The majestic beauty of the Western North Carolina mountains is undeniable. Even amid that splendor, a visit to the crashing surf and sunshine of the West Coast can be refreshing. Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson takes drinkers on that journey with the first of Highland Brewing Company’s 2016 releases, a West Coast-style India Pale Ale with American Chinook, Citra and Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest.
"Highland IPA will be my favorite in the Southeast,” said Stephenson. "There are some good specialty IPAs in North Carolina, but as a year-round offering that is drinkable and edgy, I think Highland IPA is unique. It is assertively bitter, but not overwhelming. The ABV is higher than what you see in a lot of new IPAs, but not so high that you can’t go back for another. For me, Highland IPA is a pint or bottle of what defines a West Coast IPA."
The beer is a model of rue to Highland’s stalwart dedication to detail. This IPA pours bright and glowing – a tall glass of amber. The aroma of grapefruit is forward amid hints of tropical fruit, lemon rind and the unmistakable herbal character of hops. A sip kicks winter-dazed taste buds awake with zesty bitterness and West Coast style resin and citrus. The malt bill does its part – and lays a solid foundation for a precisely balanced beer.
Highland IPA will join 11 other new beers the 22-year-old brewery will debut in 2016. Highland will release two other year-round beers, three new seasonals, two new Warrior Series beers and four Kinsman Project beers in 2016.
“Our vision for intentional growth and our talented team inspired the additions of a West Coast IPA and other exciting styles to our portfolio,” said Leah Wong Ashburn, president of Highland Brewing Company. “At the same time, I see Gaelic growing. It’s our workhorse and my go-to beer. The combined strength of classic and new styles, done well, is our future.”
Highland Brewing Company’s 2016 additions to its portfolio includes three year-round beers:
- IPA (January) is a hop-forward, West Coast IPA with hints of tropical fruit and citrus from Pacific Northwest hops.
- Pilsner Blanc (May) is a classic pilsner, but dry hopped with finely nuanced German Hallertau Blanc hops.
- Mandarina IPA (July) is a lower-gravity IPA that is hop-bursted with five pounds of hops per barrel for intense aromas of melon, strawberry and tangerine over a balanced malt body.
Three new seasonals: Every Highland seasonal is named after a land feature or species protected by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.
- Saw-Whet Saison (February) is named after a tiny owl found in the higher elevations of the Southern Appalachians.
- Early’s Hoppy Wheat (April) is named after Early’s Mountain, which frames Sandy Mush, a vital agricultural corridor.
- Lost Cove Kolsch (June) is a crisp and refreshing German-style kolsch, and is named for a Prohibition-era hide-out-turned-ghost-town in the Nolichucky River Gorge.
Two Warrior Series Beers: Bold and high gravity, the Warrior Series pushes boundaries.
- Tasgall II Scotch-style ale (February) is an updated version of Highland’s highly lauded vintage Scotch-style ale.
- Rye India Pale Lager (May)
Four Kinsman Project Beers: The Kinsman Project is an exploration of infusions of year-round styles with all-natural ingredients.
- Black Mocha Stout (January) infused with vanilla beans, freshly ground cinnamon sticks, dried chipotle peppers and cacao nibs.
- St. Terese’s Pale Ale (April) infused with blackberries and raspberries.
- Highland IPA (July), infusion ingredients to be announced at a later date.
- Oatmeal Porter (September), infusion ingredients to be announced at a later date.
About Highland Brewing Company
Highland Brewing Company has crafted the highest quality beer with North Carolina mountain water since 1994. Family-owned and Asheville’s first legal brewery since Prohibition, it is a local favorite for beer fans, music fans, and families. Highland’s name honors the Scots Irish who settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries. Adding to the tradition of honor, Highland’s seasonal beers are named after protected features of the North Carolina and Tennessee landscapes. The flagship beer, Gaelic Ale, and other styles of Highland beer are available in nine states and Washington, DC. For details on tours, special events, concerts, sustainability efforts, the new event center and more, visit www.highlandbrewing.com.