Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Feature: Beer City, North Carolina by Stephen Beaumont

Posted Oct 30, 2015 in Beer, Beer Places, Breweries, Brewpubs, Coolness, History, In the news, People, Travel

Way back in late Spring, we had the honor to host award-winning beer writer and author, Stephen Beaumont, for Asheville Beer Week. His feature on the experience in our fair city didn’t make it into the US media, but being a Canadian, the story appeared in TAPS Magazine, Canada’s only national beer magazine. We’d like to thank Managing Editor, Kristina Santone, for the permission to reprint this story.

Read on, friends!


Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia, Julie and Jason Atallah, and author Stephen Beaumont during Asheville Beer Week.

Beer City, North Carolina
Stephen Beaumont

If you so desire, you can be at a brewery within mere minutes of your flight landing at the Asheville Regional Airport. And not just any brewery either, but Sierra Nevada’s gleaming new shrine to the brewing arts, which the company spent tens of millions of dollars building. It’s so near to the diminutive airport that you can practically signal your first beer order from the plane’s right side windows during descent.

There are other cities where this sort of plane-to-beer manoeuvre is equally possible, of course, sometimes with even greater ease. (I don’t think I’ve ever made it from Munich’s airport to the S-Bahn without first stopping at Airbräu for a half-litre or two.) But that it now exists in Asheville seems somehow symbolic for a city well on its way to becoming the heart and soul of the modern American craft beer renaissance.

And if the idea of a moderately-sized, western North Carolina city being at the core of a 3,500+ brewery movement strikes you as more than a little odd, well, then you’ve obviously never been to Asheville.

The Birth of a Beer Giant

This modest metropolis at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains hasn’t always been a very important beer place. In fact, its oldest brewery, Highland Brewing, only opened its doors in 1994, well before craft brewing became the unstoppable juggernaut it is today, but still late relative to such veteran operations as Pennsylvania’s Stoudts, Oregon’s Full Sail or Ontario’s Wellington. The city’s second brewery, Green Man, didn’t appear until three years after that.

During the first decade of this century, however, Asheville suddenly began to crop up among the finalists in the “Best American Beer City” polls that have since become a scourge of the Internet. With only 85,000 or so inhabitants, the city was appearing alongside such craft brewing powerhouses as San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, signalling either a massive and concerted effort by the local chamber of commerce or a sure-fire indication that something quite significant really was underway. Turns out it was the latter.

Exactly how significant became clear in 2012 when, mere months apart, Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium Brewing all announced plans to build second breweries in or near Asheville. (Oskar Blues is actually in Brevard, about a 45 minute drive from the city.) This was followed in turn by a host of rumours that had any number of breweries, from Stone to Cigar City, apparently planning on setting up shop in Asheville. None proved true – although Deschutes has to-date neither confirmed nor denied their intentions – but the mere fact that there was basis for such speculation proved how important Asheville had become.

Welcome to Beer Town

A walk through Asheville’s compact downtown does little to suggest that the streets being traversed are those of a craft brewing Mecca. Sure, beer bars like the Thirsty Monk and the Bier Garden are scattered here and there and it’s hard to miss the storefront of one of the east’s great beer vendors, Bruisin’ Ales, but these days that’s true of almost any North American city. What breweries that do exist downtown, like the Lexington Avenue Brewery, are hardly the stuff of legend.

Stroll a short distance to what locals call the South Slope, however, and things change quickly.

The first stop you’ll likely hit, since it’s on the main drag of Biltmore Avenue, is Wicked Weed, a brewery that in a scant two and a half years of existence has built such a reputation that they have been able to expand, open a second outlet, the nearby and self-defining Funkatorium, and commence work on a new production brewery. Oh, and also brew over 250 distinct recipes, of which Freak of Nature, an oily but sturdy double IPA, is the lone constant.

You’ll want to stay, since the beer menu is so vast it almost defies completion, the food is casual but excellent and the atmosphere more than conducive to hanging out for an afternoon or a day, but other breweries await. Like Asheville Brewing, located all of four streets away and a comparative veteran at nine years of age. (The original and still operating north Asheville location dates back to 1997.) More neighbourhood bar than swank taproom, its main draws are the expansive and covered patio – handy in a place where the weather can shift from sun to rain and back again within a half-hour – and beers like the roast and raisin Ninja Porter.

Continuing onward, Hi-Wire Brewing’s tasting room is just around the corner, boasting an impressive but, to my experience, somewhat variable Hi-Wire Lager (I’m hoping that it will become more dialed-in once their new production facility comes online – hey, they’re already two years old, of course they’re building a new brewery!)  and one of the better brown ales I’ve had in the States, the slightly chocolate brownie-ish but dry-finishing Bed of Nails Brown. Just a bit further down the road is the aforementioned Funkatorium, home of tart delights like the tropical fruity Genesis.

For those keeping track, that’s four breweries within about a ten minute walk, and that’s after passing on Ben’s Tune-Up, a beer bar and, frankly, not terribly good sake brewery. And we’re nowhere close to being finished.

The Tour Continues

Across the street from the Funkatorium is the Twin Leaf Brewery, so that’s another 20 seconds of travel before you get to sample the spicy-herbal Sumachi Pale Ale, a springtime seasonal, or the more regular and curiously brown ale-esque Uproot ESB. From there, it will take all of two minutes to walk to the third and newest location of Catawba Brewing, which began life in Glen Alpine, about an hour outside of Asheville, back in 1999. Their session IPA, The Nose, might threaten to hold you in your seat with its soft orange and lemon flavours, or you could be otherwise tempted by the stronger and orange marmalade-y Firewater IPA, but by now it should come as no surprise that more breweries still remain.

You’ll need to round two corners, veering dangerously close to exercise, before you come to the Green Man Brewery, founded as a brewpub and expanded since into a full production brewery with a tasting room – the original pub – off to one side. While it maintains a very British and somewhat slapdash vibe, it is not without its charms, not the least of which are the leafy and roasty ESB and resinous Rainmaker Double IPA, plus the pair of dartboards that complement the cask-conditioned ales the brewery keeps available on a regular basis.

The final South Slope stop, and eighth brewery within a one mile walk, is Burial Brewing, two years old and, yes, already looking for a new site on which to build a second production facility. Aside from a curious obsession with Tom Selleck – I’m still trying to make sense of the mural in the beer garden – Burial is home to the rather resiny yet still gulpable Surf Wax IPA, and what the brewery describes as a ‘Belgian export stout,’ the baked fruit and espresso Rosary.

Will Drive for Beer

Having finished with the city’s most concentrated selection of breweries, the committed beer traveller could simply return to the quaint and highly walkable downtown to try out some of the less heralded breweries therein, or head westward to the developing River Arts District and Wedge Brewing, where the tropical fruitiness of Payne’s Pale Ale and the softly spicy Iron Rail IPA represent the best of a limited selection.

Or you could get in a car and explore some of the more outlying operations, such as: Highland Brewing with their easily overlooked but delightful, apple and gingerbread Gaelic Ale; Waynesville’s Boojum Brewing, brewers of a Raspberry Saison so finely nuanced that even a saison purist like myself had to admit to enjoying it; Oskar Blues, in a town so sleepy that they were warned they needed to increase the lighting in their parking lot lest the locals gather to, “have the sex there”, or any of more than a dozen other nearby breweries.

Regardless of your selection, however, there are two things about being a tourist in Asheville on which you can be certain: You’ll never lack for choice, and there is very little risk that you’ll wind up going thirsty!


Bruisin’ Ales beer stats through 6/30/15

Posted Jul 03, 2015 in Beer, Breweries, Brewpubs, History, In the news, Miscellany, Reports, Tech, The Beerlanthropy® Project

reportsHere is some nerdy stuff for you. J ran some data reports for the first half of the year that we think are pretty interesting. All reports are by consumer dollar sales in descending order. There are some surprising things here. For the first year ever, our Top Beer by Brand is not from Asheville. And, Green Man, Olde Hickory, and Wicked Weed all pushed into the top five our of the Top Breweries, knocking down some older, familiar players.

Top 20 Countries

  1. USA
  2. Belgium
  3. England
  4. Germany
  5. Denmark
  6. Scotland
  7. Italy
  8. Canada
  9. Austria
  10. Switzerland
  11. Iceland
  12. Netherlands
  13. France
  14. Sweden
  15. Japan
  16. Ireland
  17. Spain
  18. Sri Lanka
  19. Finland
  20. Poland

Top 50 Breweries

  1. Green Man
  2. Olde Hickory
  3. Wicked Weed
  4. NoDa
  5. Pisgah Brewing
  6. Foothills
  7. Nantahala
  8. Stone Brewing
  9. Asheville Brewing
  10. Boulevard
  11. Epic Brewing
  12. Hi-Wire
  13. Burial Beer
  14. Dogfish Head
  15. Evil Twin
  16. Bell’s
  17. Catawba
  18. Cascade
  19. Founders
  20. New Belgium
  21. Terrapin
  22. Sierra Nevada
  23. Rogue Ales
  24. Fullsteam
  25. The Bruery
  26. Knee Deep
  27. Southern Tier
  28. Allagash
  29. Highland
  30. Duck Rabbit
  31. French Broad
  32. Oskar Blues
  33. Anchorage
  34. Westbrook
  35. Sweetwater
  36. New Holland
  37. Victory
  38. PRAIRIE Artisan Ales
  39. Triple C
  40. Anderson Valley
  41. Lagunitas
  42. Mother Earth
  43. Dark Horse
  44. Weyerbacher
  45. Mystery
  46. Steel String
  47. Alvinne
  48. Thirsty Dog
  49. Twin Leaf
  50. Ommegang

Top 50 Beers by Brand

  1. NoDa Hop Drop ‘n Roll
  2. Olde Hickory Event Horizon
  3. Olde Hickory Omega Point
  4. Wicked Weed ‘Genesis’
  5. Wicked Weed ‘Oblivion’
  6. Epic Big Bad Baptist
  7. Green Man Nocturne Barrel Aged Smoked Imperial Porter
  8. Pisgah Pale Ale
  9. Green Man Holly King
  10. Olde Hickory Death by Hops
  11. Green Man The Dweller
  12. Wicked Weed ‘Amorous’
  13. Burial ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ Saison
  14. Green Man Demon Dweller
  15. Boulevard Love Child
  16. Foothills IPA of the Month
  17. Pisgah Greybeard IPA
  18. Green Man Rainmaker
  19. NoDa Coco Loco
  20. Nantahala Barrel Aged Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout
  21. Green Man None More Black
  22. Sierra Nevada Barrel-Aged Bigfoot Ale
  23. Wicked Weed ‘Bretticent’
  24. Pisgah Chocolatized Vortex II
  25. Southern Tier Creme Brulee
  26. Duck Rabbit 10th Anniversary Barrel-Aged Anarchy
  27. Foothills Jade IPA
  28. Pisgah Red Devil
  29. Pisgah x Burial Cemetery Gates
  30. Twin Leaf ‘MDXXI’ Imperial Mexican Chocolate Stout
  31. Stone Enjoy By IPA
  32. Knee Deep Simtra Triple India Pale Ale
  33. Catawba Valley Peanut Butter Jelly Time
  34. Green Man IPA
  35. Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout
  36. Pisgah Valdez
  37. Bell’s Hopslam
  38. Pisgah Tripel
  39. Dogfish Head American Beauty
  40. Cascade Figaro
  41. Pisgah Oak Aged Pale P.O.A.P.
  42. New Holland Dragon’s Milk
  43. Founders ‘Backstage’ Blushing Monk
  44. PRAIRIE ‘Funky Gold Amarillo’
  45. Nantahala Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout
  46. Green Man ESB
  47. Burial ‘Skillet Donut Stout’
  48. Green Man Bootsy
  49. Ilkley The Mayan
  50. Wicked Weed ‘Take Take’

Vote for Bruisin’ Ales in MXNews “Best of WNC” 2015

Posted Apr 29, 2015 in Beer, Beer Awards, Coolness, Events, Goings on, History, In the news, People, The Beerlanthropy® Project

BestOfWNC2015VoteNowButtonFor six years running, you’ve honored us by voting for the humble storefront as Best Beer Store in MountainXPress “Best of WNC” and we’d love your vote again in 2015.

Here’s why:

In 2006, we opened Bruisin’ Ales as the very first beer-only store in North Carolina. Now there are over 100 different bottle shops in the state. (Did you know the Southeast now has the largest concentration of beer-only bottle shops? Yup.)

In 2007, we hosted a fundraiser for Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway in collaboration with Sean Wilson (formally Pop the Cap, now Fullsteam Brewery) and Lee Chase (former head brewer of Stone Brewing). This was one of the first times the Asheville brewing community united for a cause. It helped facilitate camaraderie and now we have the Asheville Brewers Alliance.

In 2008, we invested in downtown and bought our building. We committed. We’re here to stay.

In 2009, Bruisin’ Ales was honored at REI for our contributions to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We love these mountains and have raised thousands of dollars for the Asheville sector’s upkeep (which is woefully underfunded). But we also like water, because you make beer with it, so we also match all our donations for the Save the French Broad campaign annually.

In 2010, we were named Small Business of the Month by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce. (That felt fancy and J wore a sportcoat.)

In 2011, Bruisin’ Ales was asked to be the official retailer for MoogFest’s Moog Filtered Ale, shipping the beer to musicians across the country. (That was VERY cool, btw.)

In 2012-2013, Julie was on the volunteer community that helped shape Asheville Beer Week.

In 2014, we launched our webstore to ship local beers across the country. Beerlanthropy!


Thank you for years of support! We love you, Asheville!


Asheville Beer Week is upon us & we’ve got some events going on

Posted May 22, 2013 in Beer, Beer Humor, Beer Pairings, Beer Places, Books, Breweries, Events, Goings on, History, In the news, Limited Release, People, Sports, The Beerlanthropy® Project










It’s almost Asheville Beer Week! At Bruisin’ Ales, we’ve planned a bunch of events at humble storefront and with some colleagues about town. A few details to work out, but we’re all in! We hope you’ll join us!

Sunday, May 26, 2:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m.
What: LaZoom Sunday Beer Run
 On the big, purple bus!
Tickets: $25.00/pp, Buy online

Hop on the big, purple bus! Asheville’s Feral Chihuahuas, Bruisin’ Ales and LaZoom team up to bring you a beer and comedy explosion tour not to be missed. Wrap your mind around the area’s beer history—as told by local funny guys, The Feral Chihuahuas. Includes beer on the bus and at least one brewery stop along the way! **This is event is close to selling out. 

Tuesday, May 28, 6:00 pm
What: Asheville Tourists & Bruisin’ Ales present “Belgian(style) Beer at the Ballpark”
McCormick Field, Oskar Blues Party Pavilion
Tickets: $60/pp,

Asheville Tourists and Bruisin’ Ales bring Belgian pub food and Belgian-style beer to the Tuesday, March 28 home game at McCormick Field. Nine innings–Nine breweries! Beers so far, below. More a’coming!

Liefmans: Goudenband, Cuvee Brut, Fruitesse
Het Anker Gouden Carolus: Hopsinjour, Easter Ale, Cuvée van de Keizer Blauw
Allagash Brewing: Blonde, James Bean (Curieux w/ coffee), Midnight Brett
Brewery Ommegang: Biere d’Hougoumont, Rare Vos, Gnommegang
The Bruery: Saison Rue, Mischief Golden, Tradewinds Tripel w/ Thai Basil
Boulevard Brewing: Tank 7, Nommo, Sixth Glass
Pisgah Brewing: White Ale, Solstice Tripel, Baptista
New Belgium Brewing: Biere de Garde, Peach Porch Lounger, Cascara Quad
Weyerbacher Brewing: Verboten, Quad, Tiny

• Chicken Leg Quarters marinated in New Belgium Biere de Mars
• Fresh Greens with Raspberry and Rare Vos Vinaigrette
• Choucroute Garni Nommo: A traditional Belgian “stew” with bratwurst, kielbasa, sauerkraut, and potatoes sauteed with onions, tomatoes, and caraway, cooked with Boulevard Nomma Dubbel.
• Weyerbacher “Tiny” Brownies

All breweries are bringing THREE selections. Brewery reps will be on-hand and we’re excited to welcome the brewer of Boulevard Brewing to Asheville for the first time. Join us for a casual night in the brand new Oskar Blues Party Pavilion at McCormick Field while we cheer on The Tourists! $60/pp, includes game ticket, private seating area, all-you-can-eat buffet, and beer samples (while they last).

Tuesday, May 28, 12:00 pm
What: Retail Bottle Releases of ABA Hoppy Saison Collaboration Beer & Green Man Brewing Raugupatis

Where: Bruisin’ Ales

The ABA Hoppy Saison—made with North Carolina honey, and around 6.5% abv—is the first-ever collaborative brew to come from the Asheville Brewers Alliance. Twenty different breweries came together for this creation: Altamont Brewing Co., Asheville Brewing, BearWaters Brewing Co., Blue Mountain Pizza and Brew Pub, Burial Beer Co., Catawba Valley Brewing Company, French Broad Brewing Company, Green Man Brewery, Heinzelmannchen Brewery, Highland Brewing Company, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Nantahala Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing, Pisgah Brewing Company, Riverbend Malt House, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Southern Appalachian Brewery, Thirsty Monk, Tipping Point Brewing, Wedge Brewing Company, Wicked Weed Brewing.

Green Man Brewing’s 750′s of Raugupatis, Baltic Porter Aged in Whiskey Barrels will also be released that day.

**Please note: Both beer releases are on-premise only for Asheville Beer Week attendees. No shipping. No pre-orders or hold-by-phone. Quantities per person will be announced as soon as we receive our allocation numbers. **

Wednesday, May 29, 6:00-8:00 pm
What: Meet-n-Greet & Book Signing with Brewmaster Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing
Where: Bruisin’ Ales

Join us for a tasting and meet-n-greet with Mitch Steele, Brewmaster of Stone Brewing Company, California. He’ll be signing his new book, IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. Get a signed copy of the book (while supplies last) and a flight! Stone’s flagship IPAs: Stone IPA, Stone Ruination, Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous, and Stone Cali-Belgique.

FREE entry. Books are $24.95.

Thursday, May 30, 6:00-9:00 pm
What: The Market Place & Bruisin’ Ales present: Small Plates & Allagash Pairing
 The Market Place
Tickets: $40/pp w/ tax + gratuity.

The Market Place and Bruisin’ Ales welcome Allagash present a casual, small plate tasting and beer pairing. Come mingle! Bring your reservation anytime between 6-8:30, at your leisure, and chill out in the bar area good eats, great beer and live Moog jazz and funky beats by Ben Hovey.

Tasting Plate:
Single lady oyster, Allagash white mignonette, toasted coriander, seaweed & cucumber salad. | Paired with Allagash White.

Looking Glass Creamery chocolate lab cheese, local lavender flower honey, sorghum glazed hazelnut & arugula salad. | Paired with Allagash Victoria.

Braised pork shank & mushroom ragu, local chevre & spring onion grits. | Paired with Allagash Dubbel.

Pecan tart, caramel sauce, bourbon macerated raspberry. | Paired with Allagash Bourbon-barrel Black.

THURSDAY 10/18: “Asheville Beer” book signing with author Anne-Fitten Glenn

Posted Oct 16, 2012 in Beer, Beer Places, Books, Breweries, Brewpubs, Coolness, Events, History, In the news, Merchandise, People, The Beerlanthropy® Project, Travel

On Thursday evening, from 5:00-7:00 p.m., Anne Fitten Glenn, a.k.a Asheville beer blogger “Brewgasm,” will be at the humble storefront signing copies of her newly-published book, “Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing.”

Buy the book ($17.00), get a beer!

If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the many who already believe that the history of beer and brewing is a worthwhile pursuit. If not, perhaps this book will make you a believer.

I tackled this project for a couple of reasons. First, because interesting stories rarely start with, “I was drinking some water, and then…” Also, I’ve been writing about beer and the beer business for a number of years, and I feel that I’ve been writing Asheville’s beer history as it happens. Some of the facts and stories in this book were first published in my “Brews News” column for Asheville’s newsweekly and elsewhere, though I’ve rewritten them for these pages.

I wanted to delve more deeply into what beer means (and has meant) to Asheville and Western North Carolina (WNC) culturally, economically and socially. (Western North Carolina refers to the seventeen westernmost counties of North Carolina, of which Asheville is the largest city). Thus, this story begins with the founding of Asheville in 1798, when the site of the town was changed at the last minute due to the cunning of a tavern keeper and his home-brewed “mountain dew.” As the Blue Ridge Mountains are famous for the distillation of moonshine (we even have a legal white lightning distillery now), it was not much of a stretch for WNC to become a brewing mecca, although it did take almost two hundred years. …

(PS: If you’re not in the area, but interested in reading the book, you can buy it on Amazon.)