I can’t continue to write about craft beer in my neck of the woods and not mention Nantahala Brewing Company.
Here in Bryson City, NC where the Appalachian Trail crosses Hwy 74 just 13 miles from downtown, the term “Trail Magic” refers to random acts of kindness and encouragement offered up to thru-hikers, often by strangers known as “trail angels”. The trail angels in this story are brewmaster Greg Geiger and the guys at Nantahala Brewing. Their random acts of kindness? A little money and a lot of awareness for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and three delicious new beers a year for us. Yea us!
I had the great opportunity to be a part of several of these releases in my time working and hanging out there. For Trail Magic #11, I zested limes for three hours. My hands were so tired, but I smelled absolutely heavenly. That beer, Greg’s first sour, was worth every minute. Trail Magic #5 surprised me because I come from a Natty Light drinkin’ bunch. My dad came to visit me at work and after trying several beers, his favorite? The Wild Honeysuckle Saison. I would have never guessed. It was a tasty brew though, made with honeysuckles that Greg and Joe had harvested by hand from the mountains of North Georgia near the southern most end of the Appalachian Trail. While these beers were all limited releases to never be brewed again, the recipes or ideas would show up as bases in other new releases. Trail Magic numbers 1, 4, and 7; these were my favorites. All Russian Imperial Stouts, these would eventually lead to the regular release of Judaculla. Aaaaah, but I’ll never forget the perfection that was #4. For my tastes, anyway.
In 2015, during the Nantahala Brewing Company’s 5th year anniversary celebration we broke them all out. We tasted and reminisced. We popped the tops on bottles of Trail Magic Ales #1-#10 and threw in two bottles of Witch’s Brew for good measure. A wonderful line of delicious beers that really show off Greg’s creativity and the love for the place he and everyone at Nantahala Brewing call home.
Cheers and happy trails!
Trail Magic releases happen three times a year during hiking seasons: a spring release in March, a summer release in June, and a fall release in October. Check their website and Facebook page for information on future releases.
Nantahala Brewing Company is located at 65 Depot Street in Bryson City, NC.