It’s been another whirlwind year for the local beer industry. Four new brewing companies opened in Buncombe County, one landmark location is closing (but will quickly be reborn) and five Western North Carolina breweries won medals in major national competitions. Here are the highlights:
New on the scene: Fermented Nonsense Brewing, Asheville’s smallest brewery, opened at the Craft Centric Taproom and Bottle Shop; Triple 7 Brewhouse joined the Westville Pub space, then changed its name to All Sevens Brewing; Black Mountain Brewing arrived in its namesake downtown; Eurisko Beer Co. expanded the South Slope’s footprint; and Brouwerij Cursus Keme was launched on Thompson Street near Biltmore Village.
Farewell LAB: After a nine-year run downtown, Lexington Avenue Brewery will close at year’s end. The spot will reopen in March as The CANarchy Collaboratory, an innovative brewpub from the collective that includes Oskar Blues Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, Perrin Brewing Co. Squatters Craft Beers and more.
Highland’s brand refresh: Asheville’s oldest brewery, Highland Brewing Co., introduced dramatic new packaging and retired Scotty, the bagpipe-playing Scotsman used in its logo since 1994. Some beer drinkers initially expressed a mixed reaction, especially with the disappearance of the familiar Scottish musician.
Prestigious prizes: Asheville Brewing Co. won a bronze medal for its Ninja Porter at the World Beer Cup. At the same event, Hi-Wire Brewing earned a bronze for its Dry-hopped Brett Pale Ale. Meanwhile, at the Great American Beer Festival, Hillman Beer took a silver medal for its ESB, BearWaters Brewing Co. of Canton won a gold for its Pink Passionfruit Sour, and Appalachian Mountain Brewery of Boone got a gold for its lager.
Alliance changes: Kendra Penland resigned as executive director of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, which represents local breweries and related businesses. Penland had been a prominent face in the local beer scene, making frequent media appearances. Mike Rangel president of Asheville Brewing, took over as interim director. As of press time, the position remains unfilled.