Brews News

It’s time to get out your calendar and plan for some upcoming local beer events. Remember — locally brewed beer makes an excellent holiday or party hostess gift. As a bonus, if you read to the end of this article, I explain how to store your extra beer booty (with help from beer expert Julie Atallah of Bruisin’ Ales).

Got brews news? Contact Anne Fitten Glenn at

Read on, beer lovers:

Celebrating 15 years in the beer biz: Asheville’s first brewery, Highland Brewing Company will release its newest seasonal, Auld Asheville Vintage Ale, on Dec. 15 to celebrate the brewery’s 15-year anniversary. According to head brewer John Lyda, the ale is a high-gravity beer in the style of “Old Ales” or “English Strong” ales, which traditionally are released before the holidays.

Highland will host an Auld Asheville Vintage Ale kickoff party at its facility at 12 Old Charlotte Highway on Dec. 18 from 4-8 p.m. The event will include entertainment by Asheville’s Funknastics band and pizza from Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria — also celebrating 15 years in business in Asheville.

Auld Asheville Vintage Ale will be available in 22 oz. bottles sold at local retail outlets and on draft in local restaurants starting December 20.

Celebrate Swannanoa’s first beer: The Beacon Pub will host a tasting of new beer Swannanoa Sunset, brewed by Craggie Brewing Company, on Dec. 15 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The beer is a German-style brew, described by brewer Bill Drew as “crisp and clean like a lager, but malty and hoppy like an ale.”

Hanukkah & beer: The Thirsty Monk downtown will host Shmaltz Brewing Company, brewers of HE’BREW, on Dec. 17. The brewery will be celebrating its 13th anniversary with the special release of their new winter seasonal ale, Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah. Their Coney Island Craft Lagers will also be available for both sampling and purchase.

Toast your liver: The third annual Winter Warmer beer festival will be held Saturday, Jan. 23, in Haywood Park Hotel’s Grand Ballroom from 3-7 p.m. Tickets are still available and cost $37 per person. Last year’s festival sold out, so you may want to purchase tickets soon by visiting

One highlight of the festival will be Tres Hundertmark’s attempt to beat the Guinness world record for most oysters opened in a minute. The executive chef and general manager of The Lobster Trap placed sixth in the 2009 National Oyster Shucking Championship. The Lobster Trap also will cater food for the festival, which will be included in the price of your ticket and include vegetarian options. Musical acts will be Brushfire Stankgrass and Woody Wood.

Co-hosts of the event are Asheville Brews Cruise, ThreeSheets:Design, French Broad Brewing Co. and The Haywood Park Hotel. A portion of ticket sales will be donated to RiverLink.

Brewing Participants include: Local breweries: French Broad Brewing Co., Highland Brewing Co., Green Man Brewing Co., Pisgah Brewing Co., Asheville Brewing Co., Heinzelmannchen Brewery, Appalachian Craft Brewery, The Wedge Brewing Co., Craggie Brewing Co., Oysterhouse Brewing Co. and Catawba Valley Brewing Co. Other Southeast breweries attending: Foothills Brewing Co., Ham’s Brewery, Thomas Creek Brewery, Natty Greene’s Brewing Co., The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Triangle Brewing Co., Big Boss Brewing Co., Yazoo Brewing Co., and Sweetwater Brewery.

More organic yumminess and planning for summer: This is a ways off, but if you’re like me, you plan ahead. Celtic Heritage Productions will be putting on a Celtic Festival at Pisgah Brewing Company on June 21. The event will be held in the new outdoor amphitheatre the Pisgah folks are in process of building in the grassy field behind the brewery. There will be music, games, food, men in kilts, and, of course, good ale.

Also in Pisgah news, the brewery’s much-loved Belgian Noel, Baptista, is now on tap at the brewery, and it’ll be available in 22-ounce bottles at their regular retail outlets some time next week. The Vortex I imperial IPA, is currently available around town, and the Vortex II imperial Russian stout, should hit the streets (and shops) in about a month. Also, in the stores last next week will be Pisgah’s Hellbender Barleywine, an English-style barleywine. Soon after that will come a new yet-to-be-named apple beer. It’s 50 percent cider and 50 percent brown ale and 100 percent delicious (I haven’t tasted it yet, but I’m salivating at the thought). And yes, you’ve probably noticed that Pisgah’s increased their bottling output. According to co-owner Dave Quinn, it’s what customers wanted, so they’re responding. I agree: growlers are great for parties, but 22-ouncers are great for two.

Local beer makes great holiday gifts: I sat down with Julie Atallah, co-owner of Bruisin’ Ales beer shop, to find out how best to store all the gifts of beer I might receive over the holidays (yes, that’s a hint).

Here are beer storage rules according to Julie (she says they’re really recommendations, but I need rules in my life):

1. Keep your beer in the dark. Light is evil. “Changing temperatures does not affect beer or the taste of beer nearly as much as light does,” Julie says. That’s why most beers come in brown bottles—to protect the nectar from light. She tells customers to keep beer in its box or bag and put that in a closet or basement.

2. Cool temperature helps keep beer yummy. Ideally, store beer in a wine cooler or small refrigerator set to 52-55 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, a basement or cellar works. As a last resort, use a closet.

3. Store your beer upright. Do not lay beer on its side, especially if it has a metal cap. The metal oxidizes when it comes into contact with the beer and can change its taste. Yuck.

4. There’s no need to store lower alcohol beers—drink ‘em up. Any beers with an alcohol content of six percent or less typically should be consumed within three or four months, says Julie. Although she notes that locally-made and unpasteurized beers may last longer. Beers with an alcohol content between about seven and ten percent should be quaffed within six to eight months. Any beer with an alcohol content of ten percent or over can be laid down like wine for three to five years. Or longer. These aren’t hard and fast rules, as Julie notes that darker, less hoppy beers tend to last longer than lighter, hoppier beers in storage. And beer lovers can experiment themselves with storage times.

That’s all for now. Happy, beery holidays.

Got brews news? Contact Anne Fitten Glenn at


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