Metro Wines Blogs

Metro Wines Asheville, NC


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 f...or 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 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.
Farmer Ted’s Cream Aleb2ap3_thumbnail_farmer-teds-cream-ale.jpg

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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The Battle of the Belgians

The Battle of the Belgians

Our beer tasting events have become so popular, we have decided to make them a weekly staple! Every Friday from 5-6:30 we'll be pouring samples from our ever expanding beer selection.  This week features four Belgian style beers.  I could try and describe them to you here, but it would make more sense if I let the beer makers speak for their own brews.  Here's what you can expect tomorrow:

Bell’s Winter White

Taking its cues from Belgian-style white ales, Bell's Winter White Ale offers a lighter yet abundantly flavorful alternative to the traditional heavy winter warmers. Fermented with a Belgian ale yeast, this blend of barley & wheat malts yields a mixture of clove and fruity aromas, all without the use of any spices. Deliberately brewed to retain a cloudy appearance, Bell's Winter White Ale is a beer for embracing winter.

Deep River Joco Winter White

Deep River Brewing Company's JoCo White Winter is a seasonal Belgian Dubbel that is brewed with fresh Johnston County white sweet potatoes, toasted marshmallows, and a blend of spices. This is a... challenge (PAIN) to brew (think marshmallows stuck in your hair) but it's worth it because it's one of our favorite to drink. 7.5% ABV

Pisgah 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.

Pisgah Cosmos

Pisgah's tribute to the Belgian tradition and our home-brewing roots, this recipe comes directly out of Dave's old homebrewing notebook.  We combine the rich flavor of a Baltic porter with the subtleness of a special Belgian yeast strain, imagine bananas dipped in dark chocolate liquified in your beer glass.  Honor tradition, Respect beer.

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Take Home a Dirty Girl For Valentine's Day

Take Home a Dirty Girl For Valentine's Day

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, everyone in the rest of the country is trying to find a restaurant still taking reservations, beating down the doors of the local boutique hotels, booking weekend getaways out of town, and stocking up on more chocolate than is humanly possible to eat before the expiration date.  All of these are great recommendations if you or your date are from any typical town.  Asheville, as we all know, is not typical.  We like to hike, climb, bike, and paddle.  Who needs long walks on the beach?  Give me a day in the woods, preferably with a river also involved.  It’s really too bad that Valentine’s Day is in the dead of winter!  That really puts a wrench in this outdoor girl’s plans!  So, what do you do when you can’t get your boots dirty in the Nantahala forest?  Take home a Dirty Girl Blonde Ale from Nantahala Brewing Company! You’re S.O. will giggle at the label.  It goes with everything.  When it’s empty you can play spin the bottle.  With just two people, the odds are good! While you’re showing your love for that special someone, you will also be showing your love for your local wine and beer shop and a local brewery.  It’s a win-win-win!  

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I Know You Are, But What Am I?

I Know You Are, But What Am I?

Talk of the Super Bowl commercials may be drowning out talk of the actual game.  No commercial is getting more attention than the Budweiser ad that attacks the craft beer industry in much the same way that a jilted child folds his/her arms, sits in the corner and pouts.  AB In-Bev has been playing defense for a while now. They have been buying up small(er) craft breweries like Goose Island (who isn’t very small anymore), Ten Barrel, and the latest is Elysian just a couple of weeks ago.  We’ve been watching as one announcement of buyout is followed by another.  The large breweries are losing market shares, and they were so busy doing keg stands that they didn’t notice until it was too late to rebrand themselves.  Rather than go to the trouble of producing beers that appeal to craft beer lovers, they have chosen to acquire companies that can.  There has been a lot of rumbling about this in the beer world, but I honestly thought that it would settle down, things would go back to business as usual, and Budweiser would quietishly gain market shares through the back door.  Then their Super Bowl ad aired.  (Because I refuse to give Budweiser more air time for their buck, I’m not going to include it here.  If you didn’t see it last night, you’ll just have to take my word on it.)

There is no dialogue, only subtitles while a butchered version of Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” because, I suppose, either the advertising budget was exhausted or Mr. Glitter chose not to allow his music to be a part of the debacle.  But what words they were.  I will present them in their unedited form for you now.

Budweiser

Proudly a Macro Beer

Is not brewed

To be fussed over

It’s brewed for

A crisp, smooth finish

This is the only beer

Beechwood aged

Since 1876

There’s only one

Budweiser

It’s brewed for drinking

Not dissecting

The people who drink

Our beer

Are people who like

To drink beer

Brewed the hard way

Let them sip

Their pumpkin peach ale

We’ll be brewing us some

Golden suds

This is the famous

Budweiser

Never mind that their newly acquired Elysian happens to make a pumpkin peach ale called Gourdia On My Mind, therefore BUDWEISER MAKES A PUMPKIN PEACH ALE.  Never mind that they leech all the flavor out of the beech wood chips before they go into the giant steel fermenter to make sure they don’t impart any flavor.  It’s all for yeast flocculation, and has nothing to do with actual flavor.  Do I even need to point out that they said that Bud is not to be fussed over, but then they got fussy about it?  It’s sort of hard to dissect something that is one dimensional and has the personality of poorly treated refuse water.  They are basically spitting in the face of the largest growing sector and saying that they will now only focus on marketing to the least common denominator.  If you want good taste, this Bud is not for you.  They only want the people that are underage and don’t know what beer is supposed to taste like to drink their product.  The demographic that is more concerned with quantity than quality.  That’s their target market. 

This is the point when I realize that I have begun sounding just as juvenile as Bud’s commercial.  Did they convince anyone that likes craft beer to drink Bud?  No.  I’m sticking to my well-crafted, flavorful, aromatic ales.  Did they get everyone who drinks craft beer to talk about their brand?  Yes.  And that means that their commercial worked.  Even negative attention is better than being ignored. We’ve all been tricked! Well played, Budweiser, well played.  You got me. 

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My Dream Team Six Pack

My Dream Team Six Pack

Everybody has been asking me what beers I recommend for their Super Bowl Party, and I’m having a hard time choosing just one.  It’s a good thing we do mix and match six packs so I don’t have to only pick one!  Plus, I’m not left having to route for some beer from across the country, I can cheer for the home team with our selection of local craft beers right here at Metro Wines!  So here’s this Carolina girl’s Dream Team Six Pack. 

  • Cack-A-Lacky Ginger Pale Ale from Fullsteam Brewing, Durham, NC
  • Pinner IPA from Oskar Blues, Brevard, NC
  • Bed of Nails Brown Ale from Highwire Brewing, Asheville, NC
  • Milk Stout from Duck Rabbit Brewing, Farmville, NC
  • Hooligan Scotch Ale Catawba Brewing, Morganton, NC
  • Riverbank Rye-it from Deep River, Clayton, NC

I hope y’all will have as much fun picking out your Dream Team Six Pack as I did with mine!  I can’t wait to see what you choose!  Good luck, and may the best beer win!

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It's A Party!

It's A Party!

You're invited! This Friday, January 30th from 5:00 to 6:30 we will host a free beer tasting at Metro Wines! You can't drink your Fantasy Football team, so let us help you prepare for your Super Bowl Party and pick out your Dream Team mix and match 6 pack or case. We'll have three of our favorites from NC breweries on pour:
• Cack-A-Lacky Ginger Beer from Fullsteam Brewing in Durham
• The new Pinner IPA from Oskar Blues in Brevard
• Bed of Nails Brown Ale from High Wire here in Asheville
Choose from any 12 ounce bottles or cans* from our newly expanded selection of local craft beers. Anita Riley, Beer Server Cicerone will be on hand to answer questions and offer suggestions. Enter to win a free beer tasting event for up to 8 people! Hope to see you there!
*Oskar Blues Ten Fidy singles will count as 2. Don't blame us. Blame the malt bill.

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When on Winter Break, Make Home Brew!

When on Winter Break, Make Home Brew!

This week began a new semester at AB Tech, which reminded me of just how busy I'd been since we broke for the holidays.  Four weeks is a long time!  I didn't realize how much I missed school until I got back on campus yesterday.  I really do love my classes, my instructors and my classmates.  I can't believe how much we've learned in just one semester, and I'm so excited for this new semester!  But all of this reflecting makes me thinking, what DID I do with my time off?

Most of my break was taken up with extra hours here at the shop, holiday preparations, and lots and lots of food.  I did get a little down time, however, and I used it to brew up a storm!  A few classmates and I got together and came up with a Rye Saison, which was a new recipe for us.  Asheville Brewer's Supply was so helpful with pointing us toward the best rye for the style, and telling us what to look for when working with this adjunct like an oily residue that none of us would have seen coming and to watch out for boil overs even more than usual.  We had to add rice hulls for extra filtration, too.  I'm so glad that they pointed us in the right direction.  

Today we bottled our creation, and it came out fabulously!  The rye adds a little spice, and the saison yeasts impart a fruity quality to the brew.  It has two weeks to bottle condition, and wa-la!  BEER!

 

 

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Capping Duty!  Note the tasty homebrew in the background ;)

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This is the Hydrometer in action.  We started at 1.054 and it fermented down to 1.011 

If that all sounds like latin, no worries!  It roughly translates to a 5% ABV  YAY!

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Highland Brewing Company Starts 2015 Off With A Bang!

Highland Brewing Company Starts 2015 Off With A Bang!

Have y’all heard the news?  Asheville’s very own Highland Brewing Company has been brewing up a storm this week!  Leah Wong Ashburn just stepped up to fill the shoes previously warn by her father, Oscar Wong as Chief Operations Officer!  Leah has been at Highland for the last three years as VP, so this isn’t a huge leap for her or for Highland, but I still think it’s very cool that our very first craft brewery in Asheville is now headed up by woman. 

The brewery also announced this past fall that 2015 will be a year for expansion.  More details are being released about that now.  They’ll be adding a rooftop beer garden to the existing facility, moving the bottling line to a separate area that had been unused before, and making room for more tanks so that they can do more of what they do best.  I can almost smell the Black Mocha Stout from here!

To top it all off, they are also bringing in a new woman head brewer!  Hollie Stephenson is coming from California, where she had been brewing for none other than Stone Brewing!  Big props to Highland for continuing to be a brewery that is all about equal opportunity.  I can’t wait to see the new beers and the new facilities as each are released.  The Asheville Citizen Times printed an article that mentions a new summer ale – The Lost Cove American Pale Ale.  I’m sure this is only the beginning of the new possibilities for Highland! 

Congratulations to Leah, Hollie and to Highland on the bright future that lies in store.  Cheers to Oscar for a brilliant vision that has come to fruition and the joy of passing the torch to good hands.  Thanks doesn’t begin to cover what he has done for the craft beer movement in North Carolina and especially in Asheville. It’s a beautiful thing!

To read the Citizen Times article, go here http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2014/12/30/highland-brewing-founder-passes-torch/21060729/

Photo from Highland Brewing’s site http://www.highlandbrewing.com/about-us/staff

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Resolve to Drink More Beer in 2015!

Resolve to Drink More Beer in 2015!

Just like a lot of you out there, I’ve spent the weekend evaluating 2014, looking at where I started and where I’ve come, planning what I want to achieve in 2015, and making resolutions.  I can’t remember where I came across this advice, but someone once told me to make a goal for each aspect of my life: Financial, health, career, family, and relationships.  Well, here’s a resolution that covers all of those: Drink beer! 

You probably think I’m joking, but there is actual research to back this up!  I’m not talking about doing keg stands like a frat boy every weekend, but moderate beer consumption has proven benefits that are harder and harder to ignore. 

Financial – That’s a no brainer!  Beer is the cheapest beverage you can order at a restaurant or bar.  If you want to save some serious green, switch to beer with your dinners. 

Health – We hear a lot about the health benefits of red wine, but did you know that beer has a laundry list of benefits as well?  I’m not joking!  It’s true!  There are so many, in fact that the only way I know how to present them is in list form.  Here goes:

  • High in dietary fiber
  • Lower in calories by volume than wine or spirits
  • High B Vitamin content especially B3, B6 and B9
  • Rich source of silicone, which boosts bone health
  • Moderate consumption can ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Boosts HDL (aka good cholesterol) and is cholesterol free
  • Decreases risk of heart disease by 31%
  • Natural blood thinner
  • Boosts artery health
  • Dark beer carries a high iron content, which helps with oxygenating the body
  • Humulone from hops has been linked to lower risk of diabetes, cancer and other diseases

Career – Research shows that having a beer (or two) at lunch will help increase your creativity and productivity at work!  This is not a carte blanche to get hammered, so don’t tell your boss, “Well, Anita said…”!  There are several articles to back this up.  Instead of giving them my email address, just give them these links and keep to the moderation rule!

http://www.businessinsider.com/having-a-drink-or-two-at-work-could-boost-your-productivity-2012-3

http://blog.pickcrew.com/coffee-vs-beer-effects-on-creativity/

Family (and I’m going to lump in relationships here, too) – Ok, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that we all face the same sorts of struggles when it comes to our work/life balance.  We have a lot to stress out about, work, finances, our carbon footprint, our ever more crammed schedules…Too often this translates to not enough down time, and when we do catch a breather, we have a hard time shaking off the rest of the world and focusing on those that we love most.  Am I right?  When it gets to that point, a pint can really help break down the barriers between us so we can get to the heart of what matters most: the people that make up our friends and family.  Because nothing really matters that much without them! 

Cheers y’all! Here’s to a Hoppy New Year!

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