Brews News: What’s new in the world of local beer

Wedge Brewing in the NYT

A recent article in the New York Times about Asheville’s River Arts District includes some information on the Wedge Brewing Company. The story, by Ingrid K. Williams, ends with this evocative paragraph: “Still, around 4 p.m., when the studios call it a day, off-duty artists and bearded residents reliably trickle into the Wedge to sip pints on the patio. Surrounded by sculptures made from reclaimed industrial scraps, it’s a fitting gathering spot for the River Arts District. And after a few rounds of Iron Rail IPA or caramel-scented Community Porter, the neighborhood’s rough edges fade into the twilight haze.”

What, Asheville has bearded residents?

So congrats to the Wedge, and thanks to master brewer Carl Melissas for bringing back that Community Porter. The delicious carob- and maple syrup-flavored porter comes in at 7.4 percent alcohol per volume. That’s higher than a typical porter, so swill gently.

From the French Broad River to the New York Times: Wedge Brewing offers beers at Asheville’s 2010 Winter Warmer Beer Festival. The next Winter Warmer will be held Jan. 22.

Highland Brewing one to watch

Also, Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s granddaddy brewery, was listed as one of “12 Breweries to Watch in 2011” by Draft Magazine. The story notes that “by the end of 2010, brewmaster and co-founder John Lyda will have cranked out 18,000 barrels, solidifying Highland’s hold as the Southeast’s third-largest beer producer.”

I’m guessing the first two largest beer producers are Sweetwater Brewing out of Atlanta and Abita out of Abita Springs, La. But back to our local brewers. You know that Highland’s sexy new tasting room is open on Fridays from 4 until 8 p.m., right? Head out there for live local music and tastes of the stuff they’re cooking up in their new experimental three-barrel system room at 12 Old Charlotte Highway.

One other Blue Ridge mountain-based brewery also makes the Draft Magazine list: Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Roseland, Va. After opening in 2008, “Devils Backbone unleashed four GABF-medal-winning beers in 2009, four in 2010, and snatched the title of small brewpub of the year at the World Beer Cup,” according to the story. That’s huge. Road trip to Roseland, anyone?

ABC infusor schedule

Come to Asheville Brewing to taste beers infused with fresh flavors. It’s different and fun. Here’s the plan for the rest of December:

Dec 16: Starlight Mints and Christmas Jam Ale
Dec 23: Mint, lemon, ginger and Shiva I.P.A.
Dec 30: Fresh strawberries and Ninja Porter

Fresh strawberries and silky porter in the dark of winter sounds lovely.

Beery calendar items

Wednesday, Dec. 15: Cask of Cold Mountain Winter Ale at Brixx Pizza. I hear this is the last cask of Cold Mountain kicking around WNC, so if you haven’t tasted the ale in cask-conditioned form, this is your chance. Brixx is located at 30 Town Square Blvd.

Saturday, Dec. 18: Nantahala Brewing Company, Bryson City, N.C. Tasting room preview party. 6 p.m. Live music and discounted schwag.

Thursday, Dec. 23: Bruisin’ Ales Pisgah Brewing Holiday Releases with Pisgah owner Jason Caughman. Free. Taste the 2010 Valdez Coffee Stout, Vortex I Tripel IPA, Vortex II Russian Imperial Stout, and Baptista Belgian Noel. 66 Broadway,

Saturday, Jan 22: This is a ways off, but worth adding to your calendar: Asheville’s Fourth Annual Winter Warmer Beer Festival. This year, the festival will be held at the Civic Center’s Exhibition Hall, which has a capacity of around 1,200 (that’s more than its previous location, the Haywood Park Hotel ballroom). Details to come on venue, ticket sales and more.

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