CrowlerGrowler_Oskar_Blues_2014By Cliff Mori

The only complaint most people have about the beer in Asheville is that a lot of it isn’t easy to take home with you. Wicked Weed, Pisgah Brewing and Oskar Blues are working to remedy that problem. Here are some new items to keep an eye out for on your favorite beer store’s shelves.

Wicked Weed Bottles

The huge success of 1-year-old Wicked Weed Brewing has prompted owners to move ahead with bottles. When Wicked Weed first opened, I was told that bottles were part of the five-year plan. However, last week photos were posted on Facebook of a new bottling line being delivered to the brewery. I asked Walt Dickinson, co-owner and brewer at Wicked Weed, what the new plan was. He explained that some of their sour and other “wild” beers will be the first products packaged. What will they look like on the shelves?

“We are going to be bottling in a champagne-style bottle. Size and shape we will leave as a surprise.” Walt also told me that they expect the majority of the bottles will be sold at Wicked Weed, though some should be available as far away as Raleigh.

Pisgah Brewing Cans

In other packaging news, Pisgah Brewing released their beloved Pale Ale in 12-ounce cans last week, making it a much easier product for fans to enjoy at home. Previously, Pisgah Pale growlers have been available throughout the Asheville area, but for many, a growler isn’t the most practical way to drink beer at home. Word around town is that when owner Dave Quinn returned from his hiatus last year he had a goal of growing the Pisgah brand. Cans are a popular format for craft brewers, as they are easily recyclable, lightweight and do an excellent job of keeping beer fresh. According to their Facebook page, if the Pisgah Pale cans sell well, we can look forward to other products making their way into aluminum. And for those who are worried about the beer tasting like a can, stop. The cans that are used by small brewers don’t leech any metallic flavor into the beer. Don’t put your mouth on the can, and you’ll never know it wasn’t glass.

Oskar Blues Crowlers

For those who love both cans and growlers, Oskar Blues has recently combined the two at their Tasty Weasel taproom in the form of a “crowler.” The new product developed between Oskar Blues and Ball Corporation, the maker of the majority of the cans used by craft brewers, is a massive 32-ounce can that can be filled and sealed by bar staff at the Oskar Blues tasting room. The impetus for the new format was to provide a way for customers to take home some of the small batch beers only available at the brewery in a package that would keep them as fresh as the cans the brewery is so well known for. The first Crowler set up was installed at the Tasty Weasel in Colorado, though the brewery says to expect one to hit the Brevard location soon.

Cliff Mori is the owner and operator of BREW-ed, which offers brewery tours and a variety of beer training in Asheville.  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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2 Comments

  1. The short answer is both… Some of it is psychological, but there can definitely be a difference in packaged versus kegged beer. For one, carbonation is often different in the package. One thing that carbonation can do is change perceived bitterness. Increased carbonation will enhance, while decreased carbonation will decrease perceived bitterness. Inversely, perceived sweetness is affected. Also, the brewers don’t have much control over the packaged stuff once it leaves the brewery. If the cans were stored warm in a warehouse for a period of time, oxidation could begin to detract from the hop aroma/flavor. Those are just a couple of the things that could legitimately be different. Add the power of suggestion and the possibilities are endless…

  2. Thanks for the details, well written.

    I love Firewater on draft and was super excited to see Catawba cans, but I think there is a huge difference in taste. Is there a chance that it could taste different or is that all psychological?

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