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Blind Tasting League

Lou Collichio came to Metro Wines with twenty eight years of experience in the spirits industry. He started his career in New Jersey first managing a small wine shop and then working for a chain of discount beer, wine, and liquor stores as a beer buyer and assistant store manager. After moving to Asheville in 2006, Lou worked for both...

Asheville Brew Blog

Blind Tasting League

Lou Collichio came to Metro Wines with twenty eight years of experience in the spirits industry. He started his career in New Jersey first managing a small wine shop and then working for a chain of discount beer, wine, and liquor stores as a beer buyer and assistant store manager. After moving to Asheville in 2006, Lou worked for both Greenlife Grocery, and Whole Foods as a beer and wine buyer. His passion for all things craft beer started at the dawn of the American craft beer movement and has continued unabated to this day.

Lou says he is a "recovering musician." We haven't heard his music yet but what we do know is that Lou has stories! He plans to share some of his greatest hits with us and you on "Brewing UP a Storm" our beer blog. did you know that Lou was in a 7th grade play with James Gandolfini and lou stole the show? Stay tuned!


Anita Riley is the cellarman at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, NC and continues to blog for "Brewing Up a Storm." She holds the title of Certified Beer Server through Cicerone, USA, and is a native of WNC.

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Wicked Weed Freak of Nature

Freak of Nature from Wicked Weed

Beer Advocate says 95 Points


Brewed by:
Wicked Weed Brewing
North CarolinaUnited States
wickedweedbrewing.com

Style:American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50% 

Availability: Year-round 

Notes / Commercial Description:
"The Freak of Nature is our San Francisco inspired hoppy monster. At 8% abv and who knows how many ibu’s, this beer is our shrine to the Hop. Absurd amounts of the big West Coast hops gives this beer its citrusy, weedy nose and big, dank flavor. We dry hop with 48lbs per batch, which is over 3lbs of hops per barrel. In keeping with the classic style of the West Coast double, sugar plays a large part in creating this dry and minimally bitter double IPA. The Freak is particularly pintable for the style, so if you dare to enter, we welcome you to the Freak Show."

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Take a Look at Shelby!

Tucked between Asheville and Charlotte, there’s a little town that’s making some big news on a global scale. People have traveled from forty-nine states and thirteen countries to visit the home town of Don Gibson, Earl Scruggs, and Newgrass Brewing Company: Shelby, North Carolina. When I first met Jordan Boinest, Co-owner of Newgrass, I was shocked that anyone would open a brewery in Shelby. I was even more surprised at her enthusiasm to open in the small town she grew up in after having lived in the trendy, thriving towns of Wilmington and later, Boone.  I was afraid I would offend her, but I asked the question anyway, “Why Shelby?” Little did I know that this is her favorite question!

“You know, we distribute our beer to Asheville, Boone, Charlotte, and all the little towns in between. All along the way, I meet new people that haven’t experienced our beer and have never heard of Shelby.  They look confused and ask, ‘Where’s Shelby?’ and then I get to tell them this story about the Earl Scruggs Center and the Don Gibson Theater and all the new businesses opening in Uptown Shelby. It’s crazy because I grew up in this town, and when I was a kid I didn’t come to the uptown district. For all of us it’s exciting to watch it change and evolve and become what it was years ago: A place for community and friendship and business together. It’s been really special."

Special is an understatement. I got to sit down with Jordan and two of her closest allies Emily Epley, Director of the Earl Scruggs Center, and Audrey Whetten, Director of Uptown Shelby Association. What these women have accomplished, along with their respective staffs and countless community volunteers, is remarkable. They haven’t set out to make Shelby something that it’s not. They have dug deep under the surface to unearth exactly who and what Shelby is, and find a beautiful way to communicating that identity to the world around them.

“Earl Scruggs didn’t just play traditional Bluegrass,” Jordan says of the father of the Newgrass genre and the man that developed the three finger picking method known to banjo players today as Scruggs style, “and we don’t just make traditional beer.  Coming back to Shelby gave us the opportunity to make something that is such a part of who we are. We make good beer and enjoy good music. Those are two things that mine and Lewis’ life have revolved around. We love it. I grew up here listening to Bluegrass music. This is home for us. We’re really excited to be part of this community. So when bands like Acoustic Syndicate come and play, it’s like family coming for a visit. You know, I’m seeing people come to Shelby for the first time ever to see a great show and try new beer!” Jordan and her partner and fiancé, Lewis were intentional about creating not only a brewery, but also a local music venue to host concerts of varying sizes.

Audrey describes the Uptown Shelby Association as a non-profit organization that exists to encourage economic development within the context of historical preservation.  Within this framework, Audrey is working with business leaders within the local community to work toward a common vision. “If you can picture an Alaskan dog sled team, we have a lot of energetic folks that are excited to move forward. My charge is to get them organized and running in the same direction.” A Main Street Solutions Fund grant from the NC Department of Commerce helped make the renovation of the historic building that Newgrass occupies possible.

Emily started her work in 2008 as the Executive Director of Destination Cleveland County (DCC). This is also a non-profit organization that was founded out of the concern of local citizens that saw their children going off to college and never coming back. They saw their community drying up, and decided to take action. They commissioned researchers from NC State University to consult with them on a solution. They donated their own time and resources to create and execute a strategy based on Shelby’s unique identity as the birthplace of two legendary music greats. Through capital campaigns, grants, and lots of hard work, DCC has now raised $8 million of the $9 million budget to pay for the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC) and the Don Gibson Theater (DGT). With the opening of the ESC, Emily transitioned into her new role as the Director of the ESC, while the DCC now operates under the supervision of board members.

“It’s such an amazing thing to have folks like Jordan and Audrey who have such enthusiasm and skill sets to do the things that are happening here [in Shelby]. All the positive energy…it’s contagious! It’s like this perfect storm of all these different pieces coming together now,” Epley says. “Now we have people getting on planes in Japan just to come to the Earl Scruggs Center, and they’ll build a two-week itinerary around it.”

Audrey describes the energy in Shelby’s Uptown District as “crackling”. “It’s like this snowball that we’ve been building for a long time.  We keep rolling it around, and it keeps getting incrementally larger. Now we are at a point that it’s taken off! We are experiencing exponential growth with new businesses opening all the time.”

“You know, we just hosted Travis Book of the Infamous String Dusters’ event Bluegrass, Bikes and Beer,” Jordan says. “He put on six events, three in Virginia, three in North Carolina. In NC there were events here at Newgrass, Oskar Blues, and Pisgah Brewing. Out of all of those, we had the largest event with fifty community bikers! It was surprising. I was like whoa!  Look at Shelby!”

I would encourage all of you to take a look at Shelby, especially if you think you know this town. There is so much going on that will pleasantly surprise you, and Emily is right, the positive energy is contagious! 

“This is the only place you could do what we’re doing in this way,” Jordan says. “It’s been incredible working in the beer industry, which is really a tightly knit community.”

“It’s interesting,” Emily interjects, “how similar the beer industry and the music industry are similar in that way. It’s all about collaboration and creativity and support. That’s what the community of Uptown Shelby is like.”

Here’s what’s coming up at Newgrass Brewing and in Uptown:

October 6

Uptown Art Walk

October 8

Second Saturday Festivities

Dear Brother live 8:30-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

October 14

Beer Festival & Chili Cook-Off

Chalwa live 8:30-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

October 17

Music, Mush, & Mutts

October 19

Lunch N Learn Through Their Voices: Female Musician Activists in North Carolina (includes Etta Baker, Nina Simone and others)@ The Earl Scruggs Center

October 28

Fright Night Costume Crawl

Halloween Party featuring Harvest live 9-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

November 5- 7

Annual Rhythm & Roots 5K Walk/Run and 10K Run Race kicks off with Bluegrass band and banjo players playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown and there is live music at several spots along the route.

http://newgrassbrewing.com/

https://uptownshelby.com/

http://www.dongibsontheater.com/

http://earlscruggscenter.org/

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Old Chub from Oskar Blues

Lou Collichio of The Beer Department @MetroWines says: "Although not as dark as a Porter or Stout, Old Chub is a very malty, darker than amber scottish ale. Not a hoppy beer. Old Chub is rich and creamy. A really good beer great for Fall."

Oskar Blues says: RARE GIRTH

This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (8% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a wee-bit of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don't dig dark beer.

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The Color of Beer, etc.

Below is a posting by The Smithsonian in Washington DC for an event called "The Color of Beer." It sounds great! Can't go? Talk the color of beer and all things BEER with Lou Collichio of The Beer Department @MetroWines!

You can also chat Lou up about cider and sake.

The Smithsonian Program:

What links science, history, art, and culture? Color. An exhibit organized by Smithsonian Libraries now on view at the Natural History Museum journeys through collections—from chemistry to catalogs, colorblindness tests to couture—to look at color in a new light.

You may not realize it, but color is an important part of evaluating beer. We use all five senses when tasting the beverage, and the visual cues are most often our first impression. Appearance—from the beer’s color to the amount of foam to the glass it’s served in—leads us to make certain assumptions, either consciously or unconsciously, about what we can expect before we even take a sip. These assumptions have an impact on how we perceive the taste and smell of the beer, ultimately affecting our overall enjoyment.

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Audra Gaiziunas: Brewed for Her Ledger

It’s no secret that WNC’s economy is closely linked with the beer industry. Asheville has sprung up as a brewing center on a national scale thanks to Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, and New Belgium putting down roots here and calling it “home”. While tourism is still the driving force for our regional economy, beer tourism is no small player in that category. But don’t take my word for it. When it comes to numbers and beer, Audra Gaiziunas knows a thing or two about a thing or two. She cut her teeth in the beer industry with a little brewery called Dogfish Head seven years ago. “I was working as a pricing consultant for Caterpillar, selling machinery such as skid steer loaders, mini excavators, and backhoes. In short, it was the kismet of the right place, right time, right skillset, and right personality type. I, along with 276 other accountants, applied for the Controller position at Dogfish Head. After two phone interviews, I was one of two people flown up to Delaware for the final round of interviewing, and lo and behold, I got it. To this day I thank Sam and Mariah Calagione for taking a chance on a gal who had no beery numbers experience. They opened a huge door for me. I was drawn to brewing due to its culture and lifestyle. I felt I could be myself without compromise in this industry. I could work hard, create awesome spreadsheets, and improve our processes while sporting pink hair, listening to techno, and shooting rubberbands at my coworkers. Work hard and play hard. I'm very highly extroverted, so being in front of a computer all day just wouldn't work out for me.  Nothing traditional has ever really worked out for me.....at least I'm consistent when it comes to that. I abhor the status quo and am always looking to improve things. Thus, I grasped the opportunity to improve the operational infrastructure of a brewery, an area I noticed immediately as a weakness in our industry.”

Since then she’s moved on to offer a variety of financial services to breweries across the country from her home base in Asheville. “I own Brewed For Her Ledger, which is my own consultancy. I work with both startup and existing breweries and cideries by writing and vetting business plans and pro formas, implementing financial and inventory management software, designing custom-tailored charts of accounts, training owners and staff on bookkeeping and process flow, conducting valuations on existing breweries, and acting as a project manager throughout buildouts and expansions. I also conduct operational audits, observing how information flows through the brewery and ultimately lands on the financial statements, seeking out and eliminating inefficiencies, omissions, and inaccuracies. I'm a basically a one-stop shop offering c-suite (CEO/COO/CFO) services on a fractional basis at a rate startup and small breweries can afford.” She has worked with breweries in our area such as The Wedge, Bhramari, Green Man, Asheville Brewing, Frog Level, and Heinzelmännchen as well as several breweries in Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro.

Audra is also the national treasurer for The Pink Boots Society, a professional group for women in the brewing industry, as well as Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters (MALT), a homebrew club in Asheville. When we spoke, Audra had just gotten back to Asheville for the weekend. She’s been flying to Baton Rouge, LA every week to serve as the interim CEO of Tin Roof Brewing Company while they are undergoing expansion. Tin Roof was recently granted the opportunity to create the first officially licensed beer for LSU.

I wanted to know what excites Audra about the Asheville beer economy. “People ask me all the time about the Asheville Beer Bubble. We certainly haven’t reached anything like that yet. As long as you can create something new or provide a new experience, there is unlimited potential for growth in this industry. The only limit is your imagination. As long as you can provide a sense of place tied to a local community, the possibilities are endless.” She went on to mention the education that North Carolina offers to people entering the brewing industry. AB Tech, NC State, ASU, Rockingham Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, and Nash Community College all offer professional training with a variety of focuses within the field. “These education programs are raising awareness of Asheville and North Carolina in general on a national level. Companies want to be here because they know we can provide skilled employees.” In addition to a skilled labor force, Audra points to NC’s friendly legislation and even more friendly legislation coming down the pike soon as another example of how we are drawing new business to our area either through east coast expansions of established breweries or by entrepreneurs choosing to open a brewery in their neighborhood.

With all of this growth, Audra and Brewed for Her Ledger have no shortage of work. I asked her what she sees down the road for herself and her business. “I'd love to add a few people to my team in the areas of bookkeeping and financial project management as I continue taking on larger, more involved roles at growing breweries. Who knows what's next after that? I'm not much a planner. I'm more of a journey versus destination gal. As the craft beer industry continues to evolve, the services I offer will as well. Currently I'm focused more on conducting a greater number of brewery valuations for acquisitions and exits, but who knows what will happen after that? The surprises are all part of the fun.”

To help her reach these goals, Brewed for Her Ledger has just been chosen as one of seventeen businesses to participate in the fourth cohort of ScaleUp WNC, which provides intensive growth strategy development and implementation assistance to businesses in the Mountain Biz Works area.

To learn more about Audra and Brewed for Her Ledger visit http://www.brewedforherledger.com/

To learn more about ScaleUp WNC visit http://www.mountainbizworks.org/business-planning-start-ups-entrepreneur-classes-coaching/scaleupwnc/

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Friday Beer Tasting - It's Raining Oranges and Lemons

Friday Beer Tasting - It's Raining Oranges and Lemons

MANDARINA IPA

An adventure-loving and aromatic citrus IPA. Brewed with nuanced German Mandarina Bavaria and Hull Melon hops and bold, juicy American oranges, expect intense orange and tropical notes and a crisp, bright finish. This one is a palate-pleaser.

 

ASHEVILLE BREWING LEMON SPACE DOG 

Change of plans! When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?

Since last week our supply of ABC Lemon Space Dog flew out the store and we are unable to feature Highland Lost Cove, we're going to bring Asheville Brewing's Lemon Space Dog back for ROUND 2! 

Oranges and lemons are the perfect pair for this hot, muggy weather. 

Seasonal Lemon Space Dog comes on just in time to provide thirst-quenching relief to get you through the summer. Newish strain of hops, Lemondrop, adds a zesty, citrusy aroma ad flavor to this refreshing brew, while the malted wheat offers balance and smoothness.

 

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Kelsie Cole of Wilmington's Front Street Brewery

Our friends at Front Street Brewing are losing a force to be reckoned with this month. Head Brewer Kelsie Cole is relinquishing her throne.  She will be missed.  What follows is an article I wrote about Kelsie while she was in her role as Head Brewer. I'm just going to leave this here as an homage to her hard work and dedication to Front Street and the brewing industry. Cheers Kelsie!

 

This time of year is all about getting out of our schedules, out of doors, and even [dare I say it?] out of town. I know, sacrilege. But hear me out!  In addition to great beaches, Wilmington has a lot that we in WNC love about our mountain towns: a thriving arts scene, a chic downtown full of independently owned small businesses, plenty of quality local music in a variety of venues, and…wait for it…breweries!  Wilmington boasts eight local breweries, and there are two more coming soon! There’s no reason you can’t see them all over the course of a long weekend, but if you have to choose make sure you visit Front Street Brewery. Celebrating its twenty-first year in business, Front Street is the oldest and most established brewery in Wilmington.  They produce about 1200 barrels (that’s 296,000 pints) of beer each year. Most of that beer is made by Front Street’s Head Brewer, Kelsie Cole.

 Kelsie started working at Front Street as a hostess in 2008, when she was just eighteen years old.  She quickly transitioned to serving, and then bartending her way through college. “With the help of Front Street's former Assistant Brewer, Christopher McGarvey, I started home brewing.  That was the nail in the coffin for my career path in sales, and utilizing my Business/ Marketing degree.  Using my creativity and passion for flavors was more important to me than talking about such flavors. The introvert in me began to realize maybe making the product I'd been selling and pitching for years would be a more appropriate path.”  In 2013, Kelsie made the transition from front of the house to beer production. In three short years she’s gone from cleaning kegs and helping out to Assistant Brewer, to Head Brewer. “The past three years have flown by so fast I'm still trying to press pause and embrace everything.”

Kelsie has literally embraced everything about her role. Very quickly she’s learned to fix pumps and glycol systems. She’s tackled the challenge of a poor barley crop year, and has become one with the twenty-five year old 10 barrel system. Kelsie says she enjoys being in control of the brewhouse, even though she realizes that some things are outside of anyone’s control on an older system. “How involved you are is reflected in how the beer turns out. Being the one person in charge of the wort (unfermented beer) is a lot pressure. Not only do I have Front Street’s legacy to continue, but my name also goes out with every beer that I make.”  Kelsie uses that pressure to constantly improve. “I am always asking myself how I can change a recipe to make it better, or improve my efficiency.” 

Being twenty-six years old and eight years into a career in the craft beer industry, Kelsie has literally grown up in Front Street Brewery. “A few years ago I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I wanted to learn and do as much as I could. These days, I’m trying to focus on finding a balance while taking on more responsibility both at the brewery and in the community. I’m working a lot of hours in addition to traveling frequently to attend conferences.” Now, she says the focus is on not overworking herself and carving out time for relaxation, as well as giving back to nonprofit organizations that are doing amazing work in Wilmington. Her solution to all of these life challenges is Warrior Two’s and Brews, a yoga class at the brewery that takes place every other Monday.  They suggest each attendee donate $10, which is then donated to local charity organizations. Fifty percent of the proceeds are donated to Yoga Village, a small, local non-profit that works to get yoga in classrooms across New Hanover and Brunswick County. The remaining fifty percent goes to another local NP of the instructor's choice.  “Since we started in September, we’ve raised over $2,000 for local nonprofits. It’s so cool to walk into a place and hand them a check and thank them for what they do,” she says. “It feels good to support the people that are the core of the community.” These donations are in addition to Front Street’s preexisting charity beers that are made each year for the sole purpose of supporting different sectors of the community. One of these beers is called Battleship Pale Ale, and supports the preservation of the USS North Carolina, which is docked in Wilmington.  It is retired from active military assignments, and serves only as a museum. This year, the release party of Battleship Pale Ale took place May 23rd on the deck of the ship, with a Warrior Two’s and Brews session to kick off the festivities. “I get goosebumps just talking about it,” Kelsie says. “Here’s this battleship with guns and cannons and implements of war, and in the midst of all of it, we’re doing yoga, which is all about peace and harmony. And we’re going to do a lot of good for our community in the meantime.”

When Kelsie isn’t brewing or changing the world, you can find her educating new hires at Front Street about beer styles and food pairings.  She also gives tours of the brewing facility for the public every day between three and five o’clock, and she even enjoys a good beer herself from time to time. “My favorite beer style is IPA.  I consider my blood type to be Sculpin.”

All photos of Kelsie photo credit Megan Deitz www.megandietz.com

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Kim Thompson: The Story of Becoming Something Else

Most of us are familiar with the main ingredients in beer: water, hops, yeast, and grain (usually barley).  Each one of these ingredients are fascinating and complex on their own if you really dig into them. Hops are incredibly hard to grow. Yeast are particularly complex and finicky single cell organisms. Water chemistry can make the difference between a good beer and a great beer for a number of reasons. And grains.  Grains are the ingredient that make me ask, “How did the ancient brewers ever figure this out?!”  One cannot simply go out to their barley field, thresh a bunch of grains, and start brewing.  The grains must first be malted in order to be useful to the brewer.  Soda shops and malted milk balls have put malt in our common vernacular. We all have heard this term before, but how many of us really understand what it means?  I certainly didn’t have a full understanding of the process myself before entering into this industry. I’ll save you the vocabulary words and the diagrams.  Simply put, the maltster (that’s someone who makes malt) tricks the grain into growing.  They give the seeds just enough air and water to make them start to grow, then they dry it out, and roast the grains to develop the flavor and color. This process allows the starches in the grains to break down into simpler sugars that can then be extracted by the brewer and fermented by the yeast. Skip the malting step, and all you have is seed water. Insert pouty face here.

Until just recently, the only people malting grains were behemoth companies that supplied behemoth breweries. Those companies still exist, but now we are seeing craft maltsters start to work with grains that are locally grown and supply local craft breweries and homebrewers. They are still few and far between, but we are fortunate to have Riverbend Malt House here in Asheville. What makes them exceptional is that they are working with North Carolina grown grains that other maltsters wouldn’t normally bother with. This is bolstering a post-tobacco farming community that has been weeded out of business and struggling to retool their farms to stay in business. 

The work of malting is arduous. There is a lot of shoveling grains onto the malting floor, then into the kiln, then on to final packaging – usually tons at a time. It isn’t often considered “women’s work”, but just like every other part of the brewing industry, there are always a few.  I spoke with Kim Thompson of Riverbend Malt about her role at the facility. “I’ll admit that I come from a spoiled perspective of women in this industry. Riverbend is not a dude-bro club. These guys are conscientious about what they are doing, and the way they treat their employees is amazing. Everyone I've come across has been generous and open. It seems to be a pretty laid back community of like-minded people who are all about shared passions and getting the job done. It may be just around the corner or perhaps I'm just reaping the benefits of the trailblazers that came before me. When I go to work, I know I’m going to work my ass off, laugh my ass off, and learn a hell of a lot, and that’s because of the guys that I work with. I can't take myself too seriously. I appreciate the differences, but so far, in everything I've chosen to do whether it's been unconventional or otherwise, being a woman has never been an advantage or a disadvantage for me. I follow my heart and my gut, I do it with drive and passion, and being a woman has never been an issue. I've actually never considered it or factored it into how I navigate life or chosen professions. ”

Because of the physical nature of the work, everyone at Riverbend moves around to different stations, so Kim is involved with each step of the process from raw grain to finished product. She says that she was prepared for the laborious nature of the job, but was floored (no pun intended) by the cerebral nature of it. “We’re working with a living organism,” she says. “Every day I go into the germination room, I smell the grains, feel them, and taste them to see where they are in the process. I’m a very tactile person, and this is my way of educating my senses. It gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation for the process.”

She points to her childhood and adolescence in Germany and Belgium as the roots for her two main passions: bread and beer.  She knew that she wanted to be a part of the industries that make them happen, and working with the raw materials has given her that outlet.  She also mills grain into flour for Carolina Ground, and artisanal stone mill in Asheville. “I like having a hand in the story that becomes something else. I enjoy doing things so that other people don’t have to them and knowing that what I do makes life easier for other people. Whether the consumer even thinks about malting barley or milling grain, it’s an important part of modern life. We all have no idea how many hands go into the thing that allows us to be in the world the way we are today.” She says she’s comfortable being the human equivalent to a blue screen: the thing that you can’t see, but it makes your experience richer.  “Take our Riverbend Heritage Malt, for example.  I malt that at Riverbend, then I grind it into flour at Carolina Ground.  Then The French Broad Chocolate Lounge uses that flour to make pastries.  The person that eats that cake isn’t thinking about the flour or the malted grains that it comes from. They’re simply enjoying dessert. I love having my hand in so many steps of the process that make that experience possible for people.”

I asked Kim if she has a favorite beer. “Well,” she said, “I tend to go through phases depending on seasons and what's available or being a total nerd and getting into pairing, but saisons or anything with funk are the styles that are most appealing to me.”  And her favorite grain to work with? “Rye is beautiful.  It’s so complex in flavor, and it has this rich mouthfeel. I want to mill some of our malted rye into flour and bake with it at home.”

So why didn’t Kim pursue a career in baking or brewing? “I like being a part of that process on my own at home, but just because you like to cook doesn’t mean you should be a chef. Besides, I like to do things that are [physically] hard to do. What we do isn’t easy, but that’s what makes it so beautiful.”

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A Magical Mystery Tour of the Triangle

I recently moved to the Triangle area to accept a cellar position with Mystery Brewing Company. What does a newly relocated Cellarman and Beer Writer do when finding themselves in unfamiliar territory? Well, we go on a beer tour, of course! I gathered the gals from the Mystery team, hopped in my pickup truck, and took off to sample the beers and meet (did you have any doubt?) the women behind them! Brittany Judy, Office Manager, and Jessica Arvidson-Williams, NC Sales Rep were more than happy to go day drinking with me on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon!




Disclaimer: There wasn't time in a day to get around to all of the breweries in the Triangle that have women in leadership and/or production roles. I have my work cut out for me down here! It certainly isn't close to all the breweries the Triangle has to offer.


Stop #1
Bombshell Beer Company, Holly Springs, NC
This is a 100% woman-owned brewery in Holly Springs, NC just south of Raleigh. I caught up with owners Ellen Joyner, Jackie Hudspeth and Michelle Miniutti on the heels of their second anniversary party, and just as the brewery was preparing to begin canning their beers for distribution. They got their start as homebrewers while they each worked in the corporate world. These women bring their experience in marketing, sales, and product management into their jobs as brewery owners. Each of them are deeply concerned with the quality of their beers, and want every interaction with their brand to be the best it can be. Michelle recounted the decision to stop making their most popular beer, a pilsner, because of quality concerns. "It came down to opportunity costs," she said. Because this lager style takes longer to ferment than ale styles, they weren't making as much of their other styles as they could. Bombshell spent some time taste testing a cream ale with their regular customers, and found that the similar flavor profile was well received in their market. The Star Light Ale was born! Even though they were all nervous about making the switch, the brewery is better off for being brave and taking the chance. They admit that making tough decisions can be hard, but the end result is worth it.
"I love seeing people having a good time and enjoying our beers," Jackie said. "Even though decision making can be difficult at times, we know that it's because we have a great brand and everyone in the room wants what's best for the company."
"You want to come to work in the morning," Ellen added. "Plus, I don't have to wear suits and heels anymore, either! I had to put on heels for Christmas, and I almost fell off of them! It had been that long since I'd worn them!"
Michelle's favorite part of brewery ownership is being more hands on in the community. "We are able to host fundraisers in our space and give back to the community in a more personal way. In the corporate world, we did a lot of high level philanthropy, but we rarely got to meet the people we were helping."
Bombshell has just launched distribution of cans around the local market. "But," Michelle said, "Growth for the sake of growth isn't what we are after. We want to grow at a pace that allows us to continue to focus on quality, ensuring that we are putting the best possible packaged product into the market."
"We work hard," Jackie continued, "we want to have a good product to show for that hard work."


Stop #2
Raleigh Brewing Company, Raleigh, NC
I met up with Kristie Nystedt just after the weekly Sunday afternoon yoga class at the brewery. She and her husband, Patrick opened Raleigh Brewing Company in March of 2013 on the heels of opening two other businesses that they still operate. They Nystedts opened Atlantic Brew Supply (ABS) Commercial, which wholesales commercial brew systems and tanks to breweries in September of 2012, followed quickly by Atlantic Brew Supply homebrew shop in December of the same year. They have now grown to be the largest homebrew supplier on the eastern seaboard!
Kristie says that she and Patrick had always talked about opening a nanobrewery in their retirement. But when her company announced a double merger at the same time that Patrick's company declared bankruptcy, they decided that their dreams didn't need to wait any longer. They have two daughters that were about to enter college at the time, and suddenly what seemed risky from the comfort of secure jobs seemed like the least risky thing they could do. "No one had time to dip toes into the water. We went in with both feet. We knew that the excitement around craft beer was growing, and the time was right."
I was enjoying their most popular beer, the "Hell Yes Ma'am" a Belgian Golden Ale. "This is the beer that I helped create," Kristie tells me. It's the only style she insisted that they carry from the beginning. So, when the guys presented the initial line up of beers that they proposed as their core brands, Kristie immediately said, "Where's the Belgian Golden?" The only proper response was, "Hell yes Ma'am." The guys challenged Kristie to come up with the recipe, which she did. She designed the malt bill, the hop character, and chose the yeast that make up this unique, high gravity beer.
I asked Kristie if she had experienced any advantages or disadvantages by being a woman in a male dominated industry. "If I have, I haven't noticed," she said. "I don't play that card. I have too much on my plate to get wrapped up in that sort of thing. If I run into any push back, I just tell them that they might want to try the beers now. People are usually a lot nicer after a beer. I'm more interested in being a part of the community. I want to help Raleigh grow to be the city that it wants to be. I just want to add a small grain to that," Kristie says of her involvement with several economic development boards and merchant associations.


Stop #3
Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC
Amanda Richardson is a brewer from from New Hampshire, though she first discovered her love of beer while traveling in the Czech Republic. She started her career in the beer industry at Brooklyn Brew Shop, orchestrating assembly of gallon kits and brewing on a small scale for events. When she relocated to Durham a couple years ago, Fullsteam's Plow to Pint model spoke to her. Fullsteam is dedicated to locally sourced ingredients, and endeavors to support local agriculture in post tobacco North Carolina. Amanda had already been brewing with local ingredients she found at the farmer's market, and Fullsteam offered the challenge of scale. "It's harder than people think. We have to get a large amount of quality ingredients to brew a la batch. It has to be feasible on our system, and then what if it's a bad crop that year? There are challenges all the way through." The flip side of the challenge is the reward of getting to interact with the people in the community when they bring ingredients to sell to the brewery.
Amanda points out another perk of working in the brewing industry: the people that it attracts. "We come from so many backgrounds, it makes work more dynamic," said the brewer who studied neuroscience in college! She admits that the combination of science and creativity that goes into beer production was a main draw for her entering the field. "It's like I'm providing therapy for the yeasts! We make sure that their needs are met, so that they can do the work that they do. We are like yeast social workers!"
Mary Beth Brandt, Fullsteam's General Manager joined the conversation. She started out volunteering "doing stuff" with Fullsteam before they got the brewery up and running. Sean, the owner, asked Mary Beth for her resume, and a few months later she was hired on, and over time she worked her way to the position of GM. She still defines her job description as, "doing stuff; whatever needs to be done." She encourages anyone seeking a position in the brewing industry to keep searching until the right opportunity comes along. "If you're really interested in beer, don't be afraid to get out there and find a company that will give you an opportunity. You may have to start in one position before you transition into the role that you really want."
"There's a lot of education out there," Amanda adds, "but there are still an apprentice route that could be beneficial to some people."

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  2008 Hits
2008 Hits

Friday Beer Tasting - Feeling Funky!

Tonight at Metro Wines, 5-7pm, beer and wine tango side-by-side with Wicked Weed Marina Peach and Apricot Blonde Sour and Ca' di Rajo Le Moss Frizzante.

Although seemingly very different, these two share some very interesting commonalities. In fact, sour ales are often referred to as the bridge between beer and wine. Pairing these two side by side, it's easy to understand why.

 

WICKED WEED MARINA

American Wild Ale, Peach and Apricot Blonde Sour

"Marina is a blonde sour ale aged in wine barrels with over one pound per gallon of peaches and apricots. The result is a lovely, hazy-gold ale with deep stone fruit character."

American wild ales utilize unique yeast strains or bacteria, sometimes in addition to or in lieu of the traditional brewers' yeast saccharomyces cerevisiae. People usually develop a love-hate relationship with these sour ales. The funky flavors produced in fermentation give them a unique of character that some liken to ...well, I'll let you use your own descriptors. Personally, I'm a big fan. 

Marina's mild flavors of apricot and peach tame the wild in this sour ale. The barrel aging process gives it a depth that lingers on your palate and allows you to savor the funk. 

If only Metro Wines had a disco ball.

 

CA' DI RAJO LE MOSS FRIZZANTE

Wild Fermented, Col Fondo Prosecco

 

Le Moss is not your typical prosecco. This wine is unfiltered and made in the traditional methods of Col Fondo. Fermented with indigenous yeasts in bloom directly in the bottle, it has a slight sour taste similar to a tart apple balanced with a full mouthfeel the winery describes as "pleasant and harmonious on the palate."
When one Metro Wine's customer tasted Le Moss and shared that it reminded her of a gose. That got our wheels turning. Why not lead adventurers across the bridge to the world of sour beers via Le Moss! 

 

If you like a little funk in your flavor, both of these are worth a taste. 

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  1991 Hits
1991 Hits

The Legend of the Boojum

The Legend of the Boojum
There are mythical creatures that live in the high hills surrounding Waynesville, NC. You may not see them, as they rarely leave their cozy den, but their presence is felt across WNC by many a beer lover. I am speaking, of course, about the brother and sister team behind Boojum Brewing Company.  Kelsie and Ben Baker discovered their mutual love for brewing while they were on opposite ends of the Eastern Seaboard. Ben was working in a nuclear power plant in Florida.  His sister Kelsie was an environmental engineer in Boston. Neither of them knew about each other’s love for brewing until a family gathering, when they each disclosed that they wanted to leave their professions and start a brewery. It only made sense to them to start one brewery together. I had heard about people like this – people that actually enjoy the company of their family members for eight hours a day, every day – but I had never met any in real life. Most of our interview went like this: Kelsie and Ben laughing and getting a long while I cocked my head to the side with a look of bewilderment on my face. 
I was even more surprised to find out that their parents and aunt and uncle are also involved. On the one hand, it makes perfect sense that the two need reinforcements to pull off such an undertaking.  On the other hand, the three ring side show that I have come to know as family dynamics make this all the more unbelievable. But given that they are celebrating their first year in business by adding a line of canned beers that are being distributed across WNC, ramping up production to keep up with demand, and trying to figure out how to expand their taproom and restaurant to accommodate the influx of visitors, I decided to suspend my disbelief and just go with it. 
“You know your family, so you know what to expect. You know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how to work together as a team for the best result,” Kelsie says. “It can be hard to separate work from family life, so sometimes we find ourselves at a family picnic talking about work when we should be relaxing,” she counters. 
“I think it’s awesome. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Ben insists. “There will be fights, but you’re family, so you get over it. You can’t just get rid of your family members, so you have to find a way to make it work.” And they have. 
Kelsie, 27, handles the day to day operations of the brewery. She schedules the brewing, orders ingredients, helps brew and package the beer, and some of the cellar work so that Ben, 28, can focus on the brewing and making the beers the best they can be. “There are so many good breweries out there, that we have to focus on quality,” Kelsie says. Already this brewery has garnered a lot of respect from the local brewing community. 
Kendra Penland, Director of the Asheville Brewer’s Alliance had this to say, "Boojum Brewing is a great example of how our Asheville Brewers Alliance members and their products can be so distinct, but do such a solid job of knowing who they are as a brand and focusing on the customer experience, that success naturally follows. I think that's why so many breweries not only coexist in our region, but see the value in collaborating with and supporting each other - everyone wants to make great beer their way, and they want to see others do the same thing. It elevates everyone in the industry, so everyone wins."
“We are excited to grow, and we want to take our business as far as we can,” Kelsie says regarding their future plans. “We are looking forward to seeing our cans in bottle shops and grocery stores, but we also want to grow sustainably.  We are focused primarily on Western North Carolina right now, from Asheville west.  We plan to grow as fast as we comfortably can without sacrificing quality.” Having said that, there’s a lot of change coming for the brother-sister team in 2016. Boojum’s King of the Mountain Double IPA just hit the shelves in cans in December of 2015, and Graveyard Fields, their highly coveted Blueberry Coffee Porter and Reward American Pale Ale arrived in February. Mûr, a Raspberry Saison will arrive later in the Spring. “It’s so hard to decide which beers to focus our distribution efforts on.  Ultimately, we went with the ones that people asked us for the most.”  Even as they continue to grow their staff, they are keeping with the theme of family and close, close friends.  They’ve hired their friend, Keller Fitzpatrick, who has literally been friends with the Bakers since they were babies. Keller is heading up the barrel aging and sour program at Boojum. Cody Noble, who attended the same high school. is also a recent graduate of the brewing program at Blue Ridge Community College in Brevard.  He has already come up with some great beers like our Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout & Jalapeño Wheat IPA. Elisa Tathum, a longtime friend from Kelsie’s days in Boston, also worked as a distiller for Blue Ridge Distilling, which makes Defiant Whisky, before coming on board at Boojum. 
Boojum is currently working on developing new recipes and experimenting with new techniques. “We come together and decide as a team how we want the beer to taste, then Ben makes it taste like that!” They are also isolating yeast strains from the local flora and using that to ferment beers. Part of the fun for Kelsie and Ben is keeping the lineup exciting with special releases and new flavors.  At the time of our interview, they were most excited about their Galaxy Far, Far Away IPA that they made for the release of The Force Awakens.  They used Millennium, Falconers Flight, and Galaxy hops to create this English Style IPA. You could tell that they were both huge fans of the films by how excited they both were about this beer.  I could start to see why they worked together so well by focusing on what they agree on and staying true to themselves. I could tell that they were both on the same page when I asked them what their loftiest goal for the brewery is.  “To make the ultimate IPA,” Kelsie said. 
“The best IPA EVER!” Ben echoed!
 
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Friday Beer Tasting - An Apple a Day...

Friday Beer Tasting - An Apple a Day...

Who said apple cider is a fall beverage? Not I...and neither does Food and Wine Magazine. One of their most recent articles features a list of refreshing apple cider cocktail recipes (http://www.foodandwine.com/blogs/5-spritzy-hard-cider-cocktails). Personally, I consider these often-canned beverages picnic perfect. Max Patch Bald, anyone? 

This Friday at Metro Wines, 5-7pm, we're going to explore the versatility of this much-loved beverage. Gather round ye gluten free guys and gals...drink up!

 

FOR LOVERS OF ALL THINGS LOCAL:

NAKED APPLE - BLACKBERRY GOLD

Blackberry Gold has just a hint of our very own mountain grown blackberries woven into this Golden Delicious Cider. Its tart and tasty and leaves the palate wanting more! This is a hands-down favorite amongst hard core cider drinkers because it’s quite pleasantly a bit different from a traditional cider.

 

wicked peel

NAKED APPLE - WICKED PEEL

Wicked Peel Hard Cider is refreshing, crisp and delicious.  It has a hint of sweet but not too much making it the PERFECT cider for a hot summer day. Picnic in the park, anyone? We only use Apples from Henderson County, North Carolina.

 

 

JUST PLAIN GOOD:

 

CITIZEN CIDER - THE FULL NELSON

This is a 'welcome' and a 'hello' to all the beer drinkers out there willing to take a chance on hard cider. Reach across the aisle and experience this bright, citrusy, easy-drinking cider. This cider is made with fresh sweet cider pressed at Happy Valley Orchard in Middlebury, Vermont and dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops. We can get along.

No added sugar, never from concentrate.

Pairings: Scallops, pork burger, ceasar salad, cheddar cheese

 

CITIZEN CIDER - UNIFIED PRESS

Made from 100% locally (Vermont) sourced apples, never from concentrate, the Unified Press is Citizen Cider's flagship cider that keeps you wondering where it's been your whole life. This naturally gluten-free cider is an off-dry, crisp, clean and refreshing cider that keeps you coming back.

Pairings: Pork, soft cheese, spicy food, smoked fish, rustic bread and butter.

 

 

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  2010 Hits
2010 Hits

Friday Beer Tasting - Fruit Forward

Friday Beer Tasting - Fruit Forward

Spring forward, fruit forward. It's not much of a stretch is it? 

Last week we tasted some tasty belgian-style brews as we sprung into spring. Tonight we are going to feature two very different ales, both with a healthy dose of Vitamin-C to help you rebound from winter: One-time release local Hi-Wire Brewing's Tropical Fruit Golden Strong and limited availability Dogfish Head Chateau Jiahu Ancient Ale. Join us between 5-7pm and drink some liquid sunshine. Below is a brief description from each of the breweries on their fine beers.

 

HI-WIRE TROPICAL FRUIT GOLDEN STRONG

 

A fruit-forward, 11% ABV, American-style golden strong ale brewed with fresh guava, papaya, and mango.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DOGFISH HEAD CHATEAU JIAHU ANCIENT ALE


Let's travel back in tie again for another Dogfish Head Ancient Ale (Midas Touch was our first foray and Theobrama our most recent). Our destination is 9,000 years ago, in Northern China! Preserved pottery jars found in the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province have revealed that mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey and fruit was being produced that long ago, right around the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East!

Fast forward to 2005. Molecular archaeologist, Dr. Patrick McGovern, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology calls on Dogfish Head to re-create another ancient beverage and Chateau Jiahu is born. 

In keeping with historic evidence, Dogfish brewers use orange blossom honey, muscat grape juice, barley malt and hawthorne fruit. The wort is fermented for about a month with sake yeast until the beer is ready for packaging.

 
Food Pairing Recommendations: 
Mexican and Indian cuisines, spice cake, oranges
 
Glassware Recommendation:
Snifter
 
Wine Comparable:
Citrusy sauvignon
 
 
 
 
 
 
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  1937 Hits
1937 Hits

Friday Beer Tasting - Spring has Sprung!

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As the spring equinox, on March 20, approaches and the sun begins to shed its light into the evening hours, I can't help but think of the warmer spring and summer months. Since beer is often at the forefront of my mind, this also makes me think of saisons, sours, and anything Belgian in style.

This Friday, March 11, 5-7 pm, at Metro we will have these fine ales "on the taste."

 

Highland Brewing Company Saw-Whet Saison: Saisons, traditionally Belgian farmhouse ales were brewed throughout the winter to be enjoyed by the thirsty farmers during the spring and summer months. Highland notes that Saw-Whet "shows off a complex malt bill and a unique, spicy yeast, with subtle citrus notes. Astutely hopped for balance and dimension, while finishing exceptionally dry. A perfect beer to transition from winter to spring."


D9 Whiskers on Kittens Blonde Sour: Sour beers are definitely an acquired taste, but I find the effect of lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and pediococcus on an "intentionally" infected beer charming. D9's Whiskers on Kittens is no exception with a hint of rose petals on the palate and a sour sweep of the tongue from front to back.

Wicked Weed Lunatic Blonde: Brewed with Belgian hops and yeast, this Blonde Ale imparts the fruity, bread flavors of a classic Belgian Blonde. Simplicity at its finest. We'll leave fancy to the city folk. The packaging tells the story best..."Some believe it moonstruck madness to craft Old World ales for modern palettes constantly clamoring for the extremes of 'Hoppy' or 'Sour.' While our love for those extremities is strong, we believe that subtley, balance, and simplicity in beer are sacred necessities."

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1932 Hits
1932 Hits

Friday Beer Tasting - Foothills Brewing -Tonight!

FOOTHILLS BREWING BEER TASTING  foothills-brewing-logo

 

Beer-Thumbnails-Jade-bigJADE IPA

Jade. Exotic jewel of the orient. Now a gem of an IPA. Bold, citrusy Pacific Jade hops lend striking tropical fruit notes and a hint of peppery finish to this easy-drinking IPA. Dry hop additions of Chinook and Citra add heady aroma and bold flavor. A special beer to charm the hop lover in you. Go ahead. Get Jaded.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 7.4%

Color (SRM): 4.1

Bitterness (IBUs): 86

 

 

 

Beer-Thumbnails-SeeingDoubleSEEING DOUBLE IPA

Foothills’ first foray into high gravity brewing. A dense blend of base malts sets a solid foundation for massive additions of Cascade hops and a Chinook dry-hopping. The result is an intense flavor profile that’s citrusy with heavy notes of pine. And immensely delicious.

Alcohol by Volume (ABV): 9.3%

Color (SRM): 4.9

Bitterness (IBUs): 108

 

 

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Jess Reiser: Nurturing a Business and Watching it Grow

You know the old saying, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person to do it”? Following that logic, I think I would ask Jess Reiser, co-owner of Burial Beer, to do all of my dirty work! She somehow manages to make running a thriving brewery while raising two young children look easy. When I spoke with Jess, she was just recovering from Burnpile, the annual fall beer festival that started as a get together in their home with a few friends. The festival celebrates the fall harvest by showcasing seasonal offerings from a variety of breweries across the state. “Festivals are fun, but they are also a lot of work. We don’t have to put on an event like this,” Jess says, “but festivals and events are part of Burial.” She points to the sickle that is part of the logo. “Burial, for some, is a necessary step to reach the afterlife. At Burial Beer Co., we see it as a celebration: of life, of the cyclical nature of harvest and of the brewing process. We find glory in the things that once were.” Bringing the community of brewers together with the community of craft beer enthusiasts in a repurposed building to celebrate this cycle just makes sense. When Jess, Doug, and Tim started Burial in 2013, they had a one barrel system (that’s two kegs in each batch) that made it hard to keep up with demand for their beer. Now, just two and a half years later, they have expanded to a ten barrel system with thirty barrel fermenters. Burial is producing more beer and hosting more guests than ever before. The opportunity to purchase the building they had been leasing arose. This allowed Burial to expand into the outdoor spaces that surrounds the building at 40 Collier Ave. In 2015, they added cans to their line of offerings, and began distribution to other parts of the state, including Charlotte, The Triangle and the Triad. The brewery is currently looking for a second location for additional expansion. All of these are big strides as a young company experiencing steady growth, but they are giant leaps for a mother of two boys, ages four and two. The youngest, Nash, was born just two months after Burial opened! Suddenly, the burgeoning brewery and petite owner appear much bigger than at first glance! Jess has single handedly managed the public relations, marketing, human resources, book keeping, and event planning! Only recently was she able to expand her sales team and delegate tasting room management to their General Manger about a year ago. Even still, she insists that Burial is growing at a pace that is comfortable for them. I had to know how she was able to juggle all of these elements, and so well at that. Prior to opening a brewery, Jess worked at a large nonprofit that worked toward getting homeless adults into housing and connecting them with resources. In her role in the fundraising department, she wrote grants, planned events, managed social media accounts, built and strengthened the brand and their marketing campaign. All of this experience has prepared her for what she is doing now. She also holds a Masters in Art Administration, which has helped with the visual branding of Burial Beer Company. “Tim and Doug also have a great eye,” Reiser says. “I fell in love with European Renaissance paintings while I was in school, specifically Northern Renaissance paintings. Now we have a line of beers named after famous works from this genre.” She adds that they work with an artist to communicate the cyclical theme by including a light side and a dark side to each of their can designs. They show the artist the painting the beer is named after, and he creates new pieces that nod at the original piece while staying true to Burial’s brand. So what’s next for Jessica and Burial Beer? She says that they are currently looking for a second location that would have more space for a larger taproom and production facility. With this new location they hope to grow production, but not beyond 16,500 barrels per year. “Even if we were met with demand and could grow past that, we wouldn’t,” Jess says. “We want to remain a manageable niche brewery. All we really want is to make a living, and retire one day. Maybe take a vacation once in a while, and pay for our kids’ college.” When asked what she would say to other women looking to go into business for themselves, Jess had this to say, “Women are often met with the challenge of wanting to do it all – children, taking on leadership roles, or opening a business – and feeling like they have to choose. I would tell other women that they can do it all. Having a business is a lot like having a child. It’s stressful, and the future is uncertain yet it is extremely rewarding. I have maternal feelings toward my business, and I care for it as I would a child. Parenting and owning a business challenge you in many of the same ways, but they are ways that make you a better person. Sometimes I wish I could fast forward ten years and know that my kids are healthy and happy, and the business is successful. But I think it’s important to remember that we are only human. No one can anticipate everything that will come up. We just deal with the curve balls as they come.”
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  1870 Hits
1870 Hits

Back to the Future for Craft Beer

                There is a growing trend in the craft beer movement toward historical styles these days. This gets me excited.  It means that more people are getting serious about learning about beer, not just seeing who can pound the most flavorless, water-like beverages.  We are going for quality here, not quantity.  Some of these styles have only existed in history books until they were resurrected in liquid form by the craft brewers and home brewers striving for preservation and innovation of libation. In fact, the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) just added an entire section devoted to Historical Styles for judges to go by at homebrew festivals.  This means that more of them are showing up at competitions as well as on the shelves.  What’s all the fuss about?  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Gose [pronounced “goes-uh”]: This sour, salty wheat beer was nearly extinct at the end of the twentieth century. Traditionally fermented with both brewer’s yeast and lactobacillus to add acidity, this style takes its name from the Gose River in Goslar, Germany, where it is thought to have originated over one thousand years ago when adventurous brewers decided to see what would happen if they made beer with the area’s naturally salty water. More commercial representations of this style are coming on the market every day, and the Gose fan club is growing.  Some examples include Westbrook Brewing’s Gose, Anderson Valley Brewing’s The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose, Victory Brewing’s Kirsch Gose, Evil Twin Brewing’s Mission Gose, and Braustelle’s  Freigeist Geisterzug Gose.

Kentucky Common: A dark cream ale that sprang up from the mineral rich carbonate water in and around Louisville, Kentucky in the late 1800’s and went the way of the buffalo when Prohibition hit Kentucky in 1919.  As with traditional cream ales, corn grits are used to add mouthfeel.  Unlike other cream ale recipes, however, this one calls for about ten percent of the grains to be caramel or dark roasted.  When carbonate (CO3 ) water is used (often in conjunction with calcium and/or magnesium) in the process as it was in Louisville, the color of the malts is more easily extracted from the kernel resulting in a darker beer than carbonate-free water.  Commercial example: Apocalypse Brew Works Ortel’S 1912

Lichtenhainer: This is a smoky, sour wheat beer made from a mash of smoked wheat and malted barley that orginated from the central German region of Thuringia. It is often thought of as the love child of the tart Berliner Wiesse and the smokey Grätzer (we’ll get to those in a moment). They are characterized by their low ABV (around 4 or 5%) and almost nonexistent hop presence. As with Gose and the Kentucky Common, this style was popular in the late 1800’s.  Commercial examples include Westbrook Brewing’s Lichtenhainer.

London Brown Ale: A caramel, toffee, sometimes chocolatey dessert in a glass! This style uses a hefty proportion of medium to dark roasted barley and carbonate water to get as much the flavors and color out of the grains as possible. They aren’t quite as dark as a stout, and sweeter than a Dark English Mild with an average ABV of only 3%.  We can trace the history of this beer back to its invention by Mann’s in 1902 in London. Brown Ale had previously been a blanket term that encompassed many styles including milds and porters. Commercial examples include Mann's Brown Ale, Harvey’s Nut Brown Ale, Harvey’s Old Ale.

Grätzer [GRATE-sir]: This beer actually has two names because the Polish city of Grodzisk it derived from was called Grätz when it was ruled by Prussia and Germany.  Therefore, you may see it referred to as Piwo Grodziskie [pivo grow-JEES-keeuh].  This is the smokey wheat beer that is rumored to have inspired the Lichtenhainer style we discussed earlier. Grätzer is made of all or almost all oak wood smoked malted wheat, several strains of ale yeasts, and German, Czech, or Polish hop varieties.  It sports a thick, white head of foam and a golden clarity accomplished not from filtering but from the addition of Isinglass finings. While this style was made for several hundred years, it was most popular at the turn of the 20th century and died out after World War II. Commerical examples include Professor Fritz Briem Piwo Grodziskie-Grätzer Ale and New Belgium and The 3 Floyds collaboration Lips of Faith Grätzer (now out of production).

Roggenbier: Described as a dunkleweizen made from a mash of at least 50% rye instead of wheat, this is a light orange to dark red or brown beer with a thick, frothy foam. The rye imparts a creamy mouthfeel and an unmistakeable spice that is balanced with the banana clove esters delivered by the weizen yeast.  Light use of hops in this style keep the flavors of the yeast and grains front and center. This style was never very popular, and was only made in a small area of Bavaria called Regensburg. It struggled to gain widespread production because of the German purity law known as Reinheitsgebot.  In an effort to make more solid bread available for a starving population, the law was enacted in 1516 and dictated that only barley should be used to make beer so that other grains could be preserved for bread production. Paulaner Roggen (formerly Thurn und Taxis, no longer imported into the US), Bürgerbräu Wolznacher Roggenbier

Sahti: There’s a lot of debate over what distinguishes a Sahti from other styles.  Most descriptions include a good proportion of rye in the malt bill, and juniper berries for balancing the sweetness rather than hops, and low carbonation.  The truth is that there simply aren’t a lot of commercial representations of this style, and they vary widely from one another, in part because of the history.  Sahti is a traditional Finnish beer that until very recent history, was strictly homebrew.  Because of the lack of commercial breweries defining this style, home brewers have been free to tweak recipes to their liking.  The BJCP has the most narrow description of the style that I’ve found, claiming that sourness is not appropriate and that the yeast character should be limited to the banana-clove esters of a weizen yeast. Other self-proclaimed Finnish Sahtis include the tartness of wild fermentation, and some do use hops rather than juniper for flavor balance. What is consistent, however, is that this beer does not undergo a boil as most beers do.  This means that the proteins are not omitted from the beer, and stay behind as a slick mouthfeel and a pronounced sweetness. The beer is later filtered over a bed of juniper branches to impart a piney, gin-like flavor in most cases, but not all.  Commerical examples include Dogfish Head Sah’tea, New Belgium Sahti Ale, and Samuel Adams Norse Legend.

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
It’s no secret that I have aspirations to enter the brewing industry. Most of you know that I’ve been working toward a degree in Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation at AB Tech’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast. I even know what position I want to pursue!  I wrote about it here. So, I am excited to share with you all that I have been offered, and have accepted a position as Cellarman at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, NC. If you aren’t familiar with this title or what I will be doing, here’s a fun interview with a few cellarmen that explains it all very well.  I will be making the transition from beer buying to beer producing at the beginning of 2016. 
 
As excited as I am to take this position, I am also sad to have to say good-bye to Asheville and Metro Wines. That includes all of you that I have gotten to know through our interactions in the shop!  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you and your tastes and preferences and geeking out with you about beer this last year!  While my presence in the shop will be limited to occasional guest appearances, I will continue to share my writing on this blog, as well as Asheville Grit and WNC Woman Magazine!  
 
I am also excited to invite you all to a special tasting of Mystery Brewing Company’s beers at Metro Wines on Wednesday, December 30th from 5-7pm. I’ll be here to share the beers that I will soon have a hand in creating. Jessica from Mystery will be on hand as well as Erika who will be filling my role here at the shop. I hope to see you there, also!  Please come out and share in my excitement! 
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Drink Like a Girl With Dogfish Head!

Drink Like a Girl With Dogfish Head!

Brewing Up A Storm will host Drink Like a Girl with Wes Anderson from Dogfish Head on Friday, December 11 from 5-7 pm. Join us for this free beer tasting featuring four Dogfish Head beers!  Wes will be available to answer questions about Dogfish Head and their beers!  Here's what we'll pour:

This was the first beer in our Ancient Ales series.
 
This sweet yet dry beer is made with ingredients found in 2,700-year-old drinking vessels from the tomb of King Midas. Somewhere between beer, wine and mead, Midas will please the chardonnay and beer drinker alike.
 
For years, Dogfish Head has worked with biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern to bring Ancient Ales to life. For more on Midas Touch and the experience of Penn Museum excavators as they uncovered the tomb of the legendary King Midas, read this essay from Dr. Pat.
 
An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree," and its wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.

This highly roasty and malty brown ale clocks in at 12% ABV. A huge hit at our Rehoboth Beach brewpub when first released in November 2006, Palo went into full production at the end of 2007.

At 10,000 gallons, our two Palo tanks are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition (and we have three same-sized oak tanks right next to them).

Sixty-One, our first new core beer since 2007, was born at the crossroads of serendipity, experimentation and brotherhood.

Whenever Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione and his neighborhood friends gather for drinks, they give each other a big ol' man-hug and order a round of 60 Minute IPA. A few years ago, Sam also ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each pint of 60 Minute. They all dug the combination of fruity complexity and pungent hoppiness, and the blend became a beloved tradition.

Sixty-One captures that tradition in a bottle and marries two Dogfish Head innovations: beer/wine hybrids -- which Dogfish has focused on for well over a decade with beers like Midas Touch and Raison D'être -- and continually-hopped IPAs.

The name Sixty-One is a reminder that this beer is Dogfish Head's best-selling 60 Minute IPA plus one new ingredient: syrah grape must from California. The label, painted by Sam, is a twist on a typical watercolor. Rather than using water, Sam mixed the green pigment with beer and the red pigment with wine. And because Sixty-One pairs so well
with chocolate, he painted the browns on the label with melted chocolate.

60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped -- more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. (Getting a vibe of where the name came from?)

60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it's the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!

Every Beer Has A Story...

In our Quick Sip Clip video below, Sam Calagione talks about the 60 Minute IPA. For some perspective, he compares this beer to its predecessor, 90 Minute IPA, and its big brother, 120 Minute IPA.

Sam stepped out of the brewery for the taping of this Quick Sip Clip and comes to us from the place where it all started: Dogfish Head, Maine.

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Thanksgiving Beers!

Thanksgiving Beers!

I'm sure I'll repeat myself many, many times over the next couple of weeks, as I'm already getting asked what I'll be drinking on Thanksgiving Day.  Here are my picks for pairing with hors devours, main course, and dessert! 

Hors devours: Cider!

 Naked Cider, Hendersonville, NC

Their Wicked Peel is a very apple-y cider that gets your salvating glands going!  Depending on your menu, the Blackberry Gold is also delicious!  

Main Course: Light, fresh flavors

Try Twice as Nice Dopplebock from Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville, NC, Harvester Octoberfest from Green Man Brewing, Asheville, NC, or Ovila Abbey Saison from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, MIlls River, NC.

Dessert: Dark, sweet, and maybe a little spicy!

Try Imperial Pumpkin Smash from Crown Valley Brewing, Ste. Genevive, MO, or either of these great ones from Blind Squirrel Brewing in Plumtree, NC.

 

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