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

Celebrate Oktoberfest

By the time you read this, organizers of the Asheville Downtown Association’s second annual Oktoberfest celebration hope that tickets will be sold out for this year’s beer-quaffing street party. The local celebration of the German tradition takes place on Saturday Oct. 9, from noon to 6 p.m. on Wall Street.

This year, the party will kick off with a ceremonial keg tapping by Mike Rangel, president of the Asheville Brewing Association and co-owner of Asheville Brewing Company. Organizer Adrian Vassallo is encouraging ticket holders to start checking in after 11 a.m., in order to be at the stage by noon for the procession and keg-tap.  

The contests should bring in a crowd (both team and costume). So grab your lederhosen and prepare to compete in a variety of games, including keg-rolling, stein races, a bratwurst-eating contest and more. If someone’s willing to lend me a Bavarian beer wench costume, I might join in, though not for the bratwurst part.

Each of the participating breweries will have a team competing for a brewery crown (Asheville Brewing, Craggie Brewing, Green Man Brewing, Highland Brewing, French Broad Brewing and Pisgah Brewing will represent). So come cheer on your favorite local brewery

You can check to see if any tickets are still available at They’re $25 per person.

Lexington Avenue Brewing to expand brewing capacity

The popular hot spot known locally as the LAB will be expanding into the building next door in order to increase their brewing capacity, according to master brewer Ben Pierson.

The 35,000-square-foot building next door recently was purchased for $2.6 million by Cleo River, LLC, which is registered only to Asheville attorney Jason Peltz, according to N.C. Secretary of State filings.

The LAB will use much of the building to increase from their current 15-barrel capacity to a 30-barrel brewpub with an option to sell kegs and, ultimately, to provide space for bottling.

“It’s been a dream for us to expand, and we’re going to make it happen,” says Pierson, noting that demolition, renovation, and ordering and installing new brewing equipment will take several months at minimum.

The massive four-story space, situated between the LAB and Tops for Shoes, has been sitting unused for years. Previously it was the home of Daniels Graphics and Daniels Communications.

“Things are going really good,” says LAB co-owner Steve Wilmans. “A problem we’ve had is, as big as the LAB building is, we’ve run out of space in a hurry for the brewing equipment.”

Wilmans co-owns the LAB with Mike Healey. Wilmans also owns Echo Mountain Recording Studio in downtown Asheville.

“We’re thrilled that we’re going to have more space. We just want to keep making great beer,” Pierson says. “This is our new baby, and we’ve got to start nurturing it.”
(Xpress reporter Jake Frankel contributed to this story).

Highland’s new tasting room opens

I’ve been waiting for what seems like months for Highland Brewing Company’s cavernous new tasting room and three-barrel experimental brew room to open. The brewery planned to soft-open the space on Oct. 1, and it will continue to be open (softly) to the public on Fridays starting at 4:00 p.m. As long as the weather holds, the field and the original bar space in the brewery will remain open as well.

According to tasting-room manager Grant DeSantos, Highland is planning a huge grand opening bash once the kinks have been worked out in the new space. Stay tuned for details. Visit Highland on Friday afternoons at 12 Old Charlotte Hwy.

Beery releases and shout-outs

Cask night at the Thirsty Monk downtown on Thursday, Oct. 14, will feature the Bruery’s Autumn Maple Belgian Strong Dark Ale, brewed with yams, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and vanilla.

Lexington Avenue Brewing is releasing a German beer Trifecta. First, the Marzen will be re-released this week, followed by a German-style Hefeweizen, then a Dunkelweizen — a dark German wheat beer brewed with chocolate.

Craggie Brewing Company has released their Germinator Doppelbock, a German-style double bock lager. Described as a “liquid bread” beer, this one has an alcohol-by-volume of six percent.

Wedge Brewing Company will re-release their Belgian-style Abbey Ale in mid-October. I’m especially excited for the Wedge’s re-release of the Raspberry Imperial Stout. Guess I should hold my horses though, that doesn’t happen until mid-December.

Send your brews news to Anne Fitten Glenn at


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