In early May, Asheville’s Highland Brewing Co. celebrated its 25th anniversary. As one the South’s pioneering craft breweries, the family-owned company has steadily grown over the years, with founder Oscar Wong passing the President/CEO torch on to his daughter, Leah Wong Ashburn.
With that generational change, innovation and new beer styles have become a priority. Witness the newest year-round offering, the Aperol Spritz-inspired Slow Crush Tart Spritz Ale, which is arguably unlike anything Highland has ever brewed—especially compared to its historic flagship beer, Gaelic Ale.
Highland will be pouring Slow Crush in the Tasting Tents at the 2019 Atlanta Food & Wine Festival (05/30-06/02). And Highland’s R&D brewer, Trace Redmond, will be joining me for a panel on Saturday (06/01) called Crafted Collabs, where we’ll be discussing the culinary intersections of craft beer and artisanal products with TrimTab Brewing’s Luke Garner and Chai Pani chef Meherwan Irani.
With all that in mind, Slow Crush Tart Spritz Ale is this week’s Beer Pick.
Slow Crush Tart Spritz Ale
Highland Brewing Co., Asheville, N.C.
Available on draft and in 4-pack 16-ounce cans
The newest beer from Highland’s R&D team is also the newest addition to brewery’s year-round lineup. Inspired by the suddenly controversial aperitif, the Aperol Spritz, Slow Crush is billed as a Tart Spritz Ale.
It starts out as a kettle sour, brewed with malted wheat and flaked rye, and citrus-forward Cascade, Amarillo, Ekuanot and Citra hops. Orange puree and botanicals, including gentian root, cinchona bark and hibiscus flowers, are added to mimic the favors of an Italian aperitivo.
The result is a zesty, sparkling brew that’s both refreshing and a bit strange, conjuring a mash-up of ancient gruit and modern mixology. At just 5% alcohol, it’s certainly sessionable, and most welcome for summer sipping. Much like the Aperol Spritz, though, it’s bound to stir up some strong opinions.
Highland recommends pairing Slow Crush with cheese and charcuterie, or oysters on the half-shell.
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