When Whole Foods Market opened late last summer on Tunnel Road, the company said that in joining a beer city like Asheville, it would bring its A-game. Of course, that implies a comprehensive beer selection, complete with growlers to go.
But what sets the Tunnel Road store apart from other Whole Foods stores across the country is its rooftop restaurant: the Tunnel Road Tap Haus. It’s a unique venture for the company and it says it plans to use it for all sorts of interesting events, including ones focused on beer.
“Since our August grand opening, the Tap Haus has featured weekly local beer specials, live music, yoga sessions and trivia and game nights,” says Catie Forde-Smith, marketing manager for the Tunnel Road store. She says the Tap Haus also partners with various organizations to host private events, such as a Brother Wolf Animal Rescue board meeting, monthly meet-ups for the Asheville Vegan Society and album release nights.
In December, the Tap Haus hosted a beer dinner with New Belgium Brewing Co. and local New Belgium Beer Ranger Trey Wheeler. For $30, attendees enjoyed five courses and five beers (including rarities from the Lips of Faith series). They also received a personalized update on the Asheville site, New Belgium gear and one lucky attendee walked away — or rode away — with a New Belgium cruiser.
The event was such a success that the company turned it into an ambitious series, with plans to host one dinner toward the end of every month. January’s will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 28, and will feature Pisgah Brewing.
“We are thrilled to partner with Whole Foods on this beer dinner,” says Pisgah general manager Gaines Meyer, who will be attending the event. “Pisgah has always used organic malts in brewing our beers and Whole Foods has been a leader in providing organic and sustainably produced products to the communities that they serve. … We both share the same values and vision that sustainable and organic agriculture are cornerstones of a healthier, happier community.”
That’s all good, but what about the menu? Here’s the scoop from Whole Foods along with the beer descriptions courtesy of Pisgah:
1. A selection of fine cheeses with accoutrements
Pisgah Pale: Pisgah Pale is a perfect blend of rich organic malts with whole-leaf Chinook and Nugget hops. A crisp, clean profile makes this, our flagship beer, distinct.
2. Braised rabbit, Parisienne gnocchi, kabocha squash purée, lemon zest and fried rosemary jus
P.O.A.P: In the Spirit of Metanoia comes the latest creation of the barrel-aging program at Pisgah Brewing. Known as Pisgah Oak Aged Pale (P.O.A.P.) this beer is exactly as it sounds — the classic Pisgah Pale Ale aged for a year in oak wine barrels. A proprietary blend of barrels makes this unique sour beer tart and robust from start to finish.
3. Rack of lamb, sourdough bread pudding, North Carolina mustard greens, black pepper and cherry glace de agneau
Red Devil: This 9 percent Belgian-style ale was originally brewed to commemorate Pisgah’s 200th batch. Packed with over one pound of cherries and raspberries per gallon, the Red Devil balances delicately between tart and not-too-sweet.
4. Smoked pork belly with cara cara chili honey glaze, farro and charred broccolini
Stomping Knob: The second in the Seven Sisters series of IPA’s, the Stomping Knobb IPA is a mouthful of floral hop aroma and bitterness to match as it goes down. Focusing on the Columbus hop, Stomping Knobb IPA also features a delicate balance of Citra and Chinook that gives this beer a distinct bitterness while keeping the grain bill light as to focus on the hop flavors.
5. S’more’s a la Mode: Marcona almond shortbread, spicy chocolate ganache, toasted marshmallow and vanilla bean gelato
Chocolatized: The darkest of Pisgah brews, the beer formerly known as Vortex II took a significant transformation when Pisgah brewers added a heavy dose (25 pounds in 5 barrels) of raw cocoa nibs to the brite tanks, thus creating what will now only be known as “Chocolatized.” Congratulations to the brewers, as this Russian Imperial Stout aged on cocoa nibs brought home a coveted Gold Medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival for the Chocolate Beer Category.
The food will be prepared by Tap Haus executive chef Justin Balmes, a 10-year Whole Foods Market veteran who formerly worked as a chef and instructor for the Art Institute of Atlanta. (He has also competed on cable television shows like Chopped and Food Network Star.) The event will also include free Pisgah swag and a raffle for summer concert tickets to a show at the brewery.
A limited number of tickets for the beer dinner are available for $30 each and can be purchased either at the Whole Foods customer service desk or by calling 239-9604.
Following January’s event, the next Whole Foods beer dinner will be in late February and will likely be a collaboration with Oskar Blues.
Pisgah’s next collaborative dinner will be at Isis Music Hall on Sunday, Feb. 15. It will feature four courses and four beers and music from The Dirty Dozen Brass Band and Primate Fiasco. Check the Isis calendar for more details.