Southern hospitality is definitely a thing. Asheville is small city of 400,000 residents but with 20+ breweries it is a hub of great beer and, along with the great beer, great food. There is definitely the same emphasis on local produce in Asheville as in other bohemian cities, however, they use these great ingredients to inspire new takes on traditional southern fare. But seriously, why would you want to look elsewhere when you have fried chicken, grilled fish, pickled everything, okra in many ways, beans and rice in even more ways, grits, biscuits and gravy and some of the best BBQ in the world?
After the double banjo busking action the day before I knew music was an important part of the local culture but didn't realise how deep it went till I met up with Lewis and Jordan from Newgrass Brewing in Shelby. Their brewery venue has live music almost every night. I was in Shelby to make a beer with Lewis and his brewers, not that I actually made the beer. I just helped come up with the recipe and hung out while the other guys did the heavy lifting. I was drinking beers and coming up with names while they were graining out and cleaning tanks. The result was the "Heaps Good IPA". The beer used all Australian hops with Galaxy, Vic Secret and Summer forming the foundation for Ella to shine through as the character hop. We were really lucky that the great people at HPA had express posted a whole bunch of Ella for us to use. After the brew had finished we enjoyed the band at Newgrass, then we went to the pub next door and enjoyed another band (quartet of banjos).
I had such a great time hanging out in Shelby, a town that unfortunately suffered a major downturn after the textiles industry collapsed. However, through the hard work of local government and some community groups the town is beginning to thrive again. Playing not a small part in the regeneration of the town is Newgrass Brewing. They provide a brilliant family friendly community hub, producing and exporting beers around NC, a brilliant product that the town can be proud of. I want to thank all the guys from Newgrass Brewing for hosting me and inviting Molly Rose Brewing on our first of hopefully many international collaborations. Also a huge shout out to the guys from HPA for the Ella hops and for growing some cracking hops in general. In case anyone was wondering, the "Heaps Good IPA" received an amazing reception and sold out almost instantly.