You know how you can stare at something day in, day out, over and over, and see it so often that you can actually begin to not see it. That thing becomes so familiar, it just sort of disappears. This is how you start to take good things for granted. The cup of coffee that your wife makes you every morning without being prompted. That trail system next to your neighborhood that you ride only when you don’t have enough time to ride something better. That brewery that’s been churning out solid beers for years while flashier, newer entities have come and gone. The South is full of these “heritage” breweries that have helped lay the foundation for our craft beer scene only to see the market flooded with newer, sometimes edgier options. I’m talking about places like Starr Hill, Highland, Sweetwater.
Highland’s the perfect example of a brewery that I absolutely take for granted. When I first moved to Asheville, I was so stoked that the town had a brewery like Highland that made great beers. I drank nothing but Gaelic Ale for 12 months straight. No water, no milk. Just Gaelic.
Now, I can’t even remember the last time I bought a Gaelic. I still consider it to be a great beer, it’s just that there are so many other local options on tap, or at the store, I just sort of gloss over those old familiar labels and get sucked in by whatever new hotness that recently hit the market. I suppose it’s human nature to want what’s new. That probably explains why I start reading the rumors about the next iPhone about three days after I bring home the latest version. And we live in a time where it’s easy to get sucked into the hype surrounding the newest brewery.
The fact is, I live in a town where a new brewery opens its doors every 20 minutes. Depending on how quickly you read, two new breweries might start selling beer during the time it takes you to get through this blog. I’m not complaining, I like having the options. It’s just that sometimes, I feel like a bit of a traitor when I realize I haven’t spent any quality time with those original breweries that were there for me when the options weren’t so robust. Or even that second wave of breweries, like Hi-Wire or The Wedge that opened during a time when the craft beer fever wasn’t so high and people actually said things like, “yeah, but can Asheville really handle another brewery?” Now, we don’t even question the business model. I actually get irate when a building gets renovated and I hear that whatever business going into the space isn’t going to brew their own beer. What’s the point of having a barber shop or dry cleaners if you don’t make your own IPA?
So maybe it’s not my fault that I haven’t had a Gaelic or a Hi-Wire Pale in months. Maybe I’m just a victim of TMBTCF (too many beers to choose from). I’d like to support these “older” breweries, but I’ve also got to check out the new kids on the block. It’s my duty as a, uh, journalist. I guess the only solution is to drink more beer. I mean really, I don’t see any way around it. If I’m going to support all of the breweries in my town, old and new, I’m just going to have to drink more beer. It’ll be tough, but it’s the right thing to do.