November 14, 2013

Hard Cider Takes Off in Western NC

As with the rest of the United States, the craft cider scene is exploding at an impressive clip. Asheville is embracing this young and exciting movement, with a rapidly developing cider scene of its own. Six months ago there were no local cider companies in the area -- now there are three. It’s a movement that’s well suited given Western North Carolina’s abundant apple production. Two events from the past month, the first annual CiderFest NC and the MALT club annual cider pressing, introduced a number of craft beer enthusiasts to the world of cider.

October 13, 2013

Wicked Weed Brings Asheville a Gold Medal

Enjoying the Gold Medal at the GABF
award ceremony (via Twitter)
Wicked Weed Brewing has made history by being the first ever Asheville brewery to bring home a gold medal from the Great American Beer Festival, the top brewing industry event in the country and the largest commercial beer competition in the world.

Despite the fact that they just opened this past December, Wicked Weed has proven that they've raised the bar on the quality of beer coming out of this city. Their gold medal was in the American-Style Brett Beer category for Serenity, a beer formerly known as Transcendence. "Brett" is short for Brettanomyces, a historically wild yeast that today's most adventurous brewers have harnessed to create beers with complex, funky characteristics. In the style category, Wicked Weed's Serenity surpassed 37 other entries, including those of California's Russian River (maker of what is arguably America's favorite craft beer) and Colorado's Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project (whose brewer literally wrote the entry on Brettanomyces in the Oxford Companion to Beer). This all bodes well for the New Belgium/Wicked Weed/Riverbend Malt House collaboration beer mentioned in my previous post.

This is only the third ever GABF medal for Asheville breweries. In 2011, Lexington Avenue Brewery won a bronze medal in the Brown Porter category. Prior to that, Highland Brewing Company earned a silver for Black Mocha Stout (2008, American-Style Stout category). Wicked Weed's is the first GABF gold medal for a North Carolina brewery since 2010.

Other 2013 winners from North Carolina include:
  • Silver - Old Ale / Strong Ale category, Irish Walker Barley Wine, Olde Hickory Brewery, Hickory, NC
  • Bronze - Bohemian-Style Pilsener category, Bohemian Pilsner, Mother Earth Brewing, Kinston, NC
  • Bronze - Robust Porter category, Genuine Oatmeal Porter, Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill, NC
Congratulations to all the winners from GABF!

More results and stats from the Great American Beer Festival can be found in the press release from the Brewers Association.

October 11, 2013

Riverbend Malt House Announces Expansion, GABF Collaboration Beer

Asheville's Riverbend Malt House is in the middle of several exciting projects, including a major expansion and R&D with the North Carolina agricultural extension office. Plus, tonight in Denver, New Belgium and Wicked Weed will unveil a small batch collaboration beer made with Riverbend malt -- a Brett IPA brewed with experimental hops, German spelt, and Riverbend's Appalachian wheat.

Here's some more information about the collaboration and the release event:

October 9, 2013

Beer Mail: Goose Island, Magic Hat, Kona Brewing Company

I've been remiss in sharing some of the brews that have arrived on my doorstep over the past couple months. Things have been pretty busy around here. For one, I've been writing quite a bit of content for the E. C. Kraus homebrewing blog. I've also started with an exciting new project, which I'll share very soon. For now, some beer reviews from Goose Island, Magic Hat, and Kona Brewing Co.:

Goose Island Brewing Co., Chicago, IL

I was genuinely pleased with Goose Island's beers, a few were pretty impressive. Some people give Goose Island a hard time for "selling out" to AB-Inbev, but based on the quality of the beer itself, I can't fault them...

  • Honker's Ale - An easy drinking English style bitter. Burnt orange in color with an off white rocky head. Pale malt and some ale yeast esters in the aroma, with low hop aroma. Crisp grain flavor with mild hop bitterness. Some wheat gives it a medium-light body and good head retention. Finished somewhat dry. (4.2% ABV)
  • IPA - Similar to the Honkers in that wheat is used for head retention and body -- it's there in the aroma, along with sweet caramel malts and moderate spicy hop aroma. Not especially bitter in the flavor, pretty well balanced. Medium bodied. (5.9% ABV)
  • Urban Wheat - Light yellow in color with a big rocky white head. Faint aroma of lemons in the aroma, but nothing like the banana/clove of a hefeweizen. An easy drinking wheat ale perfect for a hot day. (4.2% ABV)
  • Matilda - This is where Goose Island's portfolio really begins to impress. Matilda is a Belgian style pale ale featuring complex aromas of orange, spice, phenols, and some dark fruit. Medium and frothy body with a moderately sweet finish. Excellent. (7% ABV)

    Goose Island Matilda - there's a winner.
  • Sofie - Sofie is a farmhouse ale, pale yellow in color with a white head. Somewhat tart with a prominent lemon character, plus some mild farmhouse funk. Light, yet chewy mouthfeel. (6.5% ABV)
  • Bourbon County Stout - This highly coveted imperial stout pours black/brown and viscous with a big brown head on top. Sweet chocolate is balanced by bourbon spice. This one's definitely a sipper! (15% ABV)

A pretty impressive lineup from Goose Island.

September 11, 2013

Recap: High Country Craft Beer and Food Festival

It's been a busy past couple weeks in the craft beer world! It's the end of the summer, and it seems that everyone wants to squeeze out as many beer festivals as possible before the cold weather sets in.

This past Friday was the New Belgium "Clips" Beer and Film Tour in Asheville, while the weekend before was the High Country Beer Festival at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.

September 4, 2013

Highlands, NC: Ruka's Table Masters the Beer Pairing Dinner

Narrow, winding roads lead into the mountains of Highlands, NC, the kind that make you wonder how the treads on your tires are doing. Suddenly the forest road opens up to offer sweeping views of the surrounding states. Located in a small resort town in the Nantahala National Forest, Ruka's Table sources ingredients from its neighbors in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, and delivers food fit for any of the best restaurants in Atlanta, DC, or New York City. Head Chef Justin Burdett recently presented a beer pairing dinner showcasing many of these local ingredients.

Prior to working at Ruka’s Table, Burdett was Chef de Cuisine at Miller Union, a highly regarded farm-to-table restaurant in Atlanta. In March 2013, he was named among the top chefs in the Southeast by Food & Wine Magazine. He has also competed on the Food Network show "Chopped" -- and won.

August 29, 2013

Appalachian State's "Ivory Tower" Brewery Creates 100% NC Beer

all north carolina beer hops kettle
NC hops go into the kettle at ASU's
Ivory Tower Brewery.
Day by day, brewers around the country are embracing local ingredients in their beer making, whether malt, hops, honey, produce, or yeast. Now, as a new generation of brewers prepares to enter the workforce, that commitment to local suppliers is top of mind. I recently spoke with Rusty Kuhfeld, Lab Coordinator for the Appalachian State fermentation science program, to get the scoop on a beer made with ingredients sourced entirely from North Carolina.

Ivory Tower Brewery is the pilot brewery at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. ASU's fermentation science program is an increasingly popular course of study, allowing future brewers and winemakers to earn a four-year fermentation science degree that will give them a significant leg up when they're ready to enter the industry.

The program recently purchased a 3-barrel brewing system, allowing them to produce upwards of 90 gallons per batch. The plan is to sell the beer produced by the students in order to help fund research and supplies. Unfortunately North Carolina law prohibits the sale of alcohol produced by universities, but they hope that the state will revise its laws so that they can raise money for the program, clear out capacity, and allow the students to gain more experience. The fermentation science program also offers lab services for professional craft brewers to receive analysis on things like IBUs and alcohol content, color, and clarity.

August 27, 2013

Craft Beer is for Lovers: Top Picks from the VA Craft Brewers Festival

2013 VA Craft Brewers Fest 
Capping off Virginia Craft Beer Month and a successful "Love on Tap" campaign by the state of Virginia, brewers and craft beer fans gathered this past weekend for the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival and Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The event was held at Devils Backbone Brewing Company's Nelson County brewpub and concert grounds.

The weather was incredible, surpassed only by the setting, with mountain views for 360 degrees. Devils Backbone Brewpub sits on a huge plot of land in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, with almost no other buildings in sight. There were a fair number of people in attendance, about 2,200, but there was plenty of space so it didn't seem crowded. A huge stage was set up on the property for music, but the main attraction was most definitely the beer.

August 22, 2013

Local Beer Event Roundup

A lot of exciting beer events coming up in the Southeast: beer dinners, festivals, New Belgium "Clips" Film Festival... Are you ready?

Tonight, Aug. 22, 2013 - Oskar Blues Pint Night at the Brew Pump

The Brew Pump is a brand new beer bar in a converted gas station at 760 Haywood Road in West Asheville. This is the bar's first pint night, featuring our new neighbors from down in Brevard. There will be bluegrass music with Steven Shealy, free Oskar Blues merchandise, and the El Kimchi Food Truck will be on site providing the grub.

See you there.

Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 - VA Craft Brewers Festival

August 13, 2013

A Rare Beer Club Tasting: Best Served Chilled with Cheese and Good People

Rare Beer Club Tasting
The Rare Beer Club offers some
hard-to-find libations.
The Rare Beer Club puts hard to find and limited release beers in the hands of craft beer fans. They were kind enough to send me a few bottles, so I invited some Asheville beer folks over to try the club's summer releases. Included in the lineup were collaborations from some of the United States' favorite brewers, as well as a saison from one of the world's most highly regarded producers of the style.

First, a little more about the club...

August 1, 2013

The Grove Park Inn Goes Craft: Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen

The attractive interior space opens into
even more impressive mountain views.
Someone made a very wise move when they decided to make craft beer and local food the focal point of the Grove Park Inn's classy new restaurant. 

Edison Craft Ales + Kitchen carries ten North Carolina beers on tap, including several local brews. Edison will offer flights of up to four pours, allowing drinkers to sample some of North Carolina's finest ales and lagers. The draft beer selection is rounded out by number of quality canned and bottled beers, again with a focus on the regional and local.

July 31, 2013

Top 5 Experiences from the 2013 Beer Bloggers Conference

The 2013 Beer Bloggers Conference
was held at the Boston Park Plaza
Hotel, July 26-28.
I returned home on Monday from the Beer Bloggers Conference and wow -- what a marathon. I first flew to Boston and immediately bussed up north to spent a couple days with my little brother in Bar Harbor, ME. I then linked up with the pre-conference excursion in Portland, ME, before heading back to Boston for the conference itself.

Zephyr Adventures did a fantastic job organizing the whole thing. If you're a blogger who writes about beer, wine, food, or fitness and wellness, I highly recommend you checking out their annual conferences as an opportunity to network with others and elevate your blogging and social media skills.

Rather than give a full play by play, here are my top five experiences from the weekend (in chronological order):

July 24, 2013

Off to the Beer Bloggers Conference!

I'm en route (via Maine) to the 2013 Beer Bloggers Conference in Boston, MA. It should be a super beer geeky good time!

In addition to getting back to visit a world class craft beer city, I'm looking forward to...

Things kick off Thursday afternoon in Portland, ME. I will report here, on Facebook, and Twitter as time allows and do my best to avoid a wretched four-day hangover.

Will you be at #BBC13? Hit me up!

Tonight: Mother Earth Pairing Dinner at Ruka's Table

Late notice, yes, but this beer dinner sounds pretty amazing. Ruka's Table is in Highlands, NC, about
an hour southwest of Brevard.

For Immediate Release: 

July 23, 2013

In Print! AVL on Tap Magazine Covers the Local Beer Scene

For the first time, my writing has been published in print! AVL on Tap is a new Asheville magazine that covers the local beer beat. Founder and Editor Mitch Morgan invited me to write a piece about Riverbend Malt House, and I was glad to oblige. Look for the (free!) magazine around town at all your favorite craft beer spots, or check out the digital version by clicking the picture below.

Hope you dig it! Cheers!

Asheville local beer magazine AVL

July 17, 2013

Fu Manchus, Pirates, and Scotsmen: Three Beers from Monday Night Brewing

Monday Night Brewing beers

Monday Night Brewing is a company that gets marketing and PR. They've got creative names and packaging that portray a fun brand. Besides, they were kind enough to send me one each of their three year round beers to review, so that helps.

Seriously though, the Atlanta-based company really knows how to portray a fun attitude, reminding us perhaps not-so-subtly, "Hey, this is beer. Why don't we just enjoy it?"

July 11, 2013

This Friday: Tour the NC State Hops Research Yard in Western North Carolina

Image via NC Alternative Crops and Organics
If you missed the Hops Growing in North Carolina workshop this past March, don't despair. The Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station in Mills River, NC, is offering a free, public tour of their hops yard this Friday, July 12th, from 4pm to 6pm.

This is a great opportunity to learn all about the challenges that face a possible hops industry in the Southeast. In case you haven't heard, Sierra Nevada's building a giant brewery down in Mills River, so see below for travel information. There is a suggested donation of $5 per person.

Via the NC Alternative Crops and Organics Blog:

"In direct response to the expressed needs of hops growers in North Carolina, three years ago we established a hops variety trial at the research station in western North Carolina. Ten varieties were planted on a 20 foot trellis. The first year (2011), we had one of the prettiest hop yards in the Southeast. The second year (2012), Downy Mildew, spider mites, and Japanese beetles took a terrible toll on the plants and the differences between varieties really became apparent. We lost one variety completely; Newport. Downy Mildew actually killed the crowns. This spring we took the opportunity to informally test a few new varieties by planting them where the Newport crowns had been planted. This year we have taken a much more aggressive approach to controlling diseases and insects. We have also done some cultural practices, such as spring pruning in an effort to increase lateral formation and yields. 

June 27, 2013

Asheville Beer News Roundup

There's been a lot happening in the Asheville beer scene over the past week or two. Here are just a few of the latest stories:

Asheville Growler to open July 22nd

With new NC legislation expanding the rights of retailers to sell growlers, the owner of Asheville's Bar of Soap has pounced on a new business opportunity. The retail outlet in North Asheville will be located a stone's throw from Asheville Brewing Company's Merrimon Ave. location. Check out the press release on

Burial Beer Company opens strong

Just a couple weeks since their grand opening weekend, there is a lot of good chatter about the brews coming out of Burial Beer Co. This is definitely a brewery worth keeping an eye on.

Ben's Tune-Up opens 

Ben's Tune-Up, a bar, restaurant, and sake brewery, opened this week. Read Emily Patrick's fun run-down for the Mountain Xpress, while BlogAsheville gives us a preview of their Asian-fusion menu. The best part is, Ben's is located right between Asheville Brewing Company's Coxe Ave. location and Hi-Wire Brewing Co., making for one hell of a bar crawl.

Hi-Wire Brewing gets rolling

This week marks the release of Hi-Wire's 12-oz. bottles in the Asheville market. Just about everyone has heard that the Hi-Wire Lager is an ideal summer drinker. Check out the Hi-Wire bottle release party this Saturday at the Southern Kitchen and Bar.

Asheville man launches BREW-ed

Cliff Mori, an Asheville-based beer connoisseur, has launched his own beer education company. Mori, a Certified Cicerone, will offer brewery tours, staff training, and beer education classes. Find more information at and the BREW-ed website.

Got local beer news to share? Shoot me a line at david (at) localbeerblog (dot) com.

June 20, 2013

Introducing CentUp: Support Bloggers & Charities with a Single Click

CentUp logo
Beer for a cause. It's a theme I've tried to highlight from time to time, one that recurs quite often in the craft beer industry. Something about people that enjoy craft beer -- they love to support good causes!

Now I get to take an active role in raising money for good causes through my own passion for craft beer. And you can help!

You may have noticed a new button on my website: CentUp. Maybe you saw the brewery they built for me on Facebook.

CentUp is an exciting new platform that enables people like you to reward content creators and support good causes with the click of a button. For as little as a penny, you can chip in to support your favorite bloggers and donate to a charity of your choice at the same time. For every click of the CentUp button, 45% percent of the donation goes to the publisher and 45% goes to the charity. CentUp keeps 10% to cover operating costs.

I found out about CentUp through their Kickstarter campaign, which was successfully funded. Watch the video below and tell me if you're not intrigued [video link]...

June 18, 2013

Hi-Wire Bottle Release and Upcoming Events

hi wire asheville brewery
Hi-Wire's sign gets installed at their
Asheville brewery (via Hi-Wire Brewing)
As they wrap up construction of their downtown tap room, Hi-Wire Brewing is getting closer and closer to making their beers available throughout Western North Carolina. Find details in the press release below:


ASHEVILLE, NC, June 17, 2013 – After months of fine-tuning its bottling and labeling equipment, Hi-Wire Brewing’s beers are just about ready for distribution in 12-oz. six-packs! With our beers available on tap throughout Western North Carolina and select locations throughout the state, Hi-Wire is extremely excited to finalize its beer roll-out.

Starting on Wednesday, June 26th, look for Hi-Wire’s beer in 12-oz six-packs at the following local, independent retail outlets:
  • Appalachian Vintner
  • Asheville Wine Market
  • Bruisin’ Ales
  • French Broad Food Co-op
  • West Village Market
  • Hops & Vines
  • Weinhaus

Beginning on Friday, June 28th, Hi-Wire’s six-packs will also be available at a host of other retail outlets as well as in area bars and restaurants.

June 4, 2013

6 Reasons to be Happy AVL Beer Week is Over

The marathon that was Asheville Beer Week has reached its conclusion. From Just Brew It, to the Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting, to Beer City Fest, it was a whirlwind of boozin' and shmoozin'.

You're probably expecting me to say something like "Well, now you can give your liver a break." Au contraire. Asheville Beer Week may be over, but the summer season is just getting started. And with summer guessed it -- more beer! Here are five upcoming beer (and cider) events to look forward to:

Hi-Wire Asheville Black IPA1. Hi-Wire Opening

Whether you tried them at Beer City Fest or the Thirsty Monk last week, you've got to be excited about Hi-Wire Brewing coming soon to Asheville. Their exact opening date is still TBA, but you can meet the crew and try their beers at the Westville Pub on June 12th.

May 24, 2013

Nashville, TN: Tennessee Brew Works Prepares to Bring Down the House

TN Brew Works Nashville
Last weekend in Nashville, I had the pleasure of meeting Garr Schwartz and Christian Spears, founders of the soon-to-open Tennessee Brew Works. This is a true craft brewery that will elevate the quality of the beer coming out of Nashville, the state of Tennessee, and the southeast United States.

When we pulled up to the former print shop at 809 Ewing Avenue, we weren't quite sure if we were in the right place. Located in a part of town that has probably seen better days, the brewery was still very much under construction.

May 20, 2013

Asheville, NC: Hi-Wire Brewing Poised for Success

When a brewery vacated the space at 197 Hilliard Avenue and offered up their equipment for sale, Adam Charnack and Chris Frosaker saw an opportunity. They crunched some numbers, drew up a business plan, and are now co-owners of Hi-Wire Brewing Company, Asheville's newest brewery to join the local beer scene.

The artwork for Hi-Wire's Lager is
attractive and eye-catching.
(via Hi-Wire's Facebook page)
I spoke with Adam and Chris last week as they supervised the final construction process of their brewery and taproom. Right out of the gate, Hi-Wire will provide Asheville with four, quality, year-round brews: Bed of Nails Brown Ale, Prime Time Pale Ale, Hi-Pitch IPA, and Hi-Wire Lager. Their goal is to offer "good, authentic, sessionable beers," said Charnack. He and Chris feel that they can fill a niche in Asheville with traditional, unpretentious beers and a welcoming space in which to serve them. I tried their Czech-style lager: crisp, clear and full of assertive noble hops. These guys know what they’re doing.

May 16, 2013

Two Years of Beer Blogging: Check

Yours truly, hard at work at the
Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ
Festival in Atlanta.
I introduced myself to the world of beer blogging on May 16, 2011, with my first real post (a review of Yazoo's Dos Perros) coming a couple days later. I remember sitting in those Nashville coffee shops, embarking on this journey, having no idea where it would lead. Spending last weekend in Nashville, the city told me, "That's right, you don't live here anymore." There were new businesses and new buildings all over the place. It's true -- time really flies.

A year ago today I was living in Panama and I wrote a post similar to this one. I reflected on some of the ridiculously cool things I had done over the past year, including a class at the Siebel Institute in Chicago and the first ever Costa Rica Craft Beer Festival. I asked the question, "Where do we go from here?" Little did I know that my upcoming trip back in the US would take me through the town where I live today. A short twenty-four hours in Asheville planted a seed that would grow during my remaining time in Panama and convince me to move here just four months later.

May 13, 2013

5 Places to Take Beer Lovers Visiting Asheville

For everyone who visits Asheville, checking out the beer scene is imperative. My girlfriend and I have been very fortunate over the past several weeks to have a number of friends and family in town to visit and it's been a blast sharing the new city with our guests. Here are a few of the spots we've taken people so they can see -- and taste -- the Asheville beer scene:

the wedge brewing
Afternoon chillin' -- The Wedge Brewing Company

Located in the River Arts District, the Wedge has fantastic beer, a great outdoor patio, and usually food trucks on site to pair with your brew. It's the perfect place for kicking back on a sunny afternoon. The day we were there, El Kimchi was serving up their Mexican/Korean fusion deliciousness. Hopheads must try the Iron Rail IPA. Be sure to check out the Wedge's outdoor cinema series this summer and the Just Brew It homebrew festival on May 25th.

April 24, 2013

Where Have All the Good Times Gone?

You may have noticed that things have been a little quiet on the Local Beer Blog over the past few weeks. I'll admit, I've been distracted. While I try to post at least once a week, I've had people in town and some interesting freelance opportunities come up.

The main one has been writing homebrewing blog posts for the E. C. Kraus homebrewing and winemaking supply shop in Independence, MO. Now I don't claim to be a homebrewing "expert", but I know a thing or two about beer and how to make it. In any case, I write some 15 blog posts a month for the E. C. Kraus blog.
Look at 'em go! (I swear, I don't
usually drink Starbucks.)

Here are a few of my favorites from the past few weeks:
  • Who Wants a Real Ginger Ale? - If you've followed the Local Beer Blog for a while, you know that I enjoy brewing with ginger. This post gives easy instructions for incorporating fresh ginger root into a standard brown ale recipe.
  • Improve Your Brews with a Yeast Starter - I've been brewing for a few years now, but I just recently discovered the benefits of using yeast starters. When I pitched the starter on the right into my recent saison batch, it started fermenting right away.
  • Making Beer the BIAB Way! I first experimented with Brew in a Bag when living in Panama. It's a great way to get into all-grain brewing without making a big investment in additional equipment.
Yes, I've got plenty more writing to do for E. C. Kraus, but hopefully this post will get me back on track with posting regularly to the Local Beer Blog. I intend to keep it going!

Up next, I'll share some of the fun beer activities in Asheville that have been keeping me busy!

Are you a homebrewing blogger interested in contributing to the E. C. Kraus blog? Contact me for information on guest blogging opportunities.

April 2, 2013

It's NC Beer Month: 5 Ways to Celebrate in Asheville

If you live in North Carolina, listen up! If you don't, it's about time for a visit.

April 2013 marks the inaugural North Carolina Beer Month. Breweries and craft beer fans from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean will be celebrating the state's 70+ craft breweries with special tastings, events, beer releases, and festivities.

For those in and around the Asheville area, here are five fun ways to celebrate:

March 27, 2013

State of the Craft Beer Industry: A Report from CBC13

Happening this week in Washington, DC, is the 2013 Craft Brewers Conference, an annual gathering of craft brewers from around the country hosted by the Brewers Association. The BA is the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting small and independent craft brewers in the US. While I didn't attend the event, I listened in this morning to the Brewers Association "State of the Craft Brewing Industry" tele-press conference.

Craft Beer is Surging

Paul Gatza, Director of the Brewers Association, opened by talking about general industry trends. Over the past five years, the beer industry as a whole has been contracting, while the craft beer segment has been expanding rapidly at the expense of the large "macro" breweries. We've seen recently that regional craft breweries, such as Green Flash and New Belgium, have decided to build second breweries in other parts of the country to meet high demand and to facilitate the distribution of their products from coast to coast. Gatza speculated that we will see more of these satellite breweries in the months and years to come.

Gatza also mentioned the development of a new Brewers Association website,, designed to help brewers avoid profit loss through lost kegs. There is an estimated cost of $5-15 million when kegs, owned by the breweries who fill them, go missing. (Read the press release here.)

March 18, 2013

A Hops Industry Grows in North Carolina

The hops yard at the
NC Alternative Crops Research Center
On Saturday, March 16th, the NC State Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center in Mills River held a workshop entitled “Growing Hops in Western NC.” This was a session to discuss the commercial viability of a local hops economy in our region. With 90+ people in attendance, some coming from as far as Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, it seems that interest in the crop is pretty high.

Jeanine Davis of NC State opened the event by talking about the state of the hops industry. There are many reasons why hops are in high demand:
  • Increasing numbers of craft breweries
  • Increasing interest in homebrewing
  • Increasing demand for organic hops
  • Increasing demand for fresh (a.k.a. “wet”) hops
  • Increasing demand for locally-sourced products
But here’s the big question: Is a hops industry commercially viable in Western North Carolina?

March 14, 2013

Green Flash to Build $20m Brewery in Virginia Beach

This is such big news for craft beer in Virginia that I had to throw it up on the blog real quick. San Diego's Green Flash Brewing Company has just announced plans to build a second brewery in Virginia Beach. This will be a state-of-the-art facility with a 100,000 barrel capacity, employing 40 or more local workers. Production is expected to begin in 2015.

“The Mid-Atlantic region provided logistical advantages,” said Lisa Hinkley, co-founder of Green Flash. “Virginia is a great place to do business, has a developing craft beer culture, and Virginia Beach felt like home.”

Additionally, Green Flash is moving in with full intent to help develop Virginia's craft beer culture. They established a $10,000 credit with San Diego's White Labs, a leading producer of brewer's yeast, for members of the Virginia Brewers Guild to use for testing and quality control. Green Flash also plans to develop a Virginia Beach series of locally made beers and to support area charities.

Go #VAbeer!

Read the full press release at

March 11, 2013

Updates from New Belgium Asheville: Open House Recap

New Belgium Asheville
Rampant Imperial IPA
On Thursday night, New Belgium Brewing Company hosted an open house at Isis Restaurant in West Asheville to officially introduce themselves to Asheville residents. In addition to New Belgium CEO Kim Jordan and Asheville General Manager Jay Richardson, a number of New Belgium employees, contractors, and community partners were on hand to answer questions and celebrate the beginning of the brewery's participation in the Asheville community. Two things were clear: 1) New Belgium is making a sure-footed, conscientious entry into Asheville, 2) the Asheville community is, by and large, VERY excited to have them here.

March 8, 2013

Atlanta Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Fest Recap

Chef Christopher Davis of NC's
Little Red Pig Championship BBQ
Cooking Team
While James was enjoying the Panama Micro Brew Fest, my girlfriend and I traveled down to Atlanta for the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival at Atlantic Station. It was unusually cold, so cold that it actually snowed! (in Atlanta? in March? Yup.) As a touring festival with upcoming dates throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, here's a taste of what you can expect from upcoming editions (minus the cold, I hope).


We started things off with a new local brewery, Monday Night Brewing from Atlanta, GA, and tried their Draft Kilt Scotch Ale (well-balanced bitterness, hint of smoke) and the Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Wit (light, crisp, with a touch of ginger). Both solid beers.

March 6, 2013

First Ever Micro Brew Fest Rocks Panama

Brewdog in Panama
Scotland's BrewDog was one of the
international craft breweries
served at the festival.
Photo credit: James Bloomfield
This weekend, the Republic of Panama enjoyed its first annual Panama Micro Brew Fest. 

Casa Bruja, one of Panama's newest craft breweries, was instrumental in organizing the craft beer festival. Richo Fernandez, Casa Bruja's Creative Director, reports that 900 tickets were sold for the event.

I asked a friend, James Bloomfield, to share a few words and some photos from the festival.


Panama isn't exactly known for its good beer festivals.

At least, not til now.

So what happened? Well, the first Panama Micro Brew Fest happened, throwing open its taps to serve Panama a decent pinta. With more than twenty different styles of craft beer, the brew fest hosted some of Panama’s best up and coming breweries. Alongside international craft breweries such as Scotland's Brewdog and Oregon's Rogue, local legends Istmo Brew Pub and La Rana Dorada served their best, while craft beer newcomers Casa Bruja and Cervecería Legítima introduced themselves to the Panamanian crowd.

March 1, 2013

Dandelion, Rye, Salt, and Coriander: Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix

Magic Hat Variety Pack
It's March 1st and spring is so close, you can nearly taste it. It's time for the imperial stouts and other high-gravity beers to make way for something lighter, something that can be enjoyed out on the porch as we welcome the warmer weather.

Arriving on my doorstep last week were three such beers from Magic Hat's Spring Fever Mix variety pack: Pistil Dandelion Ale, Ticket to Rye IPA, and Saint Saltan Gose.

Using my Rate That Beer tasting sheet as a guide, I lined up all three for a tasting:

February 20, 2013

Panama Gets Its First Micro Brew Fest

Craft beer and homebrewing are far from strictly American phenomena. The contagion has spread south and it can't be stopped.

On March 2nd, Funky Brewster and N Producciones will present the first ever Panama Micro Brew Fest in Panama City, Panama. The event will feature craft beer from local producers and heavy hitters from abroad.

Breweries slated for festival include:

Check back after the fest for an exclusive review from a local blogger!

February 11, 2013

Win Tickets to the Atlanta Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival!

The Local Beer Blog is teaming up with Drink, Eat, Relax and the Trigger Agency to give away two tickets the Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival March 2nd in Atlanta, GA. The contest will run 48 hours only from 12pm EST on February 12th to 12pm EST February 14th. All you have to do to enter the drawing is retweet the message I send out tomorrow at noon. Follow me on Twitter so you don't miss it! On February 14th I will draw a random entry and announce the winner. 

[UPDATE - 2/14: We have a winner! Jamal Tolson of Manassas Park, VA, you're going to the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Fest! Thanks to everyone who participated! Cheers!]

February 7, 2013

Top #Beer Hashtags on Twitter

#beer hashtag
I was reluctant at first, but Twitter has become my go-to social media platform. (If you haven't yet, follow me now.) Unlike some other social media sites, posts made on Twitter (aka "tweets") are immediately live for all your followers. There's no need to build up likes and comments in the hopes that people who already follow you might see your post in their news feed. The downside is that after a tweet is made, it falls further and further down the update list as more and more tweets come in.

Herein lies the real power of Twitter: the hashtag. A hashtag is a keyword preceded by the # symbol that can be used to categorize a tweet and make it easier to find. By clicking on a hashtag in Twitter, someone can immediately search for all the other tweets out there tagged with the same keyword. For example, if you want to keep up to date on a particular subject (like beer), you can use a social media management tool such as TweetDeck or HootSuite to monitor that hashtag. Or, if you're a blogger like me, sharing your post on Twitter with the appropriate hashtag makes it infinitely easier for people to find your content.

The hashtag has become such an important part of social media marketing that hashtags are now part of all the major social media channels: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, and Vine, to name a few. 

So, what are some of the most commonly used hashtags used in the craft beer community? I'm glad you asked:

February 4, 2013

First Taste with Burial Beer Co.

Asheville Burial Beer CompanySet to open this spring, Burial Beer Co. will be one of several businesses sure to revitalize Asheville's South Slope neighborhood and convert the somewhat defunct, semi-industrial part of town into Asheville's new beer district. Burial Beer Co. will be within walking distance of Green Man Brewery and Asheville Brewing Company, and soon, Twin Leaf Brewery and a number of new restaurants will join them nearby.

I recently sat down with the three owners of Burial Beer Co. to talk about their plans. There's something about looking into the eyes of young entrepreneurs as they share their dreams with you -- you can't help but take part in their excitement.

January 30, 2013

Top Beers and Beards from the Asheville Winter Warmer

Both the beers and the beards were on full display at the Asheville Winter Warmer this weekend. Thirty-one breweries, a cidery, and some moonshiners each brought their finest to the show, while every bit of facial hair in the house was perfectly groomed -- for the most part.

These were some of the exceptional specimens from the event, in both the beer and the beard categories:

January 28, 2013

How to Present an Incredible Beer and Cheese Tasting

This weekend's "No Whey Friday" beer and cheese tasting event absolutely lived up to expectations.

Beehive Barely Buzzed cheese
Michael Landis, of Atlanta Foods International, made an intoxicating presentation that stunned the 50 or so people in the meeting room at the Four Points Sheraton. As a Certified Cheese Professional, lead trainer for the Institut du Fromage, and international cheese judge, Michael brought expertise that made the event as educational as it was delicious. It was essentially a master class on how to conduct an amazing beer and cheese tasting.

January 25, 2013

5 Beer and Cheese Pairings That Will Rock Your World

Image used with permission via Rogue Ales and Spirits
At the 2012 Great American Beer Festival this past October, nearly 50,000 people descended on Denver to sample over 2,700 beers from nearly 600 American craft breweries. What blew me away though, more than any hopped-up IPA or high gravity Belgian quadruple, was a series of beer and cheese pairings that left my palate in a state of shock.

During the Saturday afternoon session of GABF, the American Cheese Society and Atlanta Foods International presented a seminar titled, “The Best Wine for that Cheese is Actually…Beer,” in which five phenomenal, award-winning cheeses were paired with five world-class beers from Utah’s Uinta Brewing Company. I was thrilled to learn that a similar event will be presented this weekend in Asheville.

January 23, 2013

Asheville City Council Approves New Belgium's Construction Plans

New Belgium Asheville
New Belgium Brewing Company, the third largest craft brewer in the United States, has just announced that their construction plans for a second brewery have been unanimously approved by the Asheville City Council. The new brewery will be built on Craven St., directly across from Asheville's River Arts District.

As reported by the Asheville Citizen-Times, many area residents and business owners are excited for the economic impact the brewery will have on the area, while others are concerned about increased truck traffic on Haywood Road.

January 9, 2013

This is What Local is All About

Support your local brewery
Image via
A recurring theme in this blog is the community aspect of craft beer. Sure, a lot of the most well known breweries grow to be regional powerhouses, distributing their products across state borders to drinkers that have never been anywhere near where the beer is made. But in reality, the craft beer movement is all about the camaraderie that's happening in the tasting room, or at the bar or restaurant down the street. On a day to day basis, it's about the brewers, brewery employees, and their loyal customers enjoying a pint and shooting the breeze.

January 5, 2013

There's a Revolution Brewing in El Salvador

craft beer in El Salvador
Looks like a nice spot for a brewery...
Andy Newbom and his wife Nanelle sold everything, left San Francisco, and founded the first craft brewery in El Salvador. The brewery is located in Playa El Tunco, a black sand surfing spot on the Pacific coast of El Salvador, popular with backpackers, Salvadorans, and surfers. What's really cool about Andy's work is that he's creating more than just great craft beer -- he's bringing opportunity to a country where a significant portion of the population lives in extreme poverty. Can you help Brew Revolution by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign?

January 1, 2013

The Most Influential Beer Bloggers of 2012 (Part 2)

beer blogger at work
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you were able to enjoy some good craft beer last night. If sounds like a good resolution for 2013!

If you haven't already, be sure to check out Part 1 of this post about three of the most influential beer bloggers of 2012. These next three have each been successful in their own right and are bound to bring further inspiration in the year ahead.