Asheville Brew Blog

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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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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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Brewing Up a Storm with Jessica Reiser

Brewing Up a Storm with Jessica Reiser

Everyone asks me the same question when they hear that I’m pursuing a career in the craft beer industry, “Don’t you need a beard for that?”

My answer is a resounding “No” followed by a blank stare and awkward silence.  There are actually a lot of women in this industry, and I got to talk with one of them recently!

Everyone, meet Jessica Reiser, Co-owner of Burial Beer in Asheville’s South Slope Brewing District.  She was kind enough to take time out of her cramped schedule to talk with me on the phone. But enough about me, let’s talk about Jessica!

Jessica started Burial in June of 2013 with two other co-owners.  She handles the marketing and PR, event planning, HR, and accounting for the brewery.  This trio moved to Asheville from Seattle, where they had been beer bloggers, gaining an in depth knowledge of the industry and beer styles.  They spent a lot of time visiting other breweries and taking note of what resonated with them, what styles they wanted to make, and what experience they wanted their patrons to have.  Their head brewer also gained several years of commercial brewing experience before the move.

The style that stood out to all of them, and Jessica’s favorite, is the Saison style.  Today about 40% of Burial’s taps are saison taps!  This Belgian, fermentation style is growing in popularity, which is great for Jessica and Burial.  So great, in fact that Burial just expanded their one barrel South Slope brewery to a 10 barrel system, and they will also open a new 30 barrel farmhouse brewery off site next spring!  This new facility will allow Burial to feature more flavor options for their saison-loving patrons as well as to begin canning and distributing down the road.  

I asked Jessica what obstacles she’s faced that are specific to being a woman in the brewing industry.  The hardest part, she said, was juggling being a mom to two young children, ages one and three.  She was quick to point out that this was more specific to owning a business of any sort, not just a brewery.  While her husband faces the same work/life balance struggle, this age in her children’s lives is mommy-focused.  With the two expansion projects in full swing, things tend to stay hectic for her these days.  She said she is looking forward to the near future when the dust settles and Burial can get back to business as usual.  She is also hopeful that she’ll have more employees to delegate to in the not-so-distant future. 

Good luck to Jessica and Burial! We are excited for your success! If you want to learn more about Burial, hop on over to their website http://www.burialbeer.com/

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Beer for Wine Lovers

Beer for Wine Lovers

I hear it all the time: "Oh, I'm just not a beer drinker. I much prefer wine."
I get it. In fact, until a few years ago, I would have said the same thing. I still love wine. It is elegant. It is timeless. I could pair wine with anything. Any. Thing.
But sometimes I'm out at a concert or Thirsty Thursday at the Asheville Tourist Stadium, and all they have is beer. What's a girl to do?
Well, first you have to weigh your options:
A) Cross your arms and pout while all your friends have a good time with or without you.
B) Make an educated leap of faith into the wonderful, and just as delicious, world of beer.
All you need is a little insight and an open mind, and I promise you can find a beer out there that is just as good as the wines you already love.
What kind of wine do you usually drink?

Whites

Sauvignon Blanc – Try an IPA
I love SB for its tart, citrusy burst of goodness. Light and refreshing, it's perfect on a hot day with some fruit or anytime with lighter fare like a delicate fish. IPA's (India Pale Ales) are heavily hopped, and do you know what hops taste like? Oranges. Pineapple. Grapefruit.

Chardonnay – Try a Hefeweisen
These German wheat beers are light and creamy with a hint of citrus and floral. If you appreciate a well-crafted Chardonnay with all its nuances, you will certainly enjoy a hefe for all the same reasons. They are very similar in flavor and character, and hefes are usually naturally carbonated, which makes for smaller bubbles and fewer burps.

Viogner – Try a Saison
What comes to mind when you think of Viogner? Fruit and flowers, right? The same is true for Saisons! The secret is in the yeasts! Weird, eh? But each strain of yeast will produce a different aroma, and when it comes to saisons, it's all floral all the way! This style is also known for its fruitiness. Plums, oranges, raspberries...the options are pretty endless.

Reds

Pinot Noir – Try a Lambic
These tart and often fruity Belgian beers can come in a variety of styles, so I hesitate to put such a narrow label on them. Find a raspberry or blackberry lambic, close your eyes, and enjoy! In fact, we have a cava rose made from Pinot Noir that makes me think of a raspberry lambic right away. They are that similar.

Malbec – Try a Belgian Dark Stout
I love malbec for its dark fruits, rich texture, hints of cocoa, and sometimes a little smoke or tobacco. A Belgian dark stout can have some or all of these characteristics! Look for subtle hints of plum, banana, and chocolate.

Cabernet or Merlot -Try a Stout
Sometimes you just want something rich. Stouts evoke descriptors like chocolate and coffee because of their rich tannins. Forget the fruit. We're going bold! Want something that goes with a steak? Stout! Want something that can hold its own against a rack of ribs? Stout! Want something that tastes good even after it warms up? Stout! How about to go with that chocolate cake? Guess what? Stout!

But don't take my word for it, come try some of these styles for yourself! That's right, all the fun without the commitment! Metro Wines will be hosting a Beer for Wine Lovers happy hour tasting event on Friday, January 23rd from 5-6:30pm! I can't wait to see some of you there and share some delicious brews with you!

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Women in Brewing: A Few Fun Facts

Women in Brewing:  A Few Fun Facts

What images come to mind when you hear the word "Brewster"? If you're like most of the population, the immediate response has something to do with a beard and overalls. This couldn't be further from the truth! "Brewster" is the technical term for a woman brewer! In fact, making beer, until recent history was always done my women, never by men. Need to know more? Me too! So, I did a little research, and here are five fun facts that I can't keep to myself:


5. The history of women making beer goes back as far as the first written records! Yes, really! Cuniform tablets discovered in Sumeria that contain the story of Gilgamesh also contain stories of women brewers, recipes for various styles of beers, and prayers of thanks for the miracle of fermentation.


4. Women have more taste buds than men, giving us an unfair advantage when it comes to detecting the subtle characters of a finely crafted beverage or picking up on off flavors. Any brewery would be lucky to have (and many do have) at least one woman in their quality control department.


3. Beer is probably the reason civilization began, and women did the brewing! The cultivation of grains for baking and brewing was the catalyst for ancient people to settle down in one spot. Women took sole responsibility for making sure there was enough sweet elixir for everyone.


2. Even in today in remote areas of Africa and some parts of the Amazon, a brow would be raised if men even attempted to brew. Making beer is still very much a woman's job in these regions. So if you're a guy, the best advice is to sit back, relax, and enjoy a homebrew.


1. During the historical witch hunts, many Brewsters were accused of being a witch. Picture it, a boiling kettle, a broom, a cat, a pointed hat – all were used in the making of beer, and all are used in our cartoon representations of witches! The cat protected the grains from would-be attackers like mice and beetles. The ale stake, which doubled as a broom, was a marker of a brewery before reading and writing were common place. When beer was ready to be sold, the Brewster would hang foliage on the ale stake. It was the predecessor of Krispy Kreme's Hot Now neon light. But what about the pointy hats? Those were used in the market to stand out in the crowd! Amazing, right?! Who knew?!

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