Return to Asheville, Part 5

The biggest thing from the back end of the trip was the visit to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s East Coast production facility, located just outside of Asheville in Mills River, NC. It’s right next to the Asheville airport, but given how much green land SN bought up (it’s about a quarter- to half-mile drive through forest to get from the front gate to the brewery.

You’ll notice throughout the parking lot there are several “trees” made out of solar panels, which help provide power for the facility.

You’ll notice throughout the parking lot there are several “trees” made out of solar panels, which help provide power for the facility.

One of several glorious exterior shots.

One of several glorious exterior shots.

The brewery nails a naturalist-meets-Willy-Wonka aesthetic, and as colleague described it to me, the place was designed for brewery tours. Indeed, they hold numerous tours of varying content and levels of detail each week. And if you want to go at your own pace, there is a several hundred foot-long corridor with expansive top-down views of various parts of the production process, an in-depth description of the production process, and many displays highlighting the history of beer in general and Sierra Nevada specifically.

Bottles from throughout Sierra Nevada’s history.

Bottles from throughout Sierra Nevada’s history.

There are spacious sit-down spaces both inside at their tasting bar/pub AND outside behind the brewery, as well as a high-gravity beer bar just upstairs from the main tasting bar.

The Sierra Nevada brings together just about every SN beer you can think of.

The Sierra Nevada brings together just about every SN beer you can think of.

Without a doubt, the brewery is absolutely beautiful. I’ve seen more than a few self-guided brewery tours in my time (they are a requirement before drinking in a brewery in New Jersey). This one blows EVERY ONE away. It helps that Sierra Nevada’s a big boy in the craft world, but they nailed the brewery experience in every way at the Mills River brewery.

Return to Asheville, Part 2

After lunch at 12 Bones on Friday, I proceeded into town. My first stop was NOT my hotel, but a brewery, of course!

Recently, several of the major craft players in the western United States have seen the craft beer boom push their capacities to or beyond their limits. Expansion plans were enacted, and for some of these breweries, it made sense to build new facilities in different parts of the country (thus, saving on shipping costs) instead of expanding old facilities. As a result, the eastern United States has become home to East Coast operations for New Belgium Brewing Company and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in the Asheville area, along with Stone Brewing's facility in Richmond, Virginia. I set up the Asheville big boys as the bookends of my long weekend, starting with the 1 1/2 hour tour of New Belgium Brewing Company.

The bicycle entrance arch leading to the New Belgium production facility and offices.

The bicycle entrance arch leading to the New Belgium production facility and offices.

Located in West Asheville on group of plots that once housed an auto parts facility and a cattle-holding facility, among other businesses, New Belgium worked very hard to clean up this EPA-designated brown site and worked to reuse or recycle a significant portion of the materials, whether reused in the building designs (like some 14 linear miles of lumber that was reused) or in decor throughout the site's facilities. The arch in the picture above leads to the business side of the campus, including the full production facility and business offices. The primary public area is called the Liquid Center (pic below), and features the usual merchandise area and bar/tasting room with plenty of indoor AND outdoor seating, including a beautiful deck overlooking the French Broad River and the greenway, which includes brewery land along the river that was donated back to the city of Asheville by New Belgium. Like so many breweries, a food truck or two can be found out front during most business hours.

Main arrival/entrance area to New Belgium's Liquid Center, with the requisite taco truck out front.

Main arrival/entrance area to New Belgium's Liquid Center, with the requisite taco truck out front.

The New Belgium tour runs 1 1/2 hours. I can't for certain remember my tour guide's actual name (I want to say...Mike?), but he definitely goes by Party Grandpa. So, keep an eye out for him in the Liquid Center or on a tour if you make it there. The production facility is immaculate. The tour features 3 different tasting spots and tends to utilize those spots to tell the story of the founders, Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, rather than spend tons of time recapping how the beer gets made. Which, to Party Grandpa's point, tends to be a fairly universal process. It's all just a matter of scale. At one tasting point, I finally got a chance to try out The Hemporer, an HPA (Hemp Pale Ale?) which has generated a ton of buzz since it's debut recently. It wasn't bad, but the hemp notes tend to not necessarily be my favorite when they pop up in pales, and this one has those notes turned up to 11. The 4 ounce pour I had was more than sufficient. They also offered us a pour of their flagship beer Fat Tire and a choice of a Belgian Dubbel or their long-time sour offering, La Folie.

Next time: Friday night at Highland and Saturday afternoon on South Slope!

Beers in Review: Jersey Drinking

The latter entry in today's BiR includes beers I drank while on vacation and will feature a preview of a brewery I will be reviewing soon as an entry in the Brewery Review (now called "BrewVue") series. But first, a seasonal from one of the craft beer giants.

My dad, a big Sierra Nevada Brewing Company fan overall, has been going crazy about Summerfest Czech-style lager. Right on the borderline of sessionable at 5% ABV, Summerfest pours a clear pale gold color. The malty sweetness, courtesy of Munich malts, blends with plenty of prominent grain notes to resolve into something like sweet corn. There is a slight bitterness (not a surprise at just 28 IBU) at the end of the drinking experience that leads into the aftertaste, which is the only possible indication of the presence of hops. Otherwise, this beer is simply as advertised: light body with a crisp mouthfeel and finish. An excellent selection for warm summer days.

Next, we turn once again to the Jersey shore, and 7 Mile Brewery, whose full review will be week? Maybe?

Red, White, and Bru is a cherry-flavored Saison/farmhouse ale that is a summer release (presumably around the Fourth of July, based on its ABV number-play of 7.417%). I really feel like the fruit helps make this Saison more palatable to the more mainstream beer drinkers, as I had this separate from my family's brewery visit, but one of my relatives had this at the brewery and really enjoyed it. Red, White, and Bru pours a hazy gold color. It's light in body and mouthfeel, though I didn't necessarily find it refreshing. Despite helping the flavor, the fruit does serve as a second fiddle to a fairly strong funky note that then leads into a very mild sourness towards the end of the drinking experience. The beer's not really sweet, but I think the cherries bring a level of familiarity that make this a pretty accessible offering (and one of many excellent beers overall) from 7 Mile Brewery.

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, Part 5

This week, I will wrap up the final 4 beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Beer Camp Across the World collaboration pack. Today, I check out collaborations with Duvel in Belgium and Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Also, I'm pretty rusty at these reviews!

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, Part 4

I'll be honest, guys--sometimes I live up to the "Pourly Reviewed" moniker. This is one of those times.

In today's video, I check out 2 more entries from Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across the World series. This pair of beers features collaborations with Houston's St. Arnold Brewing Company and Japan's Kiuchi Brewery!

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, Part 2

Today, I bring you two more beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Beer Camp Across the World collaboration pack! Check out my reviews of collaborations with Massachusetts's Tree House Brewing Company and Garage Project from Wellington, New Zealand!

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, Part 1

Today, I bring you the first part of six video reviews featuring beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's Beer Camp Across the World Series. In this video, I check out their collaborations with Ayinger Brewery and Avery Brewing Company. Check 'em out!

Beers in Review: Twice In A Week!

Sidecar Orange Pale Ale has been part of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's line-up for a few years now, since SN started expanding beyond their signature pale ale. To live up to its name, Sierra Nevada uses Mandarina hops as well as orange peel in the brewing process. The result is a bold orange-colored beer that has 5.3% ABV and 35 IBU. Flavors include plenty of orange and orange rind, and maybe a bit of grapefruit, along with a good amount of hop bite towards the back of the drinking experience and pushing into the aftertaste. There were also some hints of pine and hop candy, with a very slight juiciness in the mouthfeel. I found this pale ale to be pretty decent overall, though I feel like previous years' versions were more memorable, and perhaps had more orange?

Next up is Savannah, Georgia's Southbound Brewing Company. I found their Scattered Sun Witbier to be a fairly standard, well-executed beer. It pours a slightly hazy yellow-gold color. Coming in at 5.2% ABV and 15 IBU, this Belgian Wit brings lots of flavor, with flavor notes that include a bunch of orange and other citrus in the front half, along with banana, cloves, all spice and other spices, and just a bit of banana. Scattered Sun checks off all the boxes for a Witbier, and I found it to be really tasty!

Video Review: Catching Up With Everyone Else

In today's video review, I check out the much-reviewed Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Tropical Torpedo. It seems like every BeerTuber on the planet checked this beer out during my personal Booze-Free February, so I finally get caught up with everyone else. Check out my thoughts on the beer, as well as notes on upcoming goings-on here at PRB.

Beers in Review: In Which I Am Pleasantly Delighted

We'll talk about this mini-commentary thing momentarily. First, the beer reviews!

The Beer Camp collaboration series has turned into an ever-growing hit for the long-time craft beer artists at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and they’ve bridged the gap between the 2016 and 2017 Beer Camp variety packs with this Golden IPA, which uses wheat malt and experimental hops to put a spin on what turned into Sierra Nevada’s Spring seasonal. This IPA pours a clear yellow-straw color and is 6.5 ABV while rating 50 IBU. Dominant grassy aromas push into the initial flavor impressions, which include wild field grass and dandelion greens. Pushing deeper, I got a mild sweetness and a barely-perceptible hop bite, along with a slight hint of a grainy note. Sierra Nevada (and friends) knock another hoppy beer out of the park.

Next up is, frankly, an unexpected treat, the Gose from Asheville, North Carolina’s Hi-Wire Brewing. Like so many in this style, this Gose rates low in ABV (4.2%) and IBU (a mere 5), while pouring a hazy straw color. Hi-Wire utilizes Pink Himalayan salt here, and the salty flavor does differ greatly from the types of salt that one would expect to be used in such a Gose., though I admit I struggled to describe HOW, exactly, the flavor differs. It was an interesting flavor sensation, though, that blended lemons, coriander, and a few other spices that all united for a nicely balanced flavor profile where no one item, not even the unique salt, overwhelmed the others. Somewhat surprisingly, I found this to be an excellent execution of the Gose style, and leads me to perhaps give Hi-Wire more consideration. Frankly, I don’t have a good reason for my typical bypassing of this brewery. It just sort of happens. But it will not anymore. A really terrific entry from Hi-Wire!

Now, regarding last night's hoped-for video commentary and plans for March--the interweb gods were just not smiling on me. I am going to record and bank the video for posting hopefully tomorrow, otherwise later this week. The release of the next video review will depend on THAT video's release, as well as the whims of the interweb gods.

Regardless, I will see you all soon! Cheers!

Video Review: Christmas Beers, Part 3

Today's Christmas offerings come from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and a mighty beer from Brouwerij St. Bernardus, a brewery I haven't had in about a year (so forgive me when I misremember the Abt 12 late in the video).


Coming Tuesday is one more round of Christmas beers, then a Christmas beer rankings video on Wednesday! But see you tomorrow for Beers in Review!

Beers in Review: Playing catch-up

After Sunday's little party, I have whole bunch of beers about which to write, but I'm still playing catch-up from the previous week! We'll see if I'm feeling frisky and want to write about a couple beers more than usual. Let's get started.

Leading off is Picture of Nectar Double IPA from Southbound Brewing Company. It pours a yellow-gold color, and features peach and peach skin flavors, along with some floral aromatic notes and piney hops. I got a mild bitterness on the back end of the drinking experience, as well as some earthiness towards the end. It wasn't too sweet, and also not really boozy, which was a slight surprise for 9.3% ABV. A very drinkable DIPA.

It seems like I've covered a lot of Bell's Brewery lately--the Octoberfest series has aided that perception--and the latest in a series of very good beers from Bell's is their Special Double Cream Stout. As expected, it pours a near-black color, and offers notes of coffee as well as some cocoa and perhaps even a hint of smokiness. It's very tasty overall, with a fairly smooth mouthfeel (again, as expected from a DOUBLE cream beer).

Third up is the highly-regarded Narwhal Imperial Stout from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. This beer is pretty much pitch black, with some quite tasty flavor notes, including dark fruit, raisins, plums, sweet chocolate and vanilla, and sweet maltiness. It has an incredibly complex flavor profile, with a moderate amount of booziness. This my first tasting of Narwhal, and it lives up to its reputation.

Finally, let's jump into one beer from Octoberfest on Sunday. This Brewdy Peach/Habanero IPA was brewed by Low Tide Brewing Company for The Fat Hen, a French Low Country restaurant just outside Charleston, SC. Pouring a cloudy orange color, this IPA brings plenty of pepper. The Habanero kick is evident from the outset, as a just-uncomfortable-enough spiciness invades the throat upon the first sip and persists even after swallowing. A black pepper note joins it early on, before being joined by the peach and maybe a funk note, as well. The hops come through in the back half of the drinking experience, an experience which includes a bit of a creamy mouthfeel. This is an impressive beer, and the first I had at Octoberfest. It was a hell of a lead-off hitter.

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp West Latitude, plus Beer Camp rankings

There are two videos in today's entry. The first is the final review from the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America series, a beer called West Latitude Session Rye. It was made by Sierra Nevada, along with Bear Republic Brewing Company, Faction Brewing Company, Mad River Brewing Company, Magnolia Brewing Company, and Maui Brewing Company. Check it out:


The second video features my personal rankings of the six beers in the Beer Camp Across America series. That's right here:

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Moxee-Moron Imperial Session IPA

Check out my latest video review, featuring the 5th installment of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America collaboration series, the excellent Moxee-Moron Imperial Session IPA. This IPA featured collaborators from Bale Breaker Brewing Company, Barley Brown's Beer, Black Raven Brewing Company, Melvin Brewing, and Odell Brewing Company. Enjoy!


Expect the final installment of the Beer Camp series, along with a bonus video ranking the 6 beers of the series, on Tuesday!

Video Review: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Stout of the Union Robust Stout

Check out my latest video review, where I ramble on about the 4th installment of Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp Across America collaboration series, Stout of the Union Robust Stout. For this stout, Sierra Nevada collaborated with Bagby Beer Company, Beachwood Brewing, Port/The Lost Abbey Brewing Company, Smog City Brewing Company, and Societe Brewing Company.


Check out the 5th installment, plus a brand new Beers in Review, this weekend. See you then!