Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Category: Craft People (page 1 of 2)

Posts about Breweries

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.

16th Street Brewhaus

In March, Aj and I had a couple of days off and decided to drive to Norton, VA to visit our friends Cindy and Vernon Reeves. Cindy has been a dear friend to my family as long as I can remember.  Her husband Vernon has been brewing beer at home for at least 5 years. He’s also super smart so Aj really enjoys talking to him. We arrived late and were fed a tasty dinner of roast and potatoes. The food made a good base for all the beers we were about to taste.  Vernon had the coolest “man cave”. It was the perfect place to hang out and drink a few. He isn’t scared of variety and had plenty to share!  From a black IPA to a porter to an imperial IPA and everything in-between.

We sat with our hosts and talked beer, brewing, and crafts. It was fun to catch up. Bedtime rolled around and we were shown to our bedroom for the night. We were excited to find out that it was only steps away from those tasty beers…….

The next day started early, since we decided during our beer drinking that we’d get up and brew a Permafrost IPA. But first sausage, eggs, and a tasty breakfast stout that Vernon made.

After breakfast, we took to the porch where the brewing began. We got our yeast going the night before so it would be ready to go. Vernon used an extract kit from Northern Brewer Homebrew Supply. He walked me through the whole process. The wonderful smells that brewing beer produces will never get old. I love it all. The grain, the malts, and especially the hops. This particular beer called for one of my favorite hops, Australian Galaxy. I can’t wait to head back that way soon in order to taste it! I got a text just the other day from Cindy letting me know he had already started and finished another one! Time to plan another trip!

 

Enjoy these photos from our brewing experience!

  

 

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.

Greg’s Next Adventure: A Send Off

For the last 5 years and 8 months Greg Geiger has been the man behind the tasty brews at Nantahala Brewing Company. During his time there he helped bring about the Trail Magic Ale Series, which was born out of a love for the outdoors, local and wild ingredients, and his time spent on the Appalachian Trail. He also started the brewery’s first sour program, with great success.

Greg started  home brewing at the age of 19 while attending the University of Florida. He graduated as an industrial engineer and worked in Florida as an Environmental Tech Consultant.   His travels and love for the mountains would eventually land him in Bryson City, where he would become the “Mad Zymologist” for Nantahala Brewing.  

I have to add a few personal notes here. Engineers are the best brewers. Greg not only understood the beer, he understood the equipment. During my time working with him at Nantahala, I watched him repair, replace, and rebuild almost every machine or tank in the building. I can’t imagine a small brewery having to pay a repairman to do the things he accomplished. The expansion at Nantahala happened fast. There was a lot Greg’s brain power and handiwork involved.  I enjoyed watching him work and learned a lot from him, both about beer and life.  When the work day was over (which sometimes for Greg didn’t happen since he lived there), he’d hop in his Land Cruiser and head for the wilderness. Greg once told me, “If you want to survive a job, leave when you aren’t working. Don’t forget to get outside.” So true, no matter where you work.

While working together, we shared many grand brewery adventures; from trips to Portland for the Craft Brewer’s Convention where we got to “meet” Larry Bell to Sweetwater’s 420 Fest and Atlanta’s big ferris wheel to Colorado and beyond. I am glad that Greg was a part of so many of my adventures, and possibly the reason for a lot of them.

Once as a teen Greg purposed the question, “Why do people retire at the end of their lives?” He started throwing around the idea of working really hard for 5 years then taking a year off before finding something else to work hard at for the next 5 years. “At first I thought the idea was crazy, but everyone seemed to like it, saying if I could make a living doing it, I should.” And that’s just what he has done.

Now it’s time for his next journey. He’s already on his way. I believe he is somewhere in Texas and heading west as I type. So cheers, Greg, wherever you are! Thanks for all the tasty brews and the fond memories, no matter how hazy some may be.

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

 

 

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.

New Belgium Asheville

Last month my husband AJ and I attended the opening of New Belgium’s taproom in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC. It wasIMG_1550 Tuesday, May 2nd and even though it was a weekday, I knew everyone was looking forward to this so I wasn’t surprised by the turnout. We visited in the mid-afternoon and while the place was packed, the open layout kept it comfortable. The sign at the door told us they loved us and when we entered the taproom, we really felt the IMG_1531love. The folks on staff were grooving and did an awesome job keeping up with the masses. Table and bar service alike were excellent. There seemed to be no first day hiccups. I was thrown off by there being no place to leave tips, not on the card and not in a jar. Then I remembered that New Belgium is an employee owned company. That was the only logical explanation I could come up with.  It also helped me realize why everyone was in such high spirits. This is more than just a job to them. It is their life. They care about the company and the company cares about them. To the consumers this translates to happy, knowledgeable,  and caring bartenders serving up a quality product. Serving up something to be proud of.

We enjoyed our beers in the grassy yard next to the taproom. The porch was full and the sun was out, but we were the first to brave sitting in the new, thick grass. Soon others followed suit. We all watched as, in the distance, the brewery’s production facility wasIMG_1527 being finished. Enjoying craft brew and watching a brewery come together. I love that feeling.

Deciding to stay true to what I like, I had the Citradelic Tangerine IPA. Aj ordered the Botanical Imperial IPA. Both were tasty. Aj’s beer had a nice spicy, citrus flavor and aroma. Glad he IMG_1533went with one we hadn’t tasted. I almost ventured into the watermelon lime beer, but decided against it. Although, it does seem intriguing. Maybe I should have…..

New Belgium Brewing has done well, not just for themselves, but for the communities surrounding their breweries. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad they chose Asheville as their second home.  And they chose a beautiful spot too! A nice place along the river. You can see the artwork from businesses on the other shore from the deck. While the landscaping was mostly still under construction around the brewery and taproom, you could tell a lot of thought and concern were going into the planting and planning of watershed areas.

We are excited to come back with friends and tour the facility. We are also looking forward to future events and releases. Thanks for having us!

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Brewer Noah McIntee

Somewhere between his dedication to Lazy Hiker Brewing, time with his young family, and service to his communitylazy hiker and pets 008 brewer Noah McIntee found time to sit down with me earlier this year.

Noah came to the small town of Franklin, NC with an extensive work history in the craft beer industry and the personal dream of building a brewery from the ground up.  It all started with a team , an idea, a building, and some money. Noah came in with the brewing experience to make lazy hiker and pets 003it all a reality. Lazy Hiker Brewing came together in just six months and at a low cost due to the team’s dedicated vision.  Noah had his hand in every aspect of the brewery – even traveling to China to design the tanks used on the premises. So why all the attention to detail? Taste their beer and you’ll know. While Lazy Hiker is still a young brewery, celebrating one year on June 11th, you can taste the experience. They hit the ground running with quality brewing standards and the knowledge of how to “make beers that work”.

 

So what’s Naoh’s Favorite Lazy Hiker beer? He says it’s the Slackpack IPA. “I was nervous when I settled on this recipe. It’s not a west coast IPA, it’s not an English IPA. It uses American yeast and American hops that make it a little spicier and more floral. It has a flavor profile that I like.”lazy hiker and pets 010lazy hiker and pets 009

When I asked Noah what his favorite part of his job or this industry was he answered, “the connections with people and the sharing of ideas over a beer.” That’s my favorite part too, Noah. Thanks for taking the time, the people here really are great!

 

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Lazy Hiker Brewing is located at 188 W. Main Street in Franklin, NC. Visit their website for more info.

 

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