newbelgium_2012_logoJust in time for the new year, Ashvegas is unveiling a new feature: BREW-ed Beer News, a semi-regular blast of beer news curated by Cliff Mori, the owner and operator of BREW-ed, which offers brewery tours and a variety of other beer education. Mori was the first certified Cicerone in Western North Carolina (the beer equivalent to the wine world’s sommelier).

The goal here is not to keep up with beer trends and tap into Mori’s expertise as the craft beer industry continues to grow and deepen in Asheville and Western North Carolina. We’re aiming for more than the latest announcement of seasonal beers on tap, while at the same time keeping the information short and to the point. And we’re open to your suggestions as we work this out. Enjoy!

BREWERS ASSOCIATION ECONOMIC DATA

North Carolina has over 80 breweries in operation with more than 20 of those located in our Western part of the state. In Asheville alone, it seems like every season features the opening of another small brewery. What does all of this mean to the local economy? The Brewers Association recently released its economic data for 2012, and some of the numbers may surprise you.

• $33.9 billion contributed to the economy nationwide from small craft brewers

• Craft beer sales were up 15% over 2011 • 10,208 full time beer jobs in North Carolina alone

• $791,094,000 total economic impact in North Carolina

As anyone who has lived in Asheville for any amount of time knows, the area doesn’t have a whole lot of opportunities to earn a good living. An industry with this kind of growth can only bring good things to our part of the state.

NEW BELGIUM CONSTRUCTION UPDATE

Speaking of industry growth and big things on Asheville’s beer horizon, New Belgium will begin site development at their new Asheville brewery over the next few weeks. Starting the week of December 30th, crews will begin grinding down the old concrete left at the site to be used in soil stabilization. New Belgium took over the old stockyard on Craven Avenue, which is a designated brownfield and also sits in a floodplain. Either of those traits makes land less desirable, and New Belgium is tackling a property that has both. Starting January 27th, fill dirt will be brought in to help raise the site out of the floodplain. According to their website there will be a lot of trucks moving in and out during this period, but the majority of the traffic will be routed to Riverside Drive to help minimize the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.

BEERS FOR THE DEAD OF WINTER

Christmas beers spiced with nutmeg, ginger and clove suddenly seem inappropriate as I open my fridge on New Year’s Day. As the true cold of winter sets in, it’s time for something that will warm me up. I tend to gravitate toward Russian Imperial Stouts, Old Ales and Barleywines when the temperature outside is colder than in my fridge. Each of these styles have tons of rich malt flavor, from the sticky caramel and toffee of an English Barleywine to the rich coffee, chocolate and anise flavors of a Russian Imperial Stout. Alcohol levels are also much higher in these beers, so they are perfect for sipping slowly by the fire. For a perfect winter dessert, grab a flourless chocolate truffle torte from French Broad Chocolate Lounge and a bottle of Pisgah Vortex II Russian Imperial Stout. Let the Vortex warm up a bit to really bring out the flavor, and pour it into a snifter or tulip-shaped beer glass. Take a bite of the torte and then a sip of the beer. Repeat until the glass is empty or you’re licking the plate, whichever comes first.

Cliff Mori is the owner and operator of BREW-ed, which offers brewery tours and a variety of beer training in Asheville.  After relocating to Asheville in 2006, Mori dove head first into the local craft beer scene. He has quickly established himself as one of the most qualified beer experts in the area. He was the first Certified Cicerone in Western North Carolina (the beer equivalent to the wine world’s sommelier), then began working for the Cicerone Certification Program by traveling around the U.S. proctoring exams. Cliff also teaches a variety of beer-related courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

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