You might’ve noticed that Highland Brewing Company has shaken things up recently. Highland, which has been around for more than 20 years and was the first brewery in the South’s beer mecca of Asheville, ditched their old branding which centered on a bagpiping Scotsman, and revamped the majority of their labels. The new design is a good look—clean and simple but eye-catching—but I’m more excited about the new beer Highland released at the same time: AVL IPA.
Highland has introduced a few new IPAs in the last couple of years, all of which have been stellar, but AVL IPA might be the best of the bunch. It’s fruity and resinous and dank as hell. It’s a classic West Coast IPA, full of old school hops from the Pacific Northwest. Taking a West coast IPA and calling it AVL might seem strange at first, but I argue it’s appropriate as hell, since Asheville as a town is about as “West Coast” as a city gets in the South. It’s a place where people longboard to work and street corners are full of dudes juggling machetes while wearing high heels and standing on a balance board. It’s a town known more for its vegetarian fare than its fried chicken. A town where your neighbor is just as likely to be a professional mime as an accountant.
It would be impossible to distill the essence of a town into a 12-ounce bottle, but it sure is fun to try. If I were gonna create a beer for Asheville, it would certainly be an IPA, but there would be certain “adjuncts” in the mix. An Asheville IPA would be brewed with the rubber from mountain bike tires and a bit of dirt from the Mountains to Sea Trail. Throw in a bit of fabric from the bike riding nun and a smudge of sunscreen from the topless protesters that show up every summer. Obviously a bit of patchouli, and the rubber from a yoga mat, and scrape off a little bit of purple paint from the LaZoom bus while we’re at it. Can you brew chakras? They should definitely be in there. And hula hoops. And Hickory Nut Gap beef jerky. And Firewalker Hot Sauce. If you could condense an inflated housing market into a tangible thing, you should put that in the beer too.
Alright, that beer would probably taste like crap. Adding paint chips and chakras to beer would be a horrible experiment. Highland was probably smart for sticking to the standard water, hops, yeast and grains for AVL IPA. Look for it in six packs of bottles, year round.