Beers I Have Known — Highland Brewing Cold Mountain

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

cold mountain

I’m now two years removed from residency in the picturesque mountain burg of Asheville, North Carolina. The span of time gives me enough data points to state with confidence that I never feel quite so homesick for Beer City U.S.A. as during Cold Mountain season.

Cold Mountain is a spiced winter ale offered by Highland Brewing, the pioneering craft brewer in a city that has now exploded with modest, innovative competitors. The beer typically made its yearly bow in mid-November, lasting in various venues across the area for a good couple of months. It is so coveted that impromptu online tools emerge just to track its availability. Once, at a time of particular scarcity during the season, one of those feeds alerted us to the opening of a Cold Mountain tap line at a dive bar we usually didn’t frequent (mostly because of their tenuous grasp of what items should be burned to generate heat). We wound up enjoying the the most perfectly chilled glass of the ale we ever had.

These days, I don’t crave Cold Mountain. If I were to make a list of North Carolina beers I wish I could make magically appear in my fridge, Cold Mountain likely wouldn’t even crack the top ten. Even so, the beer represents a certain time and place for me, stirring up the warmest of memories. It’s one of the beers that feels like home, or at least one of my homes.

Beers I Have Known: Ale Asylum Babadook IPA

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

babadook

There is no shortage of IPAs in the big, sudsy world of beers, and Ale Asylum — located in the Wisconsin capital city where I tap this out — has already contributed plenty of them, including at least one that’s absolutely stellar. I’ll say this, though: if another IPA is must be added to beer store shelves, at least it’s borrowing the name and namesake of one of the very best movies of 2014.

And, yeah, the beer is delicious, too.

Beers I Have Known — Southern Tier Brewing Company Warlock Imperial Stout

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

southern tier

In past years, our household has engaged in an exercise every autumn, performing an extended taste test to determine the best pumpkin beer from the bevy of contenders that enter the marketplace around the time Halloween decorations start going up. It’s been a pleasant — if somewhat liver-pummeling — diversion for us, but it seemed time to open up the process. We invited a group of skilled imbibers over and gave them blind samples of twenty different pumpkin beers. It was like a beer fest condensed to one woozy night.

We’ve had a clear favorite over the years, but our beloved Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale, from the Stevens Point Brewery, had to settle for a runner-up position in the 2017 beer battle. The clear winner was the Warlock Imperial Stout from Souther Tier Brewing Company. The New York brewer also has a pumpkin ale in their lineup, but the darker beer prevailed. For now, Warlock is our worthy champion.

Beers I Have Known: Fort George Brewery The Optimist

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

optimist

I’m learning to be less precious about the beers I collect in my travels. These are for drinking, I remind myself, not mounting on a wall like prizes from a hideous safari hunt. Preservation is less valuable than consumption.

Still, I’m not not exactly racing through the sudsy souvenirs in the span of a weekend. Last week, I drank my last can of The Optimist, an IPA by Oregon’s Fort George Brewery, which I nabbed during an early summer trip to Portland. It is an ideal summer beer, favoring pleasant drinkability over the tongue-blast hoppiness the still defines the style for many beer drinkers.

For George Brewery wasn’t even on my list of coveted Pacific Northwest beer-makers when I went on that trip, but in making a final purchase at a local grocery story, a query to a hard-working gentleman stocking the shelves landed a six pack in my handcart. So this post is placed in my little corner of the digital world as a reminder as I prepare to do some scouting in the Souther state I once called home:  at the supermarket, trust guy with a dolly and a beer distribution company polo.

 

Beers I Have Known — 3 Sheeps Brewing Fresh Coast

fresh coast

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

As summer slowly wobbles to its inevitable topple and stillness, I’ve been thinking of my happy discoveries from the past few months, especially those beers that seemed to taste especially good when offering myself a reward for working up a sweat in the out of doors. I have a few beautiful standbys that fulfill that particular hankering, but there’s always room for a few more.

That brings me to Fresh Coast, billed as a “juicy pale ale” by the fine people at 3 Sheeps Brewing, in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. It is what it claims to be, delivering one of those bursts of refreshment that can set the tongue and soul reeling with equal rapture. With cunning undercurrents of complexity, the beer adheres to the compelling tenet of drinkability.

I’m don’t mean to imply that this beer can only be enjoyed in the summer sun, but I know when the calendar circles around to this season again, my craving for it is going to fiercely reassert itself.

 

 

Beers I Have Known — Cellarmaker Brewing Co. Turok: Mosaic Hunter

turok

This series of posts is dedicated to the many, many six packs, pony kegs and pints that have sauntered into my life at one point or another.

It has gotten extremely difficult to be a beer connoisseur — or beer snob, if you prefer — in this era of constantly proliferating craft breweries. In a metropolitan area of any significance, there are likely to be a dozen craft brewers vying for attention, and a mere visitor is mightily challenged to discern the local heroes from the disasters keeping their business afloat solely on the untainted palates of the hapless souls who have been shielded from all warnings. For this reason, I am always grateful for a guide.

Left to my own wobbly devices, I may or may not have found my way to Cellarmaker Brewing Co. on my current visit to San Francisco. Regardless, the urging of a trusted drinking buddy sat me on one of their stools tonight, and I am grateful for the intervention. The lack of personal accomplishment in finding my way there doesn’t bother me. I managed to order a Turok: Mosaic Hunter, a delicious IPA, without eagerly announcing to all within range that I knew all about the comic book to which the oddball name referred. That restraint was achievement enough for one evening.