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.


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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Meet the Women behind the Hi-Wire Labels!

Meet the Women behind the Hi-Wire Labels!

Brewing Up a Storm hosts Drink Like a Girl at Metro Wines on Friday, November 20 from 5-7pm featuring special guests, Illustrator and fashion designer, Charlotte Oden,  and marketing director, Abby Dickinson from Hi-Wire Brewing! This free beer tasting will feature four beers from Hi-Wire. Beer writer, Anita Riley will also be on hand. Check out the full article here. If you've ever wondered how Hi-Wire's vintage circus theme comes to life, come by and meet the women behind the story! Parking is free and easy at Metro Wines.


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Drink Like a Girl Friday, October 9 from 5-7pm

It's been a while since we've had an all Asheville tasting.  Can you "root, root, root for the home team" during football season, or is that only in baseball?  Anyway, Go Asheville!  To get even more specific, we are featuring all Pale Ales and India Pale Ales on the tasting.  Think you don't like IPA's?  I challenge you to a try the variety that exists in this style before making such a blanket statement!  Here's what we're pouring:

Pisgah Brewing, Black Mountain, NC
Pisgah Pale is a perfect blend of rich organic malts with whole-leaf Chinook and Nugget hops. A crisp, clean profile makes this, our flagship beer, distinct. 31 I.B.U.

Oskar Blues, Brevard, NC
IPA - A Metamodern IPA conceived of hand selected hops from down under. Malt barley and red wheat combine to create a clean malt backbone with foolproof flavor and mouthfeel to support the main act of Enigma, Vic Secret, Ella, Topaz and Galaxy hops. The hops strum juicy and sweet aromas with headline notes of passion fruit, raspberries, pineapple and citrus. This straight-up strain is Oskar Blues IPA (6.43% ABV). To each their own til we go home.

Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville, NC
Pearfigt – Perfection doesn't necessitate passivity. Pearfigt is a testament to the compatible nature of hops, fruit, and spice. With a carefully selected dry-hop, this IPA is brewed to elevate the crispness of pear, the roundness of fig, and the warming spice of cardamom. Cheers to pearfigtion.

Asheville Brewing Company, Asheville, NC
Shiva IPA - 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.

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Leah Wong Ashburn Leading with Grace

Leah Wong Ashburn Leading with Grace

What does it take to captain one of the oldest craft breweries in Western North Carolina? A sharp business sense, a well of creativity, and a dedication to quality come to mind.  When I posed this question to Leah Wong Ashburn of Highland Brewing Company, however, she had other qualities she credited as her keys to success. In my humble opinion, they can all be summarized into one word: grace.  We don’t think a lot about finesse in business. More often than not, the emphasis is on being competitive, tough, hardworking, and holding your cards close to your chest. Ashburn’s approach to her role as President of Highland Brewing Company flies in the face of the conventional business model.  

And while Highland may have started out small on a shoe string in the basement of Barley’s Taproom, it is anything but small today. They produce 42,000 barrels (1,302,000 gallons) of beer a year and distribute to nine states plus the District of Columbia. They have 50 full time employees, an additional 25 part time staff, and a team who works on-call.  They brew five flagship beers year-round, plus six seasonal beers.  They’ve just announced a new line of special release beers, The Warrior Series, and there are countless small batch releases each year that are brewed on their pilot system and available on tap at the brewery tasting room. Highland hosts a number of festivals, concerts, and sporting events.  They also participate in beer festivals across their distribution area.  To say that there are a lot of irons in the fire is a vast understatement.

 How does Leah keep track of everything that is going on at Highland? She points to her father, who is still very much involved with Highland, her husband, and the talented team of employees that Highland attracts. “I rely heavily on a really great team. I wouldn’t do this without them,” she said. There is a meeting every Monday with all the department managers, and the entire company is invited.  In addition to these meetings, there is a sales meeting every other week with all members of the sales team.  Ashburn attends all of these.  She hopes to also attend more production meetings so she can have a better grasp of that part of the business. Even though she is Oscar Wong’s daughter, she says she has never felt entitled to Highland.  “I communicate that to my team all the time.  They know that I still have a lot to learn, and that I respect their knowledge, skills, talents.” 

Wong was reluctant to bring his daughter on board when she first approached him about working for Highland twenty years ago.  He insisted that she pursue her own career. It was important to him that Leah have the experience of gaining her own successes and learning from her own failures. Years later, he gave in and offered her a position, but she turned him down!  “We couldn’t afford her! We still can’t afford her,” he says.  Ashburn admits that she took a pay cut to join the ranks of her father’s brewery, but that isn’t what is important to her.  She is motivated by carrying on the Highland legacy and being a part of the Asheville community.

Another perk that drew her to make the change was the work environment. “There’s a mix of really cool people in the beer industry.  In some other industries, competitors don’t talk to each other.  In beer, we collaborate! And we are in the south, so there’s also southern hospitality.” I asked her if she had experienced any disadvantages based on her gender in a male dominated industry. She said that it actually works in her favor. “There are times that as the only woman in the room, you can bring a different perspective.  It can be a good thing.”

She spoke of her plans for the future of the brewery. “I want Highland to be the brewery that the southeast is most proud of. Our mission is to be the craft brewery of choice in the southeast.  Not the biggest, but of choice.  I hope that people who drink our beers will drink Highland because they want to. Of course we have to grow to be successful, but I want to grow the smart way, the right way.”

 Leah is also excited about the new energy being pumped into Highland. New team members joining the team bring a wealth of experience to the plate.  This is allowing for new beers that fit well with the Highland brand stylistically.  There is a lot of buzz about the expansion that is nearing its completion.  The additional space is allowing for more production and higher efficiencies in packaging, as well as new spaces for visitors to enjoy.  Highland will have an indoor event space along with a rooftop beer garden.  The extra public space will allow for private events that the brewery had largely been forced to turn down in the past.  Now Leah looks forward to the ability to host weddings, corporate events, and trade shows at the brewery.

 It’s exciting for me, as a native to Western North Carolina, a brewing student and beer writer to watch the growth and success of the beer industry in our area. I am happy for my town to have the promise of a thriving job market that the breweries offer. I am so thankful for all of the hard work that Highland and other breweries have done in the last twenty years to make Western North Carolina attractive to new breweries opening facilities in the area. Most of all, however, I am comforted to know that there are people like Leah Wong Ashburn leading the industry and making us proud.  

This article was first printed in WNC Woman Magazine, September 2015

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Drink Like A Girl Friday, October 2 from 5-7pm

This week we are celebrating The Great American Beer Festival medal by Wicked Weed Brewing!  Their Pernicious IPA took home the Silver metal out of some 3,000+ entries!  We'll taste the Pernicious and their seasonal pumpkin beer, the Xibalba!  Here's Wicked Weed's own words about their beers:

Pernicious is our flagship India Pale Ale boasting a silver medal at this year's Great American Beer Festival. This massively dry-hopped ale has minimum malt complexity and a combination of juicy, tropical fruit-forward hops with heavy resinous American hops. Pernicious is the epitome of a West Coast IPA, made right here in the Southeast.

For everything there is a season and tradition. That's why our pumpkin ale, brewed with cacao nibs, ancho, serrano, and habenaro chiles with fall spices, is brewed once a year during the onset of autumn. Inspired by the mythos of the ancients, Xibalba (she-bahl-bah) is an otherworldly reminder that seasons are fleeting and to be celebrated.


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Drink Like a Girl Pint Night with Devil's Backbone

Drink Like a Girl Pint Night with Devil's Backbone

Start your weekend off with Devil's Backbone Brewing Company from Lexington, VA!  Janee Farrar will be here to tell you all about the beers and the brewery, plus everyone that purchases a six pack takes home a free glass!  You don't want to miss out on this opportunity to try award winning beers from Virginia's favorite craft brewery!  Here's what we'll be tasting:

Gold Leaf Lager harkens back to the days when refreshing beers were made 100% from malted barley. Gold Leaf Lager is pale gold, light to medium bodied with subtle fresh bready notes, and a clean crisp finish.


With its amber chestnut colored good looks and smooth malty finish, Vienna Lager was an obvious choice to put into bottles. It blends color and flavor without heaviness or bitterness. Just as Vienna Lagers historically inspired Munich’s Oktoberfest beers to evolve, this amber lager has evolved since we opened in 2008 into the award winning beer it is today. Experience the taste and tradition.


This is the first batch of beer we brewed after the conception of Devils Backbone Brewing Company in 2008. Our brewmaster Jason Oliver was thinking about how to design the IPA when he heard a rustle near his fence line (just touching the woods) where he saw two young proud eight point bucks walking along it. He decided to name the beer after those young bucks as it seemed to fit the spirit of the beer,which is proud, brash, youthful, yet approachable.


On top of all that, we'll have a bonus beer: 



Dirty Little Freak Coconut Caramel Chocolate Brown Ale, first brewed in 2014, takes the traditional American Brown Ale and gives it a sensual new twist - Coconut! This medium bodied, 5.8% ABV brown ale is a feast for the senses from its dominant blend of warm, roasted malt, coconut, caramel, and chocolate flavors barely restrained by a gentle hop bite, to its tantalizingly satisfying finish. But if you submit to our Dirty Little Freak, be warned: There is no safe word. 


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Brewconomy Tasting and Discussion Panel Friday, September 18th 5-8

Brewconomy Tasting and Discussion Panel Friday, September 18th 5-8

This week's beer tasting is all about our Brewconomy Discussion Panelists Tim Weber of Twin Leaf and Mike Rangel of Asheville Brewing Company.  Come and try a variety of beers from these two breweries, and stay to hear how the beer industry is effecting our local and state economies!  It's like a live action documentary!  The free tasting begins at 5pm.  The conversation will follow from 6-8pm. Panelists include Mike Rangel of Asheville Brewing Company, Tim Weber of Twin Leaf Brewery, Cecil Bothwell of Asheville City Council, Lucy Crown from Asheville’s Greenways, Cliff Mori of Brew-ed Walking Tours, Tedd Clevenger of Asheville Brewer’s Supply, and Chef Scott Adams of AB Tech’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast. Admission and parking are free, but the conversation is priceless!


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New Beers in Shop September 10

Bottle Tree Beer Co. Tryon, NC

Westbrook Brewing, Mt. Pleasant, SC

IPA is baaaaaaaack!

St. Bernardus, Belgium

Mixed Selection

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"Freaky Good!" Drink Like a Girl Friday, September 11

What do you do when you have a bunch of amazingly good beers on the shelf just looking at you?  Well, taste them of course! Here's what you have to look forward to this Friday:

Shmaltz & Terrapin Collaboration

Reunion Ale

Belgian style ale brewed with Pumpkin, Chocolate, Cocoa Nibs, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Ginger, and Mexican Chili Pepper. 

Teaming up with Terrapin Beer Co. for the fifth time, Shmaltz Brewing returns with Reunion '15.  For 2015, Reunion was exclusively brewed at Shmaltz in Upstate, NY with Terrapin Brewmaster "Spike" Buckowski traveling from Georgia to NY to help brew the latest collaboration. Each year, we brew Reunion in memory of our dear friend - Virginia MacLean. Virginia lost her battle with Multiple Myeloma in 2007. It was her wish that we continue to raise funds and awareness on behalf of The Institute for Myeloma & Bone Cancer Research 

DuClaw Brewing

Dirty Little Freak

Dirty Little Freak Coconut Caramel Chocolate Brown Ale, first brewed in 2014, takes the traditional American Brown Ale and gives it a sensual new twist – Coconut! This medium-bodied, 5.8% abv brown ale is a feast for the senses from its dominant blend of warm, roasted malt, coconut, caramel, and chocolate flavors barely restrained by a gentle hop bite, to its tantalizingly satisfying finish. But if you submit to our Dirty Little Freak, be warned: there is no safe word.

Catawba Brewing 

Astral Bootie Beer

The kayaking dictionary defines the term “boot” as “to leave one’s overturned boat and swim away to safety”.  Those grand exits are often celebrated with the paddler consuming a beer served from their own whitewater shoe.  In Western NC, consumption of the “Bootie Beer” has become an respected ritual.  Catawba Brewing Co. teamed up with Asheville’s own Astral Designs, manufacturers of the market’s finest whitewater paddling shoes, to honor tradition via the Astral Bootie Beer.  This sessionable, 4.5% ABV Pale Ale is meticulously cobbled together from three different malt varieties for body, and Citra and Amarillo hops for bright tropical and stone fruit flavors and aromas.  The next time you paddlers are faced with a swim, feel free to go sans-shoe and consume Astral Bootie Beer straight from the can.

Wicked Weed Brewing

Freak of Nature Double IPA

Freak of Nature Double IPA is our hoppiest ale. The focus of this beer was to create a hop delivery vehicle. We dry hop this beer at a rate of almost four pounds of hops per barrel. The resulting blend of dank and citrus forward hops make for a palate changing experience. Hopheads, rejoice. This is your beer.


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Drink Like a Girl Labor {Day Edition} September 4 5-7pm

Who’s ready for Labor Day weekend?!  I’m already planning four days of fun that I will cram into one day and wonder why I’m tired afterward!  Since Labor Day came about to honor the American worker, we thought we would highlight beers in the tasting this week that celebrate professions.  Here’s what we’re pouring as described by the men and women that labored to bring them to us:

Asheville Brewing Company, Asheville, NC
Rocket Girl Lager

When worlds collided…we took the best things about ales and mashed them with the best parts of lagers…and it was a blast off! A bold malt and our special kolsch yeast creates a golden lager that puts your taste buds into hyperspace. She’s mysterious, she’s complex, and she’s got one heavenly body.

Gizmo BrewWorks, Raliegh, NC
Beekeeper Honey Wheat

Beekeeper Honey Wheat exhibits the characteristics of honey sweetness, floral nose, fruity flavors, a hint of clove, with a light body. Brewed with wildflower honey, Gizmo’s honey wheat beer is a nod to the beekeeping profession. Due to popular demand, this once summer favorite is now available year round.

Catawba Brewing Company, Morgonton, NC
Mother Trucker Pale Ale

Our hoppy pale ale, is as American as Interstate-40 and proud of it!  We use three different American hop varieties to create a dry, quaffable brew with pine, earth, and a truck load of citrus aromas.  Mother Trucker’s sturdy malt backbone provides the perfect roadway for the hops’ journey to your taste buds.  Best of all, this beer is sessionable – You can arm wrestle your buddies to see who buys the next round.  Cheers!

Fullsteam Brewing
Rocket Science IPA

Rocket Science is a true-to-style American IPA inspired by the quest for harmony. We longed for an IPA that exuded confidence in its restraint, that paired well with any meal, and that wouldn’t destroy your palate. We found equilibrium in the optimal balance of sweet malts and bitter hops, an IPA both refreshing and refined.

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New Beers in the Shop September 2

Our first shipment from Wicked Weed Brewing just arrived last week.

 We couldn't be more excited to present a local favorite!


These two breweries collaborated to bring us Cemetary Gates, a Belgian IPA.

Fall Seasonal from Hi-Wire


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Drink Like a Girl Friday, August 28th 5-7pm

Who's ready for pumpkin beer?!  They are here and they are delicious!  Come try four fall seasonals tonight.  It really is my favorite part of autumn.  I have to admit that I do not take the cooling weather very well.  The bare trees make me sad.  I hate having to wear layers, and my feet never really get warm from November until March.  At least I can drink copious amounts of pumpkin beer as consolation!  Here are the ones we'll taste tonight:

Catawba Brewing
King Don's Pumpkin Ale

Don, one of the original North Carolina brewers, lent his pumpkin prowess to this collaboration beer in 2001.  This complex beer uses five separate barley styles, an artistic touch of hops, spices normally used in baking, and fresh pumpkin!  The caramel, spice, and pumpkin flavors meld into a wonderfully smooth, orange-hued beer that sports a luscious, creamy foam head.  King Don still rocks!

Southern Tier Brewing Company
Pumking Imperial Ale

Pumking is an ode to Puca, the mythical Celtic horse beast said to entice careless travelers onto its back and take them on a terrifying night ride through the forest. It is a journey from which they return forever changed. Pour Pumking into a goblet and allow its spiced aroma and deep copper color to entrance you. Taste the beer and your are bewitched , powerless to resist the Pumking.  This beer is brewed with pagan spirit and should be enjoyed responsibly.

Crown Valley Brewing Company
Imperial Pumpkin Smash Stout

Our Imperial Pumpkin Stout is deliciously roasted with dark chocolate and toffee notes with a hint of smoke and a little spice from the hops that give it a pine note. The pumpkin adds body and character for a great beer. 

Hi Wire Brewing Company
Lion Tamer Red Rye Ale

Red with hops and rye – oh my! Aggressively hopped with a healthy blend of citrus- and fruit-forward hops and balanced by the unmistakable bite of rye, allow this brew to tame your thirst.


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Beer Blind Tasting Goes Mobile!

Beer Blind Tasting Goes Mobile!

I hope some of you made it out to the Asheville Wine and Food Festival last weekend.  It was amazing!  We had a blast at the Metro Wines booth.  We got to meet a lot of new faces and some familiar ones, too while we were selling wines as the retail outlet for many of the wines featured at the Grand Tasting.  Andy also hosted two rounds of Wine Blind Tasting, and I hosted one round of Beer Blind Tasting with the help of Brewmaster Jeff Irvin of AB Tech's Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast. You may remember Mr. Irvin from a previous post, but if not, let's just say the event was not dull!  My cheeks hurt at the end of it!  I really enjoyed taking our monthly Blind Tasting League event out into the world.  We had thirty seats that filled up quickly, mostly with people that had never heard of the Blind Tasting League, but really had a good time exploring the contents of their glass.  If you have never tasted beer this way, it really is a lot of fun.  We pour four beers, hide the packaging away, and take you through assessing the visual, aroma, and flavor clues to identify which grains, hops, and yeast were used.  We roll all of that into determining what style the beer is. It really is the best drinking game ever! If you would like to learn more about the Blind Tasting League, visit our website here. We owe a huge thanks to the Asheville Wine and Food Festival, Skyland Distributing, Brewmaster Irvin, and the breweries that provided beers for the event.  Now that the big reveal is all done, I can tell you what we poured and thank those breweries properly. Here they are in the order they were tasted:

Oskar Blues, Brevard, NC

Mama’s Little Yella Pils

Mama's Little Yella Pils is an uncompromising, small-batch Pilsner with 100% Pale Malt, German Specialty Malts, and Saaz hops.


New Belgium, Fort Collins, CO
(Coming soon to Asheville!)

Ranger IPA

This clear amber INDIA PALE ALE beauty bursts at the starting gate with an abundance of hops: Cascade (citrus), Chinook (floral/citrus), and Simcoe (fruity) lead off the beer, with Cascade added again for an intense dry hop flavor. Brewed with pale and dark caramel malts that harmonize the hop flavor from start to finish, Ranger is a sessionable splendor for all you hopinistas.

Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville, NC
Bed of Nails Brown Ale

Our brown ale is crafted as an ode to the traditional English brown. It’s delicate body allows the flavors of caramel and toffee from our specialty malts to come to life.

Higland Brewing Company, Asheville, NC

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.

Grains: 2 Row Brewers Malt, Munich, Roasted Barley, Caramel 40, Caramel 60, Chocolate, Extra Special Malt & Malted Wheat

Hops: Chinook & Mount Hood



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Drink Like a Girl 5-7pm Friday, August 21

It's time to say, "So long, Summer!" Parting is such sweet sorrow, but if you love something you have to let it go.  So we are letting go of our Summer Seasonals at 10% off our already low prices.  Even if you're back in the swing of things, you can pop the top on one of these Summer favorites and dream.  Here's what we're pouring:

Double D's Watermelon Lager

Deep River Brewing, Clayton, NC

Deep River Brewing Company's Double D's Watermelon Lager is a bright crisp lager that has a hint of fresh Johnston County watermelon infused flavor that is perfect for those hot North Carolina days. This refreshing brew is named after the owner's fathers who are both named 'Don' and are both fans of traditional lager style beers. 1st Place Winner in the 2011 Piedmont Brewer's Cup for Fruit Beer & 2014 Silver Award Winner at Carolina Championship of Beer 4.5% ABV

Summer Basil Farmhouse Ale

Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC

Brewed with North Carolina wheat and locally-farmed basil, our most popular summer beer is an ever-changing feast for the senses. Summer Basil evolves over its five-month season, as local basil matures and fermentation temperatures rise. The saison yeast loves our hot summers, responding with a full-on punch of peppery, vibrant flavors. It's okay that this plow-to-pint beer doesn't always taste the same. It's a beautiful thing.

Uprisin' Hefeweizen

Hi-Wire Brewing, Asheville, NC

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.

Wayfarer Summer IPA

Green Man Brewing, Asheville, NC

Perfect for summertime, Green Man's easy drinking IPA suits every activity you fancy. This cool ale has a rockin' citrus aroma and a laid-back finish that is ideal for longer days and warm nights. So pull your hair back, drop the top and put those Wayfarers on, baby.


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Back in the Saddle

Back in the Saddle

As much complaining as I've done about summer being over so soon, I am stoked to get back to school.  I know that's not what I'm supposed to say, but it's true.  We had our first class of the semester yesterday, and today marked our first "production" day.  I use the quotations because we didnt' actually produce anything.  It was also our first day wearing black shirts, the mark of a second year student. We cleaned the brewhouse, organized for the semester, and took inventory of new and old equipment.  It was the most fun I'd had cleaning in a long while.  This fall has the potential to be amazing.  We have new winery equipment, our new 10 hectoliter brewhouse, a canning line, a keg washer, a walk in cooler, and loads of kegs waiting to receive beer!  


Each of my classmates returned with valuable knowledge and experience from our internships.  We were quick to compare notes, share experiences, and learn from each other.  As we get into the swing of things, I know this trend will only continue.  I couldn't be more proud to be a part of a group as I am to belong to this cohort.  A huge motivator for me professionally is to be a part of an awesome team.  After a year of working together, we have grown into a pretty cohesive group.  

We also got to check up on some beverages we made last semester.  The carrot wine from last spring was a huge success!  It was already pretty tasty in May, when we added some French oak to impart even more flavor.  After just a few months we have a product that I am proud to have been involved in making. 

We also drew beer styles out of a hat that we each get to write papers and do presentations on.  I got American Style Ice Lager.  That's probably the last thing in the world I want to write about, but I will find a way to make it fun.  Or die from boredom trying.


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Mark your calendars now for Brewconomy Panel Discussion

Mark your calendars now for Brewconomy Panel Discussion

Brewing Up A Storm hosts “Brewconomy”, a discussion panel event focusing on the economic impact of the brewing industry in the Asheville area, @MetroWines on September 18th from 6-8pm.  Panelists include Tim Weber of Twin Leaf Brewery, Cecil Bothwell of Asheville City Council, Lucy Crown from Asheville’s Greenways, Cliff Mori of Brew-ed Walking Tours, Tedd Clevenger of Asheville Brewer’s Supply, and Chef Scott Adams of AB Tech’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast. More panelists to be announced soon!  Admission and parking are free, but the conversation is priceless!  

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Drink Like a Girl Friday, August 14

Drink Like a Girl Friday, August 14

This week we are featuring Gizmo Brew Works out of Raliegh in our weekly free beer tasting!  I can't wait to try these beers and share them with all of you!  Here's the ones we're pouring as described by Gizmo themselves:

Beekeeper Honey Wheat exhibits the characteristics of honey sweetness, floral nose, fruity flavors, a hint of clove, with a light body. Brewed with wildflower honey, Gizmo’s honey wheat beer is a nod to the beekeeping profession. Due to popular demand, this once summer favorite is now available year round.
ABV: 5.5%
Availability: Year Round

In the summer of 1997, Deep Blue, a computer designed by IBM, defeated the world champion chess player Garry Kasparov at his own game. This was the first time a master of his craft had been beaten by artificial intelligence. In the summer of 1999, a totally unrelated yet similarly disturbing advancement in technology struck again when the Hollywood classic Deep Blue Sea proved even Samuel L. Jackson was no match for those motherf@#$ing A.I. sharks.

We pay our respects to these victims of technology with a funky twist on a farmhouse favorite. Our saison has a strong blueberry nose accompanied by a classic Belgian aroma. Dry and crisp, a sweet blueberry flavor takes over, accented by a slight tart ending. Gizmo’s summer beer pairs perfectly with hot days, warm nights, chess matches, and sailing in shark infested waters.
ABV: 6.4%
Availability: Summer


A sexy, silky stout adds panache to any social situation, so we brewed Black Stiletto Stout with an eye toward style. Its creamy head smells sweetly of roasted barley and caramel before giving way to the full bodied blend of dark chocolate, toffee, and bready English ale yeast. Our choice ingredients create a rich and harmonious flavor profile that slides down the throat with a velvety mouthfeel. Robust but not filling, our Black Stiletto Stout will make you do a double take.
ABV: 6.1%
Availability: Year Round


And because we always pour four beers, here's a Green Man for good measure!

The Rainmaker

It’s no myth that this is Green Man’s most impressive and sought after special offering. A mammoth Double IPA that boasts 4 different hops, it’s the one hopheads wait for. Like a cool rain after a long drought, this one will quench your desire for big flavor and balance. Meet the Maker! Available April – September. 96 Rating on


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Drink Like A Girl Friday, August 7 from 5-7

This is a week for taking it easy and enjoying the last few days of summer break before schools start classes, the leaves start to crisp up, and we all pack away the kayaks and the hiking boots.  Drink it up!  It won't last much longer!  Here's what we're pouring this week as described by the brewers themselves:

Sierra Nevada

Ovila Abbey Saison

Our Ovila® Abbey Ales series is a collaboration with the monks of the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina, CA. Each beer is a modern twist on a traditional Belgian-style abbey ale—monastic inspiration and American innovation. These rotating Ovila Abbey Ales highlight, when possible, local ingredients grown and harvested by the monks on their nearly 600-acre working farm. We hope you enjoy these one-of-a-kind collaboration ales.

An homage to the monks’ noble work, this unique farmhouse ale is incredibly complex with notes of lemon, pepper, straw and herbs balanced by the tang of Mandarin oranges and a spicy kick of pepper. The Mandarin oranges used to make this beer were locally grown, including a portion grown on the grounds of the Abbey of New Clairvaux and picked by hand by the community of monks living there. We hope you enjoy this collaboration ale.

Mystery Brewing

Evangeline Saison

Brewer’s Notes: A dry farmhouse ale. The primary character of this beer is from yeast: apple and pear flavors blend with spicy phenolics, classic Belgian yeast bubblegum flavors and the unmistakable pepperiness of rye for a truly refreshing summer beer. Pair with raw milk cheeses, swordfish, shark, or spicy green salads.

Mystery Brewing

Papa Bois Citrus Foreign Extra Stout

Brewer's Notes: The Caribbean has a long tradition of sweet, fruity stouts that are delicious and refreshing in hot weather. While continuing that tradition, we've upped the ante on refreshing by adding lemongrass and fresh lemon zest. The perfect digestif. Pair with pound cake, raspberry pie, or all manner of chocolate desserts.

Frog Level Brewing

Salamander Slam IPA

Hop flavors are moderately high and floral to citrusy. The malts add complexity and give the beer a pleasant flavor, a golden color, and support the hop aspect. So, take a hike! If you love the smell of the woods after a fall rain, let our English India Pale Ale (IPA) take you there. The only thing missing are the bugs!

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The Beer Department is Blowing Up!

Have you seen Metro Wines' Beer Department lately?!  It's so pretty!  It was like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one when the beer shelves arrived last week!  Sometimes, when it's been a really hard day, I just look at it, and it makes me happy!  

On top of all that, we have begun shipping beer!  Want to send a taste of local craft beer to a loved one?  What about a nice bottle of Chimay?  We do that!  We also serve home brewers, so bring us your latest brews!  We can make sure that your family and friends get to enjoy the fruits of you labor!  

Hey!  Speaking of beer in boxes, have you heard about our Craft Beer Case Club?  Oh, yea!  A monthly 12 pack with 6 unique beers, two of each.  Step outside your comfort zone and explore the wide world of craft beers! Plus, case club members get first dibs on special releases!  You can start and stop any time with no commitment.  It's good to be in the club!

Check out these beauties that just arrived today:



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