Sunday, August 26, 2007

Pinch me, I must be dreaming

Whew, where do I begin? Saturday’s beer tasting was fantastic, and it was a great showcase of beers from both coasts and points in between. It is hard to pick a favorite, but I really enjoyed the Green Flash West Coast IPA, which packed a ton of grapefruity hop taste without a lot of bitterness. It was truly an excellent representation of the West Coast style of IPA's. The Port Hop 15 was the most aggressive of the bunch, and I think I can still taste the hops this morning. Sadly, these beers are only available out west, so you have to book a trip to get some, or better yet, strike up a trade with someone.

Meeting Lee Chase was a beer geek’s dream, and I tried my best not to fawn over him too much. He is a great guy who not only has a great beer palate, but also has a profound understanding of the science of brewing. Since leaving Stone Brewery, Lee has started a brewery consulting business, which allows him to travel the world helping new breweries to get up and running.

Speaking of helping breweries, Lee will be an initial consultant for a new brewery in Durham. Sean Wilson, founder of Pop the Cap and hero to craft beer drinkers throughout the state, is in the beginning stages of opening a production brewery. Fullsteam Brewery will feature a talented homebrewer, Chris Davis, with Lee Chase providing consulting work in the beginning stages. Keep an eye on this brewery, as Sean has some interesting ideas on brewing and he has a soft spot for cask and barrel aged beers.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the proceeds for the tasting went to support the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Federal money to maintain the parkway is often not enough, and that is where this organization steps in. They have a variety of programs including trail and overlook maintenance. In particular, their Save the Views program is working hard to maitain the integrity and beauty of the parkway overlooks. If you ever drive on the parkway and want to help preserve it, give some thought to donating your time or money with this excellent organization.

Following the tasting, French Broad Brewing Company hosted a dinner that included most of Asheville’s brewing community. Highland, Pisgah, French Broad, and the new Wedge Gallery Brewery were represented, as well as local beer writer Tony Kiss and Southern Brew News editor Bob Townsend. Dinner was provided by the always excellent 12 Bones, and all of the brewers brought some beers for everyone to sample, including a few special offerings. Be sure and check out the Bruisin' Ales blog for their writeup and a couple of pictures.

Here’s a summary of what’s going on with some of our local breweries:

Highland: Let’s just say that I think the Imperial Kashmir is going to be a home run. Its still a bit young, but wow, this is one big wonderful hoppy beer. There will be about twice as much of the Imperial Kashmir than there was for the Imperial Gaelic release last year. They are still working out the details on the packaging, as they are looking to avoid having to hand bottle such a large amount. Make your plans to get up early after Brewgrass to go by the brewery and pick some up. Highland is also considering a summer seasonal, possibly a wheat beer.

Pisgah: Wow, it was certainly a treat getting to sample some Baptista from last year. The beer is holding up very well, and if you are lucky enough to still have some it will be interesting to see what it tastes like in the coming months and years. This year’s Baptista has been in the tanks since June, patiently awaiting its December release. This will sell out very quickly, and I will definitely be keeping you informed when it gets close to the release date. Another great way to keep up with Pisgah is by visiting the brewery on Thursday evenings to pick up a growler and to meet the guys behind the beer.

French Broad: Drew Barton is doing a great job since he took over the brewing operations at French Broad. In addition to their standards, Drew has brewed his own recipes as well. His bock was exceptional, but unfortunately there is very little of it left. The Kolsch, another of Drew’s beers, is doing really well, and is a great summertime thirst quencher (it’s back on tap at Barleys). His newest beer is the Rosebud Porter, and he is also working on adding a Pale Ale to the lineup as well as bringing back some of the Belgian style beers from the past. I highly encourage folks to swing by the brewery to sample some of these great beers. French Broad is in good hands. In additon, this Thursday’s beer tasting at Bruisin’ Ales will be featuring French Broad.

The Wedge Gallery Brewery: Carl is hard at work, as he gets ready for the opening of the brewery in November or December. I plan on making a visit soon to check out the progress of the brewery and hopefully to get a few pictures. This will be a wonderful addition to the growing River Arts District.

Other tidbits: Plans are still in place for a new brewpub at the old T.S. Morrison’s site on Lexington Avenue. It will certainly be a while before it is up and running, and I will try to get more details as things progress. There is also another possible brewery in the works, but they are still only in the planning stages and have yet to secure a location. Also, look for a new beer/wine/homebrew shop to be opening in the next month or so on Haywood Road in West Asheville, across from Digable Pizza.

The dinner was a great showcase of the talent and diversity of Asheville’s brewers. We are fast becoming one of the best beer destinations in the country.


  1. Who is working on the T.S. Morison's location brewery?

    Sounds like a fun couple of nights!

  2. Kilgore Trout...

    Great to see you at the event. I had tons of fun, as evidenced by my ever-present goofy grin:

  3. Edgy, Unfortunately, I do not know who the ownership is of the upcoming brewery on Lexington. I was assured that they are coming, and I hope to find out more soon.