You’re probably well aware that we’re in the midst of a massive birthday celebration for the National Park Service. We’ve had this unique park system for 100 years, which is amazing when you consider the pressure on our natural resources. Other notable birthdays for this year: Star Trek turns 50. Queen Elizabeth II is 90 this year. And 100 years ago, the first modern grocery store, called “The Piggly Wiggly,” opened its doors in Memphis, Tennessee. I love me a Piggly Wiggly, but you can’t ride your bike or hike in the Wiggly’s produce aisle, so I’ll choose to spend my time celebrating those national parks. And where I come from, you celebrate a birthday with a beer. Actually, a lot of beers. Luckily, a bunch of breweries around Asheville are stepping up to the occasion and brewing special birthday beers for the Blue Ridge Parkway, the South’s most unique national park. Sixteen different breweries created tribute beers for the Parkway, many naming their beers after their favorite spots along the long road, others using ingredients sourced from the Parkway’s open space.
Beers have been released throughout August with more releases to come throughout September. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation created a Passport book where you can visit the participating breweries and get your book stamped as you drink the tribute beers. Naturally, if you’re in the area, you should try to drink at all the participating breweries. Pace yourself and make sure you’re in good standing with Uber. I’ve had the chance to drink a handful of them already, because I’m a go-getter. Consider starting with Highland’s Cranberry Ridge Wheat, which uses fresh cranberries to add a level of tartness. It’s also named after a particularly pretty spot on the Parkway. Also, keep an eye out for Wicked Weed’s tribute beer, a wheat that uses blackberries, dandelion root and yarrow leaves, all of which grow wild along the Parkway. It’s scheduled for release this weekend.