After more than 20,000 votes, the Blue Ridge Outdoors readers have spoken, and out of 32 contenders, six deserving beers from Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic breweries have earned a spot in our proverbial ‘Best Sixer Ever’!
The beer with the most votes—Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s Long Leaf IPA—comes out of the High Country of Boone, North Carolina.
With 43 percent of the overall vote count, AMB really ran away with this one, and it’s easy to see why. Sean Spiegelman and Danny Wilcox—two of the passionate people behind AMB’s success—have been garnering brewing accolades and community support since they opened their doors in 2011.
Spiegelman is the CEO and founder while Wilcox acts as the business operations manager for AMB.
I was lucky enough to talk to these two brewing luminaries and get the inside scoop on AMB’s steady rise to brewing prowess.
“We operate on a three pillar system that touts the importance of philanthropy, community, and sustainability,” Spiegelman said. “We are deeply committed to this community and try to give back in every way possible.”
In the philanthropy department, they’re way ahead of the game. With their ‘Pints for Non-Profits’ program, they donate a portion of every pint sold in their tasting room to local charities.
“We recently brewed a saison with hand-picked elderberries from the mountains around Boone and sold those for eight dollars a bottle,” Spiegelman told me. “100 percent of the proceeds went to the Blue Ridge Conservancy to help protect the land here in the High Country.”
While Spiegelman and Wilcox mainly focus their philanthropic efforts on Boone and the surrounding areas, they hope to one day expand similar initiatives to every community where their highly acclaimed beer is being sold.
“The ultimate goal is to set up some type of program that will give back a portion of our proceeds to local non-profits in every town where our beer is being distributed,” Wilcox said.
Philanthropy is key for Appalachian Mountain Brewery, but they’re also heavily involved in the outdoor recreation scene, a fact that comes through in their branding and company imagery.
“We live and breathe the outdoor lifestyle,” Wilcox said. “And we’re committed to using the sale of our beer as a way to protect the outdoors for future generations to enjoy. Proceeds from every can of beer we sell support the revitalization of our mountains and rivers.” Cheers guys and keep up the great work!
Photo Courtesy of Wonderland Woods Productions
The remaining field includes beers from Blue Mountain Brewing in Nelson County, Virginia, Charlotte North Carolina’s NoDa Brewing Company, Devil’s Backbone—also from Nelson County, Black Mountain, North Carolina’s Pisgah Brewing, and Westbrook Brewing, which hails from the Lowcounty of Charleston, South Carolina. Read on to find out why each of these hand-crafted brews deserve a spot in your next self-made six pack!
Blue Mountain Brewery—Full Nelson Pale Ale
Founded in 2007 by Taylor Smack, Blue Mountain is the brewery that started it all in Nelson County. The beer is outstanding, and their Afton restaurant and tap-room is a must-see destination in its own right. Also a flagship brew, the Full Nelson Pale Ale is a true classic. This year round offering is crisp and lighter in body but still packs the full flavors and maltiness indicative of any good pale ale.
NoDa Brewing Company – Hop Drop ‘n Roll
NoDa has been impressing the North Carolina craft beer crowd since the day they opened with styles that span the gamut from traditional to highly creative. The Hop Drop ’n Roll is an American IPA with a heavy emphasis on the Citra and Amarillo hops. A careful blend of English and American malts give this beer—which came away with Gold in the 2014 World Beer Cup—its rich amber hue. Look for this one all over Central and Western North Carolina.
Devil’s Backbone – Vienna Lager
Located just a few miles from Blue Mountain, Devil’s Backbone is the next stop on your Nelson County brewery tour. Founded in 2008 by outdoor enthusiasts Steve and Heidi Crandall, Devil’s Backbone beer is “inspired by tradition but not handcuffed to it”. Their winner in the ‘Best Sixer Ever’ contest is a highly-touted award winner called the Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager. A perfect example of this tried and true, old-world style, it is medium bodied and effervescent with a biscuit-like maltiness, caramel sweetness, and an amber-chestnut color.
Pisgah Brewing Company—Pisgah Pale Ale
The Pisgah Pale is ubiquitous in the brewery’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, and it’s easy to see why. Organic malts and whole leaf hops give this pale ale an uncommon richness and a full-flavored body that’s hard to beat, even in a town known as ‘Beer City USA’. The best part about this beer is its easy drinking nature. At 5.1 percent ABV, it’s the perfect brew for a post-adventure camping trip in its Western North Carolina home.
Westbrook Brewing Company—White Thai
Founded and operated by husband and wife team Ed and Morgan Westbrook, Westbrook Brewing is one of Charleston’s all around best, and their Mt. Pleasant taproom is a must visit destination if you’re ever in the Low Country. The White Thai separates itself from the rest of the field with uniqueness and originality. Inspired by the flavor’s of Southeast Asia, this belgian-style witbier is brewed with ginger and lemongrass as opposed the coriander and orange peel traditionally used to flavor Belgian wits. It’s refreshing, smooth, and crisp, and goes down nicely, even on the hottest day of a Charleston summer.