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Metro Wines Asheville, NC

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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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Drink Like A Girl Friday, May 29 from 5-7

Is it the weekend yet?  5:00 Friday deserves it's own holiday!  Especially during Beer Week. Come and celebrate the best part of the week with us!  Here's the pour list for this week's free beer tasting!

Hi Wire Brewing
Uprisin’ Summer Hefeweizen

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A traditional wheat ale with big ester notes of banana – backed by tones of clove and peppercorn. Brewed with 100% NC grown wheat from Riverbend Malt House in Asheville, NC, this beer is sure to become your summer favorite.

Highland Brewing
Lost Cove American Pale Ale

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This aromatic American Pale Ale is a session beer meticulously handcrafted with a unique Highland twist. Discover the secrets of Lost Cove in a summery American pale ale inspired by the spirit of Appalachia's past. Delicate Pilsner malt blends with Cascade Hops for a hop-forward, cold-fermented ale with a citrusy aroma and crisp, clean finish.

New Belgium
Skinny Dip Summer Ale

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Skinny Dip is a full-bodied, figure-friendly tribute to the lightly attired summer months. This guilt-free lager’s frisky character and sunny flavor make it the perfect choice for kick-starting seductive summer fun. Lively Cascade hops and complementary peaches brighten a wash of bready malts with sunny citrus flavor and a slight fruity pucker, creating a crisp sip as invigorating as a frothy dip in a mountain pond. Shed your inhibitions this season and take the plunge: Grab a friend, go bottoms up, and share a Skinny Dip.

Skinny Dip makes its returns as the summer seasonal in 2015, and to celebrate we're supporting swimable waters by donating $1, up to $10,000, to Waterkeeper Alliance for every use of the hashtag #WaterkeeperDip. Post and donate!

Asheville Brewing Company
Fire Escape Jalapeño Pale Ale

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Yep. You guessed it, it's the Escape Artist with a perfect mix of hops, malt and... Jalapeños! We blend freshly roasted jalapeños post fermentation to create this fiery yet balanced pale ale. Amazingly smooth and addictive!

(Escape Artist Extra Special Pale will make you a believer as well. A medium-bodied brew, we use two classic American hops varieties. Centennial and Cascade create a concoction of mystique and complexity.)

 

Can't wait to try all of these with you! See y'all Friday!

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Brewing Up A Storm with Amanda Petro

Brewing Up A Storm with Amanda Petro

I'm excited to introduce you to Amanda Petro from Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE.  Dogfish has been reveared as one of the most creative, outside of the box craft breweries in the country.  I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda at the Master Brewers Association of Americas regional conference this spring.  She was gracious enough to share experiences with us!  I hope y'all enjoy this read!  Now, without further ado, here's Amanda!

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Q: What’s your favorite beer (style or you can be more specific)?

A:    I tend to drink a variety of styles, but my favorites are Russian Imperial Stouts and Sours/American Wild Ales.  If I had to pick one of my favorites to have right now, it would be Parabola by Firestone Walker.  

 

Q: How long have you been in the brewing industry?

A:    I've been in the industry for about a year and half. 

 

Q:How did you get started/What drew you to this field?

A:    I grew up with a father in the brewing industry, so its always had an impact on my life.  He worked for numerous breweries as a maintenance manager and reliability manager, up until I started college.  Even though I can still imagine the days of watching the bottling line run from the window in my dad's office, I don't think I could have predicted that I would become a brewer.  I have my B.S. in Microbiology, so I naturally entered the pharmaceutical industry and worked in Quality Control Microbiology labs.  I did a stunt for 2 years in Germany and had the opportunity to travel throughout Europe, tasting the beers of each country along the way.  Upon returning to the states, I began home brewing to try to replicate the tastes and styles I enjoyed from places like Belgium and Germany.  One day, while flipping through a brewing magazine, I saw an advertisement for the brewing programs at UC Davis.  I read into the requirements for the Master Brewer's program and I thought, I could do that!  As much as I loved (and still do love) microbiology, I wanted to apply it to a product I could be passionate about.  I knew I could be much more passionate about beer than I could for vaccines.  While at UC Davis, I was contacted by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery to join their team of brewers and by the end of the program I had accepted an offer. 

 

Q:What position are you holding now?

 A:   I'm currently a brewer at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

 

Q:What are your goals for the future?

 A:   For now I am looking to build on my experience and knowledge as a brewer in a production brewery.  I enjoy the fast paced and dynamic nature of a production sized brewery and I see a lot of potential for myself in this setting.  I have some ideas in my head of where I could see myself in 5 years, but for now I am happy with my position. 

 

Q: What are the main obstacles that you’ve experienced as a woman in this industry?

How were you able to overcome them?

A: Prior to entering the industry, I was fully aware that I was about to enter a male dominated field.  Imagine my surprise when I learned that I would be the 4th female brewer to join the Dogfish Head brewing team.  As a team of 15 brewers total, we definitely make up a large percentage of the team.  I feel that we are treated no differently than our male counterparts.  The job and workload is the same for all.  I think sometimes the guys think we are going to be offended by some of the talk that happens, but I think if you're a person that gets offended easily, you wouldn't be entering the brewing industry.  Outside of the company, people are often surprised to learn that I am a female brewer.  People at industry events, tend to assume I work in the quality lab.  Overall, people are impressed and excited to hear about my job.  On the other hand, I have had a few strange encounters.  For example, one time, a friend of mine told a 20 something male bartender I worked for Dogfish Head and the bartender asked if I was an Admin.  That was rude.

 

Q:Have you experienced any advantages over men?

 A:     Nothing major comes to mind when I think of any advantages I've encountered over men.  I think female brewers tend to stand out in a crowd of males, but I'm not sure if that is necessarily an advantage.  Some of the guys are on team are often eager to help us with the heavy lifting, but by now they all know we can and want to carry our own weight.    

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Brewing Up a Storm with Erica Tieppo

Brewing Up a Storm with Erica Tieppo

Q:What’s your favorite beer (style or you can be more specific)?

A:Working at Mystery has ruined by ability to have one favorite beer or style! A few things I really enjoy are traditional English styles on cask, West Coast and Session IPAs with tropical fruity hop characteristics, saison, gruit, and all things Brett. My favorite styles to brew and taste are high gravity / imperial versions of styles, but I generally choose more sessionable beer for day to day drinking.

 

Q:How long have you been in the brewing industry?

A:I have been working in beer production since January of 2011.

 

Q:How did you get started/What drew you to this field?

A:My interest in American craft beer began while working at a craft beer bar about seven years ago. I then began homebrewing, organizing beer tasting events and became immersed in craft beer culture. In 2010, I decided that I would rather work in beer production than continue pursuing my original career plan (actuarial mathematics) and signed up for Siebel's Concise Course in Brewing Technology. I think the sense of community in craft beer and the idea of creating a tangible product is what appealed to me most.

 

Q:What position are you holding now?

A:Brewer and Cellar Operations

 

Q:What are your goals for the future?

A:I want to continue learning and to constantly improve the quality of our product. I take great pride in the awards our beer has earned, and intend to work toward winning more awards every year.

 

Q:What are the main obstacles that you’ve experienced as a woman in this industry?

A:The craft beer industry as a whole has been welcoming and supportive of my involvement in the industry, and most male colleagues treat me as simply another brewer rather than a woman who brews. However, in every industry there are always a few bad eggs and they are incredibly discouraging and intimidating when you are a younger woman working in a male dominated industry. Two of the most serious problems that I believe are underrepresented and frequently overlooked are sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. 

 

Q:How were you able to overcome them?

A:I have worked to acquire an education, to acquire experience and develop my skill set as much as possible. Most of the bias, discrimination and inappropriate behaviors I encountered have happened very early in my career. I have proven that I am just as capable and possess just as much aptitude for growth in the brewery as my male colleagues. 

 

Q:Have you experienced any advantages over men?

A:Yes, and no. Overall, I think I have been at a slight disadvantage as a young female production worker but my close colleagues and friends in the industry are very supportive and have been very generous in the help they've given me to overcome any disadvantages I encounter. I think most production workers in the industry want to see their female colleagues succeed and will actively try to help them overcome any discrimination they face.

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Brewing Up a Storm with Brittany Judy

Brewing Up a Storm with Brittany Judy

As promised, we are getting to know the women of Mystery Brewing this week.  Here's my interview with Brittany Judy, Office Manager for Mystery Brewing:

Q: What is your favorite beer/beer style?
A:My favorite beer style right now is probably a nice, refreshing Kolsch (pairs nicely with the Spring weather!) Bull City Burger and Brew in Durham makes an excellent one.  
 
Q: How long have you been involved with the Brewing Industry?
A: I have been in the brewing industry for exactly 15 months! Before that I home brewed with friends.  
 
Q: What position do you currently hold?
A: I am currently the Office Manager at Mystery Brewing Company.
 
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: Continue to absorb and retain as much as I can about craft beer and the craft beer industry.  I also have a passion for cooking with beer and pairing food and beer.  I would love to help educate others (probably by feeding them) about the beauty of craft beer!  And food!  
 
Q: Have you experienced any disadvantages as a woman in this industry?
A: I would say that I've had a pretty positive experience as a woman in this industry.  Of course, the only obvious thing that comes to mind is sometimes I get overlooked in conversation.  I feel like this isn't just exclusive to the brewing industry though.  I overcome by not taking it to heart and remembering that my opinion/voice matters.  
 
Q: Have you experienced any advantages over men?
A:I would say that as a woman, I have the advantage of standing out and inspiring other ladies who may think they can only drink wine (not hating on wine, I love wine too!) or don't understand all the beer styles that are available.  
 
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Special Guest at Drink Like a Girl May 22nd!

Special Guest at Drink Like a Girl May 22nd!

If you've come to one of  our tastings when I'm pouring Mystery Brewing, you know how much I love these guys!  Needless to say, I was thrilled when they called to see if we wanted to host an all Mystery  Brewing Drink Like a Girl! There are several women on their brew team, too!  Look for more information on the brewsters later this week!  

Here's a sneak peek of the beers:

Locksley: Ordinary Bitter

Brewer's Notes: Contrary to its name, an Ordinary Bitter isn't normally all that bitter. Think of it as a Pale Ale's little cousin. This light, drinkable, British-style beer has a sweet malt body overlaid by a light floral and citrusy play of American hops, creating a refreshing quaff that you can keep going back to. Pair with woody cheddars, light salads, and warm spring afternoons.

Queen Anne's Revenge: Carolinian Dark Ale

Brewer's Notes: This beer was designed to be a darker version of an English-style IPA, to show off the soft bitterness of traditional English hops but to balance them with the rich creamy chocolate of roasted wheat. Enjoy it with a steak, brisket, creamy funky cheeses, or pork barbecue.

Beatrix: Spring Saison

Brewer's Notes: A hoppy, citrusy saison made for spring with crisp bitterness and dry complexity made with unmalted wheat, Demerera sugar, and a breed of hops called Delta - a mix between traditional English Fuggles and American Cascade hops - that lends robust notes of navel orange and lemon. Pair with fresh fruit salad, rich cheeses, or grilled poultry.

Jack Thorne: London-Style Porter

Brewer's Notes: Based on a recipe from the very first post-Prohibition brewpub in the U.S. A smooth, classic London-style porter with currents of dark caramel, chocolate, espresso, and even a light wisp of smoke. Pair with roasted meats, hearty cheeses, and dark chocolate.

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Brewing Up A Storm and a Drinking Like A Girl!

Brewing Up A Storm and a Drinking Like A Girl!

Drink Like a Girl is every Friday from 5-7.  Keep reading for a preview of the beers we'll be pouring!  But first I gotta tell you about what's been going on with me!

Another semester at The Craft Beverage Institute has come to a close!  I’m glad to have it behind me, but I’m going to miss my classmates over the summer. We’ve gotten to be a pretty tightly knit group. While we don’t have formal classroom time during the summer semester, we are each completing internships at various brewing facilities across the region.  While many of us are staying in town, some decided to take a break from the mountains and brew in other areas of the state. I’ll be brewing at The Altamont Brewing Company in West Asheville this summer!  I’m excited for the opportunity to brew on a larger system, and to get real world experience in a commercial brewery.  I’m even more excited to be at a neighborhood brewery, where I’ll have the opportunity to brew, cellar, package, and sanitize my heart out!  Many of the larger breweries are broken up into departments, so an intern may only see part of the operation throughout the summer.  I get to learn it all, which is exactly what I want!  The imagination can only take you so far.  At some point, I just need to try on a lot of hats and see what fits. I’m looking forward to trying new things and learning what I like and what I don’t like, what I’m good at, and what I should just leave to others who have different skill sets.

Come by Metro Wines for Drink Like a Girl this Friday to hear about my first week!  We’ve brewed a couple times already, and other days have been spent cleaning equipment and cellaring beers that were made nearly a month ago.  Here’s a glimpse into the life of a brewery intern!

Scooping out the spent grain.  This goes to a local farmer.

Transferring finished beer to the brite tank to build up the bubbles.

But enough about me, here's what we're pouring at this week's tasting:

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Foothills Brewing
Carolina Strawberry Cream Ale

Bright and crisp, this American Cream Ale stands out with just enough real strawberry aroma and flavor to keep your attention while remaining smooth and balanced from top to bottom.

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New Belgium
Slow Ride Session IPA

Kicking back and relaxing with a session beer requires little more than a couch, some free time, and a few pals. Slow Ride Session IPA is up for this easy-going challenge, starting with a pour of sheened gold and plenty of fluffy, white foam. A blend of seven hop varieties, led by exotic Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin, twist together brilliant tropical scents of melon, peach, lime and grapefruit for a vividly fruity aroma. The flavor mirrors the aroma, while balancing a malty-sweet yet clean start and hoppy bitterness in the back. Light bodied and extra quaffable,

Slow Ride Session IPA brings the finish line to you. Looking for Slow Ride in Texas? Our friends in the Lone Star State can find Slow Ride under the name New Belgium Session IPA beginning in early March. Don't worry: It's still the same green and yellow package and label with the same awesome couch bike and, most importantly, the same great beer.

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Oskar Blues
Pinner Session IPA

How do you cram as much hop & malt flavor and aroma as possible into a beer but make it crushable too? That’s the challenge we answered with PINNER Throwback IPA. At 4.9% ABV and 35 IBUs, this drinkable IPA uses several varieties of hops to target the ever-evolving flavor. With tropical fruits, citrus juices, pineapple and spice berry up front in the aroma and flavor, the biscuit & toasted bread at the back balance out all the hops and make a great finish to go on to your next can of PINNER. It’s the perfect beer for a little sip, sip, give.

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Deep River Brewing
Back Country Black IPA

Deep River Brewing Company's Backcountry Black IPA is an Imperial Pale Ale that is hopped up with 5 unique hop varieties that blends nicely with its slightly roasty malt backbone. 7.9% ABV

These are some of my absolute favorite beers, so I hope you'll join us for this tasty event!

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Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

How excited am I for this week's  beer tasting? Pretty darned excited!  We have a great line up of beers, but there will also be live music by Nikki Calloway and a Kendall Jackson wine tasting also!  If you've been dragging your feet waiting for that right moment to Drink Like A Girl, this is it!  Here's the beers that we will be pouring:

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Foothills Brewing Carolina Blonde Cream Ale
Smooth as a summer day, Carolina Blonde is the beach in a bottle. Two-row barley and a mellow hint of wheat complement the subtle flavoring of German Noble hops to create the quintessential Cream Ale. Need a vacation? Have a Blonde.

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Foothills Brewing Hop Job Session IPA
End of the day. Work's done. Fun's in session. Make it last with this aromatic ale brewed to keep the good times going. A session IPA full of Azacca™ and Sorachi Ace™ hops, with all the flavor you've come to expect from Foothills. Thirsty? Get a Job.

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Catawba Brewing Le Sexxxy Saison
Once made to quench the thirst of farm workers in Belgium, this unique brew is now available in the city. LeSexxxy flirts with your eyes as the pale orange glow emanates from the glass. Our exclusive blend of five Belgian yeast strains produces aromas of lemon, tangerine, pear, banana, spice, bread and cut grass. The flavor is a French kiss of honey, citrus, spicy yeast, hops and wheat bread. This beer finishes bone dry and begs for another sip. Yeah, we brought sexy back – in a beer!

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Pisgah Brewing Red Devil
This 9% Belgian-style ale was originally brewed to commemorate Pisgah's 200th batch. Packed with over one pound of cherries and raspberries per gallon, the Red Devil balances delicately between tart and not-too-sweet. Treat yourself to a half-pour of Red Devil with a half-pour of Nitro Stout on top for some chocolate covered cherries.

 

Come out and party with us on Friday nights!  

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Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

You all know by now that I adore our local Asheville Craft Beers, but this week are going to show some love to our eastern neighbors!  There are some great breweries coming out of the Triangle and surrounding areas.  We've got a great line up picked out for you!  Here's what we're pouring:

 

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Deep River Brewing Co.
Clayton, NC

Twisted River Wit

Deep River Brewing Company's Twisted River Wit is a full flavor Belgian Witbier with hints of orange and citrus notes weaved with a Belgian yeast strain! Great for those warm summer days. 4.5% ABV & 11 IBUs

Riverbank Rye-It

Deep River Brewing Company's Riverbank Rye-It is an amber pale ale, with subtle hints of rye and citrus. The spicy notes imparted by the rye thread together nicely with the citrusy aromas of Columbus hops. 5.2% ABV & 52 IBUs

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Carolina Brewery
Chapel Hill, NC
Flagship IPA

Originally, this intensely hopped ale was brewed in the 18th century to survive the long sea journey from the cooler breweries in England, around the Cape of Africa  to India where the temperatures were too warm to brew. This beer has a unique floral aroma from the generous addition of Cascade hops to the fermenter in a procedure known as dry hopping.

GOLD MEDAL • 2006 GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL • ENGLISH-STYLE IPA

b2ap3_thumbnail_lCackalackyCan.jpgMy buddy Eric and I at FullSteam's Durham Brewery

Fullsteam Brewing
Durham, NC
Cack-A-Lacky

Brewed in partnership with Page Skelton, president of Cackalacky in Chapel Hill, N.C.
A zippy, hoppy ginger pale ale that’s enjoyable on its own and a perfect complement to spicy food. Half of the ginger in the beer comes from Maple Spring Gardens in Cedar Grove, North Carolina…at least until we run out of our local ginger supply.

And no, the beer does not have hot sauce in it!

 

I hope to see you all this Friday to Drink Like a Girl!

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Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

I am so excited for this week's tasting!  We have a variety of local and localish craft beers that are just right for this weather!  Bring your adventurous side to Metro Wines for a sample of brewer creativity! Here's what we're pouring:

Catawba Brewing Co.
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This beer is an indigenous American beer style created as an answer to post-prohibition German lagers.  We pay tribute to the beers made on early, rustic systems by using natural ingredients like corn and barley to create a smooth and full-bodied, straw-colored ale.  Reward yourself with a Farmer Ted’s after a long day plowing the fields, or just after mowing the lawn!

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Mystery Brewing
Beatrix Saison

Brewer's Notes: A hoppy, citrusy saison made for spring with crisp bitterness and dry complexity made with unmalted wheat, Demerera sugar, and a breed of hops called Delta - a mix between traditional English Fuggles and American Cascade hops - that lends robust notes of navel orange and lemon. Pair with fresh fruit salad, rich cheeses, or grilled poultry.

Mystery Brewing
Queen Anne’s Revenge

Brewer's Notes: This beer was designed to be a darker version of an English-style IPA, to show off the soft bitterness of traditional English hops but to balance them with the rich creamy chocolate of roasted wheat. Enjoy it with a steak, brisket, creamy funky cheeses, or pork barbecue. 

Hi Wire Brewing
Contortionist Black IPA

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We hope you enjoy this dark, hoppy beer.  As you experience the earthy and floral hops that give way to a roasted malt profile, The Contortionist will bend your perception of what a Black IPA can be.

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A Crash Course in Hops From the Women Who Grow Them

A Crash Course in Hops From the Women Who Grow Them

What are these hops that we’ve been hearing so much about? Hops are the spice of beer.  These cones are the fruit of a bine (not a vine) that grows an average of 18 feet tall and produce lupulin, which gives beer its bitterness, flavor and aroma.  In such a beer oriented region as Western North Carolina, it would only make sense to grow your own hops, right?  This region prides itself on shopping locally and supporting local farmers, shops and breweries.  However, most hops yards are located in Europe, Canada, and the Pacific Northwest.  By planting bines closer to home, the hops are thousands of miles fresher and fewer fossil fuels were used to get them to their final destination, right?  It turns out that the answer is a little more complicated than that.  Here’s what we know:  Yes, hops will grow here in the south.  Yes, they will produce cones.  That’s the good news. Look back, though, at the areas where hops are known to thrive. Are you noticing a trend?  Hops flourish in a cooler climate with longer days.  The higher the latitude, the longer the summer days get.  So, it is possible to grow hops here, but it’s tricky. The Pacific Northwest gets about 15.5 hours of sun each day.  Here in WNC, we get about 14.5. This is where science comes in.  I am certainly not a scientist, but I do know where to find one!

Dr. Jeanine Davis

Dr. Jeanine Davis is associate professor and extension specialist in the Department of Horticultural Science at North Carolina State University. I met her at her office at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River, where she and her team have been conducting a variety trial with several different hops since 2011.  What Dr. Davis’ work has shown is that there are some varieties that do better here than others, but, she warns, “What we don’t have are varieties that are bred for this area.”  Having said that, there are a number of farmers that are growing hops and having some successes with Cascade, Nugget, Chinook, Galena, and the Zeus varieties.  Other varieties will do okay, but haven’t yet produced the same yields that these have. The research also shows that the initial and ongoing costs of hop growing can be prohibitive for some.  Hops grow on tall trellis systems that average 12’-18’ depending on the variety desired.  They demand irrigation, and some pretty major equipment to harvest, dry, and pelletize the cones. The pelletizing process helps with shipping and storing over long periods of time.  For the most part, hops are harvested only once a year, so they need to last potentially until the next harvest.  To start a hops farm, Dr. Davis predicts costs of $12,000-$16,000 per acre!  It demands a skilled farmer that knows how to make a return on their investment.

Rita Pelczar

 Enter Rita Pelczar.  Rita and her husband, John Wright moved to WNC from Maryland when they retired.  Rita was a horticulturist in her professional life, and she wanted something to grow on a commercial basis in her “retirement”.  One night over pints at a local brewery, her sons suggested that they plant hops.  It was 2007, and there was a hops shortage in the news.  The next spring, John and Rita planted their first rhizomes.  At the time, hardly anyone was growing hops in the south.  They looked to the expertise of the growers in the Pacific Northwest for guidance, which isn’t necessarily applicable in this region.  Some things are the same: the pruning, the fertilizing and water demands, and the trellises. What isn’t the same are the pests, the temperatures, and the day light hours available. John and Rita were truly blazing a trail in that way.  Initially, they planted five varieties and four rhizomes of each variety with the goal of organic certification from the beginning. Within the first year, it was clear that two of the varieties were not going to thrive in this area. Now Blue Ridge Hops focuses on just three varieties.  Cascade, Nugget, and Magnum.  They also saw a need for taller trellises.  Rather than keep the twelve foot poles they started with, they decided to replace them with poles that they cut themselves out of Black Locust that they harvested from their property.  The new poles are between twenty and twenty-two feet tall, and the hop cone production has nearly doubled because of the change.   The couple also saw an opportunity to make harvesting simpler and faster by adding a winch system that would raise and lower the bines, cutting out the need for ladders and making harvest three times faster.  This also allows for multiple harvests throughout the season, as not all the hops are at their peak at the same time. 

Rita with a row of hops.

It has been a lot of trial and error to get to where Rita and John are today with their farm. Blue Ridge Hops now has their organic certification.  A process that is much easier said than done. They are marketing their hops to commercial breweries, home brewers, and herbalists.  They’ve added rhizomes to their annual offerings, and you can find their hop shoots on the menu at several Asheville restaurants during the spring and summer months.  Just in the last two years, they’ve begun to turn a profit, but as John is quick to point out, “We don’t pay ourselves!”  Rita wrote for and received a grant from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) to help with startup expenses.  Now, she pays it forward by helping other hops farmers get started.  She shares her knowledge and expertise with the community in a number of ways.  Recently, she gave a talk at the Marshall Library on a snowy night that was very well attended.  She has worked with the Extension Office in Madison County and the North Carolina State University Research and Extension Center in Mills River and in Raleigh to share information on what has worked and not worked for them. [If you are wondering what an Extension Office is, you aren’t alone.  The definition on their website reads “The Cooperative Extension System is a nationwide, non-credit educational network. Each U.S. state and territory has a state office at its land-grant university and a network of local or regional offices. These offices are staffed by one or more experts who provide useful, practical, and research-based information to agricultural producers, small business owners, youth, consumers, and others in rural areas and communities of all sizes.”] On March 13-14, she and Dr. Davis shared their collective knowledge to a sold out crowd of current and would-be hop growers from North Carolina and Virginia alongside David Goode from Piedmont Hops in Virginia at the NC-VA Regional Hops Conference.  No one expected this event, now in its second iteration, to be so large so fast.

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 If you didn’t get one of the 200 seats available in Dr. Davis and Rita’s Friday beginner lecture, but want to plant your own hops at home, here’s what you need to know: 1. Research further before you plant. There is a wealth of information on line at www.ncherb.org  2. Make sure you are getting quality rhizomes from a trusted source. 3. Plant in the spring in nitrogen rich soil, and provide a lot of sun and water. 4. Have a trellis system ready!  These plants can grow a foot or more a day!  Dr. Davis encourages folks to get creative with their trellises, and she adds, “A Google image search on home hops trellis systems can turn up hours of fun!” 5. Don’t just plant hops.  Have a diversity of plants in your yard.  Biodiversity can reduce the loss to pests, and possibly also diseases. 6. Make a home brew with it, and invite me over when it’s ready! To learn more about Dr. Jeanine Davis, visit her website at http://www.ncherb.org. To learn more about Blue Ridge Hops visit http://www.blueridgehops.com/

*First printed in WNC Woman Magazine, April 2015 issue. 

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Drink Like A Girl Tonight from 5-7!

Drink Like A Girl Tonight from 5-7!

Is it hot in here, or is it just me?  I don't know about you, but this hot, muggy week has me craving what we call Lawnmower Beers!  Come and taste four different cool, light and refreshing brews from the local geniuses that make Asheville Beer City!  Here's what I'm pouring tonight in the brewer's own words:

Dirty Girl Blonde Ale From Nantahala Brewing Company

Brilliantly clear with sparkling carbonation, our dirty girl is a light easy - drinking - american blonde. Crisp and refreshing throughout with hints of noble hops in the aroma.
 
Mama's Little Yella Pils from Oskar Blues
 
Mama's Little Yella Pils is and uncompromising, small-batch pilsner with 100% pale malt, german specialty malts, and saaz hops. 
 
Gateway Kolsch from French Broad Brewing Company
 
While known for their lagers, German brewers also produce terrific ales. French Broad’s Kölsch is faithful to the great German ales found in Köln. Golden in color, with a refreshing crispness, pleasantly sweet malt finish, and distinctive German hopping.
 
St. Terese's Pale Ale from Highland Brewing Company
 
A golden pale having a slightly malty body balanced by an assertive American hop flavor. This pale ale displays a delicate hop nose due to the process of dry hopping. A crisp and refreshing beer perfect for any occasion.
Our most aromatically hopped beer, St Terese’s was designed for easy drinking. After the beer is finished fermenting, it is dry hopped which entails adding hops for several days to impart an aromatic hop nose to the beer. When quaffed, the beer finishes cleanly with almost no residual hop bitterness and is a particular delight with most subtly flavored foods. This beer was named after the patron saint of headaches in consideration of all beer lovers who may occasionally be over served.
 
I hope y'all will come and chill out with me and some cool, refreshing brews tonight!
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Drink Like A Girl With Andy Friday from 5-7

There is so much going on at the shop this week!  We'll be drinking like a girl and having a trunk show at the same time! Come try two local scotch ales and two hoppier spring favorites. Here's what's on the pour:

Catawba Brewing Hooligan Scotch Ale

This robust, mahogany hued ale is brewed in the classic Scottish “wee heavy” style featuring a profound maltiness and a restrained hop character.  Six different brewing grains layer on caramel and toffee sweetness, but the beer seems magically balanced when it reaches your palate.  Use caution, though.  This Hooligan will blow your bagpipes!

French Broad Brewing Wee-Heavy-er

7% ABV wrapped in an attractive package of continental malts and hops. Very tasty beer!

Green Man Brewing Rambler

In the spring a beer drinker’s fancy turns to thoughts of Pale Ale. We pay our respects to this celebrated style with a hybrid of legendary British malt and vibrant American hops. The dry hopped finish rejuvenates the taste buds and leaves your mouth feeling groovy. “…drink a thousand times. It’s time to ramble on.”

Shmaltz Brewing Company Hop Manna IPA

Hop Manna is the answer to hop heads' prayers for a delicious IPA bearing floral and citrus goodness. At 65 IBUs and 6.8% Alcohol, HOP MANNA IPA is crafted to provide session after session of hop nourishment, from our Tribe to yours.

I hope to see y'all there!

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Drink Like A Girl Tonight!

Drink Like A Girl Tonight!

It's Good Friday, which means that Easter is right around the corner.  While everyone else is stocking up on chocolate from the candy aisle, I will be stocking up on chocolate from the beer section of Metro Wines!  Come by tonight for a free chocolate themed dark beer tasting just in time to stock the fridge for Easter.  While the kids are busy scavenging for colored eggs in the bushes, you will be prepared with a little something for the adults!  Here's what we're pouring tonight:

Green Man Porter

Dark, full-bodied, and rich in flavor, Green Man Porter is wonderfully easy to drink. It offers a creamy, smooth mouthfeel and finishes with distinctive chocolate notes. This traditionally crafted, award-winning British-style Porter, like a true rock star, enjoys a legendary following.

Duck Rabbit Milk Stout

The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout is a traditional full-bodied stout brewed with lactose (milk sugar). Because lactose is unfermentable by brewer's yeast, it remains in the beer. The subtle sweetness and fullness of flavor imparted by this sugar balances the sharpness of the highly roasted grains that give this delicious beer its black color. All year long, Milk Stout is our number one selling beer! ABV: 5.7%

Pisgah Brewing Valdez

This robust Coffee Stout is a mouthful of flavor!  A dark, roasty grain bill stands as the backdrop for a galaxy of coffee aroma and flavor, made possible by local organic bean roasters Dynamite Roastery.  A Pisgah fan favorite, Valdez is brewed bi-annually and never lasts as long as the flavor. 6.5% ABV

Pisgah Brewing Chocolatized

The darkest of Pisgah brews, the beer formerly known as Vortex II took a significant transformation when Pisgah brewers added a heavy dose (25lbs in 5bbls) of raw cocoa nibs to the brite tanks, thus creating what will now only be known as "Chocolatized". Congratulations to the brewers, as this Russian Imperial Stout aged on cocoa nibs brought home a coveted Gold Medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival for the Chocolate Beer Category.

Hope to see you all at Metro Wines tonight!

Cheers,

Anita

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Drink Like A Girl With Andy Friday from 5-7

I'm sorry to say that I will have to miss out on tomorrow's Drink Like A Girl!  I'll be in Hillsboro for the Master Brewers Association of Americas (MBAA) Regional Conference at Mystery Brewing!  I'm very excited to be able to participate in this summit and get to know more of the brewers on the eastern side of the state!  

Have no fear, though, I have already chosen the beers for tomorrow's tasting and Andy will be pouring in my stead! It's an IPA kind of night!  We'll be featuring a variety of IPA's and IPA-like beers.  Here's what they are and what the brewers say about them:

New Belgium Snap Shot

Snap! You just captured an unfiltered wheat beer full of refreshment and a flash of tart at the finish. Smile-inducing aromas of citrus hops jump from the nose, accompanied by the sweetness of coriander and grains of paradise. Brewed with wheat and pale malt, Snapshot pours a hazy, lemon-yellow with bright-white lacing. But the real enticement is the snap of tart. New Belgium’s affinity for sour beers led to the in-process blending of lactobacillus to pucker up Snapshot’s base. An extra step to acidify and beautify and get this beer ready for its close up.

New Belgium Slow Ride IPA

Kicking back and relaxing with a session beer requires little more than a couch, some free time, and a few pals. SLOW RIDE SESSION IPA is up for this easy-going challenge, starting with a pour of sheened gold and plenty of fluffy, white foam. A blend of eight hop varieties, led by exotic Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin, twist together brilliant tropical scents of melon, peach, lime and grapefruit for a vividly fruity aroma. The flavor mirrors the aroma, while balancing a malty-sweet yet clean start and hoppy bitterness in the back. Light bodied and extra quaffable, this sessionable India Pale Ale brings the finish line to you.

Nantahala Brewing Noon Day IPA

An IPA brewed with pale malts, generous amounts of crystal malts and an abundance of whole hops. The hops are showcased through a hop back process, which along with dry hopping, produces a piney, grapefruit and floral aroma and helps contribute to a crisp, dry finish

Highland Brewing Devil’s Britches

"Lordy, that's as red as the devil's britches," exclaimed a local rancher, awed by the vibrant canopy ablaze on what is known today as Devil's Britches trail. Highland Brewing Company commemorates the history of the Great Smoky Mountains and Devil's Britches trail with a rich, red IPA. Ashburne Mild malt produces a toasted and biscuity flavor, and Extra Special malt renders an alluring red hue. Apollo hops provide aggressive bitterness(70 IBU), while dry-hopping with Calypso hops yields complex fruity and floral aromas with hints of pear and apple. This devilishly delicious ale is Highland's twist on the great American IPA.

Even though I won't be here, I hope y'all enjoy these beers. They are some of my favorites!  Have one for me!

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Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

Drink Like A Girl Friday from 5-7

It's Thursday night, which is practically FRIDAY!  I am so excited to get the weekend started and Drink Like A Girl!  This week we are featuring some local favorites!  Here's what we'll be pouring tomorrow and what the breweries say about their beers:

French Broad Brewing's 13 Rebels ESB

Named for the 13 colonies, our Extra Special Bitter features generous Goldings profile and a complex malt palate.

Highland Brewing's Black Mocha Stout

Highland's most robust beer, having a very malty body with a large, roasted chocolate flavor, all achieved solely through the use of special roasted barley grains. It is black in color with a very clean finish and moderate hop flavor.
While the porter style was developing, some brewers produced a stout porter and over time generated a new style known simply as stout. These beers traditionally contain a distinct roasted malt flavor and can run the gamut from a dry stout, such as Guinness to a sweet stout such as Watney's Cream Stout. Our Black Mocha falls in the sweet stout range and derives its chocolate and coffee tones from the use of appropriate roasted malt grains and is very often used as an after dinner libation or an accompaniment to dessert.

Deep River Brewing Backcountry Black IPA

Deep River Brewing Company's Backcountry Black IPA is an Imperial Pale Ale that is hopped up with 5 unique hop varieties that blends nicely with its slightly roasty malt backbone. 7.9% ABV

Note:  We poured this one at our Beer Blind Tasting last night, and it was a crowd favorite!  

Hi-Wire Hi-Pitch IPA

A Western North Carolina West Coast style IPA. Huge citrus hop aromas make this a hop head's dream. Its full body balances well with the bitterness and allows the drinker to enjoy its depth of hop flavors and aromas.

 

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The Last Two Weeks In Pictures

The Last Two Weeks In Pictures

Weeks like the last few make me thankful for the pictures on my phone, so I know where I’ve been!  I would love to say that I’ve been catching up on my beauty sleep in a self-induced coma, or on a never-ending bender.  Alas, neither of these are true. I have simply been caught up in a whirlwind of school and work. 

Here at the shop, it’s been non-stop!  We are getting in new beers every week.  It’s been a struggle to find room for them all!  Come check out our new spring seasonals as well as our expanded selection of local and regional craft beers and cider!  Be sure to ask about our NEW Craft Beer Case Club while you’re in!  We only have a finite amount of space in the shop, but we have access to thousands of beers through our distributors!  If you really want to explore craft beer, this is where it’s at!  Twenty-four different craft beers in each case!  Explore different styles and breweries!  Find a new favorite!  Each case is carefully chosen to be awesome! 

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At school, our pot still has arrived!  It just got assembled this week, and should be ready to use soon.  The rest of the brewhouse is getting water, electricity, and gas lines plumbed in.  We should be brewing on the big system very soon! 

In our studies, we’ve been learning about cider making.  For this section, we had a guest speaker, Fritz and Catherine Gusmer from Windy Hill Cider in York, SC.  Fritz took us on a cider adventure through about twenty different ciders commercially made and distributed in the U.S.  Only four or five were his.  We learned a lot from Fritz about the flavors that are possible, which ones should be avoided, the difference between a fine cider and an imposter, as well as what a Cluster Chuck is.  What we didn’t learn too much about is how to make the cider!  For that, we learned as we went.

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We washed, chopped, cored, ground, and pressed three bushels of apples lovingly donated by McConnell Farms in Dana, NC. It was a lot of work, and it took all of my classmates working for three hours to get it all done.  At the end, we had two gallons of juice to ferment.  As we were admiring our handiwork, our Brewmaster drew our attention to the twenty gallons of commercially pressed cider behind us!  We fermented our hard earned two gallons of juice as well as the twenty gallons that were ready-pressed.  We added water to the pumice of the apples to extract any remaining sugars.  The hope is to ferment out as much of the apple as we can so that we can several different products from the day’s work.  If all goes well, we will end up with traditional cider, apple jack (made by freeze distillation), and a pot distilled apple spirit. 

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One of my classmates and his wife just announced that they are expecting their first child.  We responded like any group of fermentation students would, and decided to have a brew day right away!  The goal was to have enough beer for St. Patrick’s Day and some to put away to age for nine months. This was the first time we attempted to get 20 gallons out of the twenty-six gallon system we homebrew on.  The water level was just barely under the lip of the pot, but we didn’t boil over!  The father-to-be brought some whole cone hops he had grown and harvested himself to spice the brew.  I can’t wait to crack one of these open in just a few days!

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On a personal note, I made the Dean’s List!  This year, AB Tech is giving out USB thumb drives along with a snazzy certificate.  Last year it was post-it notes.  Side note, if you need any post-it notes I’m your girl! 

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Drink Like A Girl Tonight!

Tonight from 5-7pm, come try four distinct girl themed beers.  Here’s what we’re pouring and what the brewers themselves say about their beers:

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Asheville Brewing Company’s Shiva IPA

(Ok, technically Shiva is androgynous, so sue me!)

“ABV: 6.0% / IBU: 69 / Color: 3
A crisp, citrusy India Pale Ale with a light color, Shiva will destroy all your preconceptions of an I.P.A. A transcendentally simple malt bill accents a generous helping of Columbus hops, lending an intense floral aroma with hints of grapefruit and a pleasant bittering quality. Your palette will be lifted to higher planes of consciousness with a bittersweet finish.

Malts: Pale, Wheat & Munich

Hops: Columbus & Liberty”

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Hi-Wire Bed of Nails Brown Ale

“Our Brown is crafted as an ode to the traditional English brown. Its delicate body allows the flavors of toffee and caramel from our specialty malts to come to life.”

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Nantahala Brewing Dirty Girl Blonde Ale

“Your gateway to craft beer. Light, crisp and lager-ishly refreshing.

 Brilliantly clear with sparkling carbonation, our dirty girl is a light easy - drinking - american blonde. Crisp and refreshing throughout with hints of noble hops in the aroma.”

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Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wheat Ale

“A truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish on a silky body. A filtered pale wheat ale that is great for both IPA and wheat beer fans.

UNLIMITED RELEASE

ABV: 7.50%”

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Drink Like A Girl Tonight!

Drink Like A Girl Tonight!

I think we can all agree that the weather has been nuts-o lately.  Wednesday was full-on spring time, followed immediately by thirty degree temperatures yesterday, and all of this after two weeks of winter weather in a row.  Now it’s warming up for the weekend, and who knows what to expect after that‽ Which begs the question:  Is it winter or spring? 

The answer is yes.  It’s both!

 In honor of Mother Nature going off her meds and allowing the schizophrenic climate to have its way with us, we are celebrating with an equally schizophrenic Drink Like a Girl beer tasting tonight! More specifically, Drink Like Mother Nature! Come in like a lion, go out like a lamb with a winter and spring mixed six pack!  Let’s face it, no matter what the weather is like beer is always in season!  Here's a preview of what we'll be pouring, among others!  Stop by and see us from 5-7 tonight!

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Brewing Up A Storm With Anne Fitten Glenn

Brewing Up A Storm With Anne Fitten Glenn

Being a brewing student has its perks, and today one of those perks was a tour of Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. One of the perks of having a blog is that you all get to go on the tour with me! I have been eager to get out there, so I was thrilled when my marketing instructor announced the field trip.  It’s always fun to see how different breweries operate, but today was especially exciting because our tour guide was none other than Anne Fitten Glen.  As soon as people hear about the blog, they immediately ask me if I’ve met Anne, so this was two items checked off my bucket list for the price of one! 

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Anne met us in the tasting room and gave us a brief summary of how Oskar Blues came into being, her role in the company, and some generally fun facts.  For instance, Dave’s Pale Ale was first brewed in Dale’s bathtub!  Now this flag ship brew accounts for approximately 70% of all Oskar Blues sales across the 41 states they currently distribute to. Amazing.  19 of those states are serviced out of the Brevard brewery alone, which expects to produce some 80,000 barrels of beer this year.

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Anne’s position at Oskar Blues is Head of Public Relations for the entire company, as well as Head of Marketing here in NC.  She works with a small team of just 4 full time marketers in Colorado and 3 in NC, herself included.  She was quick to point out that sales and marketing are kept separate within the company.  There are about 70 sales reps that don’t fall into her department. 

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Anne’s focus is on getting information about Oskar Blues into the world through press releases, social media, special events, and sports sponsorships.  She also reserves a large portion of the marketing budget each year for “mobile billboards” in the form of wrapped trucks bearing the iconic Oskar Blues cans, stars and bars.  She described the branding as “part Evil Knievel, part 70’s concert poster”.   Other projects include sponsoring bike races and racers, “Fish Yourself” which is a line of Oskar Blues branded fishing gear for competitive fishing, and a partnership with the Steep Canyon Rangers.  OB’s CAN’d Aid Foundation gets a portion of the ticket sales to benefit a wide range of philanthropic endeavors that are near and dear to the local communities of Brevard, NC and Lyons, CO.  It was first inspired by the desire to help out the community after Colorado endured flooding a few years ago, and has grown to include other projects through annual grant awards. 

Anne has been in and around the brewing business for twenty years.  Back then she was helping Flying Dog get off the ground.  Since then, she returned to her first career as a journalist, founding and writing a beer column for The Mountain Xpress as well as national publications.  Her book Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Beer was published in 2012, and is available at Malaprops Bookstore http://www.malaprops.com/book/9781609496319

I asked her what it’s been like to be a woman in this industry for all this time.  “I’ve always worked in male dominated fields,” she said.  She’s currently the only woman in a management position in Oskar Blues, though there are a couple of other women working in other capacities now.  She said that she gets listened to as a woman who knows about beer.  Men that are unfamiliar with her often write her off as a woman until she starts talking.  They quickly change their tone when they realize that she is one of the most beer knowledgeable people in the room.  This has helped her stand out in the brewing industry in a positive way. 

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With all these years of experience in the beer world, I wanted to know if there was anything that she still wanted to do that she hadn’t had the opportunity to do before.  Her answer came slowly, but she said that she would like to get more time in the cellar and the brew house.  While she’s had opportunities to help out here and there, she says that knowing intellectually and knowing from doing are two different things. 

And, of course the most important question on everyone’s mind: What does Anne Fitten Glenn drink?  Pinner Throwback IPA is her current favorite every day beer for its low ABV and pineapple flavor.  When she has more leisure time for a higher ABV beer, G’Knight is her beer of choice. 

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Brew Up A Storm Of My Own!

This has been a busy semester already!  Right out of the gate, I had a group from UNCA’s College for Seniors ask to tour our facilities at AB Tech.  (Hi Meredith!)  The Brewmaster, Jeffery Irvin, the Department Head, Chef Scott Adams, and I talked about the program, why it’s so unique, and did a walk-through of the brewing facility.  That was only six weeks ago, but it feels like it’s been much longer!  Since then we have begun analyzing yeast cells under microscopes, crushed grapes for wine with our bare feet, made Kvass (a traditional drink from Russia that is made by fermenting bread), and got in our new 10 hectoliter brew system.  The first thing people ask me is how much is a hectoliter?  One hectoliter (100 liters) is about 26.5 gallons.  This is a huge leap from the 15 gallon Sabco system we have been using until this point! 

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Here at the shop, we began our weekly beer tastings on Fridays from 5-6:30.  It’s been so much fun picking out the beers for these and sharing them with our customers!  Mike Merriman, winemaker extraordinaire from Merriman Wines in Oregon was in the shop this week to share his wines with our customers and sign some bottles.  I found out that he used to brew beer before catching the wine bug. When he told me he loves saisons, I had to share a beer with him! I think Mike loved being here as much as we loved having him. His words were, “Drinking beer and doing a tasting at the same time? Priceless!” Just goes to show that you don’t have to choose between wine and beer!  You can have it all!  Come by this coming Friday, February 27th for a dark beer tasting from our local craft selection! It's the porters vs. the stouts!  

 We also started a Craft Beer Case Club!  Customers can choose to receive a monthly case with either (24) 12 oz bottles or (12) 22oz/750ml bottles.  Words can’t express how much I love picking out the beers for these cases!  With the selection that our local breweries and our distributors offer, shopping for the case club is like going through the Sears Wishbook during the holidays when I was a kid!  If you didn’t have this experience, I’m sorry.  Your childhood was wasted!  I got to tour a couple of our distributors' warehouses lately.  The amount of beers at my finger tips is daunting! You can sign up for the case club of your choice at https://www.metrowinesasheville.com/club

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If that wasn’t enough, we also added the Beer Blind Tasting League!  Just like our Wine Blind Tasting League events, we are given four beverages that are not labeled.  We use only the visual, aromatic, and flavor clues to determine what the malts or other grains are, which hops and yeasts were used, and what the style might be.  This is the drinking game you’ve been waiting for!  We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and there is a lot of partial credit awarded!  If you want to give it a shot, we hold these events on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 6:30pm.  The next event will be on March 18th. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in the shop or on line at https://metrowinesasheville.com/store/product/blind-tasting-league-tickets-1/

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