It’s balls cold outside (that’s an actual meteorological term) which means you can do two things: 1) embrace it and find a half-frozen lake to jump into and hope you don’t have a heart attack, or 2) avoid the weather all together, retreat to a climate controlled space and drink lots of beer.
It’s a personal choice. If you choose “B,” we recommend the Winter Warmer Beer Fest in Asheville (Sat. Jan 25). There, you’ll find winter seasonals and flagship beer from some of the South’s best beer mongers, as well as taps from guest brewer Surly. Surly calls Minneapolis home, so you can bet they know how to whip up a warming winter seasonal because their lives depend on it.
All the regular southern players will be there (Pisgah, Highland, Oskar Blues…) but this is your best chance to check out some of the smaller brewpubs that have been popping up in the last couple of years. These small shops have limited distribution, so a festival like Winter Warmer offers the rare opportunity to sample a variety of uber-local beers in a single go.
I like the new Lookout Brewing Company, out of Black Mountain, which is beginning to make a name for itself among locals thanks to their superior IPA. Plus, instead of your standard growlers, they sell 32 ounce mason jars to-go. Sweet.