Beer News

NC Beer Month News and Events for Easter Weekend

Heading into the third weekend of NC Beer Month, we are carried by the momentum of last week’s World Beer Cup in Denver.  North Carolina breweries were awarded 8 medals, including a Gold to Asheville Brewing for Ninja Porter and a bronze to Wicked Weed for their Tyrant Double Red IPA.  NoDa Brewing of Charlotte beat out 222 other IPAs to take Gold for their Hop Drop ‘n Roll in the most competitive contest of the event. 

Other North Carolina winners include:

White Street Brewing -- Gold – Kölsch (Köln or Kölsch style Ale)

Mother Earth Brewing – Bronze – Endless River (Köln or Kölsch style Ale)

Outerbanks Brewing Station – Gold – Meyerbock (Heller Bock/ Maibock)

Olde Hickory Brewing – Silver – Irish Walker (Strong Ale or Old Ale)

This competition had over 1400 breweries from 58 countries competing in 94 different categories.  The success of North Carolina’s small breweries helps explain why there is so much local pride surrounding beer.  These brewers deserve it.

And what better way to show your support of NC brewers than by going out and buying some beer!  Two events really stand out this week in the Asheville area, and I hope everyone has the chance to get out to both.

Sharpen the Blade Saison Fest

Friday April 18th:  4pm- 10pm

Burial Beer is hosting the first Saison Fest in Asheville.  Saisons are a style that originated in Southern Belgium and were first brewed by farmers as partial payment to their seasonal workers.  The beers had to be high enough in alcohol to stay fresh from early spring to late summer, but they had to be thirst quenching enough to be desirable after a hard day working the fields.  Every farmer brewed theirs a little bit differently based on what was available, and that freedom of expression is what drives modern day brewers of the style.  Saison Fest will have examples from 15 NC breweries on offer this Friday.  There is no admission charge, just buy the beer by the glass and enjoy.  The best news is that Spring should be back in town by this weekend, so you shouldn’t need your coat.

Highland Brewing 20th Anniversary Plaid Party 

Saturday April 19th:  4pm-9pm (Doors at 2)

Highland Brewing is celebrating 20 years this month, and they are offering a series of limited release beers to commemorate.  Highland is the brewery that started the modern day craft scene in Asheville, and they remain the largest locally owned brewery in Western North Carolina.  Show some support to these pioneers by heading out to the tasting room this Saturday to try beers that you haven’t had and won’t have the opportunity to try again.  “Celtic Ale” the original name and recipe for Gaelic, a 20th Anniversary Scotch Ale, and two “NC only” beers including a lager and a Belgian Ale will be poured along with Highland’s usual line-up and other small batch beers.  Live music, food trucks and to-go bottle sales round out the afternoon.  They are asking that people carpool when possible, as parking is limited. 




Hi-Wire Continues English Breakfasts and Soccer

Soccer fans rejoice!  Hi-Wire Brewing has been opening early on Saturdays throughout the season, and they will continue to do so.  Here's the upcoming schedule from the press release:

ASHEVILLE, NC – March 18, 2014 – English Breakfasts at Hi-Wire’s  tasting  room  continue to keep on rolling!  In  addition  to  full  “Proper”  English  Breakfasts,  featuring  freshly  made  eggs,   bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes, baked beans, and toast, Hi-Wire also always has an alternate option too! Past meals, like pork pancake stacks with tots, French toast with fruit, and awesome breakfast burritos (with tots inside!) have been huge successes. It truly is worth getting up early for an awesome breakfast, great soccer action and, of course, Hi-Wire beers.
Whether  you’re  a  fan  of  soccer  or  just  love  great,  well-priced breakfasts (or both), English Breakfasts are still only $6.95! Throw in any Hi-Wire year-round  or  seasonal  pint  and  it’s  only   $9.95. Lastly, remember that veggie options are always available!
Here’s  the serving schedule for the month:
SAT., MARCH 29TH – STARTING AT 11AM ¾ 11a: Chelsea and Barcelona play ¾ 1:30p: Arsenal v Manchester City
SAT., APRIL 5TH – STARTING AT 10AM ¾ 10a: Manchester United v Newcastle ¾ 12:30p: Chelsea v Stoke City
SAT., APRIL12TH – STARTING AT 10AM ¾ 10a: Tottenham v West Bromwich
SAT., APRIL19TH – STARTING AT 10AM ¾ Live EPL at 10! ¾ 12:30p: Arsenal v Hull
SAT., APRIL26TH – STARTING AT 10AM ¾ 10a: Tottenham v Stoke City ¾ 10a: Manchester United v Norwich

Don’t  forget  about  Hi-Wire’s  upcoming events on

About Hi-Wire Brewing Located at the corner of Hilliard and Asheland Avenues in Downtown Asheville’s South Slope, Hi-Wire Brewing embraces its craft from top to bottom – from its hand-produced beers to its artwork, hand-drawn by a local artist. Hi-Wire’s  light-hearted circus theme embodies the fun, authenticity, and creativity of this deep-rooted craft. Find Hi-Wire’s beers on draught at North Carolina bars and restaurants, as well as at its downtown tasting room, and in 12-oz 6-packs at retail outlets. Check for an up-to-date list of places to find Hi-Wire’s beer. Featuring four year-round beers – Hi-Wire Lager, Prime Time Pale, Bed of Nails Brown, and Hi- Pitch IPA – as well as a rotating selection of seasonal offerings, Hi-Wire Brewing invites you to “Walk  on  the  Wire  Side”.
— From Press Release

Brewer- Farmer Relationships Threatened

News about an FDA proposal to control animal feed is making small brewers and small farmers nervous.  Both would experience increased costs of operation if this proposal goes through.  Fortunately, it is open to public comment until March 31st. 

Brewing uses a lot of barley.  Barley is a cereal grain rich in protein and carbohydrate calories as well as a host of other important nutrients.  Brewers are most interested in the starches and sugars that are extracted through the mashing process.  Once those have been removed from the grain, the rest is considered waste to the brewer.  For as long as there have been brewers living near farmers, these wasted grains have ended up as animal feed.  A new effort from the FDA would severely threaten that relationship.


A new proposed rule would prevent breweries from passing off spent grain to farmers. The rule is meant to “ensure the safety of animal food for animals consuming the food and ensuring the safety of animal food for humans handling the food, particularly pet food…”

The rule essentially would require breweries to dry, analyze and package the grain before sending it to the brewers. All without any of it touching human hands. The process would be too time consuming and too costly for small craft brewers. The grain would have to be dumped. The farmers would be barred from picking it up. The free grain is a big help financially to the farmer, offsetting food costs for the animals.

Obviously there is a need to control the products farmers feed their livestock.  There is real danger to consumers of animal products if the feed used to raise them is unsafe.  Brewers' barley, however, does not fall into this category of dangerous products.  This barley has already been deemed safe enough to use as a principle ingredient in a beverage for human consumption.  The brewing process simply steeps the barley in 150+/- degree water for an hour or so.  If the farmers are utilizing the spent grains from brewers in a timely fashion, there is little risk for bacterial growth or any other spoilage that might affect the quality of the feed.  Any proposal should seek to regulate that part of the equation, if anything.  From a quick google search, I wasn't able to find any information to support a theory that brewers' grains pose any health risk to cattle.  Also, a study released by the National Institutes of Health in 1994 concluded the following:

Twenty lactating Jersey cows were offered diets containing 0, 15, or 30% wet brewers grains or 30% wet brewers grains plus liquid brewers’ yeast during hot, humid weather. The DMI was not different, even though diets with 30% wet brewers grains contained only 35.5% DM and approximately 50 versus 36.8% NDF for the control diet. Yields of milk and FCM did not differ for cows offered the control diet versus wet brewers grains or diets with 15 versus 30% wet brewers grains, but milk yield for diets with 30% wet brewers grains was greater with added liquid brewers’ yeast than without it. Milk fat percentage was not different, but milk protein percentage was lower, for diets with wet brewers grains than for controls and for 30% wet brewers grains than for 15% wet brewers grains. Serum urea N was lower for control cows than for cows receiving the diets with wet brewers grains. Feed cost per cow was lower for wet brewers grains versus the control diet, and income over feed cost was greater for diets with 30 versus 15% wet brewers grains. Large quantities of wet brewers grains can be added to the diet during hot weather without depressing DMI.
— National Insititute of Health

This only helps to reaffirm the argument that farmers strongly benefit from the use of brewer's grains as feed.  Also, many small brewers reap the benefit of free haul off and disposal of this waste product.  If small brewers were forced to pay for this waste to be removed, they would incur extra costs that would have to be passed on to the consumer.  No one benefits from losing this relationship.   

Please don't let small brewers and farmers get caught up in this proposal.  The comment period is open until March 31st.  Follow the link to make your opinion heard.

Yuengling Ice Cream Makes a Return


On my brewery tours of Asheville, I tell participants the history of beer in the US, and one of the major events in US brewing history was Prohibition.  The outlaw of the manufacture of alcohol in the US changed the trajectory for beer for the next 80 years.  Before Prohibition, many brewers were extremely successful and had built large business enterprises.  One of those breweries was the one owned by the Yuengling family in Pennsylvania. 

Before the devastation of the Volstead Act, the Yuengling family had earned a lot of money brewing beer.  In the boom times, the patriarch of the family smartly invested in gold, railroads, and a dairy farm.  This dairy farm would become a major enterprise for the family when they were forced to stop making beer for thirteen years.

Most large breweries had mechanical refrigeration by 1920, so the Yuengling family smartly combined this asset with their dairy farm and started an ice cream company.  Even after Prohibition was repealed the ice cream business was popular enough to keep it alive until the early 1980s.  The brand was shut down at that point, but the Yuenglings announced recently that their once famous ice cream will be back on shelves throughout the mid-Atlantic soon.

Best known for beer, the family-owned Yuengling brewery launched its ice cream subsidiary in 1920 to help the business survive Prohibition.

The dairy branch was spun off from the flagship in 1935, two years after Prohibition ended, but it stopped production in 1985.

At that time, David Yuengling wasn’t ready to take over the family business from his father. But after spending 30 years in the computer industry, David was ready to revive the ice cream business.

Production was expected to start in March, but advance interest from grocery stores like Acme and Weis encouraged him to speed up the process. Quarts of the 10 new flavors hit shelves on Monday.

”I think one of the biggest problems people have with new products is name-brand recognition, and we already have that,” Yuengling said.

Yuengling’s Ice Cream remains separate from the Yuengling brewery, which David’s second-cousin now owns. The Pennsylvania-based brewery has been family owned since it opened in 1829 and distributes mainly to the East Coast.

The ice cream company is also based in Pennsylvania and plans to distribute to stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.

And no, beer isn’t one of the flavors. But a chocolate and caramel combo is called Black and Tan, sharing its name with one of the six Yuengling beers
— Katie Labosco for CNN

Craft on Craft Violence or Normal Competition?

The story of the Twitter and then Beer Advocate forum rant from Tony Magee of Lagunitas Brewing aimed at Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company has been drawing a lot of attention, recently.  Magee accused Koch and Boston Beer of targeting Lagunitas market share with the release of the new Sam Adams Rebel IPA. 

From Time Magazine:

Last month, Tony Magee, owner of California‘s Lagunitas Brewing Company, sent out a series of Tweets that took exception to the release and marketing of a new brew that directly encroaches on its turf. The brew in question is Samuel Adams’ Rebel IPA, a “West Coast Style” beer that’s not unlike Lagunitas’s most popular beverage. What’s more, Magee said that Koch and the Boston Beer Company was crossing the unspoken craft brew line by putting Lagunitas and other brands in the crosshairs.

“Learned that SamAdams’ Rebel IPA marketing plans incl specifically targeting our biz as well as other craft IPA. Flattering & sad, it is,” Magee wrote in one Tweet. “BB specifically told our distribs in common that they were going t TAKE r tap handles everywhere they could,” he explained in another. “That’s a directed attack … Imagine someone threatening your children…”

The Tweets drew coverage on sites like Beer Pulse and kicked off discussions on Reddit and Beer Advocate. Many commenters felt that Magee was having a “tantrum,” and that he was whining about facing the kind of tough, direct, hardnosed competition that every business owner should expect. Others applauded Magee for speaking up, with the idea that all beer lovers have reason to worry about the efforts of the Boston Beer Company and others to squelch out the competition—which could eventually lead to a much less varied, interesting, and tasty beer marketplace.

Eventually, Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch joined the Beer Advocate discussion, releasing a statement that he took “some offense to Tony’s other jabs and misrepresentations,” and most importantly, he denied that his company’s goal was to replace Lagunitas as a favorite choice of distributors and bars. “We don’t target other craft brewers,” he said. He also insisted that the we’re-all-in-this-together aspect ingrained in the craft beer business is very much alive:

I think it’s a shared responsibility of ALL larger, craft brewers to help those who are following the path we have worked hard to pave… We’re all lucky to be in the middle of a big growth curve for craft beer, and I am glad to see the growth. It’s certainly taken a lot of hard work by a lot of people both in the brewery and on the streets to get here. What’s unique about our industry is that it truly is a brother- and sisterhood. We all need to preserve that spirit as long as we can.

Yet according to Lagunitas’s Magee and others, it’s the actions of Koch and the Boston Beer Company that are destroying the craft beer world’s collaborative, congenial spirit. In any case, it appears as if the competition among craft brewers is bound to get ugly. “F*** them,” Magee Tweeted of Samuel Adams and the Boston Beer Company. “We’re ready. Drink what thrills ya…”

Responses on the Beer Advocate forums have ranged from calling Magee's outrage a "tantrum" and that this is normal competition in a business environment, assuming that Sam Adams kegs aren't sold at a dramatically lower price to steer business owners away from Lagunitas.  Others have called into question whether the "craft" label should even apply to Boston Beer Company, given its tremendous size and resources and that Boston Beer is trying to use muscle to gain market share.

Personally, I think Magee is letting fear create keystrokes.  Assuming his distributor told him that Sam Adams was trying to take tap handles, Magee should know at this point that that is part of the game.  Whether it is Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head, all of those businesses want to have the opportunity to sell their beers to customers.  Tap handles are a means to do so.  Therefore, EVERYONE is ALWAYS targeting each other's tap handles.  Why would you want to create a popular beer style and not offer it for sale?  Would you hope that consumers would still prefer your competitor's products over yours?  YOU WOULDN'T!  In hoping Rebel IPA would take tap handles from Lagunitas, Boston Beer is saying that they are proud of what they've brewed and see it as a viable alternative to a very successful brand.  Should no brewery brew an IPA for fear that they might encroach on the market of another brewer?  

Now, the exception, of course, would be if Sam Adams was offering dastardly incentives to retailers or distributors in order to undercut the competition.  So far, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of that.  There is simply a successful brewery offering a product similar to one made by another successful brewery and HUNDREDS OF OTHER SUCCESSFUL BREWERIES.  

What do you think of the situation?  Leave your feedback in the comments below