Friday, May 25, 2012

My Guide to Asheville Beer Week

Asheville Beer Week kicked off in great fashion last night at Highland Brewery, which held a fundraiser for the family of Ben Harris, who tragically died in a freak accident at Red Hook Brewery in New Hampshire.  There were kegs from just about every brewery in Western North Carolina on tap, as well as an auction, and all the proceeds went to help Ben Harris's surviving family.  It's a sobering thought that one could lose their life doing what they love, and it shows just how precious life is.  It also shows the spirit of Asheville Beer Week, which is raising money for various causes over the course of the next week.  If you didn't make it to Highland and want to contribute, they are accepting donations at the following address:

The Alysha Miller Harris Baby Fund c/o TD Bank,
20 International Drive, Portsmouth, NH, 03801

Since I am on a blogging roll this week, I thought I would highlight a few of the events this week that I am either attending, or hope to.  There are many more events that I unfortunately cannot make.  Have they perfected human cloning yet?

Green Man Brewing Session Beer Fest - All Week

The great thing about this 'fest' is that it is going on all week, so you can drop in anytime to see what's on tap.  I was able to try a Czech lager last night, and they have many different beer styles that will be available over the coming week.  The great thing about session beers is that you can sit down and have a few and still make it home safely.  This fest also shows that 'lighter' beers do not have to lack in flavor.  Speaking of flavor, get to Green Man quickly to try their Funk #49, their American Red Sour Ale.  It will not last long.

Bruisin' Ale's presents: Stone Brewing EPIC Vertical Tasting - May 29

First of all, you can't go wrong when Stone Brewing is involved.  This tasting features an assortment of Stone Brewing's beers, both old and new including four years of the oh so delicious Double Bastard.  Even better than having great beer from Stone, the proceeds go to local resident and musician Debrissa McKinney to help with her healthcare costs.  Asheville Beer Week is bigger than just beer.

Thirsty Monk and Curate Beer Dinner - May 29

Trappist ales?  Curate?  Do I need to write anything else?  If you haven't been to Curate, you must go, as they have brought world class Spanish Tapas to Asheville, with a celebrated chef who worked at the famous El Bulli restaurant in Spain.  That, combined with having great Belgian beer should be enough to convince anyone to attend this great dinner.

Bruisin' Ales, Pack's Tavern and Air present: Beerchef! - May 30

What do you get when you combine some of the most talented local chefs with Belgian style beers and guest appearances from representatives of our newest 'local' breweries, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium?  An awesome evening, if I do say so myself.  I love that this event showcases some of the local culinary talents of our great city, and it will be great to see what ideas the chefs have to pair with the variety of Belgian style beers.  There are eight, yes eight courses, so you ought to leave satiated with a grin on your face.  I am so looking forward to this.

Bruisin' Ales and Zambra presents: Beer Cocktails and Tapas - May 31

Beer cocktails you say?  Yes, part of me is a little scared.  But the mixologists at Zambra's, the original tapas restaurant in Asheville know what they are doing.  They are featuring spirits made by New Holland, Rogue, and Dogfish Head, in what is a growing craft distillery market.  The other good thing about this event is that it is a la carte, so you can spend as little or as much as you want.

Thirsty Monk Presents: Brux with Brian Grossman of Sierra Nevada and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River - May 31

Russian River.  The first time I had one of their sour beers was a revelation.  Beer that to me is as complicated and exquisite as any wine, I have always cherished anytime I was lucky enough to come across a bottle of their beer.  Sierra Nevada and Russian river collaborated on a wild ale called Brux, which will be sampled at this event.  Not to mention that Vinnie Cilurzo, the founder of Russian River will be there.  I am hoping, praying, begging that one day they will distribute their beer here in North Carolina.  I will also be broke if that happens. Broke and happy.

Thirsty Monk Presents: Surly Brewing tasting and Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity fundraiser - June 1

Surly Brewing Company is known for their aggressive great tasting beers and they were one of the first craft breweries to embrace the wonderful beer delivery device known as the can.  This is a great opportunity to try a brewery that does not distribute to North Carolina, and support a great cause at the same time.

In what is my longest post ever, I still have not highlighted all the other great events happening during Asheville Beer Week.  For more information on the all the events, please click here.  Asheville, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and celebrate Beer City.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Festivals for the Rest of Us

Another year has gone by, and once again, Brewgrass tickets have sold out quicker than Keanu Reeves driving a city bus.  Yet during Asheville Beer Week, there are two beer festivals occurring, and tickets are still available to both.
First, coming up this Saturday is the Just Brew It Homebrew Festival being held at the Wedge Brewery as part of Asheville Beer Week.  I went to this festival last year, and it was the best bang for the buck fest I have ever been too.  Sixteen dollars gets you three hours of drinking many different varieties of beer. And this isn’t just any beer that you can pick up at the store or your local brewery.  These beers have all been handcrafted by local homebrewers, so you are likely to see a variety of original, and often whimsical styles that you would not see a bigger brewer take a chance on.  Tickets are on sale through Friday.
And the big event on the last weekend of Asheville Beer Week is the Beer City Festival.  I recall many people last year, and some this year as well complaining about not getting Brewgrass tickets, but we have this great festival celebrating local and regional craft brewing and somehow there are still tickets left.  I would argue that Beer City Fest is in a better location in the heart of downtown, and has a greater variety of music (come on people, Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band is playing).  Tickets are available at Barley's, Bruisin' Ales, and some local breweries through the end of the day Thursday, and there may be some tickets at the fest on June 2nd.
Wondering how to get to these festivals?  Asheville has revamped their bus system, with an increased frequency in heavily used corridors, night service in more areas, and the buses are free until June 8th.  I plan on taking advantage of this myself, and I hope many of you will do the same.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

We've come a long way, baby

So in just a couple of days, Asheville will be celebrating its ascendance to being one of the top places in the country for beer lovers with a week and a half long coronation of sorts, including beer dinners, special keg releases and beer tastings, and some excellent beer dinners.  It is a well deserved commemoration of how far Asheville has come.  

When I moved to Asheville in 1997, Highland Brewing Company, Asheville's true beer pioneers, was just about the only local beer in town.  Jack of the Wood (Green Man) had opened just a couple of months prior, and their Wee-Heavy had me hooked on getting fresh, local, good beer, and I never could have imagined how far it would go.  As more breweries began to open up, North Carolina finally popped the cap on its archaic beer laws, and the scene was set for what we have today.  This past year has seen Asheville and Western North Carolina land three major craft breweries that saw what was going on in our little ol' town and liked it.  It is a testament to the brewers, beer store owners, and beer drinkers of Western North Carolina that allowed this to happen.  One of the many endearing qualities that Asheville has is an emphasis on locally made and grown products, and supporting your neighbors business.  This quality is the main reason we are able to have such a great event like Asheville Beer Week.

So please, if you can, get out there and support Asheville Beer by attending one of the many events that will be taking place over the next couple of weeks.  Here's hoping that Asheville Beer Week is a smashing success, and an event that will last at least until the sun decides to grow into a red giant, at which point we will have to move the event elsewhere.

As an aside, yes, this is my annual post to the beer blog.  When I took over this blog, one of main reasons I did so was to promote the local beer scene.  Well, it no longer needs promoting from me, and it speaks for itself.  Twitter has become the go to source for beer news in the area, so it is really hard to write about anything that hasn't already been said (same goes for this post).  It has been great seeing all the growth in this industry, and I look forward to what lies ahead.  As for me, I may occasionally post here, and I have contemplated starting another blog that is not limited to one subject (of course I have been having that thought for at least a year).