Land of 10,000 lakes.
The Big Apple
Birthplace of Megan Fox -- Don't know it? That's because Rockwood, Tenn. is still insisting on it's "The Place to Be in Tennessee," moniker.
And that will bring us back to doe... ah hem I mean Asheville or as it has recently been dubbed Beer City USA by examiner.com. Figuring it had the online poll -- which drew votes from 46 countries -- in the bag the Asheville Brewers Alliance (formerly known as the Axis of Level 7 Beer Nerds) decided it needed to mark the occasion with a tapping of epic proportions.
For the sake of this blog I just manned up and consented to being the right person in the right place at the right time Saturday at Pack Square Park. The glass on the right (4.5 oz) might as well have been made by Herbal Essences because it was rinse and repeat all day as I visited the more than 30 craft brewer tents.
Sure, I had a beer float, more than the recommended dosage of bourbon barrel porters and a vicious run in with a jalapeno-infused ESP (Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company Houdini). But, inspirational and cautionary tales aside, the real takeaway however might end up being Blue Ridge Hops.
This man is living the dream. For the past three years he and the folks at in the Eastern Hops Guild have been part of a growing movement in the Tar Heel State.
Rita Pelezar from Blue Ridge Hops believes that North Carolina is prime for a switch to a new side in the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms triangle. She admits that this is very much a noble experiment but said that the humble family operated business is stirring up interest from craft brewers and hobbyists alike.
Interestingly, Rita noted that it took a while for the group to strike upon their initial hop rhizomes clumps because it is so hard to source 100 percent organic stains among today's corporate fields. Translation: these perennials require a lot of tlc and propagate through cuttings so once a batch is fertilized with something from Dow Chemical all future generations will be tainted.
It turns out the Blue Ridge Hops folks were able to convert a plot of land with very acidic piney soil and plant some vines transplanted from the pacific northwest. These plants are all female as I discovered as we use the flowers or cones to bitter up our beer.
They now offer five varieties of hops including my goto fuggle. Aside from offering leaf and pellet products Blue Ridge is making fresh or wet hops available to North Cackalakians.
Remember your first mater sandwich with mayo and salt? Ok, for us yankees our first cup of Dunkin Donuts Coffee. Think about that first bite or sip compared to the canned or at home version. See where I'm going with this?
Now if only there was a local source of grain... Whole Foods here we come!