Brews news: Science and flavor

Learning the craft
Chemistry professor Brett Taubman of Appalachian State University in Boone is teaching an honors course to 12 lucky students called “The Science, History, and Business of Beer and Brewing.” He developed the course, which he’s teaching for the first time this spring.

“Really, I’m fooling students into learning chemistry,” Taubman says. “I think the students are having a great time and learning a lot. And nothing’s blown up yet, which is always good.”

Taubman, his students and other ASU faculty also are starting a microbrewery, Ivory Tower Brewery, with ASU’s blessing. The educational, nonprofit group is in the process of applying for their federal license, Taubman says. In three-to-six months, Boone residents could be drinking an Ivory Tower brew at The Broyhill Inn, where the brewery will be based.

An atmospheric chemist and long-time home brewer, Taubman says he came to ASU three years ago “because I wanted to do something different and kind of crazy.”

He and his students first started the High Country Beer Fest to support the school’s beer program. The third-annual festival will take place at The Broyhill Inn on Sept. 4.

Having an educational, student-run brewery seems to be a hot trend. The University of California at Davis, the University of Denver and Louisiana State University are all giving it a go.

“One of our goals is to teach students to appreciate beer instead of abusing beer,” Taubman asserts.

Ivory Tower brewery also will offer a research component comprising renewable-energy production (e.g., capturing clean carbon dioxide for biodiesel production) and the use of alternative energy to power the brewery.

I wish I was closer to Boone and could audit Taubman’s class. Even so, look for more details on Ivory Tower Brewery to come.

Spring beer dinners
Craggie Brewing and Café Azalea are teaming up for beer dinners. The first, on March 29, sold out. The second will be Monday, April 12, at 6 p.m. at Café Azalea on Tunnel Road. Cost is $35 per person (plus tax & gratuity). The five-course meal includes some innovative pairings. I’m intrigued with this one: Craggie’s Battery Hill, English-style pale ale, with beer-b-que shrimp and a scallion-grit cake. For reservations, call 299-3753.

Bruisin’ Ales and 12 Bones Smokehouse are also offering a lovely spring beer dinner on Wednesday, April, 21, at 6:30 p.m. at 12 Bones’ riverside location. The five-course dinner costs $60 per person but includes tax and gratuity. Listen to this pairing: Dogfish Head’s Aprihop, an American IPA with apricots, served with lamb sausage with sage and apricots and a parmesan, baby-artichoke risotto. Mouth-watering. For reservations, call 606-7880.

Rumors confimed for Beer City Fest locale
Yes, the rumors are true. The inaugural Beer City Festival will be held at the new Roger McGuire Park at City/County Plaza on June 5. Tickets went on sale March 29 at Barley’s Taproom, Bruisin’ Ales and all local-brewery locations for $35 per person (cash only). “They’re flying out the door,” says Barley’s owner Jimi Rentz. If tickets don’t sell out locally, they might be offered online. According to the fest’s organizers from Asheville Brewers’ Alliance, this beer party will be more rock ‘n’ roll than Brewgrass. There will also be beer-education tents, games and more.

WNC Highlands Celtic Festival
While we’re talking summer beer-soaked events to put on your calendar, add in the inaugural WNC Highlands Celtic Festival. This fest will be held at Pisgah Brewing in Black Mountain on June 18 and 19. The first 1,000 tickets will cost only $10 for both days and go on sale on April 15. Purchase them here: www.celticheritageproductions.com/wnc.htm. The festival will include lots of live Celtic music and dance, food, Pisgah beers (of course), Celtic vendors, Highland athletic demonstrations and more. Come get your Scots on.

Success can hurt
The good news is that folks round here love Wedge Brewery’s beers. The bad news is their success means the brewery has had to cut back on their number of local taps.

“We want Carl (Melissas, brewer) to be able to keep his hand in every beer we brew,” says owner Tim Schaller. “We’ve added one more fermenter, but that’s it. We don’t want to grow anymore. We want to stay small and still make good beer.”

In order to keep the Wedge’s beers on tap at the brewery itself and to save on transportation costs, the beers will remain only at those establishments that can support two or more taps of Wedge brew.

Schaller says he feels awful about pulling the beer from “a few great drinking establishments” and wants to “thank all the great places that chose to support us in the past and apologize for any inconvenience.”

This goes to show that even in a town with multiple microbreweries, you can’t have too much good beer.

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