Thursday, April 9, 2015

Hollie Stephenson, Head Brewer for Highland Brewing, Asheville, NC., Interview

As I mentioned in a previous post, spent some time this week with Hollie Stephenson, recently arrived Head Brewer at Highland Brewing. She comes from a three year stint with Stone (San Diego county) and, I'm pleased to say, shares my hop-centric taste for beer.

Her timing was good because Highland is about to celebrate a 21st Birthday (April 11), so she was given the opportunity to mark the event by brewing up a special beer for the occasion, one that reflects what she likes in beer (hops) and also to complement the already outstanding lineup of existing brews there (Cold Mountain, anyone?).

So, what was the beer she brewed for the big bash?  Here in her own words is what to expect this Saturday when the kegs are first tapped:

Since this is a small batch (3bbl system) we suspect that the beer might be gone by the end of the evening (2-10pm). If it receives a very favorable response (and mine certainly was, from the taste fresh from the fermenter, even without CO2) there is a possibility of brewing again in their new 100bbl pilot system, which is part of their new expansion.

Sensing that I was taking her away from some important brewing chores (there seemed to be a steady stream of fellow workers walking by our taproom table and giving us looks) I wrapped the conversation with the inevitable question about women in the craft beer industry (I know, it's become a cliché, but I can be as lazy a reporter as anyone else in the media). I was impressed with her answer. She looks forward to the time when discussing a beer, the qualities of the beer are what matter, not the gender of the brewer.

I'll drink to that.


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