People often ask me, “What’s your favorite beer? That’s an impossible question, because there are sooooo many great beers available in WNC.
If pressed, I usually disclose that I have a strong preference for darker, more robust beers — like stouts and porters.
I’m also particularly fond of Belgian beer styles, and I often pull-out my phone and share photos of my New Belgium Brewing-themed man cave.
NBB is a fantastic brewery, originating in my home state of Colorado, where I grew up and was an avid bicyclist. I’m drawn to New Belgium’s Fat Tire logo, its Belgian beers and (most of all) how the brewery followed me from Colorado to Asheville, so I can have fresher beer.
We carried a six-pack of Asheville-fresh Fat Tire to a family Christmas gathering in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, because it’s a beer everyone enjoys. But we carefully set aside a bomber of a what I call “newer” Belgian beer — Archetype Brewing’s barrel-aged Holiday Ale — for our return.
The word archetype is defined as a, “a very typical example of a certain thing.”
In the case of Archetype Brewing, it’s way better than ‘typical example,’ thanks to the unique strain of Belgian Saccharomyces yeast that head brewer, Steven Anan, carefully developed in his home kitchen.
It has become Archetype’s “house strain” of yeast, and Anan and co-owner, Brad Casanova, have used it to create a variety of wonderful, Belgian-styled beers.
Archetype uses this unique yeast strain to give Belgian feel to an American Lite Lager, named Cowboy Poet and a ‘Guiness-esque’ Nitro Pub Stout, named Blue Collar Wizard.
By far, my favorite Archetype brew is (oddly, its highest ABV) Belgian Strong Ale. It weighs-in at 11.2 percent ABV, but is amazingly drinkable, with a big berry bouquet (cranberry, cherry, blueberry, raisins and figs). It’s like drinking a batch of my mother’s butter tarts — my favorite boyhood pastries. Now that’s sayin’ something.
BTW, I’m not alone in my love of Archetype’s Belgian Strong Ale. It won the 2018 NC Craft Brewers Guild's NC Brewers Cup trophy — besting 74 craft breweries, with 624 entries, over two days of judging.
Something to look-forward to — this wonderful beer will be back on tap later this year.
Archetype Brewing is small, intimate, open, friendly, inviting and personal — and Anan’s signature yeast strain is showcased in every beer.
Best of all, you can watch Anan and Casanova work their magic on the brewery’s sparkling 10-barrel system from wherever you are in the tasting room, and tell him how much you love their beer.
This is “newer” Belgium beer — more like drinking beer in a Belgian brewer’s home.
Finally, Archetype has embarked on a barrel aging program, that will bring even more depth and complexity to its Belgian beer offerings. More on that this winter.
Archetype Brewing is at 265 Haywood Road in West Asheville. Visit www.ArchetypeBrewing.com.