In Asheville, N.C., what you might call the east coast mecca of craft beer, Hi-Wire Brewing is a stand out. Known for producing approachable and balanced ales and lagers, the brewery has two locations — the 27,000-square foot Big Top Production Facility and Taproom and the South Slope Specialty Brewery and Taproom. The latter of those two is about to undergo somewhat of a rebrand/refocus and the CBB team is salivating at the possibilities (both because of the beers and because we get too excited about branding and strategy).
Here’s the deal: Hi-Wire will transition the South Slope Specialty Brewery from its current function — brewing a wide variety of one-time-release ales and lagers — to brewing exclusively sour and wild beers. Although this shift will not change Hi-Wire’s core lineup of beers, it will make the company one of the nation’s only breweries to have a specialty program that revolves around both craft lagers and sour beers.
Few other breweries in the country focus on both craft lagers and sour beers because of the amount of time both take to produce, anywhere from eight weeks for specialty lagers up to eighteen months for barrel-aged sour beers. Despite the time and money required to fulfill this commitment Hi-Wire is dedicated to creating the highest quality of both of these historic styles of beer.
The souring of the brewery will be lead by two brewers — Luke Holgate, Hi-Wire’s head brewer, and Jonathan Parks, Hi-Wire’s head specialty brewer. Both men are dedicated to quality and craft and are excited to launch Hi-Wire into the world of sour and wild beer.
“The specialty brewery allows us to be more nimble and create beers more spontaneously than the production brewery,” said Holgate. “We have the flexibility to innovate, to become a brewery doing something different. And, we can’t think of anything gutsier as a brewery than to specialize in both craft lagers and sour beers.”
In the last two weeks, Hi-Wire moved several 30-bbl tanks from its South Slope Brewery to its Big Top location to provide more space for barrel storage at their budding wild-beer brewery. Although no formal plans are in place for the first release of specialty sour beer, Hi-Wire Brewing is confident the first beers from this new program will come out this summer.
“Sour beers need time to age and perfect,” Holgate said. “We want to let the barrels and the ‘bugs’ do their jobs fully, before we release a beer. As we continually taste our barrel-aging sour beers, as soon as we come across barrels that are just how we want them, we will bottle and condition them until we are absolutely sure they are ready for the public. We have always been committed to quality at the brewery and our sour program will be no exception.”
Hi-Wire expects a fresh shipment of barrels to arrive in the coming weeks along with some additional equipment necessary for the project.