Tom Miceli, the brewer behind the soon-to-be opened Whistle Hop Brewing Company hands me a sample of his India Pale Ale spiced with Chai spices. Right away he lets me know what Whistle Hop Brewing Company beer is going to be all about:
“Big flavor. That’s really what we’re going for here,” he tells me.
The mash-up really does pop, too! It’s an unexpected and delicious combination of cardamom, ginger, cinnamon and other chai spices mixed in with slight citrusy hop flavors. It all comes together to make a really unique beer unlike any IPA I’ve ever had.
Tom explained that a lot of Whistle Hop’s recipes will aim to get that reaction, balancing ingredients that you might never think would compliment each other, and as he said, getting as much flavor into the beer as possible. For instance, right now they have a Peanut Butter Golden Stout brewing, which will have the velvety mouthfeel and roasty flavors of a dark stout, but the light golden color of a pale ale.
“I even made a Sriracha Honey Ale once,” he said, “but you won’t be seeing that one again.”
Tom and his wife, Gina Miceli, have been working hard to transform a retired Norfolk & Western Railroad caboose into what will be Whistle Hop’s tasting room. This will be attached to a large patio on a large piece of land that will sit right along Charlotte Hwy in beautiful Fairview.
“As Fairview natives, being able to give our neighbors a unique place to hang out is something that we couldn’t be more proud of. Taking the caboose that’s been in our family for 20 years and watching it transform into a landmark on highway 74 feels like it was always meant to be.”
Whistle Hop Brewing Company will feature small batch brewing, allowing them to keep coming up with those experimental styles they want to offer. Some of the other unique recipes that you can look forward to seeing in their taproom include a Molasses Pumpkin Marzen, an Orange Blossom Ginger Tripel, and a Pineapple IPA, which they’ll brew with grilled pineapple, rather than just relying on hops to touch on those flavors.
After the Chai IPA, he pours me a Green Tea Mint Lager, which also happens to be gluten-free. The plan for Whistle Hop Brewing Company is to feature a large variety of beer that is brewed without barley and other cereal grains, but instead with fermentables like rice and honey.
Whistle Hop Brewing Company is a truly family owned business; other families members like Tom’s mother, Laurel, and father, Frank, who brought in some engineering experience are contributing to the new venture. Tom’s brother, Frank Jr., who is also a co-owner, used his experience in automotive fabrication to help assemble the impressive brewing system.
Miceli also has good friends in the industry locally, and will be sourcing his main beer ingredients from Asheville Brewers Supply. For the Peanut Butter Stout, they used a blend of coffee from Dynamite Roasting Co in Black Mountain. He also did extensive research with the folks at Dobrá Tea to find the perfect green tea leaf and chai spices for the two beers I sampled. So obviously they’ll be sourcing ingredients locally whenever possible. They also have some friends over at Urban Orchard and had a cider on tap when I stopped in, so I imagine you can expect to see Whistle Hop beer at places like Urban Orchard.
“We’re looking forward to sharing Whistle Hop Brewing Company with the community and bringing the thriving Asheville craft beer scene up over Mine Hole Gap!”
Look for Whistle Hop Brewing Company to be up and running in Spring 2016. Until then, follow Whistle Hop Brewing Company on Facebook for more updates!