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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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Back to the Future for Craft Beer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

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

Drink Like a Girl With Dogfish Head!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Every Beer Has A Story...

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

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

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Thanksgiving Beers!

Thanksgiving Beers!

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

Hors devours: Cider!

 Naked Cider, Hendersonville, NC

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

Main Course: Light, fresh flavors

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

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

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

 

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Booze 101

As a parent I have always known that we would have to have "The Talk" one day. Several topics have come up for discussion lately, and not all of them have been...comfortable. I know that it is a parent's duty to educate our children about responsibility with sex, drugs, and alcohol. At times, I have squirmed under pressure to find the right words, knowing all the while that my little boy is no longer so little. He is seventeen after all and beginning his senior year in high school. Like most parents, I have struggled to find healthy ways to approach such subjects as well as making it clear to my son that I am available to talk about these things should he see the need. It's a strange dichotomy I face: hoping that he will trust me enough to talk about what is going on in his life while secretly praying that there isn't all that much to talk about. After a series of particularly stilted conversations about sex I was relieved that he wanted to talk about alcohol for a change! I thought the questions would be different, but as a student of Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation, I was ready to answer him. What follows is Booze 101, as explained from mother to teenage son:
Q: What's the difference between beer and whisk[e]y?
A: Well, you have to make beer before you make whisk[e]y, or at least something that resembles beer without the bubbles, and it may or may not use other grains besides what is typically thought of as brewer's grains. Regardless of the grain bill, you begin with a substance that is fermented to between six and ten percent alcohol. Then you heat that until it reaches a temperature hot enough for the alcohol to evaporate, but not the water. Because alcohol evaporates at roughly seventy degrees Fahrenheit, you can capture the steam, and there by capture the alcohol. The steam is then cooled back down into a liquid that is a much higher concentration of alcohol than you started out with. Usually between 50 and 70 percent. You can redistill that to get the percentage even higher if you want. In fact, most distillers will automatically separate the liquid that comes out first and last for a second distillation. This is called "The heads and the tails", and is known to carry more of the compounds that give people hangovers. By redistilling it, you can clean it up.
Q: Is that why you can store [distilled spirits] longer? Are there any beers that can be stored for a long time like stronger alcohols?
A: Alcohol is a natural preservative, so that's part of it. You're also removing the compounds that have a tendency to spoil over time, so it's a double edged sword. Molecularly speaking, alcohols aren't as reactive with oxygen as some of the other compounds in beer. Oxidation is one of the most common causes for beer spoilage, and it can present itself by tasting like wet cardboard in the beer. Dark beers naturally contain antioxidants that can help protect the beer from oxidation. Also, hoppy beers will lose their hop character over time, as the flavor either vanishes if stored properly at a cool temperature and away from light, or they will turn skunky if they haven't been treated so well. This is what we call "light struck", and it occurs when UV light interacts with the sulfur compounds found in hops. That's why so many brewers use brown glass bottles or cans to package their beers. Green and clear glass allows UV light to pass through the bottle to the beer, and shortens the shelf life of the liquid inside. If you want a beer that will age well, look for one that has some hops, as they are a natural anti-microbial preservative, but that doesn't depend on hops for their flavor. Barley wine is the most common aging beer, but there are others.
Q: So what's the difference between whiskey and vodka, other than vodka is made from potatoes?
A: Not necessarily. Vodka can be made out of any number of grains as well as potatoes. The main difference is that vodka (in the U.S., at least) must be odorless, flavorless, and colorless. That means that it has to be very pure, whereas whiskies often retain some flavor from the grain itself, and can be barrel aged to impart color as well as flavor. You are right, however, that all alcohol was once sugar, and many times the source of the sugar dictates the name of the distillate. Rum, for instance, is fermented and distilled from cane sugar. Tequilla, however, is the name of the region. So don't get too caught up in painting rules onto bottles with wide brushes. Mezcal is also made from the piña of the agave plant, but it comes from a different region, follows a different method [that includes smoking the piña first], and can be derived from red or blue agave. Tequilla uses only the blue agave.
Q: If Champagne is wine, then why is it carbonated while most other wines aren't?
A: First let's talk about terminology. There are a lot of sparkling wines out there, but only bubbly from Champagne France can be called Champagne. Most sparkling wines get their bubbles from a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Think about bottling beers with me. We add sugar, stir up the solution, bottle it, and cap it, right? That is because the byproducts of fermentation are ethanol and carbon dioxide. By creating an airtight seal in the bottle, we can trap the bubbles in the bottle. By adding sugar, we are giving the yeasts something to snack on so that they can continue the fermentation process. With sparkling wines made in the Champagne method, this secondary fermentation happens in the bottle. The bottles are stored with the corks down on an angle so that the yeast will fall down toward the cork. Someone has to turn the bottles slightly so that the yeast continue to work their way downward during the process. When it is ready, the yeast plug is removed through a process called disgorgement. A new cork is inserted, and the wine is ready. Other sparkling wines only go through a primary fermentation, and carbon dioxide is added just like a carbonated soft drink.
Q: Does it age well?
Some do. Carbon dioxide is yet another preservative. Most microorganisms can't live in a CO2 environment, so it can protect the wine from spoilage as well as oxidation. Proper storage is also a factor.
Q: So what's the difference between white wine and red wine? Is it the color of the grapes?
Yes and no. Champagne is almost always white, but it can be made of three different grapes, and only one of them is white. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the grapes. Only Chardonnay is a white grape, so you can make white wine from red grapes. The difference is really the amount of time the juice is in contact with the skins. All grape juice is clear, even the juice from grapes with dark skins. White wine is made by pressing the juice and throwing out the skins. Red wine is made by allowing the skins to stay in the juice during fermentation. How long exactly is up to the wine maker. As the juice ferments, it pulls the color and some flavor out of the skins. That's why there are red and white wines, and red and white grape juice as well!
With this, all of his questions were answered for the day. I wiped my brow and breathed a sigh of relief as I said, "Goodnight." It could have been so much worse!

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