Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Month: January 2016

Andrews Brewing Company

We pull up to the brewery on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in December. It’s warm in Andrews, NC for this time of year and a beautiful day to be outside.

Andrews Brewing Company is very small; with 330 Square feet of building, most of their seating is outside. We walk in and are warmly greeted by Judy Carlson. She and her husband Eric Carlson opened this place nine years ago as Calaboose Wine Cellars. Still making wine, they added brewing craft beer to the operation two years ago with no looking back. Inside are four or five large tanks holding their wine, which is made from grapes grown right on the property. The vineyard is a beautiful view from the deck of the taproom.

After hellos, Judy pours us a flight of the six beers they currently have on tap: a beautiful array with Lightning Bug Blonde, Apricot Amber, Leatherwood Red, Coffee Stout, Four Lane ESB, and Equinox IPA. Then we retreat to the deck where Judy cranks up a couple of overhead heaters and then departs to let Eric know we’ve arrived.

{Eric and I first met nine or ten years ago as he was preparing to open the winery. At that time, I was a shift manager at Nantahala Outdoor Center’s outfitter store. Eric came in to buy a rafting paddle, but needed something a little more affordable than the $75 Warner I had to offer. When he told me that he needed the paddle to stir wine, not to guide a raft down the Nantahala River, I made it my mission to be the one to help him out. I hopped on the store bike and rode around the center in search of an unloved, unwanted rafting paddle that could be given new life…..and find it I did. Years later I was hired to play music at a new small brewery and there I found Eric who showed me the paddle, still in use.}

Soon the four of us are talking beer and life while tasting and laughing. Every visit to Andrews Brewing Company is like this, and not just for industry folk. This is a very welcoming place, a place to visit with friends or find yourself immersed in great conversation among strangers.

We talk about the craft beer industry, new breweries opening in the area, music, and electronics. Eric has been working on some really neat stuff to make aspects of the brewing process automated like I have never seen in a brewery this small. Then we move on to a topic that we will find ourselves coming back to many times during our visit, a topic that Eric says is quickly becoming the only thing he and his brewer talk about – quality.

I first visited Andrews Brewing a few years ago to play music and try their beer. Not bad, but nothing that I can remember now. However, this little brewery has come a long way. Out of the 6 beers, we found several worth writing about. Eric originally reached out to me knowing that I enjoy dark beers. “Liz, we now have a coffee stout. Want to come review it?” My first thought? How do you honestly review a friend’s beer? But I was in, and I’m glad I did.andrews brewing notes

The Coffee Stout is described on their menu as “Love at 1st Whiff”, and boy is that right. This beer has a rich coffee aroma. There is a slight coffee bitter that immediately gives way to a velvety smoothness, like the perfect cup of espresso. I can’t wait to have this one again.

A big surprise for us in the lineup is the Apricot Amber. The aroma and first taste are almost more floral than fruity. I feel like I am standing under a blossoming fruit tree. The following sips reveal more hops and fruit notes. The finish is very crisp and not overly sweet.

Before we head back to Bryson, Eric offers to take us to see his new space. We hop in the car and follow him a couple of blocks closer to downtown Andrews. The space he’s acquired is 9000 square feet, a massive jump in size for the brewery. This summer, they hosted a few bands in the small yard there where Eric has built a stage. The plan is a very slow expansion. For now, Eric has moved the brewing into this building (the reason there are only wine vats in the taproom). This is where we meet the brewer, Dusty, and see the cool automated system that Eric has told us about. We also get an opportunity to try a Scotch ale that’s waiting to be carbonated. Delicious! Good things are happening. Eventually, the plan will involve a new taproom space and who knows what else. Since the building was home to the old A&P grocery store it already has cold rooms, dry storage, and floor drains in place. Perfect for whatever Eric can dream up.

Standing in the big wide open space of the building, I can clearly see that the possibilities are endless.

 

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Check them out for yourself in person or on the web. Find them on Facebook.

Andrews Brewing Company

565 Aquone Road
Andrews, NC 28901
(828) 321-2006

 

An Introduction

Like most people my age, I wasn’t born into a craft beer loving family. I was raised in Georgia with domestic beer drinkers in a time when you couldn’t buy beer on Sunday, but you could enjoy a cold one from the passenger seat of a car. Who knew that decades later the small North Carolina town I chose to call home would open its first brewery and nearby Asheville would earn the title “Beer City”. More than that, who knew that I would develop such a taste for citrusy IPAs and boozy Imperial Stouts. A brewery brings a fresh buzz to a quiet mountain community, and I knew it was a scene I wanted to be a part of. I started by playing music in small breweries and brewpubs. The crowds at breweries were different than the bar room scene I was used to, especially from the stage. The drinkers were there because they had a taste for something finer and an appreciation for a hand crafted world. The best part was that the crowds were no longer made up of beer drinkers alone – it was friends and families of all ages. There was more togetherness.

In 2012, I was offered a job at Nantahala Brewing Company. Over the course of my three years there I would see a lot and learn even more. From brewery merchandise to social media, marketing, and eventually Vice President, I was given the opportunity to see the ins and outs of the craft beer industry as a whole. I had my hands in anything and everything.

{ “Making connections and relationships within the industry is important and apparently as easy as a gentle reach out. Friends of friends prove that in craft beer it is indeed a small world – yet quickly growing, which makes the connections we make now even more important.” -from my notes taken in April 2015 CBC Portland, OR }

In October, I decided to step outside the office job and fall back into the taproom, so to speak. I am looking forward to trying new brews and meeting the people behind the craft. I want to use my love of creative writing to share what I have learned, and will learn, along the way.

The journey has begun. The southeast region is full of amazing breweries and I aim to try as many as I can. Here, I will write about my travel experiences, the people I meet, the beers I taste, and what I learn along the way. I also look forward to having a place to reminisce about past brewery visits and beer events. From small hometown beer fests to the Great American Beer Festival, in this industry, there’s always something to write about.

Cheers!

Liz Nance

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