Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Category: Craft Places

Currahee Brewing Company

          

Last month I was invited to bring my camera and curiosity over to Currahee Brewing Company to hangout as they mashed-in this season’s Kawi Coffee Milk Stout. I was interested in seeing their set-up and getting to know their brewmaster, Taylor Yates.

Taylor got his start in the brewing industry in Georgia. He had been brewing at home for awhile when a friend asked if he was interested in brewing on a professional level. He accepted and learned all about the red-tape of a start-up as they opened Georgia’s first nanobrewery, Burnt Hickory Brewing in Kennesaw. From there he headed to Moon River Brewing in Savannah, GA where he was instrumental in their change from English yeast strains to American yeast strains allowing them to make some of the great American pales and IPAs.  Lucky for us here in western NC, the state of Georgia couldn’t keep him.

My visit started at the top of the brewing process. We started talking about the beer and the  brewery while the mash tank was filling with hot water. Taylor is very passionate about what he does and is so full of knowledge that I almost couldn’t keep up! The first thing I noticed was something on the side of the tank that looked like a massive sight glass. It’s called a lauter grant. It allows you to see the runnings of what is being brewed. It started out full of water. Then the malts were added and it started clouding up. When the coffee was added it slowly started to darken and slowly I began to see the color of the Kawi itself. So cool. I love learning new stuff. Of all the breweries I have visited, this was my first time seeing one of these devices. Why doesn’t everyone have one!!??

Currahee cares about the ingredients. They know where the coffee comes from. They mill their own malts.  Taylor spoke passionately about every detail of brewing beer. Aside from quality of ingredients, we talked about wood, barrels, and the aging process. He has a lot of plans for barrel-aged beers and has already made some really tasty ones. I’m excited to hear there will be more. The Cuvee that was bottled for Currahee’s one year anniversary was a blend of whiskey barrel-aged stout and a dark ale aged with wild yeast and Lactobacillus. Funky and wild yeasts are something else that gets Taylor excited. I was lucky enough to get to try a beer that was unlabeled and unnamed. It used funky yeast to imitate the tropical flavors of certain hop varietals. My first sip was heavenly and it was hard to convince my taste buds that there were no hops in the beer. I loved it. Microbes are so intriguing. I can’t wait to get my taste buds on some more of Taylor’s funky brewings.

Outside of the bottle, I have always loved Currahee’s logo. From a distance, a simple black and white design of an eagle, but take a closer look and you’ll see the mountain horizon and a river representing the beauty of the area they’re in. The word “currahee” is a Cherokee word meaning, “stand alone”. The name does more than just pay tribute to the Cherokee, it also honors the 506th Infantry Regiment, originally designated as the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment (506th PIR) during World War II, a unit of the 101st Airborne Division. The unit was made famous by their role in Operation Overlord (D-Day), Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge, and many other campaigns throughout World War II, and the Vietnam War. Currahee is also a mountain located in Stephens County, Georgia, near Toccoa, and was the training site of the 506th PIR at Camp Toccoa. Currahee mountain became the motto and gave rise to the famous quote: “3 Miles Up, 3 Miles Down.” This quote gave way to the name of Currahee’s Berliner weisse, Three Mile.  The brewery name and the names of the beers aren’t just silly ideas, they stand for something……just like the guys behind the brewery.

Thanks, Taylor for opening up your space to me. I enjoyed the beers, the visit, and the company. And congrats! Shortly after my visit Currahee’s Kawi Milk Stout took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival!

 

Located in Franklin along a beautiful stretch of the Little Tennessee river, Currahee’s taproom and patio are the perfect place to enjoy a tasty North Carolina craft brew.

Mountain Layers Brewing Company

Mountain Layers Brewing Company is open! Our little mountain town of Bryson City now has two craft breweries to draw in craft beer lovers. They have done a great job of creating a place for everyone to feel welcome!  While they don’t serve food, they do have non-alcoholic beverages and pretzels to snack on. They also welcome you to bring food in from one of Bryson City’s many food establishments to enjoy with your beer. (Loretta’s Snak Shak is right across the street and will deliver to the brewery.)

A lot of time and hard work was put in, and it was worth the wait. The space is welcoming and open, the people are friendly, and the brews are fantastic. You can sample them all from one of their cute picnic table flight boards. Brewer Noah McIntee has made some tasty brews to share with us. Mark and Kim made a good call bringing him in to join the team.

Owner Mark Pettit is retired from public safety and truly knows what it means to serve and protect. As a show of appreciation and respect, in the stairwell there is a  wall to “Honor & Remember” all of the people who have risked their lives for our freedoms and our safety. Badges from many of our local rescue squads, first responders, and veterans are on display there.

At the top of the stairs you’ll find a second bar and seating area, TVs, and access to the rooftop deck. Offering great views of Everett Street, the Tuckaseegee River, and the surrounding Smoky Mountains, this may just be the place to be this summer. I think I’ve already picked out my regular spot.

Right now they are holding shorter hours, with plans to stay open later this summer. Also, stay tuned for a date and details about their grand opening taking place in May.

Mountain Layers Brewing Co. is located at 90 Everett Street in Bryson City, NC. Don’t forget to visit their website and find them on Facebook.

New Beer Adventures

I’ve been working at Bryson City Outdoors, a small but growing outdoor retailer in western North Carolina. But this isn’t a day job, this is quickly turning into more of a career move. Recently we expanded our retail space and built new sturdy shelving perfect for glass bottles and cans of delicious craft beer. BCO has always been a reliable source of trail and travel information for tourists and locals alike. Now we want to offer the same great service to our beer customers. The expansion will give me a place to utilize my craft beer knowledge and to share it with my community. Dubbed the BC Outdoors Craft Beer Department, we are a one-stop shop for all of your beer and gear needs. Bryson City locals now have a closer place to find their favorites and tourists will have a chance to take home some fine NC craft beers.

We’ve just started filling the shelves. Shopping for beer has been exciting and each delivery day is like Christmas morning. We’re also offering beer related merchandise; everything from Stanley growlers to beer bread to beer soap and candles. We’ll have a grand opening this spring, so watch out for that, but we’re selling now. So stop by and let’s talk beer! Then pick up a few you’ve never had. All bottles and cans are available in singles so you can try them all……but maybe not all at once.

Looking forward to new beer adventures! Cheers!

Bryson City Outdoors is located at 169 Main Street in Bryson City, NC. 828-342-6444

 

 

 

Bikes and Beer at Tsali Cycles

Outdoor enthusiasts everywhere have proven time and time again that we can lead healthy beer lifestyles.img_2342 Mountain biking and road cycling take skill, endurance, and strength…..and they also burn a lot of carbs and calories. Why not have a beer afterwards? Such a tasty reward.

img_2347Tsali Cycles in Bryson City is the place to make that happen. Located along the Tuckaseegee River and the border of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you can rent a mountain bike to take on local trails and end your trip with a craft beer. What better way to replace those burned carbs? Have your own bike? Need a tune-up?  Let their knowledgeable mechanics do the work while you enjoy a local brew and talk shop.

Looking for something to help with sore muscles after a longimg_2336 ride? The newest addition to the shop is Tsali Yoga with instructor Susan King. There is a weekly schedule that can be found on the Tsali Cycles website, but our favorite day to visit is Friday after work. Tsali Yoga brings together pints and poses. Enjoy a yoga session, brews, and fellowship, the perfect way to balance out your week.

 

Tsali Cycles is located at 35 Slope Street in Bryson City, NC. 828-488-9010

 

 

Beer & Wine Express

There’s a fancy new beer store near me, so you know I had to check it out…….a lot. And of course, I went back with my camera.img_5123

Beer & Wine Express is located in Cherokee, NC just off of Highway 74 on Highway 441 North. For me this is just a scenic drive a couple exits up from Bryson City. It is a family owned business and they have made me feel more than welcome every time I’ve visited. The building is brand img_5126new and the store is always spotless and orderly. They have a very large floor plan with a lot of room for growth.

 

The craft beer selection contains all my favorites and many I have yet to try. The shelves are stocked with plenty of brews from right here in North Carolina. I’ve also picked up beers from all over the US that I’ve never seen here. I wish I could give you the full list, guess you’ll just have to check it out for yourself.

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Mountain Layers Brewing Gets Tanks!

I was enjoying a leisurely morning at the house when my friend Ben called.

“Are you at La Dolce Vita?”

“No, I’m at home.”

“They’re moving tanks in at Mountain Layers Brewing.”

I got dressed, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door. He was right. Right now, even as I type, they are moving in  shiny new tanks. This is a huge step for them. A lot of hard work has accumulated to this moment. The place is buzzing, and they aren’t even making beer yet!

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As I made my way down Everett Street today I could see the big wooden crates out front and began to feel the excitement. Upon arrival, I shook hands with owner Mark Pettit and asked to take photos. Kim Pettit took me in through the back door to show me how close things were getting inside. I felt like I was part of the experience. Mark and Kim make everyone feel that way.  I was happy to see the teamwork going into getting the tanks unloaded and moved inside, which is not an easy feat.  Along side owner Mark and brewer Noah McIntee was Greg Geiger, brewmaster from Nantahala Brewing Company.  A beautiful sign of community, businesses working together to bring more people into our small mountain town.

I will be making my way back over for more photos once all the tanks are in place. I always love being a part of the action. I am posting some photos from this morning for you to enjoy. Can’t wait for these things to be filled with liquid goodness!

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Mountain Layers Brewing Company is located at 90 Everett Street in Bryson City, NC. Check out their website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with the progress.

Ales and Kindness

I can’t cND3A8035ontinue to write about craft beer in my neck of the woods and not mention Nantahala Brewing CompanyND3A2609.

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 ND3A2703Geiger 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. My12440593_10153502662570905_4145938362579960319_o 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.

ND3A8551In 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.trail magic 12

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.

 

 

 

New Brewery Coming to Bryson City, N.C.

Mark and Kim Pettit have been vacationing in Bryson City for 15 years. I had the pleasure of meeting them several years ago during one of their many visits to Nantahala Brewing Company. Sharing a love for craft beer and music, and a passion for people, we hit it off. I’d look forward to seeing them every year, either in the brewery while I was working or in the audience at various performances. These were two people who genuinely loved people, art, music, and the beauty of our small mountain town.  Lovers of the finer, yet simpler, things in life.

IMG_5024The renovation of the building they chose in Bryson City started awhile back and has had everyone’s curiosity peaked. Is it going to be a restaurant? A bar? It looked cool, like a place I’d love to hang out. Imagine how happy I was to find out it was going to become Mountain Layers Brewing Company! And then even more excited to find out that it was Mark and Kim who were opening it!

Since they’ve moved to Bryson City full-time, I’ve looked forward to getting together withIMG_5021 them, but building a brewery from the ground up takes a lot of your time.  Mark and Kim have a kind of excitement about life that radiates. It makes you want to get pumped. This past Monday I had the opportunity to stop in and see how the place was coming along. Their enthusiasm made it very easy to get excited for them and their future. They have been working hard and are looking to have beer on tap sometime before the end of this year. Mountain Layers will have a bar on two levels. IMG_5023The downstairs bar will give patrons a view of the brewhouse. You’ll be able to enjoy a beer and watch the magic happen! The bar upstairs will be a little bigger and has a rooftop deck with amazing views of historic downtown Bryson City, the Tuckaseegee River, and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. I can already see where my regular seat is going to be….IMG_5022

Even though Mark and Kim have some brewing experience under their belts, they didn’t want to get in over their heads. Going from home brewing to a full scale brewery has its share of challenges. In order to keep them ahead of the game they have recruited some outside help. Noah McIntee is joining the team as Head Brewer and General Manager. Noah comes to Mountain Layers by way of Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. in Franklin.  In their recent press release, Noah had this to say, “Mountain Layers is being built on an infectious passion for community and people – two of the core traits that define craft beer culture. I’m honored to be working with Mark & Kim in this exciting venture that embraces and explores the many layers of this amazing region.” Mark and Kim commented, “Noah brings a commitment to quality and creativity as well as a genuine embrace of the community.”

Mountain Layers Brewing Company is planning to open this fall. Autumn just cannot get here fast enough. Find them on Facebook to keep up with their progress and plans for opening.

 

Mountain Layers Brewing Company™ is going to be a  7 barrel craft microbrewery and taproom.  Located on Everett Street in beautiful downtown Bryson City alongside the Tuckaseegee River. Located in Swain County at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, the new brewery is built on the belief that the mountains have layers of history, cultures, and people which are all reflected in our ancient blue mountains stacked one after the other to the horizon.

Haywood Smokehouse

A VW van pulled up in front of my house…..and I got in. dogwood winter 039

We grabbed our fiddle player and headed NE out of Bryson City in search of tourists to entertain. This was to be the beginning of our tiny bus concert series. We cruised through Sylva, NC first, but movie filming madness made it hard to get anywhere. So we back tracked to Dillsboro, NC. There were a lot of cars around, parking lots were full, but no one was walking the sidewalks. We figured this was due to the fact that it was lunch time. Edogwood winter 057veryone was inside eating. We parked the bus, strapped on our instruments, and walked into Haywood Smokehouse. There we were, a three-piece band, instruments in hand, totally unannounced and uninvited. We asked the lady at the counter if it would be possible for us to occupy a small corner and entertain her lunch guests. Luckily someone in the kitchen recognized us and vouched that we “didn’t suck”. I believe, those were his exact words. Soon we were shaking hands with the owner who was asking us to follow him. We walked out the front doordogwood winter 054 and around the building, where he led us down the sidewalk to a banquet room. As we approached the door, the man tells us that there is a Mini Cooper club in town. They had reserved the room for their group of 50 or so drivers and we were to be their dinner music. So we took a place in the corner of the room and shared our music with car enthusiasts from all over. Once they were wrapping up, we decided it was our turn to sit down for some BBQ. We had made enough in tips from the drivers to feed the band and cover gas. We made our way back to the main dining room of the Smokehouse and got seated.

dogwood winter 053We grabbed menus and I, of course, noticed they had a few craft beers, both on tap and in bottles. I ordered the IPA from Highland Brewing. This particular restaurant has changed hands a few times since I’ve lived here. The fine folks who own it now aren’t new to the Smokehouse business, they have a location in Waynesville, NC as well. I ordered the brisket quesadilla, which ended up being an instant favorite and something I will return for. We were a happy band of well-fed girls enjoying our afternoon, and our lunch wasdogwood winter 059 complimentary for sharing our tunes.

As we were leaving, instruments still in hand, a huge storm blew in and kept us from making it off the porch. What the heck, one more beer!dogwood winter 061

 

 

 

Haywood Smokehouse is located at 403 Haywood Rd in Dillsboro NC and 79 Elysinia Ave in Waynesville NC 28786. Check our their website for hours and a menu.

Dogwood Winter is an acoustic all girl band consisting if Erin Worley on banjo and vocals, Alma Russ on fiddle and vocals, and Liz Nance on guitar and vocals. They play an interesting mix of original ballads and strange rock/pop covers that make you feel like they were all written in the mountains. The band formed a couple years ago on the porch of the Nantahala Brewing Company and can be seen gigging around western NC.

 

Hoppy Trout Brewing Company

We wrapped up a show at Andrews Brewing Company around 9pm and asked the bartender if there was somewhere nearby to get food. She recommended Hoppy Trout Brewing Company. This is one thing I love about this industry, one brewery sending us to the next brewery.

We drove over to Hoppy Trout only to find out that they stopped serving food at 9pm, but their bar stays open until 10pm. We decided that since we had found ourselves in a brewery we’ve never tried we might as well wait a little longer to eat. So we decide to get food later at the Huddle House and made our way to the bar.The place was busy with people finishing their meals. The physical bar itself was a cool mix of woods patched  together. Everything seemed simple, not over the top, yet super comfortable. They had a great variety of their own brews on tap. They also had a few guest taps, one from Noble Cider and one from Boojum Brewing. We, of course, wanted to try theirs. Fresh in from playing music, I wasn’t thinking about tasting and reviewing beers. I went straight for a full pint of their All Hail Ceasar IPA, a deliciously orangy beer. Aj put more thought into it. He tasted the Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA, the Mungo Double IPA, and the Dr.Smore on Nitro. Each beer was a tasty surprise. Another new brewery making great beers right out of the gate. The guy serving us knew his stuff and was really fun to talk to. We found out before we left that he is a brewer for the Hoppy Trout. Judging by the brew, he’s a good one and he’s working with good recipes.

Once we had beers in hand, we toasted to new beers, small businesses, and a good show. Behind us we could see the guys cooking in the kitchen and the flames of the brick oven pizza. They were moving fast, you could tell their night was almost over. The bartender disappeared for a minute and came back with good news. The cook in the kitchen was Tom Rodeck, the brewmaster and co-owner of the establishment and he wanted us to try their pizza. What?! We don’t have to eat Huddle House?! The night just kept getting better. Soon we had a delicious pie in front of us. WOW! Crust, sauce, toppings, it was all perfect! Since we were the last pizza out, Tom came out of the kitchen to say hello and ask what we thought.. It turned out Tom had seen us play once before at Andrews Brewing and was looking forward to having us play at the Hoppy Trout once their patio is built. We’d be glad to! Everyone was so friendly. From wait staff to owners to patrons, we were surrounded by smiling faces.

hoppy troutSo there we go! Another awesome addition to the brewing community. More great people and more great brews! We can’t wait to go back and take a tour of the facility. I hated posting this with no pictures other than the fuzzy shot I captured that night, but decided to get the word out anyway. Go check it out for yourself!

 

 

The Hoppy Trout is located at 911 Main Street in Andrews, NC. Find them on Facebook or check out their websiteLiz and AJ Nance are an Americana duo performing around Western NC.

 

 

 

 

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