May 23 marks the beginning of the 3rd Annual Asheville Beer Week and this year the Carolina Bed & Breakfast has partnered with Hi-Wire Brewing to help our guests to celebrate all things beer in Asheville.
This is kind of a first for me as I do not consider myself to be a beer person. Growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s beer came from a few suppliers with wide distribution (think Budweiser, Miller Hi-Life and Schlitz). Breweries started disappearing during Prohibition and by 1974 there were only 60 breweries in the United States. These beers were similar in style and for the most part beer tasted like, well…, beer. My father and brothers were picky enough to insist their beer come from a bottle, never a can (which were first marketed in the early ’60’s). If you were really going high-end you drank an imported beer like Heineken or Molson Ale. Around 1973/74 Americans discovered a small brewery out in Colorado where they made their beer without preservatives and unpasteurized. Aided by some high profile fans (Paul Newman and then-President Gerald Ford) Coors Beer became the first “craft” beer to be a fad for the beer-drinking American public.
Today there are more than 1400 breweries in the United States.
However, even though our Bed & Breakfast is in Asheville, beer was a trend I had largely ignored until events conspired to capture me! In case you hadn’t guessed it, I am a lover of food and cooking and one of our favorite things to do is to try new restaurants and new dishes and especially to attend some of the unique dining events occurring in Asheville. I have been to some of the hottest new brew-pubs in our town and sampled some craft beers after discussing them with our server, but I didn’t really get it (possibly because a quick conversation with a hurried waiter wasn’t enough!) Our daughter Abby and her boyfriend, Joe, have explored the beer scene in Asheville, including both of the brewery tours available here but I was not particularly tempted. And I probably still would not be were it not for some friends of ours who wanted to attend a beer pairing dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Junction. You can read about it here.
Knowing Asheville Beer Week was coming up and having been impressed by the folks from Hi-Wire Brewing (and their beers) at the Junction dinner, James and I made a visit to their brewery in downtown Asheville. (On their website they claim to be located in Asheville’s Brew District. It’s news to me that we have one!) There we met up with Chris who gave us a quick tour of the brewery while explaining what makes Hi-Wire special. The entire
brewery and tasting room is situated in what is no more than a large garage. The first thing I noticed was the smell: it smelled like a wine cellar, which is to say it smells like yeast! The beer is made by first cooking a “tea” of hops and grain, then cooling it, adding the yeast and flavorings and letting it age. There are a number of brewers who create the different beers ranging from American style lagers through brown ales up to the “hoppier” IPAs. Alcohol content in some of these beers can go as high as 8%.
I asked Chris what makes Hi-Wire Special and he told me that not only do they offer real lager but also every beer is bottled on the premises. Asheville has eleven craft breweries with more than 50 different beers available for tasting on any one day. Hi-Wire is unique among them for bottling all their beer. The Brewery has a tasting room (Open seven days a week) with food provided by a variety of Food Trucks along with Ben’s Tune-up next door.
We will have two of their beers available during Beer Week: Snake Dancer Saison and Ringmaster’s Reserve Volume 1.
The Saison is a light, highly drinkable Spring beer. The yeast imparts a pleasant spice characteristic while unique Australian hops bring aromas of ripe fruit and melon. The Ringmaster’s Reserve is a Belgian IPA oaked on freshly emptied Napa Valley Zinfandel barrels. It pours an orangish, ruby color with aroma of honey and vanilla from the oak as well as a distinct citrus zest from the Belgian yeast. The hops lend a moderate balancing bitterness with floral and grassy aromas. Oak comes through again with a unique, red wine-like finish that keeps you coming back for more.
I’ll be doing my own food pairing for these beers which will be offered to our guests during the week of May 23-May 31. I’m kind of really excited about it!