Monday, September 14, 2015

Portland to Asheville? The Deschutes Brewing Puzzle.

Some beer blogger has said (and that's a shaky recommendation from the start) that Oregon-based Deschutes has chosen Asheville as the location for their brewery expansion. Deschutes in response says, not so fast. Who's right?  We'll know before too long but in the meanwhile, I'm eager to get some fresh Deschutes. They made their reputation early on with their Mirror Pond Pale Ale, but everything I've had of theirs (and I've been to their Portland brewpub) is very drinkable.  Time will tell, in the mean while, here's a photo of their Portland outlet.


Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Profile: Courtney Pici, Champion of Breweries

Well, more accurately, Courtney champions breweries that she represents as Divisional Sales Manager (Southeast) for Global Brewers Guild, a position she just recently took on.

So far in this profile series, we've met both the people who brew the beer and the folks putting it in your glass, whether at a bar/taproom, growler station or a favorite dining establishment. Getting the beer between those points is what Courtney facilitates for her brewery clients, no small feat these days when you consider the competition for tap space at most beer sellers. And also for shelf space, since more and more breweries are adding cans to their bottle selections.

I've known Courtney nearly as long as I have lived here and I can say without reservation that the lady knows beer. From her start at a Taco Mac in GA, with it's 100 taps, to serving at Barleys and the Growler Station (RIP) here in Greenville, she has always been seriously interested in craft beer.

She was one of the first servers in Greenville to achieve the Cicerone Certified Server certification and has begun the examination process for the next level, Certified Cicerone. I took one of the preparatory classes with her, so I've seen first hand her determination to become a genuine beer authority.

Fortunately Courtney doesn't mind travel cause she's on the road a lot. One of her new clients, 21st Amendment Brewing in San Francisco, has just been allowed to distribute in South Carolina so to better learn about their beers (among my favorites, I should add) she hopped a plane (no pun) to join in the festivities there as 21st opened a new production facility across the Bay in San Leandro, the site of the former home of Kellogg's Pop Tart bakery. More about that later.

Back here a more typical day would see her out with a distributor representative visiting pubs, restaurants or even retail outlets, to educate people about new beer releases they might want to add to their inventory or just to massage an existing relationship. Obviously this kind of work requires someone who enjoys meeting people and talking knowledgeably about beer. That's Courtney!

Mike Okupinski gets to sample the special 21st Amendment release.

Educating craft beer enthusiasts keeps Courtney very busy.

Another way she helps her brewery clients, pouring at beer fests.

She's also likely to be seen at one of our local "bottle share" events, adding some new choices to the mix (and finding personal favorites as well). She has told me that her "go to" brews are Session IPAs and Ciders that are light, dry and crisp. No shortage of either of those these days.

She also appreciates being part of the increasing population of women working in the industry, in all of the various ways. This year she joined with some of those women as members of the Pink Boots Society to celebrate International Women's Collaboration Brew Day  to brew a special ale at Quest Brewing. And once she completes the final portion of the Cicerone Certification exam, she will join a small but very influential group of beer experts.

Oh, remember my Kellogg's Pop Tart reference? Well, as a tribute to the former tenant, 21st Amendment released this very special Red IPA (a very limited release) which Courtney graciously shared with a few of us. It will be on the shelves locally soon, thanks to her hard work, so when you see it, buy it - you'll like it.

Toaster Pastry tribute to Kelloggs. Great beer, btw.

I always learn something from her each time we chat about the craft beer scene and I think you might too, so if you cross paths with her, take a moment to say hi and chat about beer. She'll have a lot to say.

Cheers, Courtney. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Swamp Rabbit Brewing and Taproom Septembrew Cont'd

Some additional photos from yesterday's Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom Septembrew Fest. Over 400 beer lovers showed up to enjoy new and old favorite beers in a festive, friendly environment. There were pretzel eaters, dancing girls (when they weren't pouring), even a couple celebrating the second day of their engagement. Music, food, sun, smiles and, of course, beer - that's a never fail recipe for a good time. Cheers!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Swamp Rabbit Septembrew Fest, Part Two

This one was as much fun and educational as the first. Also well attended, as the crowd lined up for the opening will attest. Several brand new beers for me, and a new brewery, 13 Stripes, to sample. Good music went with the festivities and Table 301's Food Truck provided me with an exceptional torta with which to pair with the beers. Well done, Ben and all involved. Some photos:

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hi Wire Add New Production Facility

On a recent trip to Asheville (wife needs new shoes) I managed to work a visit to Hi Wire's new facility in between trips to clothing/shoes outlets.

Hi Wire has become a large scale brewery rather quickly, as this huge space attests. They will keep the original on Hilliard to produce experimental or one-offs as part of a pilot program.

The new brewery center is located right behind Appalachian Wine and Beer store, just off Biltmore Blvd, near the village.

Our favorite, and very soon to be gone, was a collaboration with Natty Green Brewing featuring an Oatmeal Pale Ale.

Cassie explains the tasting flight.

I recommend a visit the next time you are in the area. Opens weekdays at 4.