November 16, 2012

Asheville, NC: New Belgium Tasting and Cold Mountain Release Party

It was a special night in Asheville, with a New Belgium tasting event and the release of Highland Brewing Company's highly anticipated Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

New Belgium Tasting at Bruisin’ Ales

New Belgium Asheville - Bruisin' Ales
Bruisin' Ales ("A High-Gravity World of Brews") is a bottle shop on 66 Broadway St., right in downtown Asheville. It's not a huge shop, but nonetheless they are very well stocked. They have great selection of imports (Schneiderwiesse etc.), plus the likes of Dogfish Head, Evil Twin, and a respectable number of regional beers as well. It was a busy night, with a good turnout of beer drinkers looking forward to New Belgium's forthcoming Asheville brewery.

Trey Wheeler from New Belgium conducted the tasting, which consisted of:
  • 1554 - A very dark beer, this "Enlighted Black Ale" is chocolatey, but not at all heavy. (6.2% ABV, 55 IBUs)
  • Frambozen - This was a new one for me. Brewed with raspberry juice, it's smooth and sweet.  It would be a great dessert beer, reminding me of a chocolate raspberry tort. Could also work well on a cheese plate. (6.5% ABV, 15.5 IBUs)
  • Snow Day - I love this winter seasonal. Midnight Wheat malt gives it some strong caramel notes and a smooth feel, while Styrian Golding, Centennial, and Cascade hops provide a solid dose of bitterness. (6.2% ABV, 55 IBUs)
  • Bier de Garde - A collaboration with farmhouse specialist Brewery Vivant, from Grand Rapids, MI, Bier de Garde is part of New Belgium's Lips of Faith series. Brewed with bergamot and fermented with Brewery Vivant's bier de garde yeast strain. (9%, 18 IBUs)
  • Imperial Coffee Chocolate Stout - Another Lips of Faith brew, this imperial stout is very dark, but much more full-bodied than 1554 and loaded with coffee and chocolate flavors -- as you might have guessed! (10% ABV, 39 IBUs)
  • Super IPA - The evening's third Lips of Faith, Super IPA, is straight up hop juice, stick-to-your-teeth delicious. It's a collaboration with California's Alpine Beer Company. (9% ABV, 99 IBUs)
Look out for New Belgium's Tart Lychee, on tap next week at Barley's Taproom.

Thank you Bruisin' Ales for a great tasting! I will definitely be back for more!

As tempting as it was to hang around, there was another event to attend...

Highland Brewing Company's Cold Mountain Release Party

I've had a blast each time I've been to Highland Brewing Company. This was my third visit to the brewery, but the first time I’ve seen cars parked all the way down the hill leading up to it. There had been a lot of buzz over the Cold Mountain Winter Ale, but I had no idea just how crazy Asheville was over this beer.
Cold Mountain Beer Asheville
Immediately upon walking into the brewery, I saw several people walking around with cases of the special release, evidently stocking up while they could.

Inside it was a full house. A band was rockin' and the bar was slammed. My girlfriend and I picked up some pints and began to enjoy the show.

The beer: Cold Mountain is made every winter with a secret blend of ingredients, usually including some vanilla and hazelnut. Were there some cocoa nibs in there? Definitely some spice -- cinnamon and nutmeg maybe? The hops bitterness lingers the more you drink, and there's a little something familiar that’s hard to place. Complex, hoppy, unique. Now I know what all the hype is about! Pick some up before it disappears! They've got it at Hops and Vines and Bruisin' Ales...for now.

The band: Broadcast rocked! A powerful, soulful band from Brooklyn, Broadcast is now based in Asheville. They busted out a cover of Whippin’ Post that would make the Allman Brothers proud (check out their website for a taste), followed by Sympathy for the Devil that just about brought down the house.

They've got a show on Nov. 29th at the Orange Peel with Dumptsaphunk -- it'll be a good one!

Another high energy event at Highland in the books. It's hard to go wrong with great music and great beer!

View more photos from the Cold Mountain Release Party.

Next up: Homebrew for Hunger 2012!
(read about H4H 2011)

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