Hi-Wire Brewing’s Best Winter Beers Roundup

Winter’s dark nights and cold temperatures change our routines entirely. Instead of long days outside, we cozy up with bonfires, blankets, and a slew of robust beverages. Beer is the perfect accompaniment to the season, offering a wintry mix of deep malt flavors, hop bombs, and rich stouts. 

So while you hunker down from the ice and snow and take advantage of some inside hangs with friends and family, make sure you’ve got the right line up of winter beers to keep you rockin’ and rollin’ through the holidays and all winter long. 

What Beers are Best in Winter?

Chilly nights are made for rich, comforting beers, so we’ll walk you through two styles of winter beers that we think are the perfect match for the season. 

Best winter beers to drink during the cold winter months.

First up, we have a wintertime classic: the stout. These beers are characterized by their dark, bitter, and roasty flavors that leave you feeling warm and full. Their color and flavor are what set them apart from the rest. With hues of deep brown or black, they often taste like coffee or chocolate. They’re full and creamy, making this style ideal for sipping around a fire. 

Next, we have the porter – a beer that’s a deep brown, reddish color with a creamy head. They taste like roasty chocolate with a slight hint of bitterness. And since porters are one of the heaviest beer styles, they come to the rescue when you need something to warm up the insides. 

Hi-Wire Brewing’s Best Winter Beers Roundup

PSA: Your winter just went from dull to delicious. 

Whether you’re celebrating the holidays with friends and family, or having a quiet, cozy winter night at home, these seasonal beers will keep you warm, happy, and satisfied. 

Elated Winter IPA

Get ready to celebrate that first snowfall of the season! One sip and you’ll realize why this beer is an instant wintertime classic. Elated Winter IPA provides a balanced and hoppy ale perfect for snuggling up in front of the fire or getting outside on a snowy day. Celebrate the season with an India Pale Ale that doesn’t lack for pine and citrus peel notes from hops balanced by sticky caramel and toasted bread flavors from a carefully crafted malt bill.

Elated winter IPA is a delicious hoppy beer from Hi-Wire Brewing

Winter Warmer

This beer will warm you right up, with or without sitting by a fire. Meet our Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer – a symphony of flavors that embodies the cozy embrace of the colder months. This beer was brewed with fresh orange peel, nutmeg, and cinnamon before resting on bourbon barrels, infusing it with the rich essence of charred oak, chewy toffee, soft vanilla, and the deep, warming notes of bourbon. Drinkers can expect a rich malt body with big chewy caramel, a touch of roast, and a bouquet of winter aromas from the spices.

Mexican Hot Chocolate 10W-40

We took a classic favorite, turned it into a beer, and in typical Hi-Wire fashion, added a twist. This spicy, sweet, and creamy version of our popular 10W-40 Imperial Stout lends huge notes of chocolate, cinnamon, and vanilla with a creeping heat from Pasilla and Carolina Reaper peppers. 

Hi-Wire Brewing's Mexican hot chocolate is a delicious imperial stout.

Gingerbread Hot Cocoa 10W-40

This is the perfect holiday treat. For this very special and seasonally appropriate version of our 10W-40 Imperial Stout series, we partnered with Asheville-based Spicewalla to bring all of the depth and complexity of their Gingerbread Hot Chocolate blend to our illustrious brew. The blend adds the flavor and aroma of the holidays to our decadent stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla, and lactose. Sweet, creamy, and perfectly spiced, your family and friends will be forever thankful when you show up to the party with these beauties.

Sip on Hi-Wire Brewing's Gingerbread Hot Cocoa, part of their imperial stout series.

Grab a Brew at One of Hi-Wire Brewing’s Taprooms!

If you’ve got family in town for the holidays, or you just need an opportunity to get out and about this winter, we hope you’ll come by and enjoy some of these delicious winter beers with us. Visit our taprooms page to see our locations and what’s pouring near you! 

Curious where you can find our beer? Check out our beer finder here.

Mountain water craft beer asheville

Creating Mountain Water: A Delicious, Low-Calorie Beer

There are certain times when a light beer just hits the spot. Maybe you’re soaking up some rays on the beach and want something to cool down. Or maybe you’re enjoying a warm summer night lounging in your hammock. Whatever adventure finds you, we have a beer that’s ready to come along for the ride. 

Meet Mountain Water — a refreshing ale that’s made for the outdoors. This brew was made for folks who prefer their beverages on the lighter side, and we’ve been amazed at how this crushable beer has taken off, so we thought we’d give you some background into how this tasty concoction was created. 

The Beginnings of a Lighter Type of Ale    

If you stay up to date with our beer releases, you know our brewers are always pushing the envelope to develop innovative beers that are jam-packed with flavor. And Mountain Water is no exception. 

Low calorie beer asheville craft brewery

If you haven’t tried it yet, you’re in for a treat. Mountain Water isn’t your average beer and it isn’t quite a seltzer either — it’s something in between. You’ll taste a slight essence of malt flavor, but it heavily caters to seltzer lovers.

This beer is a first of its kind too. Our head brewer, Hank Marshall, says, “To my knowledge, nothing like Mountain Water exists on the market. There are light ales and seltzers, but I haven’t had anything that was a blend of beer and seltzer like Mountain Water.”

This easy sipper comes as close to a seltzer as possible without being, well, a seltzer. We like to say it’s a beer that doesn’t taste like beer. 

A Flavorful, Low-Calorie Craft Beer

Not only do our Mountain Water beers taste great, they’re also lower in calories than the IPAs or Stouts that line the shelves at the grocery store or flow on tap at craft breweries. 

Exactly how many calories are in Hi-Wire’s Mountain Water? It might be hard to believe, but there’s only 110 calories per 12 oz serving — making it our lowest calorie beer yet! But rest assured, it doesn’t lack in flavor.

Mountain water craft beer asheville

To make the magic happen, our brewers use a base of malt and sugar (40% sugar base and 60% malt). They then add a very small amount of Columbus hops to give this brew a touch of bitterness to balance out the sugar from fermentation. The final step is adding natural flavoring to get those big lemon-lime flavors in our Citrus Splash that cover up that typical beer flavor. 

The Mountain Water Bear Pack Goes Live

As the saying goes, good things come in 3s, so we couldn’t just stop with one flavor. 

The launch of our inaugural Mountain Water, Citrus Splash, was such a hit that a year and a half later, we decided to expand the line and make two more deliciously refreshing flavors — Pomegranate Peach and Tropical Wave. We dubbed the trio “The Bear Pack”.

Mountain water low calorie beer asheville

Why that name? Well, the black bear is native to the North Carolina mountains, and since we named this beverage “Mountain Water” we felt it was only fitting to make the black bear its mascot. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll find our Mountain Water bear frequently makes an appearance. 

See what the bear has been up to.

A Big (But Good) Surprise for the Hi-Wire Brewing Team

As a craft brewery, it goes without saying that we love big beer flavors, so we weren’t sure how we’d feel about a beer that tastes more like a seltzer than a beer. 

Hank says,“The biggest surprise was that everyone wanted to hate it, and everyone really loved it. No one on the brew team really wanted to drink a seltzer, but we all ended up loving the flavor and how light the beer is, especially on a hot summer day. There’s a large consensus among our team that everyone enjoys the product more than they thought they would. And remember, this is coming from a group of people who love beer so it was a big deal.”

Craft beer asheville

So if you’re an IPA drinker, a Stout loyalist, or you just love beer in general, you might be surprised at how much you’ll love Mountain Water too. 

Try Hi-Wire Brewing’s Lightest Beers with the Bear Pack  

Each of our three Mountain Water flavors are so light and refreshing you’ll bear-ly believe it’s beer. For the ultimate adventure companion, grab a 6-pack of 16 oz cans at a retailer near you

What’s an IBU?

When you’re scanning a beer menu at your local brewery, what grabs your attention first? Is it the flavor profile? Or maybe the beer style? If your palate has told you time and again that hoppy IPAs just aren’t for you, then it’s probably the IBU listing that your eye goes to first. Those three little letters can tell you a lot about a beer, and that is whether or not you’re getting an easy-sipper or a hoppy, heavy-hitter. 

In this blog, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about IBUs, so the next time you’re choosing a beer for happy hour, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. 

Ibu beer scale hi-wire breing

What Does IBU Mean?

If you assumed that IBU was just some mysterious acronym floating on your beer menu, guess again, because it can actually tell you a lot about a beer’s flavor. IBU, which stands for International Bitterness Units, indicates a beer’s bitterness, which is derived from hops used during the brewing process. Inside a hop cone, you’ll find lupulin — tiny little yellow pods that contain resin and essential oils that drive aroma, flavor, and bitterness in all of your favorite beers. 

High IBU vs. Low IBU: What Does it Mean?

The IBU value of any beer is based on the bitterness scale that starts at zero and climbs all the way up to 100. You may have heard some people argue that beers can hit over 100 IBUs, but our beer brewers will tell you that at that point, your taste buds can’t actually detect any additional bitterness. 

Here at Hi-Wire Brewing, you’ll find that our craft beers range all over the IBU scale. For example, our Double Hi-Pitch IPA clocks in at 65 IBUs. It’s seriously hopped and meant to have bold bitterness in its flavor profile — that’s part of what makes it so delicious. Our highest IBU beer is Man Eater, a double IPA that hits a whopping 93 on the IBU beer scale and is made for beer drinkers who are looking for a heavy-hitting, bitter beer. And of course, we can’t forget the lighter side of the spectrum where we have Mountain Water — an easy-drinking, refreshing ale, with a low score of just 5 IBUs.

Mountain water low-calorie beer hi wire brewing

While we can gauge a lot about a beer from its IBUs, it’s also important to point out that the number isn’t everything. In fact, it can be somewhat deceiving. What matters most is how our taste buds perceive bitterness (that’s the real kicker). A great example is our Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA — it has 55 IBUs, just ten more than our Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA. But most people who sip on this beer perceive it to be much more bitter in comparison, and that’s because Lo-Pitch’s bright citrus flavor and sweetness from the malt help balance out the bitterness. So while yes, bitterness definitely impacts the flavor of some of our hoppier beers, the truth is, bitterness is essential to balancing out any beer style — even perceived non-bitter beers like our Leisure Time Lager at 15 IBUs or Margarita Sour at 5 IBUs. 

In most beers, there’s an element of sweetness, and if it’s not counterbalanced by bitterness, then what you get is a sweet, dull tasting beer — not something you’d want to drink much of. That’s why whether a beer’s bitterness is on the strong side or barely noticeable, it’s essential to creating that great beer flavor we all love. 

How to Measure Bitterness with the IBU Beer Scale

Now, for a little chemistry lesson. 

IBU measures bitterness that comes from the lupulin’s bitter acids, called iso-α-acids. The most commonly used method to determine a beer’s IBU is spectrophotometry, where beer is extracted with an organic solvent, creating a solution that then gets exposed to UV light. And the more UV light that solution absorbs, the more bitterness is present and the higher the IBU score of the beer.

Your Bitterness Guide: IBUs in Different Beer Styles

Whether you want to steer clear of bitterness altogether, find your perfect match, or challenge your taste buds with a beer that’s crazy high in IBUs, most craft beer styles sit within a range that can help steer you in the right direction. Here’s a quick breakdown to make it easier for you. 


American Lagers, like our Leisure Time Lager, tend to sit on the lighter side of the scale between 5-15 IBUs. They’re smooth, crisp, refreshing, and easy to drink. 

Asheville craft brewery hi wire brewing


Sour beers, like our Pink Lemonade Session Sour, also clock in low on the IBU scale with a range between 5-15 IBUs. They’re naturally acidic, perfectly balancing the malt sweetness in the beer. 


Stout beers, like our series of 10W-40 Stouts, are dark, full-bodied, and silky smooth. Their IBU range is between 20-40, with some Imperial Stouts even hitting 70 IBUs thanks to their bolder profiles. 


Last but not least, there’s the IPA — a beer style known for its bitterness. IPAs and Double IPAs, like our Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, typically stay within an IBU range of 50-70 IBUs. American craft IPAs are known for their heaviness and for having a high ABV in addition to having a high IBU. 

Find Your New Favorite Beer at Hi-Wire Brewing

Whether you’re looking for a beer that climbs high or falls low on the bitterness scale, we’ve got you covered. Visit one of our craft brewery locations near you to find your new favorite.

soft beer pretzel bites craft beer

Baking with Brews: Soft Beer Pretzel Bites

In the world of snack foods, pretzels rank high on the popularity list as a long-time favorite. They’re simple (just a combo of water, flour, and salt), delicious, and don’t disappoint when it comes to variety. Some come in pinwheel shapes, some come stuffed with peanut butter, and you’ll even find some smothered in chocolate, but for this recipe, we’re taking it back to the OG — the soft pretzel. 

Thanks to German immigrants, these delicious, doughy knots came to America around 1710, so we’ve been enjoying the glorious pretzel (in its various shapes, sizes, and flavors) for over 300 years.

Here at Hi-Wire Brewing, we have a love for beer and pretzels, so we’ve combined them in this tasty recipe. Following in the German tradition, we bring you chewy, gooey, soft beer pretzel bites that will knock your socks off.

soft beer pretzel bites craft beer

Homemade Small Pretzel Bites with Beer Cheese


  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¾ cup Leisure Time Lager or Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA
  • 2 tsp instant yeast
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted 
  • 2 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt

craft beer ipa hi-wire brewing

Alkaline bath

  • 7-8 cups water
  • ½ cups baking soda


  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Pretzel salt


  1. Add the sugar, beer, and yeast to a mixing bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes then stir in the butter, flour, and salt. Mix until it forms a ball.
  2. Either with an electric mixer or by hand, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
  3. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Oil the top of the dough and cover the bowl with a cloth. Place in a draft-free area for 1 to 2 hours until it has almost doubled in size.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Roll each section of dough into a log 15 inches long. Cut the logs into 1-inch sections and place them on the baking sheet. Cover the dough bites with a towel and let rest for 20-30 minutes. They should get slightly puffy.
  5. Preheat oven to 450°. Place the water and baking soda in a large 8-quart pot. Bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Working in batches of about 15 dough bites at a time, place the dough bites in the boiling baking soda bath for 30 seconds. Remove them with a slotted spoon or strainer and let them drain on a rack. Transfer them to the baking sheet.
  7. Whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the tops of the pretzel bites. Sprinkle with pretzel salt.
  8. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack for 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe credit 

craft brewery asheville

If you’re throwing a party or looking for a great game day snack, we highly recommend combining these soft pretzel bites with our Hi-Wire beer cheese. You won’t regret it. 

Hi-wire brewing craft brewery

A Hoppy Tale: The History of Craft Beer

From the early risk-taking trailblazers to today’s innovative brew masterminds, beer has come a long way. While this beloved beverage has roots that span all the way back to Mesopotamia, American craft beer has really only exploded over the past 40 years — a short time in beer’s long 7,000 year history. And it continues to steam roll ahead in popularity and creativity, breaking barriers with new ingredients and styles.

Hoppy, citrusy, fruity, chocolatey, think of a flavor and you can probably find a craft beer to match. But how did this now billion dollar industry come to be the mecca it is? And with so many craft breweries and beers popping up in cities across America and taking over beer aisles in grocery stores? Well you’re in for a treat. Grab a brew and take a seat while we run you through a little history lesson on the greatest beverage ever invented — craft beer. 

History of craft beer hi-wire brewing

When Was Craft Beer Invented?

We take you back to the 1960s to San Francisco, California, to meet one of the foundational pioneers of modern craft beer. 

Fritz Maytag, budding entrepreneur and Stanford graduate, was on the hunt for a business venture and industry to make his mark. He decided to purchase the Anchor Brewing Co., which, at the time, was facing a pending closure after 60 years in business. After purchasing 51% of the company’s shares, Maytag focused his attention on running the company and selling more beer to get the company back on track. In an effort to enhance beer quality, Maytag started using new beer brewing innovations that led to more diverse beer styles. The Anchor Porter, introduced in 1972, was the first porter brewed after Prohibition and, at the time, was the only dark beer available. 

In 1975, Maytag introduced the Liberty Ale (what’s considered to be America’s first modern India Pale Ale) with a hop forward profile that was leaps and bounds ahead of its time. Later that year, Maytag developed another innovation that’s now a craft beer staple: a seasonal release (which he named the Anchor Christmas Ale). And while seasonal releases are now big drivers for many craft breweries, the idea was a novelty when it first appeared.

Hi-wire brewing craft brewery

A Force to be Reckoned With: How Craft Beer Rose to Popularity  

A decade after Fritz Maytag got his start, Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337, legalizing homebrewing in 1978. The bill lifted restrictions and other penalties imposed on beer brewing hobbyists who where secretly brewing in their basements. But with this government decision also came a new wave of folks who took the opportunity to try their luck in the beer industry. 

By the mid-90s, good beer was a hot commodity, and microbreweries were popping up left and right, but booming growth also often brought disappointing products. 

By 1997, there were 1,396 breweries in America, but let’s just say that not all these breweries were brewing beer that you’d really want to drink. Some of it was downright awful.

Over the next ten years, many breweries closed, few new ones opened, and beer sales started declining. 

So how did craft beer get to where it is today? Well, it’s a story of triumph and creativity.

What do they call it craft beer hi wire brewing

The breweries that remained and succeeded were the ones reinventing the wheel for what American beer could be. Brewers started brewing beers that were incredibly hoppy, boozy or packed with intriguing, uncommon ingredients. For example, Dogfish Head, a brewery making a name for itself at the time, used ingredients like apricots, algae, herbs and spices — something that really hadn’t been done before in the beer industry. 

With this turn in innovation and creativity, the mold was broken, craft beer took off, and the American beer scene would never be the same.

Craft Beer Goes BIG

We’re at the modern point in our story where craft beer takes the spotlight. After rejecting the “lite” lagers that dominated American beer, craft beer finally found its time to shine. 

In 1987, craft beer only contributed 0.1% of total beer sales, but today, craft beer accounts for almost 20% of the beer industry’s 100 billion dollar market. 

In 2022, the number of craft breweries in the US hit an all time high, totaling 9,552. Craft beer is so beloved and successful that we’ve seen numerous craft breweries – like Goose Island and Ballast Point – sell for millions and billions of dollars. And it doesn’t seem like this upward growth and demand for craft beer is stopping anytime soon.

craft beer at hi wire asheville craft brewery

Why is Craft Beer Called “Craft Beer”?

Craft beer has become a staple of American culture. It’s the center of conversation amongst beer connoisseurs, printed on beer labels, and seen on bar and restaurant menus everywhere. But what exactly does ‘craft’ refer to and where did the term come from?

For years, the term “micro-brewery” dominated the narrative for how to describe small batch, specialty breweries. But in 1985, Vince Cottone, a beer columnist from Seattle, starting throwing around the term “craft beer” and “craft brewery”. The term popped up in his columns for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in trade publications, and in a 1986 beer guide to breweries in the Northeast. 

Cottone seems to have picked the term “craft” because it best describes how and why these small batch, specialty beers are made. In an excerpt from his 1986 guide, Cottone wrote, “I use the term Craft Brewery to describe a small brewery using traditional methods and ingredients to produce a handcrafted, uncompromised beer that is marketed locally.”

So, there you have it — the launch of the term craft beer. And it’s here to stay. 

history of craft beer asheville craft brewery

Discover Craft Beer at Hi-Wire Brewing 

Whether you like your beer hoppy or you’re all about discovering new flavors, here at Hi-Wire Brewing, we have a little something for everyone. Visit one of our taprooms to enjoy a fresh pour with friends or check out our beer finder to see what’s available near you.

Beer guacamole recipe hi-wire brewing

A Summer Classic with a Twist: Beer Guacamole

With a splash of lime and a lot of fresh flavor, guacamole is the champion food of summer. On the patio, by the pool, or at the ocean, this big bowl of green goodness is summertime happiness. 

In true Hi-Wire Brewing fashion, we’re adding a twist on this classic (because we’ll look for any excuse to get beer involved.) So, we’re infusing our guacamole with Hi-Wire beer. Sound weird? Sound crazy? Well, just wait until you dip a chip and try a bite. 

Beer guacamole hi wire brewing

How to Jazz Up Guacamole

If you’re like us, playing on the creative side is always a go. And inventing new recipes is kind of our thing — definitely when it comes to beer, and we won’t turn down a chance to play around with food either. 

If you’re getting a little tired of your guacamole recipe (the one you’ve made a hundred times,) we’ve got you covered with some ways to jazz it up next time. For a flavor boost, add diced mangos for a taste of the tropics, crab meat, or cotija cheese to add creaminess. And if you really want to play on the wild side, add beer. 

Hi-Wire Beer Guacamole Recipe

Beer guacamole recipe hi-wire brewing

Attention: this is not a recipe where your guacamole is swimming in beer. Think of it more as a little spark of flavor.


  • 3 ripe avocados
  • ½ small yellow onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced and seeds removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ can of beer
  • ½ teaspoon salt


Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, and place in a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados, add the onion, cilantro, jalapeño pepper, garlic, lime juice, and salt. 

unique guacamole recipes hi-wire brewing

In a small bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes with beer. For beer choice, we’d recommend a pilsner. And two of our favorites are Hi-Wire Lager and Leisure Time Lager for their bright, crisp flavors. Once you’ve mixed them together, microwave for 1-2 minutes. Drain off the beer, chop up the sun-dried tomatoes, and add them to your guacamole. 

Pair this beer guacamole with tortilla chips and enjoy!

Asheville craft brewery summer beers

Hi-Wire Brewing’s Best Summer Beers Roundup for 2023

Behold our summer motto: outdoor days are made better with cold beer. 

When the dog days return, we kick back and relax on the patio or pack our bags for an outdoor trip. From hiking to river floating to lake days to beach extravaganzas, the season’s adventures are endless. And it’s inevitable that the sun, salt, or sweaty trek up the mountain will make you work up a mighty good thirst too. Heck, even working on a tan will spark a craving for a cold beer! 

So before you start dumping ice in the cooler for a day on the lake or sitting in the sand, you’ll want summer beers that are easy sippers, thirst-quenching, and of course, deliciously refreshing. Below, we’ll take you through a roundup of our favorites to keep you rockin’ and rollin’ all summer long.

Best summer beers from Hi-Wire Brewing

Which Beer is Best for Summer?

Standing in the grocery store, scanning beer style after beer style, you may find yourself paralyzed with the decision of what summery beer to choose. What’s going to be light enough? Flavorful enough? Beachy enough? 

Frankly, there really isn’t a wrong answer here. A summer beer can be just about any style, as long as the flavor is crisp, refreshing, and, most importantly, keeps you happy. They range anywhere from light and fruity to hoppy and complex, but in our opinion, the 10/10 summer beer is always the one you find yourself going back to over and over.

We have a few light and crisp contenders to please the beach bums in the room, and for those of you who prefer your patio pounders with a little more kick, we’ve got some beers up our sleeve for you too. 

Our Top 5 Summer Beer Picks for 2023

Warning: You may never come back inside. Get ready for some crushable summer beers. 

#1. Mountain Water 

Pack up the cooler and enjoy the sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains or the waves. 

Best craft summer beers

Made with adventuring in mind, Mountain Water is the beer to share with your seltzer friends, and this fan-favorite now comes in three mouth-watering flavors: Pomegranate Peach, Tropical Wave, and Citrus Splash. It’ll rock with any adventure you want to throw at it.

#2. Mountain Wheat

If you like light wheat beers, you’ll want to stock your fridge with this one. Mountain Wheat is a crisp and refreshing wheat beer fit for any occasion or summer adventure. Bright and crushable with notes of lemon shandy and citrus from lemon peel and coriander, this is the perfect light-bodied beer to drink outdoors and share with friends.

Mountain wheat craft beer Asheville

#3. Leisure Time Lager

Chillax with a smooth, crisp and refreshing American craft lager brewed patiently with 100% barley. Leisure Time Lager is the official beer of relaxation and perfect for summertime vibes. 

Lager at Asheville craft brewery

#4. Margarita Sour

Floatin’ on sunshine! This refreshing seasonal sour beer is spiked with lemon-lime goodness and balanced by the perfect amount of Celtic Sea Salt, making it the ideal beverage to pair with good times and good friends this summer.

Asheville craft brewery summer beers

#5. Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA

Clocking in at 5.5% ABV, this easy-drinking hazy IPA packs a bright citrus hop punch without all the bitterness. Juicy American hops and a light malt bill make Lo-Pitch the perfect pairing for any summertime adventure — sandy shores, mountain tops, backyard hangs, you name it.

Hazy IPA craft beer Asheville

Come Grab a Brew at One of Hi-Wire Brewing’s Taprooms!

Wherever your summer adventures take you, we hope you’ll come by and enjoy some of these summer beers with us. Visit our taprooms page to see our locations and what’s pouring near you! 

Curious where you can find our beer? Check out our beer finder here.

What are hops Hi-Wire Brewing

What Are Hops?

They’re vibrantly green, cone shaped, and in our opinion, one of the most important parts of any beer. You guessed it. We’re talking about hops — the little powerhouses packed with oils and flavors. 

Whatever your favorite beer style is, whether it’s an IPA, a lager, or a stout, you have hops to thank for making your delicious brew possible. 

With some beer styles, hop flavors are more potent than others. Have you ever taken a sip of an IPA and thought, “Wow, this tastes hoppy,” but after the fact, you weren’t really sure why or what “being hoppy” means? Well, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about these little, flavorful flowers and give some insight into how we use them here at Hi-Wire Brewing. 

What are Hops Used for?

Hops are the hanging flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant. They’re a climbing perennial, and tucked inside each cone are tiny yellow pods called lupulin which contain resin and essential oils — the driving source of bitterness, aroma, and flavor in all of your favorite beers. And craft brewers especially love lupulin to pack flavor into IPAs.

Hops in beer at Hi-Wire Brewing

Near or far, you can find hops growing all over the world. But for most American craft beer (and for our beers,) brewers source hops from the beautiful Pacific Northwest where the climate is milder, and rain is more predictable. Both factors create the perfect conditions for growing juicy, flavorful hops.

Types of Hops Used in Our Lineup of Hi-Wire Brewing Beers

Every year, our team here at Hi-Wire takes a trip to “The Evergreen State” for the annual hop harvest, where we get to go through and smell, rub, and test out various hops to make sure they’re going to give us the aromas and flavors we want in our recipes. 

There are a whopping 250 different varieties of hops, but for our beers, we use six main types: Columbus, Centennial, Citra, Simcoe, Tettnanger, and Mosaic hops. Each of these varieties contribute different flavor notes and aromas to our beers. Here’s a little breakdown so you know what hops go into making some of your Hi-Wire favorites. 

For any IPA, bitterness is key, so we use Columbus hops to give our IPAs that classic bite. Columbus hops are actually in most of our beers, to not only give bitterness, but earthy and spicy notes too. 

Are you a big fan of our Hi-Pitch IPAs? You have Mosaic and Centennial hops to thank for them! The Mosaic variety offers notes of berry, stone fruit and a nice sweetness. And then we use Centennial hops to add woodiness and citrus notes to round out our two Hi-Pitch IPAs. 

For those who enjoy sipping on a cool Hi-Wire Lager, Tettnanger hops are the main flavor contributor here. They give off floral notes, earthiness, and a hint of citrus. Fun fact: these hops cross the Atlantic and come to us all the way from Germany. 

What are hops Hi-Wire Brewing

Lo-Pitch fans, raise your hand! This beloved IPA uses Citra hops to add a citrusy, lemon zest aroma and Simcoe hops for piney and earthy flavors with a little touch of grapefruit. 

When we’re searching for perfect hops, whether we’re looking for citrus notes for our Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA or bitterness for our Double Hi-Pitch IPA, one thing always steers us in the right direction: our tried and true recipes. We want the beers you love to taste exactly the same, year after year, so we’re really particular about choosing hops that match the flavors in our recipes to stay true to our brand and our delicious beers.

Hops in Beer: Flavor to the Max

From our Bed of Nails brown ale to our Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, hops make these beers burst with flavor. To get that iconic “hoppiness,” the magic happens during the brewing process. 

What do hops taste like Hi-wire brewing

Inside the tiny particles of resin are acids that aren’t very water soluble, so when our brew team wants to bring out bitterness, they add hops during the kettle boil. However, sometimes our brewers want to utilize the essential oils in hops too which are far more volatile and can boil away. In this case, when the brew team wants to bring out specific flavors or aromas in a particular beer (like the earthy, fruity, or citrus flavors we love), our team adds hops either during fermentation — also known as dry hopping — or after fermentation. That’s why when you’re sipping on our Double Hi-Pitch IPA or our Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA, you’ll notice some really bright citrus aromas that make these beers so hoppy and delicious. 

What do Hops Taste Like?

This is a question we hear a lot, especially from folks who are a little hesitant to dip their toes into the world of IPAs. Some people can’t get enough of the bitter, floral qualities of hops, and some turn the other way and stick to light beers, like Mountain Water, that have all the flavor and none of the bitterness. Whatever your preference, we say keep on enjoying your favorites! But if you’re a first-timer to hoppy beers and feeling curious, here’s what you can expect. 

Right off the bat, hoppy beers hit you with delicious notes of tropical fruit, citrus, and stone fruit — that’s typically a guarantee. But there’s a good reason for it too. These hop flavors help create the perfect juiciness while balancing bitterness and that classic malt backbone.

As you can see from the many different varieties we use, hops play a big role in flavor. And we like to get creative with our flavors, so our brew team often experiments with different hops. Our head specialty brewer, Peter, will often play around with new varieties of hops as he works on new beer recipes. Thanks to our South Slope Specialty Brewery, we’re able to experiment with small batches of hops (around 40 pounds or so) to work on making new, creative beer recipes for you to enjoy.

Try Some Hi-Wire Brewing Hops! 

Now that you’re an expert on hops, we hope you’ll have some fun doing a little taste test of your own. Check out our beer finder to grab a pack of our Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA or our Hi-Wire Lager to see what flavor notes you can guess, or come in and grab a pint in one of our taprooms. We hope to see you soon. Cheers!

How to tell if beer is expired

Can Beer Go Bad?

We’ve all been there: You pull something out of the furthest reaches of the fridge, and BOOM, there it is — that shiny, mouth-watering can of your favorite Hazy IPA tucked out of sight. Or maybe you grab the last family-size bag of potato chips and realize there’s an untouched six-pack of Lager that has been (unintentionally) neglected in the pantry. It happens to the best of us.

But when you are finally reunited with that long lost can of beer, there is a dreaded question that you have to face: just how long has it been hiding there? And more importantly, can you still drink it? 

Well, if you’re a die hard beer lover, we’re here to tell you that it probably won’t be the last time you’ll find yourself in this predicament. So before you pour your favorite IPA down the drain, let’s get the facts straight on an important question: Can beer go bad?

Hi-Wire Brewing craft beer IPA

What to Do When You Realize Your Beer is Expired

Quickly scanning your can or glass bottle of beer, you find the packaged date and realize (as your heart sinks) that the tasty brew in your hand has indeed exceeded its expiration date.  

So, what do you do next? Is it safe to drink expired beer?

Take a deep sigh of relief, because the answer, in almost all cases, is yes. The fermentation process used in brewing beer, as well as its low pH level and alcohol content, make beer both delicious and an unfriendly environment for pesky microorganisms. Even if a beer sits on the shelf for years, as long as it’s sealed, it’s unlikely to make you sick.

Even with that good news, there are a couple of rare situations where you’ll have to throw out an old bottle or can. For starters, if you notice that your beer has lost all its fizz, it’s a no-go. That’s a telltale sign that the seal was broken at some point, so the flavor you’re used to tasting isn’t going to be remotely close to what you’ll get if you take a sip. And, if a beer that isn’t supposed to be tangy or acidic has a vinegary taste, it’s an immediate alert to the tastebuds that bacteria has gotten in, and you’ll definitely want to toss it out.

Even though drinking beers beyond their listed expiration date is totally fine for your health, over time, the taste of beer changes, and what was once a refreshing treat could become a real stinker (literally). So make sure you check your can or bottle of beer to make sure it’s not too far gone past its recommended shelf life or else your palate might be hit with a rude awakening. 

How Can You Tell if Beer Has Gone Bad? 

Ever crack open a beer, take a sip, and immediately, you know something is off? It might make you scrunch up your nose or even cause you to spit it out. This is what we call a bad beer. And when we say that beer goes “bad,” we don’t mean it spoils, like rotten milk or moldy fruit. We mean it tastes bad. And as far as we’re concerned, taste is the most important part of the beer experience.

Hi-Wire brewing craft beer in NC

Sometimes, beers past their prime taste like “wet cardboard,” whereas others might turn overly sweet, and then of course, there’s the dreaded skunkiness (a flavor well known to anyone who has ever left a beer out in the blazing sun for too long.) What’s to blame for this unfortunate flavor change and how can you help prevent it?

Keeping Beer Fresh: Watch Out for Oxygen, Heat & Light  

First, a little science, for the real beer nerds out there. Your beer, in all its tasty glory, has three main culprits that can cause flavors to go awry: oxygen, heat, and light. Oxygen interacts with the compounds from malt, yeast, and hops — the building blocks of what makes beer delicious. This causes oxidation and that disappointing papery taste. Despite all the advanced techniques and newfangled technology brewers use to package beer, there’s still a tiny amount of oxygen that’ll make it into a can or bottle, which means change in flavor is inevitable. And we’re sorry to say that the longer it’s stored, the worse it gets!

Once you crack open your bottle or can of beer, oxidation goes into hyperdrive, and if you leave your beer out for long, you’ll be left with a pretty sad version of the beverage you were looking forward to enjoying. This is true of kegs as well: The pumps used to push the beer out also push oxygen in. You’ll want to polish off that keg within a day to get the most flavor.

Next up is heat. Heat speeds up oxidation, so storing beer in a refrigerator is an absolute must (plus, we all can attest that beer is just better cold.)  Major changes in temperature — like from an ice-cold cooler to a sun-roasted car — make it even worse. And, sadly, this can’t be reversed. Once beer has been left in a hot trunk or in the summer sand, you’ll have to say sayonara.

How to tell if beer is expired

Lastly, be mindful of light. Most people assume skunkiness also comes from changes in temperature, but it’s actually caused by UV light. Hop compounds are especially sensitive to light and can become “light struck,” a chemical reaction that gives off that unpleasant skunky taste. That’s why beer usually comes in dark bottles, which is helpful, but not as good as aluminum cans at blocking out those piercing rays.

All things considered, some beers are innately better at outlasting the test of time than others. Hop aromas, in particular, are time-sensitive; for those citrusy, floral, tropical notes that you love from our Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, you’ll want to stick pretty closely to “drink-by” dates. The sweet, grainy, caramel notes of a malty beer (like our Bed of Nails Brown Ale), on the other hand, increase as the beer ages; that’s why heavier beers with higher ABV contents have greater longevity.

Only YOU Can Prevent Bad Beer

If you’ve made the mistake of leaving your beer in a hot car or not sheltering it from sunny rays, now you know what’s been causing your beer to go bad/funky/skunky. To make sure your beer stays drinkable and flavorful, here are our top four tips to remember.

  1. Keep your beer in a cool dark place, preferably the refrigerator. 
  2. If you’re storing at room temperature, make sure the sun can’t get to it. 
  3. Leave your beers standing upright — this allows for less exposure to oxygen than when the bottle or can lies on its side. 
  4. Most importantly — and we’re really driving this one home — enjoy it fresh and as close to its “born on” date as you can. This way, you’re leaving it to the real experts: the brewers who made your delicious beer. 

Here at Hi-Wire, our beers come with a package date to help ensure your drink is in peak shape. You can check the bottom of the can, which is stamped with a canning date; if you’re enjoying a keg, the collar will have a number stamped on it that includes the batch and “kegged on” date (for example, 0700122821 is batch 700, kegged on 12/28/2021). 

If you’re an IPA drinker, our draft and packaged IPAs are best within 120 days (or about four months) of packaging, in order to take full advantage of all that delicious hoppy goodness; all others are in good shape for 150 days (closer to five months). So, on the off chance that a six-pack that you bought for a 4th of July shindig somehow manages to go un-sipped and stored in a cool, dry spot (preferably the fridge), it’ll still be plenty tasty on Memorial Day or Halloween — even Turkey Day, if it’s not an IPA. 

Hi-wire brewing stout craft beer in NC

If you have a cold, dark place in your home, like a cellar, beer typically has a longer life there. We’re talking years. A lot of people like to cellar our sour bottles and even our 10W-40 series to enjoy later. If you have a certain bottle you love, this is a great way to save it! So whether you stumble upon some hidden beer in the fridge or you want to save it in the cellar, we hope this helps you keep your beers in good shape and ready to enjoy.   

Find Fresh Hi-Wire Brewing Beer Near You

Fresh is best. Have a favorite Hi-Wire Brewing beer you want to grab? Check our beer finder to see what beers are near you! 

what does a japanese rice lager taste like hi-wire brewing

Experimenting with New Flavor: Brewing a Japanese Dry Rice Lager

What started as a creative whim between brewers and pals turned into one of our award-winning beers — something that we are quite frankly still shocked about. 

Meet Hi-Wire Brewing’s Japanese Dry Rice Lager. It’s thirst-quenching, exotic, and if we had to guess, probably very different from any other beer you’ve ever tasted. But we made it to be that way — a totally new flavor experience. 

Japanese rice lager from Hi-Wire Brewing

What is a Japanese Rice Lager?

Here at Hi-Wire Brewing, we’re not ones to stray away from a chance at being creative, rather we jump right in and embrace it. And this beer is a perfect example.

The name of our delicious brew tells you the gist of what you need to know, and that is that it’s made with heavy amounts of rice. For our Japanese Dry Rice Lager, we use a whopping 49% rice and 51% malted barley. 

Why rice? Well, it provides fermentable sugars for the yeasts that produce alcohol. Rice also adds crispness and a subtle sweetness to round out the beer. 

How to make a Japanese dry rice lager

Traditionally speaking, Japanese Rice Lagers are light bodied, light in color, and have a dry finish. So if you’re looking for a light, cool beer to sip on during the warmth of summer with a little exotic flare, this beer is one you’ll want to grab. 

Breaking Down the Flavors in Our Japanese Dry Rice Lager

Our secret weapon (the ace up our sleeve if you will) for flavor comes from a special ingredient we use called koji. It’s a fungus, and while that may stop you in your tracks, it’s actually an integral part to the production of some of the world’s culinary favorites like sake and soy sauce. So if you like dipping your sushi in soy sauce, or dumping heaps of it into your stir fry, you’ve tasted the deliciousness of koji (even if you didn’t know it.) 

What is a japanese rice lager Hi-Wire brewing

When it comes to brewing beer, this flavor enhancing ingredient is somewhat of a novice, but as we said before, we relish the chance to be creative, so we decided to do a little experimenting.

We used koji, in a collaboration with our friends over at Ben’s American Sake, to ferment our Japanese Dry Rice Lager on. This tiny microorganism breaks down starches into sugars and eats everything that brewer’s yeast doesn’t, meaning it breaks down large sugars that yeast isn’t capable of fermenting into smaller sugars that it is capable of fermenting. All of the sugars then get broken down into something brewers yeast can work with, so there’s no starch left when the beer starts fermenting. 

What’s the point of koji, then? It’s true that it doesn’t actually ferment anything, but what it does do is act as an important catalyst for reactions and makes it possible for brewers yeast to ferment. It’s the real MVP.

But let’s talk about koji’s big talent — creating flavor. It adds coconut and tropical orange flavors along with that sensational umami flavor (“essence of deliciousness” in Japanese), so if you try our Japanese Dry Rice Lager, you’ll feel like you’re having a drink on the beach in the tropics. 

If you ask our head brewer Peter Batinski about koji, he’ll tell you that, “Koji itself creates a wider range of flavors than I’ve ever tasted before in any other beer.” So yeah, we’re big fans. 

Hi-Wire Brewing & Ben’s American Sake: An Unlikely Pairing

Patrick Shearer, head brewer at Ben’s American Sake, and our very own, Peter Batinski, have been best friends for years. And as brewers, getting to do cool experiments with flavors and ingredients comes with the territory. The genius duo have been experimenting not just with unique flavor ingredients but with the foundational elements of brewing — fermenters and fermentables. And since koji is still somewhat of a mystery in American craft beer, these two have experienced some highs and lows as they’ve played with the traditional Japanese ingredient.

It’s actually by a stroke of luck that this beer even turned out well based on how the brewing process went. Peter will be the first to tell you that the brew day was somewhat of a disaster.

award-winning craft beer japanese rice lager

Basically, a whole bunch of things went wrong. Rice, when it’s brewed, can turn into a concrete brick if you’re not careful, even when you’re only using 25% rice, so we had some issues with consistency. Then there were some issues with our mash pH that we had to figure out on the spot. Suffice it to say, our brew team kept getting hit with curveball after curveball. But after various adjustments to the beer, this baby brewed in the tank for 2 weeks and when we tried it… it was amazing.

An Award-Winning Japanese Rice Lager that Hailed from Zero Expectations

We love the triumphant story of the Japanese Dry Rice Lager — rising from the low of potentially being a flop to then WINNING an award. 

brewing a japanese rice lager at hi-wire brewing

Our Japanese Dry Rice Lager earned gold hardware at the 2021 Great American Beer Festival in the Experimental Beer category. It has joined a club of some pretty sensational winners — an Arnold Palmer-inspired Berliner Weisse and a Sour Rye Saison aged on Prickly Pear Cactus. As you can see, we’re in good company. 

Our creative group of brewers isn’t stopping here either. The brew team has made a koji quad (with sake yeast and koji) with plans to release a bourbon barrel aged koji quad and a koji pale ale too. Get ready to be blown away by some awesome flavors and stellar beers coming soon!

We want to close out this blog by saying a very special thank you to Patrick and the team at Ben’s American Sake, because none of this would have been possible without their expertise and collaboration. If you’ve never had their sake, be sure to check them out!

How to make a japanese rice lager

Grab a Glass of Hi-Wire Brewing’s Japanese Dry Rice Lager

If you’re feeling curious to try something new and exciting, we hope you’ll swing by one of our taprooms to grab a glass of our Japanese Dry Rice Lager. We’ve brewed it to be super approachable and easy drinking for anyone to enjoy. We know it’s different, but we’re just asking for you to give it a try! Chances are, you’re going to love it.