A Weekend in Asheville: Beer City USA

by Renee on May 28, 2018

There’s good reason Asheville is known as Beer City, USA–there are more breweries per capita in this beautiful mountain town than any other city in the U.S. I made my first visit over Memorial Day weekend, just six weeks after moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, with trusty traveling companion, Porter, my Springer Spaniel.

My best friend Cami met me there, at a friend’s lovely Air B&B rental, tucked away on a mountain hillside in nearby Marshall. While I waited for her arrival, I enjoyed a peaceful view and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Ken Grossman’s flagship brew was directly inspired by New Albion Ale in those early days of craft beer in California, so it was a fitting start to the weekend.

Once Cami arrived, we headed into town for some live music and a few food truck bites and beers at New Belgium Brewing, another Western U.S. brewery that has brought operations east to Asheville. I had met the architect/designer of the space a few years ago at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C. Russell Mills Studios has won a number of awards for the design, it’s an absolutely beautiful space–a must see. We also stopped into Wedge Brewing, and a hit few other spots including some local art galleries…loved the easy, dog-friendly atmosphere wherever we went.

The next day we had reservations for lunch and a tour of the Sierra Nevada brewery, so eventually we meandered into Asheville and the Mills River operation–I can only describe it as Beer Disney World…it’s just beautiful. The menu was full of delicious options, and we started with thrice fried duck fat fries with aioli that had a kick to it, salty warm pretzels and bubbling spicy pimiento cheese and a couple of flights of brew. A band was playing out in the amphitheater, and the sun-dappled beer garden was packed with families and friends enjoying the festive atmosphere. After lunch we toured the impressive facility, and I was glad to hear that everyone who participates in the tours hears a bit about Jack McAuliffe at the outset.

Later we headed back into Asheville proper, and enjoyed a dinner of tapas at the bar at Curate–if you have the chance: go. Highlights included the grilled octopus, and for dessert, the apple tart with hazelnut praline. Oh, my.

Our weekend visit was complete with a number of other beery stops including Burial Beer, where we found the Skillet donut stout, a favorite. Their obsession with Tom Selleck was amusing…and we sipped our brews in the beer garden under the watchful eyes of Tom and the monster from the Goonies.

We also hit Wicked Weed for brunch, happy to learn they served cocktails as well as beer…a girl can’t live by beer alone. We started with popcorn dusted with hop salt, a tasty treat.

Needless to say, we didn’t get to everything we wanted to do, (including the Biltmore) as we ran out of time. But it’s definitely worth another visit or three… cheers to craft beer bringing so much happiness to one city!





With spring comes the annual Cleveland International Film Festival, in its 42nd year. A great event, this year’s fest represents 72 countries, brings 216 feature films, 253 short films, 14 virtual reality films, and offers six interactive media projects. Taking place at Tower City, it runs from April 4 through the 15th.

On Friday, April 6th at 4 p.m., the movie “Brewmaster” will be screened, followed by a panel discussion. I will be part of this panel, along with Jeremy Langham of Ironborne Brew Works,  local brewing legend Pat Conway of Great Lakes Brewing Company, as well as Douglas Tirola, director of the documentary. We’ll discuss building a community around craft beer. 

This will be a sort of last Cleveland hurrah for me, as I pack up and move to Raleigh, NC the next day. Yes, it’s time to head south of the Mason-Dixon Line once again for this girl. I grew up in Maryland, and had spent a lot of vacation time in beautiful North Carolina over the years, it has always called to me. While I have loved my 30+ years in Ohio, and the memories I’ve made and the people I’ve met, recent changes in my life prompted me to finally say “it’s time.” My best friend took off for the City of Oaks a couple of years ago, and I’ve been to visit more than a few times. I love the vibe there, the beer scene, the people and yes, the more temperate weather, not to mention the easy access to beach and mountains. I’m planning a trip to Beer City, Asheville, NC soon after I arrive. (Look for a future post about that!)

I still plan on brewing New Albion beers with Platform Beer in Cleveland. With their recent expansion of distribution out of state, perhaps you’ll see our beer head South as well. Stay tuned…and cheers to changes!


New Albion Can Release Party

by Renee on October 9, 2017

What a great week I had with my Dad! Jack got into Cleveland a day or so ahead of our New Albion Ale can release party on October 5th, and I had the opportunity to take him to the new Platform production facility, which was once the old Cleveland Leisy Brewing Company. He enjoyed the tour given by owner Paul Benner, and seeing how much our brewing partners have grown since the last time he was in town for our original partnership kickoff party back in 2014.

The next night was the can release party, and it was all about family, friends, beer and fun! Jack was pleased that his brother Tom came in for it from Chicago. It was Tom’s first visit to Cleveland, and he was very impressed with the craft beer scene in our fair city. The party got rolling around 5 p.m., and we had the chance to say hello to many New Albion fans who stopped in for a taste and to take a six-pack home–Jack and I were happy to see everyone loving the latest incarnation of his standard bearer recipe. He enjoyed chatting with everyone and taking photos with everyone who asked. One of my favorite pictures of the evening included my daughter Ali, my Uncle Tom, my new puppy Porter, and of course Jack himself!

One of the most exciting things about the event was that along with the New Albion Ale, two other New Albion brews were on tap: the New Albion Red (once known as “Old Toe Sucker”) and the Oatmeal Stout. The brewers at Platform worked with Jack’s assistant brewer from back in the day, Don Barkley, to recreate the exact recipes. It was truly a thrill. (Today Don is the founder of Napa Smith Brewing.)

HOMAGE was also on hand to take orders for the New Albion t-shirts–those are just flying off the proverbial shelf! (You can get yours now for just $32.) Meanwhile, I hope if you’re in Ohio, you’ll ask your Platform Beer retailer for a six pack of New Albion Ale–it’s delicious and it’s selling out quickly! The timing of the release was perfect as October 8th was the 41st anniversary of the incorporation of New Albion Brewing Company.

Look for me around Cleveland in the coming week–it’s Cleveland Beer Week— and I’d love to know what you think about the new brew! Cheers!


New Albion Ale to be Released in Cans! Plus HOMAGE tee!

September 5, 2017

Cleveland, Ohio–Mark Thursday, October 5th on your calendar for the historic release of the iconic New Albion Ale in cans at Platform Beer Co. The release party starts at 5 p.m. at 4125 Lorain Avenue, Cleveland, and also at the Platform Columbus tap room at 408 N. 6th Street. Look for a tap takeover in […]

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