Wednesday, November 29, 2006

'Tis the season...... be jolly, and a good beer or two can help make us feel warm all over as well as lessen the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. This is also the season when brewers release those beers known as Christmas beers and winter warmers. Christmas beers are spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, or coriander and are intended for consumption over the holidays, though many remain available throughout the winter months. Winter warmers tend to be higher in alcohol and take their name from the warm glow the drinker achieves.

Best known of these beers in the Asheville area is Highland's Cold Mountain Winter Ale. This year's release has been delayed slightly by the move of the brewery to East Asheville but the owners assure us that it will be out just before Christmas. Like many winter seasonals the recipe is changed a bit each year so no two releases are alike. Cold Mountain has become so popular that people often pre-purchase the bottles through area specialty stores which makes it increasingly hard to obtain. It is usually found on draft at Barley's and selected other area bars, but will go fast.

Another favorite of mine is Hampshire Special Ale from the D.L. Geary Brewing Company of Portland, Maine. In Asheville it is only available at the Grove Market in the Grove Arcade. This classic winter warmer was for many years "only available while the weather sucks" but is now brewed year round. While Ashevillians would have to travel to Maine to try the wonderful cask-conditioned draft on handpump, the bottled version should not be missed.

Other seasonals include Samuel Smith's Winter Welcome Ale, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Anchor Christmas Ale, Avery Brewing's Old Jubilation, Young's Winter Warmer, Corsendonk Christmas Ale, and Great Divide's Hibernation Ale. Pick up a few bottles and share with friends in the spirit of the season.

May good cheer reign.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New beer store coming to Asheville

Asheville Beer has learned from a reliable source that a new store dedicated to fine beer will be opening by Christmas at 66 Broadway. This location is across from the Lark Books building. The store will feature fine beers from the US and around the world.

Asheville has a number of establishments offering impressive retail beer selections but this will be the first store dedicated exclusively to our favorite beverage. We wish the owners much success and look forward to visiting. We will post additional information as opening day approaches.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sam Smith to beat the skunk

I've long been a fan of the fine beers produced by Samuel Smith's in Tadcaster, England, near York. One my visits to the UK I've enjoyed many a cask ale from this brewery, drawn on handpump and more often than not consumed in one of the many fine pubs also owned by this brewer. At home in the US I always look forward to each seasons' Winter Welcome with its new label. In fact there's some '06-'07 in my beer fridge now. The biggest problem with Sam Smith's has always been those clear bottles which cause beers that have been on the beer store shelves for any period of time to become "skunky," caused by the exposure of the beer to ultraviolet light. For this reason I often forgo buying these beers unless I know they've recently arrived at the store.

Now, Stephen Beaumont reports that Sam Smith's has started shipping its beers in brown glass! I haven't seen any in the Asheville area yet but these reportedly have the same look as the old bottles except for the color. This is great news and should address the long-standing shelf life issues. Hopefully other British brewers will take note and begin a mass migration away from clear glass. Wychewood, are you out there?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beer warning

Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties and local pubs to be alert and stay cautious when offered a drink from any woman. Many females use a date rape drug on the market called "Beer."

The drug is found in liquid form and is available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, or from taps and in large "kegs". Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and sleep with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex.

Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several beers, men will often succumb to the desires to sleep with horrific looking women whom they would never normally be attracted. After drinking beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.

At other times these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as "a relationship." In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage." Men are much more susceptible to this scam after beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.

Please! Forward this warning to every male you know. If you fall victim to this "Beer" scam and the women administering it, there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly victimised men. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book.


Originally uploaded by wncln_ms.

Lots of Pisgah brews on draft right now.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Beer shopping Sunday

I made the rounds of the Asheville beer stores this afternon, stopping at Greenlife, Fresh Market and the North Asheville Ingles. The haul included Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale, Terrapin Rye Squared, Samuel Smiths IPA, Mendocino Talon Barleywine, and Framboise Boon. The orange cans contain a soft drink called Moxie. If you aren't from New England you've probably never heard of it. It contains gentian root as a flavoring ingredient which makes it very bitter. I grew up drinking the stuff and it's undoubtedly responsible for my acquiring a taste for beer at a young age. I didn't buy the Moxie in Asheville, unfortunately.

MALT road trip

Yesterday, a group from the Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters (MALT) made a road trip to the wilds of east Tennessee for a joint gathering with the State of Franklin Homebrewers. We met at the Depot Street Brewery in Jonesborough where we were warmly welcomed by owner/brewer Michael Foster. Michael gave us a tour of his brewery and offered plenty of beer. Styles included a lager, a Belgian, a pale ale, a couple of porters, and a scottish. I had sampled Michael's fine beers at Brewgrass and he recognized me from that event. We played games outside in the unexpectedly warm weather, met new friends from the other club, and swapped information about the respective beer scenes in Asheville and the Tri-cities. It was an excellent way to spend an afternoon, and we look forward to welcoming the State of Franklin-ites to Asheville.