Following an enjoyable first stop in Asheville with the cool people over at Burial Beer Co, we made the ‘tediously long’ 100 yard walk over to the Green Man Brewery’s pub. The first thing we noticed is that everything in the bar is green – the green man represents rebirth or the new cycle of spring growth and they certainly take the name to heart with dozens of variations of the green man motif hanging on the walls throughout the facility. The bar staff were occupied with the bustling Friday after-work crowd but the room maintains a really laid back vibe which is perfect for hanging out and enjoying a good football match (soccer for all of you Americans), which they air frequently for watch parties. Despite the busy evening, we were graciously met by Jennifer Pittman, brewery laison and jackie of all trades currently operating under the title of Mistress of Malt, as well as the pub dog/puppy, Maceo, who is named after funk and jazz Saxophonist, Maceo Parker. Jenn immediately offered us a sample flight of each of their beers on tap so that we could familiarize ourselves with the Green Man wares. Green Man has been making Legendary Ales since they opened in 1997, the second brewery to do so in the Asheville area, as a brewpub in a building that now houses Jack of the Wood just a few blocks away from their current location. The brewpub operated for over a decade but kept things simple, brewing only a handful of beer styles. In 2010, the business changed ownership when it was purchased by Dennis Thies after a visit to the quaint city with his wife. The staff from the brewpub were kept on board and the first step was to move the brewery to a new home and ramp up the production.
Green Man now offers dozens of beer styles, many of which are made in the original brewhouse located in the building with the pub. They have experienced steady and rapid growth over the past 4 years and multiple lots next door have been purchased for brewery expansion. The lot immediately next door to the pub has been built up into a production facility where the head brewer, John Stuart, and his staff can crank out their year round flagships and consistent seasonal brews on their new state of the art, three vessel, 30 bbl brewhouse. The flagships, which consist of Green Man English-style IPA, ESB, and Porter, are remnants of the original brewpub and have been available in 6-packs of bottles for just under a year – beginning on Saint Patrick’s Day 2013. They are currently distributed, along with kegs, throughout NC and to select areas in SC and eastern TN. The bottle release was accompanied with a killer party with 1,000 attendees. There was live music, tents set up with food along with jockey boxes outside to aid the bar staff in accommodating the mass of people. Jen said they would like to continue this tradition with a block party into the future, however, it looks like they may be restricted to keeping the party smaller and localized in the pub and on their large, covered back patio. Getting back to the production brewery, they also brew up a handful of seasonals throughout the year for packaging and distribution. The seasonal line is made up of the Forester winter stout, spring’s dry hopped Rambler pale ale which just launched for the first time in bottles last Friday, Wayfarer American white IPA in summer, and, last but not least, the Harvester German-style marzen in fall.
Mike Karnowski functions as head brewer of the original brewery within the bar from where all of the specialty beers originate. He has been hard at work creating tons of new beers for your enjoyment and has even begun a barrel aging and sour program. Popular products have included the Holly King barrel aged holiday ale, Rainmaker imperial IPA, and Dweller imperial stout. The Demon Dweller encompasses a blend of Makers Mark and Jack Daniels barrel aged Dweller and was released the Tuesday prior to our visit – fortunately a little was left on tap for sampling. The sour beers have also proven quite popular, with releases like Maceo sour dark ale with cherries as well as Snozberry wild ale. Expansion throughout the property has opened up space for a new sour house in the near future so keep an eye on increased offerings from that program. Of special interest to us was hearing about Mike’s Hand of Doom imperial IPA which was fermented with Black Sabbath playing on loop, exuberantly driving the yeast to do Ozzy’s bidding – to make alcohol, of course. The brewery even has plans in the works to develop a wet hopped ale, utilizing hops grown locally, for their upcoming anniversary in collaboration with band Toad the Wet Sprocket. A variety of specialty casks are also consistently on tap at the brewery’s bar and the specialty beers are tapped in the Green Man pub or kegged for distribution to select accounts. They are often made available in 22oz bombers which are lovingly filled by hand.
The child and dog friendly tasting room is open 7 days a week with hours of 3-9pm M-F and 2-10pm on weekends. Regular tours are not currently offered but a program is in the works and, in the meantime, we positively recommend a stop in to enjoy the scenery during a nice afternoon on the patio, strike up a conversation with one of the many regulars, hang out with Maceo, and indulge in some tasty English-inspired ales paired with complimentary Lusty Monk mustard and pretzels. When you are finished, pick up some bottles or a growler to go and admire the ever changing form of the Green Man on seasonal and specialty beers. Keep an eye out for various charity events and beer dinners throughout the year, the next dinner being scheduled with The Black Bird this March. An enormous thank you goes out to Jen for not only her hospitality in speaking with us and showing us around the brewing facilities but also for giving us a local’s insight into Asheville during our 5 day stay. Also, thanks are in order to Sean and Kyle for providing additional insight into experiencing Asheville right and to the friendly bar staff for keeping our pint glasses filled in each of our visits.
Author: Brandon Wurtz