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

Saving his mouth for the beer

I chatted with Charlie Papazian last week in advance of his highly anticipated visit to Beer City, USA (otherwise known as Asheville).

Papazian, whose home base is in Boulder, Colo., says he has yet to visit Asheville, despite spending up to two-and-a-half months a year on beer-related travel.

“I’m obviously excited about experiencing the great beers of Asheville and meeting lots of brewers and home-brewers and beer enthusiasts,” he says.

Papazian, author of the Complete Joy of Homebrewing, is a founder and advocate of the modern home-brew movement and current president of the national Brewers Association. He also runs the examiner.com Beer City, USA poll, which Asheville won last year and tied for first place with Portland, Ore., in 2009. I asked Papazian if he was surprised by Asheville’s rank.

“Asheville just kind of bubbled over the first time,” he says. “The second time around, I wasn’t too surprised. I’d learned of the very cohesive beer community you have.”

“I’m more excited about what I’m going to learn from Asheville’s beer community than what they’re going to learn from me,” he adds. “I’m really going to be more ears than mouth. I’m going to save my mouth for the beer.”

Wherever Papazian goes, folks give him beer. When I ask him how he handles that lovely conundrum, he says: “I’m offered a lot of beer, and I try to take the opportunity to sip and taste every one. Although obviously, I can’t drink a pint of every beer. When home brewers bring me bottles, I try to open them on the spot and taste them with the brewers.”

Papazian will speak at Highland Brewing Company on Wednesday, Feb. 23, about styles of beer and his experiences with brewing yeast. He’ll also present updates on governmental affairs and legislative developments in the beer industry. Two other speakers will precede him: Kevin Sudderth of Hach, who will talk about oxygen testing, and a representative from HopUnion, LLC, who will offer an update on the hops market. The event runs from 4 until 8 p.m.

The program is free to members of the North Carolina Brewers Guild and the Asheville Brewers Alliance, though you must register at charlieinasheville.eventbrite.com. Non-members will need to pay $25. The ticket includes a barbecue feast and two drink tickets for Highland brews. To register, join or learn more about the N.C. Brewers Guild, visit ncbeer.org.

The night of five casks from eastern N.C.

Five specialty casks in one night? Yes, indeed. On Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Barley’s Taproom, starting at 7 p.m., beer-lovers can try the following beers from some of our N.C. breweries to the east:
Big Boss Brewing: High Roller IPA cask, dry-hopped with Chinook hops,
The Duck-Rabbit Brewery: Milk Stout cask, aged with Escazu chocolate from Raleigh
Foothills Brewing: Bourbon-barrel-aged People’s Porter cask
Fullsteam Brewery: Red-beans-and-rice cask, aged with bourbon-soaked hickory chips
Mother Earth Brewing: Cardamom and black peppercorn Tripel Overhead cask

Highland Cup deadline approaches

Highland Brewing Company and the Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters club are holding the fourth annual Highland Cup, and the deadline to enter your home-brew is Saturday, Feb. 26.

The winner of the home-brew contest will get to attend this year’s Great American Beer Festival, and the winning beer will be brewed and sold to the public by Highland. Judging takes place on Saturday, March 5.

For rules and more information, visit malsters.org or call Steve “The Heat” Schwartz at 299-3370.

Happy home brewing, y’all.

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