Tag Archives: Asheville North Carolina

Asheville’s Brewgrass Festival announces brewery lineup

In the 19 years since its inception, the Brewgrass beer festival in Asheville, N.C. has made quite a name for itself. The combination of exceptional craft beers, bluegrass music and clear, cool mountain air makes it a magical experience for all who attend. And, as is often the case with beer festivals, the proceeds benefit a very good cause.  Brewgrass Festival is the largest fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. Proceeds from this event go directly to this great organization.

Billed as Asheville’s original beer festival, this year’s festivities will take place Saturday, September 19 at Memorial Stadium in Asheville. This year’s festival will feature over 50 brewers from local, regional, and national breweries including Catawba Brewing Co., Asheville Brewing Company, Rogue Ales, The Duck-Rabbit Brewery, Samuel Adams, and more. Organizers advise those interested in keeping up with the list of participating brewers to visit their website as the list changes often. But, at the time of this article the list included:

Asheville Brewing Co.

Aviator Brewing Co.

Big Boss Brewing Co.

Blind Squirrel Brewery

Bold Rock Hard Cider

Boojum Brewing Co.

Catawba Brewing Co.

Crazy Mountain Brewing Co.

Duck Rabbit Brewing Co.

Florida Brewing Co.

Granite Falls Brewing Co.

Hi-wire Brewing Co.

Howard Brewing

Lexington Avenue Brewery

Lost Province Brewing Co.

Mother Earth Brewing

Naked Apple Hard Cider

New Belgium Brewing Co.

One World Brewing

Oskar Blues Brewing Co. Craft Brewery

Quest Brewing Co.

R.J. Rockers Brewing Co.

Rogue Brewing Co.

Samuel Adams Brewery

Terrapin Beer Co.

Thomas Creek Brewery

Sweetwater Brewing Co.

But, the beer lineup is not the only reason to attend the festival. Organizers have also announced an impressive lineup of musical talent for fest-goers to enjoy along with their brews. Jeff Austin Band, featuring mandolinist Jeff Austin formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band with band members Danny Barnes, Ross Martin and Eric Thorin, will headline the event. Attendees will enjoy additional performances from Truth and Salvage Co., Big Daddy Love, and Packway Handle Band. Music begins at 1 p.m.

Tickets for the festival are $55 and may be purchased at:

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Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Beer Festival


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The New Yorker magazine publishes interactive craft beer growth map

newyorkerEveryone who reads this blog is aware of the extraordinary growth of the craft beer industry over the past 10 years. To illustrate the explosive character of this growth, The New Yorker magazine has published an interactive online map that brings this phenomenon into focus.

The map uses data gathered by the Brewers Association in 2012 and was released recently. The map shows that Florida ranks around the middle of the pack for total number of breweries, but in the upper range for total output. It also shows that in 2013 Florida saw 10 new breweries open, adding to the output and variety available to residents of our state.

Another exciting tidbit the map points out is that Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa is considered one of the fastest growing breweries in the country with 77% growth in production in 2012 over 2011. Cigar City is ranked 17th of the 50 fastest growing breweries in the nation. Another notable regional brewery ranked in the top 50 is Highland Brewing Company. The Asheville, NC brewery ranks 33rd on the map with 53% growth in 2012 over 2011.

You can view the entire map and glean your own data by following the link below.

Mapping the Rise of Craft Beer

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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Beer News


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New Belgium set to break ground in Asheville, NC at long last

New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After several delays, the New Belgium brewery planned for Asheville, NC is finally back on track. The press release below provides all the details.

Fort Collins, Colo., October 22, 2013 – New Belgium Brewing will resume site work this November on its Asheville location along the French Broad River in preparation for ground-breaking next spring. Contractors will focus on flood plain mitigation, erosion control and concrete removal through the end of the year. Starting in January and running through spring, operations will shift to soil mitigation. Earth moving subcontractors will be hired in November and will begin trucking in dirt by early 2014 for flood plain mitigation. Current schedule projections show the site as “pad-ready” in late spring 2014 at which time building construction will commence. It is estimated that the Asheville brewery will be ready for production in late 2015.

“We are excited to enter this next phase of site preparation and building construction,” said New Belgium’s Asheville General Manager, Jay Richardson. “Adolphson + Peterson will begin site preparation in November, with groundbreaking scheduled for Spring 2014. Our current schedule has us producing beer in Asheville by the end of 2015 and a fine day that will be.”

New Belgium anticipates hiring 50 positions prior to opening the doors in 2015 and expects to create 140 jobs at full buildout between the brewery and distribution center. Many of these job openings will begin posting in mid 2015. New Belgium made its first Asheville hire this fall, bringing on board Asheville resident and engineer, Gabe Quisenberry, formerly with Mattern + Craig who will serve as Operations Support Manager.

The brewery will ultimately produce 500,000 barrels of beer per year and will feature production and packaging operations as well as a touring and tasting facility. Negotiations are moving forward to secure a second site for the distribution center as well. The distribution center will be built at the same time as the brewery. New Belgium is finalizing negotiations with the seller and will announce the site location upon completion. The distribution center will be the hub for distributing product to the east coast and will be located in an industrial area.

Updates to the community are provided at these channels: or 888-598-9552.

New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews eight year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel.


Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Beer, Craft Beer Brewery


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Fat Tire and Lips of Faith coming to Florida in July

New Belgium Brewing Company

New Belgium Brewing Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though they are distributed in 32 states including Alaska, New Belgium has proven elusive to its many fans in Florida. Soon, though, the long wait for Fat Tire, Ranger and Lips of Faith will be over in the Sunshine stat as New Belgium announced today that they will open in Florida next month. Currently the plan is to roll 22-oz packaging of core brands as well as seasonal and Lips of Faith in July. Draft and 12-oz packaging will follow in September.


“Florida will be our 32nd state of distribution and it’s probably the one we’ve heard from most often about, ‘when are you all going to get here?’” said New Belgium Florida Sales Director, Jeff Sipes. “A lot of us have friends and family in state so it’s a bit of a homecoming that way. We’re excited.”


The news comes just months after the company announced plans to build its second brewery in Asheville, NC. The current time line has the new facility opening sometime in 2015. An 18-acre site at the former stockyards on Craven Road in West Asheville was chosen for its beauty and the company’s desire to make a difference in the neighborhood. The company actively sought out “brownfield” location – or previously developed sites that could be repurposed to spark renewed vitality. They also wanted to avoid taking agricultural land or natural habitat in order to become good neighbors to the community.


On the company’s website, Kim Jordan, CEO, said of the site, “There were easier sites to develop, but we chose this one because it’s beautiful, we think we can do a lot to restore it, and we believe that breweries, classified as light manufacturing, can revitalize a neighborhood, while provide great live-walk-bike opportunities for employees who in large measure, will come from Asheville.”


Florida distribution will be handled by seven distribution partners with plans to start selling beer in the state July 29th, 2013. Gold Coast Distributing, JJ Taylor, Florida Distributing, Cone Distributing, Goldring Gulf, and Champion Brands are all Miller Coors houses while Daytona Beverage is in the AB network.


New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews eight year round beers; Ranger IPA, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Rampant Imperial IPA, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel.


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Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Beer


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Asheville, Beer City USA for the Third Time

Highland oatmeal porter

Image by Speed-Light via Flickr

Asheville, NC is beertopia. At least that’s what their local tourism website says — and it is also what this year’s Beer City USA poll says. For the third year in a row, Asheville has garnered the top honors as a beer city to be reckoned with.

A small town of only 80,000 residents, Asheville has been making waves in the craft beer world for a while now. But, though the town may be small, it has big things going for it. Think the Biltmore, Blue Ridge Parkway, beautiful scenery, mountain backdrops, and a thriving craft brew scene.

The Asheville beer you are most familiar with here in Jacksonville is probably Highland. A few months ago I ran an article about this brewery and its founder (Love and Hops with Marc Wisdom: Highland Edition). Well, they started the craft brew trend in Asheville and it really took off!

About 15 years ago Oscar Wong, a retired engineer who lived in Charlotte, moved to the Asheville area to help an award winning brewer get his brewery off the ground. They started in a small basement that was quickly outgrown. Last year Highland Brewing Company brewed over 18,000 barrels of beer.

As other entreprenours entered the craft brew market and began opening breweries in Asheville, the city’s brewing tradition began to take form.

Breweries like Green Man, known as Dirty Jack’s to the locals, opened to the thirsty denizens of Asheville in 1997. This tiny bar, dominated by its big screen television showing soccer matches, specializes in beers with a British bent such as its generously hopped yet balanced IPA.

French Broad Brewery opened its doors in 2001 with a focus on European style beers such as Gateway Kölsch. Kölsch is a German style ale, a departure from the most well-known German style of lager. French Broad’s is faithful to the great German ales found in Köln. Another great brew to be had at Green Man include their 13 Rebels, and interpretation of the United Kingdom’s Extra Special Bitters (ESB) style of brewing with  complex malts and British hops.

In all the Asheville area now sports eleven craft breweries and over 50 local brews to choose from. As beer destinations go, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to enjoy a few cold ones.

Beers I Am Drinking This Week

Magic Hat Circus Boy

Sitting on the back patio on Mother’s Day as my brother perpared a low-country boil of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn was the perfect ambiance for this summery hefeweizen. The bottle claims that this beer is brewed with lemongrass and upon smelling it I certainly concur. The color is coudy, straw yellow with a decent head. The taste is refreshing, lemony, but nicely balanced with malts with a lingering bitterness. As a cit-around-and-shoot-the-bull beer, this one is a winner in my book.

Eku German Pilsner

This one was a surprise, while it was good, I am not sure it was the beer for me. The brew pours a bright, clear yellow with good carbonation and head. The smell is sweet and grainy. On my first sip I immediately wondered if I was drinking wort — it was that grainy and sweet. Not that that is bad, its just not for me.

Swamp Head Brewery Midnight Oil

This is a heavy beer! Pours a deep, dark brown almost black with a thin layer of foam at the top. The smell is of darkly roasted malts, smoke, coffee, and earthyness. The flavor is, as the aroma alludes, rich, dark coffe and roasted grains with a hint of earthy hops. A very good beer from a very good brewery.

Until next time,

Long Live the Brewers!


Marc Wisdom

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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Beer, Beer News, Travel


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