There's a Serious Sustainable Beer Culture in Appalachia

beer mug photo

Photo: J.M. Rosenfeld

The Appalachian Mountains are near and dear to my heart. I was born and raised in the Blue Ridge. For those that love the outdoors, the Appalachian Mountains are the ideal east coast playground for keeping in touch with nature. According to a recent issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors, these hills are also a great place for beer.Graham Averill, a writer for Blue Ridge Outdoors, recently invited readers along for a brewery tour in the Appalachian Mountains. He traveled to breweries all over the Southern Appalachia. From Athens' Terrapin Beer Co. to Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewery, Averill hit all the breweries known for producing the best and brightest local brews. He also visited one of my favorite breweries in Asheville, Highland Brewing Company, and Charlottesville's hometown favorite Star Hill.

Local Beer Culture Growing
The microbrew culture in the Southeast hasn't always been this developed. In recent years, however, the number of local, high quality brews in the Appalachian Mountains has grown tremendously. A 17 percent increase in purchases of these small batch brews prove that people are starting to take notice. In 2002, Sweetwater won the best small brewery award at the American Beer Festival. Terrapin and Star Hill Breweries have also won similar awards. Let's face it, there's no better treat than sipping a Sweetwater 420 in the midst of a sauna sunset in South Carolina.

At Highland Brewery, people often wait in line for the release of their highly esteemed seasonal brews. The brewery now produces about 20,000 barrels a year, which is a dramatic increase from a few years back when the three flavor obsessed brew masters made beer for only a few in the know local Asheville bars.

Perhaps the most eco-friendly beer of them all comes from the Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, N.C. It's the only Southeastern brewery currently certified organic for each of their brews. While other breweries might produce a special organic brew, Pisgah produces nothing but organic.

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