Why Your Next Beer Should be a Kölsch Ale

It’s Friday night, and you’ve been tasked with bringing beer to dinner with friends. You strategically grab styles you know will make everyone happy — even your one friend who is deemed the pickiest of beer drinkers. You grab a stellar lineup of IPAs, sours, and ales, but this time, you throw a Kölsch ale in the mix. It might be the wildcard in the group, but there’s a lot to love and a lot to be said about this style of beer. 

Partially bready, with a crisp, smooth profile, the Kölsch is an arguably underrated beer with a fascinating history.

Raise a glass for the humble Kölsch! 

What Does a Kölsch Taste Like and What’s so Great About it?

The Kölsch made its grand entrance into the world several hundred years ago when bottom-fermenting lagers rose to popularity. But in Cologne, Germany, (Kölsch’s origin place) brewers were mostly making top-fermenting beers at the time — like the pale ales and wheat beers we love to sip on year-round. However, the increasing infiltration of lager-style beers made Cologne brewers rethink their devotion to top-fermenting beers. 

Kölsch style ale

So as a happy medium, Cologne brewers combined their beloved top-fermenting style with the new bottom-fermenting beer style. And there you have it — the noble Kölsch, a top-fermented beer born from the great tradition of ales and then cold conditioned in the style of lagers to give us a beer that’s a perfect marriage of both. 

If you’ve ever had that moment looking at a brewery menu where you’re frozen with what to choose, go for a Kölsch ale. You get the hoppy goodness you want from an ale but also the light, refreshing endnotes you expect from a lager. It’s a perfect balance between two of beer’s most cherished styles.

Kölsch vs. Pilsner

The battle of Kölsch vs Pilsner is one of the most talked about subjects amongst beer connoisseurs. You may have already been a part of this debate or at least watched your friends stubbornly argue their side. Are these beers the same? Or are they different? It’s time to get the story straight. 

Kölsch ale asheville craft beer

At first glance, you could say that these two beer styles have a lot in common. After all, they look similar, with a straw yellow to a pale golden color and a white head. But the kicker is that pilsners tend to taste dryer and more bitter, while Kölsches are more subtly complex, creamy and soft. Then if you push flavor aside completely and get down to the roots, you’ll find that the foundational difference between these two is that kölsch is an ale whereas pilsner is a lager. And that’s all thanks to the different yeasts used in the brewing process. 

The Best Food Pairings for Kölsch Style Beers

Figuring out what pairs best with beer can be a tricky business. For some lucky souls out there, knowing how to combine flavor profiles is a natural gift. But for the rest of us, we go back and forth down grocery store aisles debating on this kind of snack or that one until we just pick something out of frustration. If you’re saying “yep that’s totally me,” never fear! Here are a few yummy suggestions for munchies that are deliciously tasty with a nice ice cold Kölsch ale.   

#1. Cheese

Cheese and crackers are a classic party favorite. Cheeses that are creamy, like brie or camembert, or cheeses that have a little bit of spice, like Monterray Jack, go great with the peppery, floral hops of a Kölsch.

#2. Salads

Because of the light crispness of the Kölsch beer style, salads make a great food accompaniment. They’re light, flavorful, and best of all, versatile for the seasons. In the warmer months, jazz them up with your favorite berries or seasonal fruits, and in the winter, roast some butternut squash or sweet potatoes to top them off. 

#3. Fish

Kölsch’s slight hoppiness makes it a great pairing for light fish dishes and seafood too. Grill some salmon with a drizzle of lemon or cook up something meatier like halibut with herbed butter. Either way, you can’t miss! 

Try a Hi-Wire Brewing Kölsch Ale

Now that we’ve gotten your stomach growling, it’s time to find the perfect Kölsch! We especially love a Kölsch ale for its clean, light crispness and sweet undertones — it’s like summertime in a glass. And the best part is, even when it’s cold outside, a Kö​​lsch will make you feel like you’re back on the beach. So, here are a few of our go-to’s that we think you’ll love too. 

What is a Kölsch

#1. RAD Kölsch

We bring you a new small batch offering donning the namesake of our new location in Asheville NC’s River Arts District. This classic and clean stand-by is a light beer you can sit down and enjoy multiple pints with friends. Brewed for community tables and relaxing after long weeks, this pale golden-colored crusher lends pleasing notes of toasted biscuits with a slight bite and crisp finish.

#2. Soda Pop Kölsch

This classic and clean stand-by which dons the name of our neighborhood in Wilmington, NC, is a light beer you can sit down and enjoy multiple pints with friends. Brewed for community tables and relaxing after long weeks, this pale golden-colored crusher lends pleasing notes of toasted biscuits with a slight bite and crisp finish.

If you’re in the Wilmington area, take a stroll down to our taproom to try a fresh pour of Soda Pop Kölsch!

Come try a Kölsch style ale at Hi-Wire Brewing 

Kölsch ale craft beer

If you’re new to the Kölsch club, welcome! We hope you enjoy one of our tasty brews. And if you’ve been a Kölsch lover all along, we hope you have fun trying some of these Hi-Wire favorites! Whatever Hi-Wire taproom you choose, be sure to check our taproom menus to see if these beers are flowing at a location near you. 

If you’re an Asheville local or just visiting, come experience our Cologne-style Kölsch Service at our RAD Beer Garden happening every Thursday from 3-10pm.

Here’s how it works…

#1. Order your first Kölsch at the bar. It’ll be served in a 7oz traditional Kölsch glass called a “stange.”

#2. Take a seat wherever you like. Don’t forget your coaster!

#3. After that, we’ll keep the Kölsch coming right to your table. No need to get up or request a refill. We’ll mark how many you’ve had so far on your coaster.

#4. Ready to go? Put that coaster on top of your glass to let us know you’d like to close out. Each 7oz pour is $3 each. Don’t forget to tip your köbe (AKA bartender)!

 

Cheers!

How Sour Beers are Made at Hi-Wire Brewing

If you’ve never tasted a sour beer, hold on, because you’re in for quite an experience. Push your IPA or lager aside, and grab that fruity, sour beer you’ve been eyeing. This is your sign. And chances are, your life (and your tastebuds) will never be the same. 

As the name suggests, these beers are sour, so Warhead and sour Skittles lovers, you’ll be right at home. Your first sip will no doubt be a bit of a shock to the palate, but after a few sips, sour beers hook you with their delicious and bright flavors. These beers are nice entryway beers for wine drinkers, go great with food, and will help breakup your regular fridge full of hop bombs. 

So beer lovers and sour newbies, let’s dive into what makes sour beers so awesome. 

What is sour beer?

Sour beer is a bit of a broad category with a range of styles that highlight different acidity levels. You might sip on a sour where the tartness is more subtle, giving you that feeling of refreshment. But there are also sours out there that will make you squint your eyes and pucker right up with one sip. 

Sour beers are not completely siloed from other beer styles either. In fact, sours stem from the standard yeast strains of most ales and lagers, but there is a distinct difference. Sours prefer “wild” yeasts, and they love bacteria like lactobacillus, which is found in some of our favorite fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. 

What does sour beer taste like?

Let’s chat about taste, because let’s be real, it’s what we all care about most! Some sour beers you taste will lean into sweeter, fruitier flavor profiles, while others will be an all out sour punch. Whichever side of the spectrum a sour beer might fall on, their common denominator is their distinct, funky flavor. And sours, believe it or not, have a lot of variety. Here are three types:

Lambic – A super sour, spontaneously fermented treat from Belgium, whose brewers include specific fruit to temper the acidity. Lambic is unique from most other beers in that it is fermented through exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria as opposed to exposure to carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeast.

Berliner Weisse – This style is a dry and tart wheat beer with low alcohol content and fizz for easy drinking. Its two main components are wheat and the naturally occurring bacteria known as Lactobacillus, which gives the Berliner Weisse its classic acidity.

Gose – Hailing from Goslar, Germany, a gose is similar to Berliner Weisse in some ways — like its wheat malt and low alcohol content. But what really sets this style apart is its use of coriander and sea salt, which you’ll taste in our Hi-Wire Gose. Brewed with Himalayan Salt, this gose is tart, supremely drinkable and balanced with a complex fruit character. 

How sour beers are made at Hi-Wire Brewing 

If you ask our brewers, they’ll tell you that sour beer is really where the science of brewing drops off and the magic happens. 

Here at Hi-Wire Brewing, we clean ferment our sour beers and then transfer them into reused wine barrels to age. Fun fact, we’ve had all of our sour barrels for 6-7 years!

Our beer usually sits in the barrels for at least 18 months. After aging for the right amount of time, we add more ingredients to the beer to strengthen the flavors. Some brewers will age their sour beers with their ingredients mixed in at the beginning, but we don’t, because we like to give the beer some time to sit in the barrels first. This gives us time to find out what the beer tastes like and from there, we figure out what ingredients it will pair well with. 

Another factor that comes into play with sour beers is temperature. Some breweries have rooms that are perfectly temperature controlled so there’s no fluctuation at all. But at our Hilliard location, we go against the norm.

At Hilliard, we don’t utilize temperature control, because we love the movement we get in our beers throughout the seasons. In our oak barrels, we see a lot of movement in our beer, in and out of the oak, as temperatures warm up and cool down during the year. And as a result, we get some really fantastic flavors. One flavor we get out of our base beer, and we contribute it to the natural temperature change of our facility, is a muscadine flavor. This flavor is mainly seen in our sour blonde. The microflora (or bacteria) in the barrels combined with the interaction with temperature gives us this unique flavor that is one of a kind.

Hi-Wire Brewing sour beers to sip on

If you’re feeling brave and want to try a sour for the first time or if you’re already on the sour beer bandwagon, here’s a roundup of some of our Hi-Wire favorites to try.

1.Pink Lemonade Session

A summertime favorite. This incredibly crushable and refreshing fruited sour beer was brewed with some of our favorite summer ingredients. Raspberry fruit sweetness is balanced with just the right amount of lemony zip from lemon peel and nostalgic candied-lemon aromas from lemongrass.

2. Cherry Red Hot Sour Ale 

The newest addition to our lineup of sours. This tart wheat ale brewed with cherries, cayenne, cinnamon, and vanilla is sweet, tart, and hot. Sip it slowly or crush it — this fruity and sour ale will leave you smiling wide.

3. Estatoe Path Sour Golden

Our Estatoe Path Sour Golden is a delicious farmhouse ale re-fermented on local honey. It’s aged in the same oak barrel with the same honey from the same farm and crafted within the same week, every year. The aroma comes across as big, sweet honey as if drizzled over a biscuit, then as the glass starts to breathe, the sourwood comes through, opening up to subtle star anise, cinnamon sugar toast, chai tea, gingerbread, and cloves.

4. Pink Peppercorn Sour Saison

This lovely little barrel-aged sour saison here is limited to just a handful of cases. It’s delicate on the pallet and features floral and fruit notes from pink peppercorns with hints of lemon and cranberry, all balanced by a medium sourness and phenolic brett saison character.

Visit a taproom to try a sour beer in person

Enjoy a sour beer fresh at one of our taprooms! Choose your Hi-Wire adventure here. We look forward to seeing you soon. Cheers!

What is Dry Hopping?

When it comes to beer, flavor reigns supreme. Whether it’s super hoppy IPAs or fruity sours, we all have our go-to brews that light up our taste buds. And we buy 6-pack after 6-pack because, well, they’re just that good, and we can’t get enough.  

Ingredients are of course credited as a major part of a beer’s flavor profile — that’s how we get our fruity ales or our rich, chocolatey stouts — but it’s oftentimes the brewing process where the magic happens. 

Here at Hi-Wire, when we want some of our beers to have an extra punch of flavor, we use a technique called dry hopping for a super hoppy boost. If you don’t know what that is, gather round, because we’ve got some things to share! And if you’re an IPA enthusiast, chances are you’ve already tasted the deliciousness of this brewing technique — even if you didn’t know it. 

What is dry hopping?

It all starts with the hops. 

This brewing technique is all about timing. Normally, dry hopping always occurs in fermentation tanks to amplify aromas and flavors without pulling out more bitterness from the hops.

Lupulin, the teeny tiny glands inside of hop cones, holds the key to resins and essential oils that contribute to the flavor, aroma, and bitterness of our beloved IPAs and other hop-forward beers. However, resins and oils are sensitive and respond differently to heat, so most brewers tend to be particular about when they decide to add hops in. Also, a lot of these resins are not water soluble, so by adding them into the fermentation tank, we get alcohol as a result. And resins are alcohol soluble, so we get more of the flavors and bitterness we love. 

To bring out the hops’ bitter qualities, brewers will add them during the kettle boil — AKA the “hot side” of brewing — so resins dissolve. But for the essential oils in hops, a long boil is a no-go, because these oils are fickle and can be easily lost. When it comes to brewing an IPA, this can be a major problem since the oils are responsible for providing those iconic big hop aromas. Dry hopping loves the “cold side” of brewing — the point in the process when ales and lagers are transferred from kettles to fermentation tanks.

The first dry hop

As popular as dry hopped beer is in the modern craft brew world, this technique surprisingly has old roots. That’s right, it originated centuries ago in Britain. 

Dry hopping, back then, referred to the addition of whole hop cones (praised for their antibacterial qualities) to the cask of matured beer to help preserve it on long journeys across the ocean. And since there was no refrigeration, this was a game changer. 

Fast forward to the 1980s and you see a new wave of craft brewers in the US adopting dry hopping as a way to maximize the flavor and hop character of their beer. Now, you’ll find almost all kinds of beer being dry hopped, from light Pilsners and hoppy IPAs to rich stouts. 

Dry hopping: The Hi-Wire Brewing way

Here at Hi-Wire, we LOVE our dry-hopped beers, and it’s all thanks to the strategic methods of our ingenious beer brewers.

Dry hopping can happen at a variety of times during the brew process. For our beers, we like to dry hop two different ways. One of our techniques is to do two dry hops — one after the beer has fermented for 48 hours and one at the very end of fermentation. Other times, we’ll do just one dry hop at the end of fermentation. 

Both dry hops bring different flavors to the table. At the 48 hour mark, we get more of a juicy, fruity flavor from the hops, but when we dry hop at the end of fermentation, we get more of a piney flavor in our beer.

Keep in mind, the dry hopping method isn’t a one size fits all — there are several ways to go about it. You’ll see some craft brewers recirculate hops so they’re mixed into the whole tank, which we do for some of our beers too. But we’re also big fans of throwing hops in the top of the tank for some really exceptional flavor.

3 Hi-Wire Dry Hopped Beer Favorites

The most classic example of a dry hopped beer (as you might have guessed) is of course the IPA. But hoppy lagers are delicious too and a great style of beer to dry hop. After all, lagers are already a fan favorite so why not take it up a notch with a hoppy boost? If you haven’t tried one, we highly recommend!

We’ve put together a roundup of some of our most popular dry hopped Hi-Wire brews. Grab one the next time you’re visiting one of our taprooms or snag a 6-pack from the grocery store to share with friends. Cheers!

#1. Zebra Slime 

This is a special IPA; our first ever canned at our downtown brewery in Asheville. We pulled no punches by utilizing British ale yeast from Omega with extreme hop additions of Nelson Sauvin and an exciting newer product in ‘Frozen Fresh Citra’. So get to sippin’ and enjoy some extreme fruitiness with intense citrus, crushed gooseberries, smooth floral, and white grape hop flavors.

#2. Hi-Pitch – Western North Carolina IPA. I love that beer and drink the hell out of it. 

A brewers’ favorite! This  balanced Western North Carolina IPA has bright citrus and tropical fruit aromas. Expect big grapefruit, tangerine and subtle melon flavors from the chorus of Mosaic & Centennial hops to balance out the malt in this dank & drinkable ale.

hiwire-lopitch

#3. Low-Pitch Hazy IPA 

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 sandy shores, mountain tops, or backyard hangs — a beer for any adventure.

 

What’s the Difference Between an Ale and a Lager?

If you’re here to up your beer knowledge, we like you already. 

As a craft brewery, it’s no shocker that we LOVE beer — talking about it, drinking it, and sometimes, even dreaming about it. So if you like to geek out on all things beer too, you’re in good company. For this beer lesson, we’re focusing on lagers and ales, because we get a lot of questions about the two. 

Have you ever grabbed a beer menu, seen a few ales and lagers on the list, and wondered what the heck the difference is between the two? When it comes to beer types, these are probably the two names that get tossed around the most. So beer lovers, gather round! We’ll walk you through how to decipher between them. 

Hint: it’s not just flavor that tells them apart! 

The Real Difference Between Ale and Lager

Your senses might lead you to believe that it’s color or flavor that create the main distinction between these two types of beer. And while yes, those are differentiators, the biggest difference actually comes down to the brewing process. 

Ales are fermented with a yeast species, called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, more widely known as “top fermenting” yeast. As the yeast munches up malt-derived sugars, it rises to the top, creating a layer of foam. And there you have it — top fermenting yeast!

Ales are brewed at warm temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of their warm environment, ales generally ferment and age in a shorter period of time — just 3 to 5 weeks. 

Lagers, on the other hand, require an opposite brewing process. They’re bottom-fermenting and made with a yeast called Saccharomyces pastorianus. Lager yeast prefers colder temperatures between 35 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Brewing a lager is a slower process, and they take much longer to ferment — roughly 6 to 8 weeks.

Ale vs. Lager Taste

Now, flavor is something we all care about. In our opinion, tasting a beer is magical — an experience that lights up the taste buds. A beer’s flavor profile tells us everything we need to know about it and immediately lets us know either yes, we love it or no, it’s not our jam. 

When it comes to lagers and ales, there’s a huge variety, whether it’s macro-produced beers like Bud Light and Budweiser, or specialty craft beers like the ones you’ll find from us here at Hi-Wire Brewing. Each lager and ale is unique in flavor, aroma, and subtle nuances. 

When you sip on a lager, you can expect a clean, crisp and more mild tasting beer. Lagers tend to be lighter and clearer to the eye and are usually lower in alcohol. You’ll also notice a smoother and more refreshing drinking experience with this type of beer. 

Now, let’s switch to ales. 

Ales have a fruity flavor profile and are more full-bodied than lagers. Their appearance is darker and cloudier with a higher alcohol content, more bitterness, and a stronger hop flavor. 

Delicious Types of Ales to Try at Hi-Wire Brewing

Whether you’re an ale aficionado or you’ve never ventured to taste one, here are four of our favorites to try. 

#1. Mountain Water Citrus Splash

This is the light ale you want to share with your friends who are seltzer fans! There’s some big lemon-lime “slushy in the sunshine” energy going on in this spritzy and refreshingly dry beverage. Bright citrus and key-lime notes shine in a refreshing ale built for hiking, hanging, and getting outdoors.

#2. Bed of Nails

This tasty brew is crafted as an American ode to a traditional English brown. A light hop addition balances the natural sweetness present in the specialty malt. This ale is great for sipping, and you can even use it to make some yummy beer cheese too (link to beer cheese blog).

#3. Gingerbread Hot Cocoa 10W-40 Imperial Stout (seasonal)

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 spice blend to our sweet and creamy stout. Notes of chewy ginger candy, chocolate cream soda, and fresh-baked cookies elevate this holiday-inspired stout brewed with chocolate, vanilla, and lactose.

#4. RAD Kolsch (specialty)

We bring you a new small batch offering, donning the namesake of our new location in Asheville NC’s River Arts District. This classic and clean stand-by is a light ale you can sit down and enjoy multiple pints with friends. Brewed for community tables and relaxing after long weeks, this pale golden-colored crusher lends pleasing notes of toasted biscuits with a slight bite and crisp finish. If you find yourself out exploring in the River Arts District, come by and give this refreshing ale a try!

Our Favorite Types of Lagers to Sip On at Hi-Wire Brewing

If you like your beers on the lighter side, these lagers will hit the spot. Here’s a roundup of four of our go-to’s. 

#1. Leisure Time Lager

This crisp and refreshing American craft lager is brewed patiently with 100% barley. Mellow and smooth, this Hi-Wire lager is simply delicious. 

#2. Hi-Wire Lager 

​​This true American lager is as approachable as it is delicious, a perfect balance of light Pilsen malt and German hops.

#3. Dunkel (seasonal)

“Dunkel” is German for “dark”. And in this traditionally brewed German-style dunkel lager, we used Carolina malted barley from both Riverbend & Epiphany to create the cocoa powder and crusty bread character that makes this style one of our favorites. In addition to the toasty bread notes, our Dunkel is balanced by flavors of dried dark fruits and caramel.

#4. Zirkusfest Oktoberfest (seasonal)

This traditional Märzen boasts all the flavors one wants in a rich Oktoberfest lager without the heavy finish. The use of Munich malt provides upfront biscuity and honey flavors that fade into a dry finish. 

Ready to Grab A Brew?

If this blog has you itching to try a new ale or lager, come see us at one of our taprooms to enjoy a fresh pour! Want to grab some beer to enjoy at home? We’ve got you covered. Check out our beer finder to see what Hi-Wire brews are available near you.

hiwire-lager

The Green Round-up: A Look at Hi-Wire Brewing’s Sustainability Initiatives

Since first opening our doors in 2013, a lot of growth and change has happened here at Hi-Wire, and it’s been exciting to say the least! We’ve expanded our taprooms into new locations, grown as a team, and added a slew of new, delicious beers to our repertoire. But something we might be most proud of is our growth in sustainability initiatives. 

In 2021, there were an average of 181 million barrels of beer brewed in the US. And with that industry number, we know there’s inevitably a large amount of waste that comes with it. While we only brew a fraction of that amount here at Hi-Wire, we’re committed to doing our part to support the health and longevity of our community and our planet. So as we say sayonara to 2022, we wanted to share a round-up of our sustainability initiatives for the year.  

Recycling Cooperative with Sierra Nevada

This year, we linked up with Sierra Nevada to be a part of a recycling co-op initiative that they spearheaded. With a grant from Sonoco Recycling and support from many other awesome breweries in Asheville (Zillicoah, Wicked Weed, Bhramari, Asheville Brewing, Burial, Buchi, and New Belgium) we were able to collaboratively install a recycling facility in Candler that allows us to break down some of our harder to break down materials.

recycling-coop_shrink-wrap_rolls_1800w-1100x734

To give you a deeper dive, here’s a rundown of some of the products that are now easily recycled. Fun fact, none of the items below were recyclable in a single-stream recycling process before this collaborative initiative. 

  • Polypropylene (PP#5) – malt bags, keg caps, plastic bottle caps, tier sheets
  • Low density polyethylene film (LDPE #4) – stretch wrap, plastic wraps, bubble wrap
  • Polyethylene terephthalate strapping (PET #1) – plastic strapping that’s typically used to hold materials to pallets
  • High density polyethylene (HDPE #2) – buckets, drums, and paktech can holders 

As you can imagine, we use a lot of these products during brewing, production, and shipping, so having a one-stop shop to be able to recycle all of these materials has been a game changer for us and for our Asheville community of breweries.  

Since we began dropping off recycling at Sonoco in December of 2021, our total amount of recycled materials to date is 17,140 pounds. And we’re looking forward to growing that number into 2023!

Paktech Recycling

When you pick up a Hi-Wire 6-pack, you might be so excited to crack open a cold one that you rip off the cans without noticing or thinking about the packaging. But next time you grab a 6-pack, we challenge you to take a second to check out the can carrier. These little holders are produced by  Paktech, a manufacturing company that uses recycled HDPE plastic to create 100% recyclable packaging handles and automated application equipment.   

paktech

Unfortunately, because of their shape, these little carriers don’t always get sorted properly at recycling facilities, so we decided to do something about it to make recycling easier. 

We’ve placed buckets in our taprooms and now accept Paktech carriers for separated recycling at all Asheville locations, Charlotte, Durham, Wilmington and Knoxville. So come by and see us for a brew and drop off your carriers! We’re making it easy on you. 

Recycling Paper Products with Asheville Waste Paper Co.

Another company we’ve been fortunate to work with is Asheville Waste Paper Co., located in Asheville’s River Arts District. This collaboration has given us an opportunity to not only work with a great local company, but it’s also made it possible for us to reduce the number of recycling pickups we have from our single stream provider. Asheville Waste Paper Co.’s close proximity — in between our Big Top and RAD facilities — gives us a convenient location to drop off cardboard and paper when traveling between facilities.   

Since we began working with Asheville Waste Paper Co. in August of 2022, our total amount of recycled materials is 7,920 pounds. 

Online Shopping You Can Feel Good About 

Have you been eyeing a Hi-Wire glass to drink your favorite brew at home? Or maybe you want a Hi-Wire hat or t-shirt to sport around town? Well, now you can online shop and not feel icky about it. 

This year, we fully transitioned all shipping supplies to compostable, recycled/recyclable, and/or reused materials. We even include a little card with your package that details our commitment to sustainability. 

bigtop1

Taking Care of our Local Environment in Asheville

Our little mountain town of Asheville is near and dear to our hearts. To give back and take care of our local environment, we decided to adopt Meadow Road that runs in front of our Biltmore location. Yes, we’re officially parents, and we even have signs out front from the city to prove it! 

Once a month, we get together and have a staff cleaning day, picking up trash and making sure the road gets the love and care it needs. We love the opportunity to do some team bonding and give back too — it’s a win-win.  

Staying Accountable for Our Carbon Footprint

What is a carbon footprint, and why does it matter? Well, let’s talk about what it means first. In simple terms, a carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions. In the United States, the average carbon footprint per person is 16 tons, which is A LOT. We know we can do better, and here at Hi-Wire, we’re challenging ourselves to stay accountable for our footprint as a company. 

This year, we went through a carbon footprint audit of our Asheville facilities. We calculated how much energy we consumed in terms of natural gas and electricity and then compared ourselves to other mid-sized breweries in the area. It was eye opening and showed us areas where we can improve. 

Hi-Wire Brewing’s Sustainability Goals for 2023

There’s always room for improvement, right? And even though we’ve come a long way, we also know there’s more to do! So as we head into 2023, we’re hoping to expand our sustainability initiatives across all of our taproom locations. 

One step at a time, we’re making progress, and we’re so grateful for your support as we learn, grow, and improve our sustainability initiatives. Cheers!

What is a Hazy IPA?

This deliciously refreshing beer has stolen the hearts of craft beer lovers and IPA enthusiasts alike from coast to coast. But did you know that this wildly popular brew actually comes from humble beginnings? You couldn’t always find it flowing on tap at your local craft brewery or pick up a case of it from your neighborhood grocery store. What hit the beer scene as a simple niche brew quickly turned into a fan favorite, and it’s no surprise, because there’s a lot to love about it.  

If IPA’s are your “just can’t get enough,” “go-to” brew, we’re betting you’ll love this hazy version too. But even folks who generally don’t pick up an IPA as their beer of choice still find themselves intrigued by this juicy, cloudy beverage. So whether you just bought your first 4-pack to try or you’re a diehard Hazy IPA drinker, you may be curious to learn what it is about this beer that’s caused its popularity to skyrocket, and why so many people just can’t get enough of it. Grab a Lo-Pitch or a Super Haze and enjoy the yumminess that is the Hazy IPA as we walk you through a little beer education.  

What is a Hazy IPA anyway?

If you’re a hazy newbie, don’t sweat it – no judgment here! We’ll give you the rundown on what makes this niche beverage a fan favorite. 

First things first, as the name implies, they’re visibly hazy (might seem obvious, but still noteworthy!) However, that’s not the only differentiator — their distinguished characteristics go far beyond just a cloudy appearance. 

Similar to other IPAs, they have a lot of hops. But thanks to precise brewing processes and less filtering, these beers rank lower on the bitterness scale than other IPAs do. Instead, you’ll get a flavor profile that’s much creamier with notes of fruity hops, which is why you’ll hear others describe Hazy IPAs as being juicy and citrus tasting (maybe even reminiscent of orange juice.) It’s these fruity hops that make Hazy IPAs so delicious and memorable. But beware, even though they may seem like easy drinking beers, they’re still not ones you’d want to shotgun.

Hazy IPA vs. IPA

Let’s start with the OG… THE IPA.

You may have heard a tale about this notorious beer that goes a little something like this: In the 1700s, when the British were trying to colonize India, they tried over and over again to send beer to their troops. But despite their best efforts, the ales they sent couldn’t endure the long trip to India. As you can imagine, extreme temperatures and prolonged storage weren’t exactly ideal conditions for keeping beer fresh. 

The British had two tools to work with: alcohol and hops — both known for being great preservatives. As legend has it, it was George Hodgson of East London’s Bow Brewery who created the very first IPA. It was bitter and highly alcoholic, but at long last, it could withstand the long trip across the ocean. 

Thanks to the creation of this beloved beverage, we now have multiple varieties of the English-born brew — like the West Coast IPA, East Coast IPA, Double IPA and Belgian IPA — satisfying hoppy cravings for decades.

hops

From inception to modern day, IPAs have been crafted to be hop-forward, giving a flavor profile that’s both bitter and fruity. And while hazy IPAs and regular IPAs both use heaping amounts of hops, the difference between these two styles is how and when they’re used during the brewing process. With traditional IPAs, brewers typically add hops during the boil, which causes them to taste more bitter. But unlike the rest of the IPA family, Hazy IPAs are brewed by adding hops after the boiling process or during fermentation (known as dry-hopping,) which gives these hazy brews their signature floral, citrus and tropical fruit flavor profiles. 

What makes a Hazy IPA hazy?

Historically for brewers, having a batch of beer turn out hazy was bad news. The cloudy appearance signaled that the beer was infected with bacteria, and that meant time to toss it out and start over.

This all changed in the early 2000s when brewers at Alchemist Brewery, in Vermont, introduced a new, hazy style of beer called the New England IPA, or as we like to call it, the Hazy IPA. Since then, this cloudy, juicy ale has been adopted by breweries, both small and large, and has taken the beer industry by storm.

hiwire-ipas

The haze that we love so much about this beer is a result of a few different things. With a Hazy IPA, the cloudiness comes from colloidal haze from the dry hopping process. The purpose is mainly to add aroma to the beer, but it also adds particulate matter which stays suspended in the liquid, creating the beer’s signature haziness. Its foggy appearance also comes from something called “low-flocculating yeast.” This is yeast that doesn’t clump together, rise to the surface or sink to the bottom.

The Hi-Wire Brewing Hazy IPA

In typical Hi-Wire fashion, we like to put our own spin on things. And our Hazy IPAs are no exception. 

Let’s start with step one — the recipe. 

hiwire-beer

When we design our refreshing hazy recipes, we always look to accent the fruit characteristics of our hops — that’s where you get those delicious citrus and tropical flavors from. And sometimes it takes a lot of experimenting to get things just right. For that reason, we’re giving a special shout out to our Hilliard Brewhouse for giving us more opportunity to explore and experiment. It’s new. It’s updated. And we love it. 

Thanks to our more modern brew equipment, we’re able to do a lot more. We can make beer on a small scale at the brewhouse to do some trial and error experiments to see what we like, and if things go well, we can take what we’ve made to then brew a larger batch of beer. With Hazy IPAs, in particular, this is a game changer, because we get to experiment with different types of hops to see what we want to use. 

When we’ve gotten our recipe down pat, the brewing process begins. For our hazy brews, we treat them differently than our other beers. We brew them to have low bitterness which stems from our two separate dry hops. We complete one dry hop during fermentation (because you get interaction with the yeast,) and then we do a post fermentation dry hop. 

In our process, we use wheat and oats (which have more protein) to give our Hazy IPAs that cloudy, classic haze. We also try to retain haze through the selection of particle size, whereas some brewers use the yeast that stays in suspension to create a more intense haze. Here at Hi-Wire, we haven’t used that style of brewing Hazys yet, but we plan to in 2023. So, this is your PSA to be on the lookout for a new style of Hi-Wire Hazy IPA coming soon! Get excited.

Want to try a Hi-Wire Brewing Hazy?

Join us for a Hazy brew at one of our various taprooms! Choose one of our locations here. Interested in finding our beer near you? Check out our beer finder here.