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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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Holiday Parties?

Wine, Beer and Event Space for Holiday Events

  Planning a holiday office party, celebratory event or searching for a unique idea for a gathering of family and friends? Consider a wine tasting @MetroWines! 

  We can plan an event especially for you. You pick the theme. Maybe Bordeaux, Rueda or Sicily or even a Blind Tasting!

Even Football !!

  Hosting an event or planning a wedding, we offer a wide selection of wines that vary by varietal and price and expert pairing advice. And if you are in our delivery area, we can bring the wine to you.

 We also offer a Gift Registry for any occasion. Someone retiring at the end of the year? Received  a promotion? Relocating? Getting married!?

  Call a consultant at 828-575-9525. Let us take one more task off your holiday to-do list! And thank you for the opportunity to be part of your holidays.

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Gabe Pickard : Factotum and Ebullient Conspirator in the Leavening Arts

I am constantly awed by the diversity of talents that people in the brewing industry bring with them. Gabe Pickard of Zebulon Brewing is the perfect example of this. She is a classically trained dancer, a yoga instructor, a physical therapist assistant, and she happens to co-own a brewery with her husband, Mike Karnowski. To some, this may seem like an awful lot for one person to manage. Gabe turns that logic on its head. In each of her endeavors, she points out, she works with living organisms whether its yeast cells or human bodies to toe the line between art and science.

“Like yoga, when I brew beer I feel like I can drop into a kind of meditative state.” Gabe says. She goes on to point out more intersections of her diverse body of work, “I would love to teach a yoga for brewers class.” She points out how strenuous small batch brewing without the help of automation can be on a person’s body over time. “There are simple exercises that they can do to prevent repetitive use injuries and allow them to work longer in the industry.” Gabe also sees a similarity in the way that people respond to both yoga and brewing. “You can stay on the surface and satisfy a hobby or a workout routine. Or you can go deeper, and take on the philosophy of yoga or a career in brewing. Either are viable options, and there is a spectrum in between.” It’s as if she is weaving a fabric of fluidity, strength, and integrity around her as she speaks.

She and Mike met about twenty-seven years ago. At the time, they were both working in a bagel shop in New York City. What started as a beer after work lead to them discovering that they were both born in the same obscure town in Northern England. It wasn’t long before they were homebrewing together, also. “I don't remember the type of beer we brewed in that particular kitchen, however, I remember we had to drink two cases of Grolsch beer (the beers with the flip tops) because we did not have a capper at the time. Needless to say I do not like Grolsh beer anymore (or any less!).”

Soon after, the couple relocated from Jersey City, NJ to New Orleans, LA. There they opened a homebrew shop called Brew Ha Ha, where she learned how to brew by teaching others the craft of brewing. Whilst running a new business, Gabe earned a BA in Philosophy. She also produced, directed, choreographed, danced in, and wrote grants for an annual music and dance concert ten years in a row. Once they made the move to Asheville in 2007, Gabe continued to push herself. She found work as a yoga instructor and returned to school to earn a degree as a physical therapist assistant. She also helped out at Green Man packaging the specialty beers that made Mike Karnowski a household name to WNC beer enthusiasts.

“Embarking in a new business is a daunting task, however, with dedication, passion, and a lot of focused hard work it can be a rewarding and invigorating task. The tendency of the stresses of a business seeping into the delicate fabric of a relationship can be tricky to navigate, though it is possible and totally can be done.” While Gabe admits that she isn’t an expert, she does offer these words of wisdom, “Everyone is different and has different life and work styles. Each party in the relationship must find their place and space to work that suits them best. A partnership in life (in my opinion) includes people who mutually respect each other, who can communicate, and who are at the heart of it all, friends. I am sure I can go on and on describing the valuable attributes that make up what a well-oiled relationship looks like, but I think I would continue to erase and start again continuously. I guess I think of long lasting relationships kind of like a mandala where the sand is designed and placed perfectly only to be swept aside and started over again on. A continuous work in progress where each party allows the other growth, transformation, and at the same time offers continuity through time. Chemistry is also at the heart of friendly, fun and loving relationships. Chemistry offers that spice to be sprinkled in throughout. My mom used to say that it is unsustainable to be in that first in-love phase of a relationship perpetually, in that phase it is hard just to eat or sleep much less working on projects and creative endeavors.”

“There are a lot of stressful days,” she says, “but the positives out way them.  We feel its important to care about the beer we are making.  We are passionate about it, and focused on quality control and integrity.”  

While Mike is at the helm of all of the brewing for Zebulon, Gabe is busy handling pretty much everything else at the brewery. “My business card reads Gabe Pickard-Karnowski: Factotum, and Ebullient Conspirator in the Leavening Arts. In addition I currently work part time as a Physical Therapist Assistant, I am a Certified Iyengar Yoga Instructor and intermittently toy with the idea of producing a couple more experimental dance/music concerts.”  She is also in the midst of creating a line of beers that will be released annually and will benefit a different women lead and/or focused non-profit each year. “I am working on recipe development for the first one now!” she says.  “We see a way that we can make an impact on a local level by working with area non-profits.”

To learn more about Zebulon visit their web site at www.zebulonbrewing.com or visit their tasting room Fridays and Saturdays 1-6pm at 8 Merchants Alley in Weaverville, NC. 

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Wicked Weed Freak of Nature

Freak of Nature from Wicked Weed

Beer Advocate says 95 Points


Brewed by:
Wicked Weed Brewing
North CarolinaUnited States
wickedweedbrewing.com

Style:American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.50% 

Availability: Year-round 

Notes / Commercial Description:
"The Freak of Nature is our San Francisco inspired hoppy monster. At 8% abv and who knows how many ibu’s, this beer is our shrine to the Hop. Absurd amounts of the big West Coast hops gives this beer its citrusy, weedy nose and big, dank flavor. We dry hop with 48lbs per batch, which is over 3lbs of hops per barrel. In keeping with the classic style of the West Coast double, sugar plays a large part in creating this dry and minimally bitter double IPA. The Freak is particularly pintable for the style, so if you dare to enter, we welcome you to the Freak Show."

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Take a Look at Shelby!

Tucked between Asheville and Charlotte, there’s a little town that’s making some big news on a global scale. People have traveled from forty-nine states and thirteen countries to visit the home town of Don Gibson, Earl Scruggs, and Newgrass Brewing Company: Shelby, North Carolina. When I first met Jordan Boinest, Co-owner of Newgrass, I was shocked that anyone would open a brewery in Shelby. I was even more surprised at her enthusiasm to open in the small town she grew up in after having lived in the trendy, thriving towns of Wilmington and later, Boone.  I was afraid I would offend her, but I asked the question anyway, “Why Shelby?” Little did I know that this is her favorite question!

“You know, we distribute our beer to Asheville, Boone, Charlotte, and all the little towns in between. All along the way, I meet new people that haven’t experienced our beer and have never heard of Shelby.  They look confused and ask, ‘Where’s Shelby?’ and then I get to tell them this story about the Earl Scruggs Center and the Don Gibson Theater and all the new businesses opening in Uptown Shelby. It’s crazy because I grew up in this town, and when I was a kid I didn’t come to the uptown district. For all of us it’s exciting to watch it change and evolve and become what it was years ago: A place for community and friendship and business together. It’s been really special."

Special is an understatement. I got to sit down with Jordan and two of her closest allies Emily Epley, Director of the Earl Scruggs Center, and Audrey Whetten, Director of Uptown Shelby Association. What these women have accomplished, along with their respective staffs and countless community volunteers, is remarkable. They haven’t set out to make Shelby something that it’s not. They have dug deep under the surface to unearth exactly who and what Shelby is, and find a beautiful way to communicating that identity to the world around them.

“Earl Scruggs didn’t just play traditional Bluegrass,” Jordan says of the father of the Newgrass genre and the man that developed the three finger picking method known to banjo players today as Scruggs style, “and we don’t just make traditional beer.  Coming back to Shelby gave us the opportunity to make something that is such a part of who we are. We make good beer and enjoy good music. Those are two things that mine and Lewis’ life have revolved around. We love it. I grew up here listening to Bluegrass music. This is home for us. We’re really excited to be part of this community. So when bands like Acoustic Syndicate come and play, it’s like family coming for a visit. You know, I’m seeing people come to Shelby for the first time ever to see a great show and try new beer!” Jordan and her partner and fiancé, Lewis were intentional about creating not only a brewery, but also a local music venue to host concerts of varying sizes.

Audrey describes the Uptown Shelby Association as a non-profit organization that exists to encourage economic development within the context of historical preservation.  Within this framework, Audrey is working with business leaders within the local community to work toward a common vision. “If you can picture an Alaskan dog sled team, we have a lot of energetic folks that are excited to move forward. My charge is to get them organized and running in the same direction.” A Main Street Solutions Fund grant from the NC Department of Commerce helped make the renovation of the historic building that Newgrass occupies possible.

Emily started her work in 2008 as the Executive Director of Destination Cleveland County (DCC). This is also a non-profit organization that was founded out of the concern of local citizens that saw their children going off to college and never coming back. They saw their community drying up, and decided to take action. They commissioned researchers from NC State University to consult with them on a solution. They donated their own time and resources to create and execute a strategy based on Shelby’s unique identity as the birthplace of two legendary music greats. Through capital campaigns, grants, and lots of hard work, DCC has now raised $8 million of the $9 million budget to pay for the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC) and the Don Gibson Theater (DGT). With the opening of the ESC, Emily transitioned into her new role as the Director of the ESC, while the DCC now operates under the supervision of board members.

“It’s such an amazing thing to have folks like Jordan and Audrey who have such enthusiasm and skill sets to do the things that are happening here [in Shelby]. All the positive energy…it’s contagious! It’s like this perfect storm of all these different pieces coming together now,” Epley says. “Now we have people getting on planes in Japan just to come to the Earl Scruggs Center, and they’ll build a two-week itinerary around it.”

Audrey describes the energy in Shelby’s Uptown District as “crackling”. “It’s like this snowball that we’ve been building for a long time.  We keep rolling it around, and it keeps getting incrementally larger. Now we are at a point that it’s taken off! We are experiencing exponential growth with new businesses opening all the time.”

“You know, we just hosted Travis Book of the Infamous String Dusters’ event Bluegrass, Bikes and Beer,” Jordan says. “He put on six events, three in Virginia, three in North Carolina. In NC there were events here at Newgrass, Oskar Blues, and Pisgah Brewing. Out of all of those, we had the largest event with fifty community bikers! It was surprising. I was like whoa!  Look at Shelby!”

I would encourage all of you to take a look at Shelby, especially if you think you know this town. There is so much going on that will pleasantly surprise you, and Emily is right, the positive energy is contagious! 

“This is the only place you could do what we’re doing in this way,” Jordan says. “It’s been incredible working in the beer industry, which is really a tightly knit community.”

“It’s interesting,” Emily interjects, “how similar the beer industry and the music industry are similar in that way. It’s all about collaboration and creativity and support. That’s what the community of Uptown Shelby is like.”

Here’s what’s coming up at Newgrass Brewing and in Uptown:

October 6

Uptown Art Walk

October 8

Second Saturday Festivities

Dear Brother live 8:30-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

October 14

Beer Festival & Chili Cook-Off

Chalwa live 8:30-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

October 17

Music, Mush, & Mutts

October 19

Lunch N Learn Through Their Voices: Female Musician Activists in North Carolina (includes Etta Baker, Nina Simone and others)@ The Earl Scruggs Center

October 28

Fright Night Costume Crawl

Halloween Party featuring Harvest live 9-11pm @ Newgrass Brewing

November 5- 7

Annual Rhythm & Roots 5K Walk/Run and 10K Run Race kicks off with Bluegrass band and banjo players playing Foggy Mountain Breakdown and there is live music at several spots along the route.

http://newgrassbrewing.com/

https://uptownshelby.com/

http://www.dongibsontheater.com/

http://earlscruggscenter.org/

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Old Chub from Oskar Blues

Lou Collichio of The Beer Department @MetroWines says: "Although not as dark as a Porter or Stout, Old Chub is a very malty, darker than amber scottish ale. Not a hoppy beer. Old Chub is rich and creamy. A really good beer great for Fall."

Oskar Blues says: RARE GIRTH

This jaw-dropping Scottish strong ale (8% ABV) is brewed with bodacious amounts of malted barley and specialty grains, and a dash of beechwood-smoked malt. Old Chub features semi-sweet flavors of cocoa and coffee, and a wee-bit of smoke. A head-turning treat for malt heads and folks who think they don't dig dark beer.

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