Highland Brewing Co. of Asheville, N.C., has long upheld a consistent program of solidly made, crowd pleasing beers. Highland brews are "go-to" brands for me that always deliver on quality, balance and imminent drinkability.
Now, the evolution of the company takes a step forward with the launch of its new Warrior Series. As company president Leah Wong Ashburn explains:
"In the throes of a multi-faceted expansion in production capacity and entertainment, it's also the best time for an expansion of taste. We can extend the very definition of Highland beers. Yes, quality, balance, consistency. And, in this new branch of our beer family: big, bold, and balanced in variety of styles but imbalanced in the classic Highland sense. By offering a wider range of tastes, we offer more of what keeps us inspired," said Ashburn.
To lead the series, Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson created a double IPA “hop bomb” dubbed King MacAlpin, who was the first king of Scotland. It is packed with 5.5 pounds of hops per barrel. Aromas and flavors offer layered fruits finishing with piney bitterness and a citrus punch at 10% alcohol by volume.
“Highland is known for balanced traditional styles, rather than high-gravity hop forward beers. If there is balance, this beer is balanced in its extremes. It clocks in at 90 IBUs, with slight malt sweetness, and is double dry-hopped with piney and citrusy Pacific Northwest Centennial, Amarillo, Chinook, and Simcoe hops. This beer will uphold Highland’s commitment to high quality and consistency, while expanding the style profile one can expect from the brewery,” said Stephenson.
What's my take after tasting? The beer pours a radiant copper color that is bright and clear. Resin characteristics are nicely balanced and not at all overpowering -- leaving plenty of room for the freshness of hops flavors to shine trough. The 10% ABV is likewise delivered with great harmony - not too filling, not too boozy. Stephenson has deftly woven in a malt bill that sneaks a hint of sweetness into every sip. The word "balance" keeps cropping up in my notes and in the brewery's comments. It's a singularly perfect word to describe this beer.
These guys have steadfastly produced great mainstream beer since Oscar Wong founded the company in 1994. Today, perched on a windy ridge near Asheville, N.C., the brewery is moving forward with this series and other new beers. Oscar's daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn, has stepped up to take a more active role in the company and joins the rest of the talented brewery team to guide Highland in the upcoming years. Peek in on expansion plans and progress here.