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asheville beer week
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Asheville Beer Week: Beer Blogger Choice Events Finale

Asheville Beer Week 2015

It’s been a pleasantly exhausting ABW to this point. After the opening fest-focused weekend, the past few days have centered on many smaller tasting events and beer dinners, culminating in last night’s Goose Island specialty beers tapping (2013 Lolita, 2014 Bourbon County Brand Barleywine, The Illinois) at Appalachian Vintner (745 S. Biltmore) and the Not So Big BIG Beer Fest at Thirsty Monk’s future brewery location near Biltmore Village (92 Thompson St.), where that line-up even included the prized Westbrook Mexican Cake. But, with a few days left to go, I offer these few additional picks:

Thursday May 28

Today is the day fans of Burial Brewing’s Skillet Donut Stout have been waiting for…with six variants being offered and paired with six different Vortex doughnuts. The fun starts at 4pm at Burial (40 Collier Ave., South Slope). I attended the first of these events last year (minus the 6-doughnut pairing), but opted this year to switch work shifts with fellow craft beer-slinger Joel so he could attend (he’s drooling for the peanut butter version) with his girlfriend and my co-blogger Mia.

I will, however, do my best to get to the Hops, Hips, and Beef Tips benefit event celebrating the women of craft beer at Altamont Brewing (1042 Haywood Rd, WAVL) as quickly as I can after work. That party begins at 3pm with BBQ from Moe’s, but I won’t make it until late night (still in time for music and more great beers that were cellared for this event). Both of these events have Facebook pages where you can get the more detailed scoop.

If you fancy yourself a BBQ sauce connoisseur, head to Luella’s (501 Merrimon Ave.) for Pig On A Wire with Hi-Wire Brewing. Not really about the pig today, but the sauce you’d want to put on it. Entrants (up to 15) will bring their home-made sauces using any of Hi-Wire’s brews and compete to win the people’s choice award and a prize. Judging is at 6pm.

This is a big ABW day, with perhaps as many as 20 official events. You’ll sure find some beer-mischief to get into.

Friday May 29

Catawba celebrates their Sweet 16 years brewing with a Hawaiian-themed (to coincide with King Coconut porter release) Luau birthday party (2-10pm) at both South Slope (12 Banks Ave.) and Biltmore Village (63 Brook St.) locations. Pull that lively tropical print shirt or grass skirt out of the closet and get down there for live music, food, and some thematic give-aways.

Those familiar with Wicked Weed (91 Biltmore Ave.) know that the focus on saisons is always strong in their downstairs tasting room, but beginning today at 3pm they’re guaranteed to have at least eleven for their saison tap-takeover. Mango habanero, peach, apricot, mango, cumquats, and other fruits are featured in these brews, and one even includes tea. Some are new and some are a wonderful opportunity to revisit saison variants previously released.

Again, events abound today…especially smaller tasting opportunities at various bottle shops and other venues.

Saturday May 30

ABW Day 9. Whew! No doubt the featured event today is Beer City Fest held downtown on Roger McGuire Green in Pack Square from 1-5pm. With 32 breweries (all members of Asheville Brewers Alliance) scheduled to participate and huge attendance expected again this year (let’s just call it “Packed” Square), it’s your final opportunity for a big craft beer blow-out while enjoying live music from some of the area’s best musicians (Empire Strikes Brass, Lyric, more). Be there or be square. Details are at beercityfestival.com.

It’s also a great day to stop in at some of the shops and breweries where events were hosted earlier this week because some of the many specialty releases will still be on tap until the kegs blow.

And so it’s over for 2015. But, ABW or not, the Asheville brewing community will continue to host events and release wonderful brews the other 51 weeks each year. Stay tuned here to find out what’s coming up next or to hear what co-blogger Mia Pedersen and I have to say about them.

About Mark Janes

Mark Janes is a relative newcomer to Asheville, having arrived in February 2014. Long passionate about fine wines, a decade ago he found the same sensory reward from tasting craft beers the same way he had enjoyed the vino. After retiring from ”regular” work, his avocation for craft beer became vocation as he spent three years with craft beer retailers in New Orleans and Illinois before arriving here and joining Appalachian Vintner as a craft beer retail sales specialist and beer tender.

His favorite beer styles are sours and IPAs, although he considers himself an “equal opportunity” drinker.

Mark's other pastimes include hosting Better Blues Bureau, a blues music show on WSFM-LP 103.3 radio (and www.ashevillefm.org).

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