofit organization’s website. To that end, the farm hosts a constant stream of workshops, which are also available online in video format after the lessons unfold. Upcoming sessions include Patryk Battle’s “Managing the Hoophouse for Year-Round Production,” with information on varieties, planting schedules, soil management and other best practices, plus Meredith Leigh’s “DIY Spice Blends and Rubs,” which covers both common blends and more adventurous additions to the pantry.

Battle’s hoophouse course ($15 suggested donation) is at Living Web Farms, 176 Kimzey Road, Mills River, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 1:30-7 p.m. Leigh’s spice lesson ($10 suggested donation) is at the French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave., on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 6:30-8 p.m. Visit for information or to register for either workshop.

Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen’s New Belgium beer brunch

Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen, a bar and eatery at The Omni Grove Park Inn, is midway through its monthly beer brunch series, which features local breweries’ products within several rotating dishes. Next up, New Belgium’s brews find their way onto executive chef Jake Schmidt’s menu, which includes items like Scotch duck eggs with Fat Tire beer cheddar fondue, a crispy New Belgium Trippel pork belly Benedict with spent-grain toast, malted barley griddle cakes and more.

The a la carte beer brunch is at Edison, 290 Macon Ave., on Sunday, Nov. 15, from noon to 3 p.m. Visit for more information.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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