33 States Report Job Growth in Solar Industry FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From Solar Industry Magazine:The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit research and education organization, has released state-by-state data from its annual National Solar Jobs Census series via the State Solar Jobs Census Map.The new numbers show that California not only maintained its No. 1 spot in 2015, but also created over 20,000 new solar jobs last year – a 38% increase – and became the first state to surpass the 75,000 solar jobs benchmark.The California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) has praised local policymakers for their continued support of this new clean energy market, pointing to recent decisions around net metering, extension of the federal investment tax credit, and the state’s 50% by 2030 renewable portfolio standard.“Solar power is a bright spot in California’s economy, bringing jobs and economic development to every corner of the state,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the CALSEIA. “While conventional energy industries are losing jobs, we are seeing record growth and bringing clean air and climate solutions along the way.”According to The Solar Foundation, Massachusetts solidified the No. 2 position in 2015 while becoming the second state to have more than 15,000 solar jobs. In addition to California and Massachusetts: Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Oregon, Michigan, and Utah are among the top 20 solar jobs states that grew by 30% or more.“Solar power not only helps protect our environment and health – it helps accelerate our economic success,” says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This is another example of how Colorado’s diverse energy economy contributes to our overall growth and stability. We are pleased that the solar industry continues to find Colorado a good state for business.”“Massachusetts is home to a thriving clean energy economy with innovative companies, world-class research institutions and a skilled workforce, and we’re proud that the commonwealth continues to maintain its national clean energy leadership position,” adds Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.The Solar Foundation says 33 states, including the District of Columbia, saw positive solar jobs growth in 2015 over the previous year, and many states experienced double-digit increases.“Solar job creation is booming across the country. California’s 20,000 new jobs marks an industry milestone – but states like Utah, Colorado, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia demonstrate the regional diversity of the industry’s growth,” says Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation. “Our data since 2012 show that half the states in the country have at least doubled their solar workforce.”The Solar Foundation notes this is the first year it has tracked solar jobs by congressional district for all 50 states – providing information for nearly all 436 federal congressional districts and more than 6,000 state legislative districts. The organization says there are now 61 federal congressional districts with at least 1,000 solar jobs; 132 districts with more than 500; and 222 districts with 250 or more solar industry jobs.Other key rankings from the State Solar Jobs Census include the following:Most Solar Jobs: 1. California, 2. Massachusetts, 3. Nevada, 4. New York, 5. New Jersey.Highest % Solar Jobs Growth: 1. Rhode Island, 2. South Carolina, 3. Nebraska, 4. Tennessee, 5. Louisiana.Most Solar Jobs Per Capita: 1. Nevada 2. Vermont, 3. Hawaii, 4. California, 5. Massachusetts.Highest % Solar Capacity Growth 2014-15 (estimated): 1. South Carolina, 2. Utah, 3. Georgia, 4. Oregon, 5. New Hampshire.Full article: U.S. Solar Job Creation Is ‘Booming,’ California Ranks No. 1
Editorial: Overcompensated Coal Executives Have Broken Trust With Employees FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Casper (Wyo.) Star Tribune:Once, it was true that if you worked hard enough for a long enough time, your dedication would be rewarded. You earned your salary, and your benefits were there when you needed them.That’s no longer the case – at least not at America’s biggest coal companies, several of which have significant operations here in Wyoming.Almost 500 people who toiled for years at mines owned by Arch Coal and Peabody Energy were recently laid off. It would be easy to blame this on the dwindling demand for coal and other market factors.But that’s not the full story. While Wyoming coal country trembled, fearful of the industry’s future and its own, these producers’ CEOs and other executives profited richly.Alpha Natural Resources, Arch and Peabody paid their management teams $186 million in stock awards, incentives and other forms of compensation between 2012 and 2014. All three companies have since filed for bankruptcy protection – and their struggles are tied to the decisions of the executives, who in 2011 rushed to acquire mines to capitalize on strong demand for metallurgical coal. Critics say this was foolish, that these expensive executives should have known they were walking into a metallurgical market near its height.Soon enough, though, it appeared that they did know what would happen: “The behavior of these executives seems to me pretty outrageous. They could see the handwriting on the wall,” Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C., told the Star-Tribune. “The numbers are there. They started paying themselves out way back in 2012 or early 2013 when the numbers were turning.”And those payments appear to have contributed to the severity of layoffs. For example, Alpha wants to slash retiree benefits for about 4,580 nonunion miners and their spouses. The would save roughly $3 million annually, or about 14 percent of the $20.8 million Alpha paid its management in 2014.Not as well-insulated were the Wyomingites who worked at the mines. Hundreds of households that depended on these once-reliable jobs are looking desperately for help and rethinking their futures. But the effects of the companies’ actions don’t stop at these miners or their communities. They will ripple across Wyoming, straining the resources of the state, its municipalities and its charities.Wyoming is in the process of diversifying its economy, and part of that should include looking for companies that prioritize all hardworking employees, not just the executives.Employment does have to adapt to some degree to the economic climate. As demand for coal dwindles, it makes sense that employment at mines would, too. But none of this should happen while management benefits so richly.These executives should have demonstrated good corporate citizenship by placing the needs of their hardworking employees ahead of their own desire for financial gain.But because they didn’t, Wyomingites are working to make sure these families have enough to eat and safe places to live. After that, the state’s network of resources, such as community colleges, are left to find ways to offer job-training opportunities, so the miners can redirect or reinvent their careers.The companies’ decisions have also served to break the trust miners once enjoyed with their employers. When companies did well, everyone prospered. Employees believed they had built a solid foundation of trust with their employers. That’s why it was all the more shocking when that foundation crumbled.A government watchdog agency and a group of former Alpha executives agrees. The U.S. Trustee, a division of the Justice Department, filed an objection earlier this year to Alpha’s plan to reward executives while recording steep losses and seeking to cut retiree benefits. Meanwhile, former Alpha CEO Michael Quillen, who is protesting the proposal with a group of other former executives, told the Star-Tribune the plan does not represent “the values the company was built on.”It also doesn’t represent the values the American dream was built on. As Wyoming continues to diversify its economy, it should look to welcome companies who know that success is built on the work of many people — not just those at the top.Full editorial: Editorial board: Coal payouts turn American dream upside down
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Taylor Kuykendall for SNL:Linc Energy Ltd., the company leading an underground coal gasification project in Wyoming, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization May 29.Australia-based Linc is a global oil and gas company that “set out on an aggressive drilling program” in the Gulf Coast and Alaska beginning in 2012. The rush to buy assets, said Jude Rolfes, vice president of corporate development for Linc in a filed declaration, made the company particularly vulnerable to a recent decline in oil prices.Linc said it began to adjust its operations in late 2014, but the company’s actions were not enough to withstand the price slump.The company’s gasification project in Wyoming had planned to pump chemicals into Powder River Basin coal seams that would set off a chemical reaction generating synthetic natural gas from coal that can be extracted from wells. The process is used broadly globally, but has never seen widespread use in the U.S.Full item ($): Company behind Wyo. coal gasification project files for bankruptcy protection Coal Gasification Company Files for Bankruptcy
In Blocking Montana Mine Enlargement, Judge Sees Company as ‘Inflating the Benefits of the Action While Minimizing Its Impacts’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A federal judge has blocked a proposed 176-million ton (159 million-metric ton) expansion of a central Montana coal mine in a ruling that criticized U.S. officials for downplaying the climate change impacts of the project and inflating its economic benefits.U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy issued an order Monday barring Signal Peak Energy from mining in the 11-square mile (28-square kilometer) expansion area at the Bull Mountain coal mine pending a new round of environmental studies.Molloy says the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining must consider the environmental effects of shipping the fuel to customers in Asia and from the greenhouse gases and other pollutants emitted when the fuel is burned to generate electricity.Federal mining officials said the proposed expansion would contribute almost $24 million annually in tax revenues. They also said there would be no additional environmental impacts from burning more coal from Bull Mountain because its customers would simply go somewhere else if the expansion were not approved.But Molloy rejected the claim.“This conclusion is illogical, and places the (Interior Department’s) thumb on the scale by inflating the benefits of the action while minimizing its impacts,” the judge wrote.Bull Mountain, located near Roundup, is a major employer in central Montana with more than 250 workers at the underground mine and a coal preparation plant on the site. As much as 95 percent of its coal has been exported in past years, to South Korea, Japan and the Netherlands, according to court volumes.The mine’s production volumes dropped sharply in recent years as overseas coal markets have been in decline. Signal Peak extracted 5.6 million tons of coal last year, down by 35 percent since peaking at 8.7 million tons in 2013, according to company filings with the U.S. Mine Health and Safety Administration.Under the proposed expansion, the company anticipated mining up to 12 million tons annually.More: Judge blocks 176-million ton coal mine expansion in Montana
Canada to try again on Trans Mountain project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Canada will not appeal a court ruling that overturned its approval of an oil pipeline expansion project, opting instead for more consultations with aboriginal groups unhappy about the plan, a top official said on Wednesday.The problem-plagued bid to almost treble the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline is becoming one of the biggest political challenges for the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the run-up to an election in 2019.In August, the Federal Court of Appeal said Ottawa had failed to adequately consider aboriginal concerns before giving the green light to the expansion. That same month, amid increasing protests by aboriginal and environmental activists, Ottawa bought the pipeline from Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd.“The government will not appeal the court’s decision … we are going to do things differently this time,” Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi told a news conference. Instead, Ottawa will reinitiate consultations with all 117 indigenous groups who would be affected by plans to pump more oil from Alberta to the Pacific province of British Columbia.Sohi said on Wednesday that he would not impose a time limit on the consultations but added that “we are not starting from scratch”, given the government already had plenty of information from earlier discussions. He also reiterated that there would be no aboriginal veto over the project. Indigenous communities insist they have the final say over projects which would cross their land.More: Canada won’t appeal ruling that overturned pipeline, to consult more
The pristine headwaters of the Tellico River are directly below one of the messiest mud holes in the region. The Tellico Off-Road Vehicle Area in North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest has over 40 miles of off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails—twice as many as are legally allowed by the U.S Forest Service. Poor management of the area combined with four-wheeler abuse has resulted in thousands of tons of sediment being washed into the Tellico River.“I’ve been working on Tellico for ten years and have watched fish populations plummet,” says Michael Smith, coordinator of the North Carolina chapter of Trout Unlimited. “The headwaters of the Tellico is the largest habitat of native brook trout in North Carolina. The trout are all being pushed upstream above the off-highway vehicle sediment. This is an issue about water quality and the health of an entire ecosystem.” “There is a real fear of permanent closure [in Tellico],” says Jay Bird, president of the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association. “Closures all across the country are the result of powerful anti-access groups pushing their agendas on public land managers who crumple at the first sign of a threat. Because of biased stereotypes created by anti-access groups, legislators feel forced to act with the more powerful anti-access groups that hide behind the ‘green’ moniker.”Southern four-wheel enthusiasts recently lost Anderson Creek in the Chattahoochee National Forest in north Georgia. Anderson Creek OHV Area had six miles of designated OHV trails and over 13 miles of illegal user-created trails. The Forest Service closed the illegal trails in 2004, but when site degradation continued, they closed the entire trail system permanently. In Tennessee, two privately owned OHV parks were closed by the state because of violations of the Clean Water Act.According to a Forest Service study performed in 2000, the water quality issues and suppressed fish populations often associated with OHV areas are due primarily to density: too many OHV trails in too small of an area. This trail proliferation, which has gone unregulated because of a lack of agency resources, has resulted in mini-Tellicos all across the nation. According to the U.S. Forest Service’s own calculations, nearly 26,000 tons of sediment have washed into the Tellico River and surrounding streams since the trail system was built. On average, each mile of Tellico trail sends 50 tons of sediment into the stream system every year.When Trout Unlimited and a coalition of environmental organizations threatened to sue the Forest Service for the blatant violation of the Clean Water Act, the agency promptly closed Tellico to vehicle traffic through the wettest months of the winter in order to perform an environmental assessment. Last June, the Forest Service released a proposal to reduce the amount of trails from 40 to 24 miles, prompting the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association to announce its intent to sue the forest. The lawsuit was retracted to give the Nantahala National Forest a chance to prepare a management plan proposal for the Tellico based on the environmental assessment.Similar legal battles are being played out across the country as federal agencies attempt to reign in rampant abuse of public resources by four-wheel-drive enthusiasts. Nationally, the Forest Service manages 287,000 miles of roads and 32,000 miles of trails open to off-road vehicles, all of which has gone essentially unmanaged for decades.“Off-road use has always been a problem on public land,” says Karen Schaumbach, a coordinator for PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) who is dealing with rampant off-road use on a national level. “But the numbers of off-roaders has grown explosively in recent years. There are tens of thousands of user-created ATV trails, and even the legal trail systems are causing erosion and water quality problems.”The illegal trail proliferation and poor management of legal systems even led to a Senate oversight committee hearing on the matter last summer, when New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee, stated that unmanaged off-road use has resulted in “significant consequences for the health of our public lands…It appears questionable to me whether [the Forest Service is] able to properly manage [off-road] use.”Many off-road enthusiasts worry that this recent push for trail management will ultimately lead to the ban of off-road vehicles from their favorite trail systems, particularly here in the Southeast where OHV areas are more confined. D.J. Gerken, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center—the organization that threatened legal action to protect Tellico—says the Forest Service’s unofficial policy of leniency with OHV users is responsible for the environmental issues surrounding Tellico. “If a developer built roads that looked like Tellico, the state would have come down on them with a hammer.”Still, Gerken and other environmentalists insist they’re not looking to ban off-road vehicles from the nation’s forests. “[Off-roaders] think we’re gunning for them. That’s not the case. We just don’t want the mess,” Gerken says. “At the end of the day, you have to be performance-based on this issue. You can have your trails if the dirt stays out of the water. If not, then they have to be shut down.”
The Jackson River is getting lots of press these days—and not for its outstanding trout fishery. Rather, the waterway is at the center of a lawsuit that could have far-reaching effects for sportsmen across Virginia.Controversy surrounding the Jackson River is nothing new: In its landmark 1996 Crown Grant decision, the Virginia Supreme Court sided with property owners who argued that they had exclusive fishing rights, thanks to the title issued by King George III. Anglers may freely float through the Jackson River because it is a navigable waterway, but no one may fish the grant section of the Jackson without consent of the property owners.And therein lies the rub of the latest dust-up. According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), the grant section applies to the river below the Gathright Dam and through Johnson Springs. As far as the VDGIF is concerned, the rest of the river downstream from Johnson Springs is open to the public.However, a new development along this stretch of the river has posted signs on both sides of the river prohibiting fishing, swimming, or exiting their kayaks or canoes for any reason. The River’s Edge, which owns this property, sells riverside home sites that range from $175,000 to $325,000.As the “no trespassing” signs went up, so did the hackles of sportsmen, who view the signs as an attempt to privatize the river for the benefit of a few wealthy landowners. But the relevant questions remain: Who owns the river? And what exactly does that mean for sportsmen?On the HookIn February, two fishermen and a local pastor were sued for trespassing by Matt Sponagle, owner of The River’s Edge development. These anglers refused to stop fishing The River’s Edge section of the Jackson River.The defendants argued that since this stretch of river was outside the Crown Grant, and therefore state-owned for the public use, they had every right to fish the water. Now these anglers, should they be found guilty in civil court, may find themselves on the hook for $10,000 apiece.Who Cares About the King?Why does the decree of a dead British king matter today? Didn’t we fight a war of independence from that very king?At the foundation of our own legal system, though, we find English Common Law, among the most sacred tenets of which is the pursuit and protection of private property. Our Founding Fathers were both zealous advocates of private property and prosecutors of the Revolutionary War. And in their minds, apparently, newly won American independence did not negate the fact that certain tracts of land had indeed been lawfully conveyed to private individuals by the Crown of England.Whose River Is It?The outcome of the current Jackson River case could have implications for sportsmen across the Old Dominion, and for anglers in particular. Taking their cue from The River’s Edge, more landowners are posting signs along their property lines that face the river. Naturally these landowners may post whatever they like on their own land, but that does not necessarily mean that officers of the law will enforce the posting as long as anglers stay in the river. Both the VDGIF and the Alleghany County Commonwealth’s Attorney have refused to prosecute any anglers fishing outside of the Crown Grant section, but they also have no authority to remove the confusing signs. 1 2
Jon & Jenny Lowrance live at the foot of Mount Pisgah where they home brew, walk the dogs and take it all in.For more great brew info, check out our Southern Appalachian Beer Guide. Eighteen local breweries in eight days. One-hundred and nine distinct craft beers. That’s my kind of stay-cation! Technically, we sampled beers from all 19 Western North Carolina breweries but because of the casual, no-defined-plan approach my wife, Jenny, and I took to this year’s vacation, we overlooked the fact that Highland Brewing Company was closed the last day of our tour due to a private party. We still drank their beer, though, on draft at Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria – coincidentally, the place where Highland started. After reading the recently-released book Asheville Beer by Anne-Fitten Glenn we came up with the idea of going to every brewery and tasting every beer crafted in Western North Carolina.We’ve lived here for a little over five years and had been to most of the breweries already. We had our favorite breweries and we had our favorite beers. But we hadn’t had them all and we had never evaluated each beer and each brewery with the best discernment that two non-foodies could muster. But we tried our best!As Ms Glenn points out in her book, 2012 has been a huge year for beer in Western North Carolina (WNC). Four micro-breweries opened (the three in Waynesville and one in Weaverville – each described below) and three big breweries decided to open second locations in WNC – Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues. 2012 was a big beer year for Jenny, my wife, and me, too – we started home brewing with help from local beer shop Hops & Vines. This fall we even tried to emulate our favorite seasonal, Cold Mountain by Highland, by throwing random amounts of vanilla bean, hazelnut, cinnamon and cranberries into 5-gallon a winter ale kit to see what happens. In a few more weeks, after the brew has properly bottle-conditioned, we’ll see what happened. I did mention we’re not foodies, right – or expert brewers? And that’s partly why I wanted to write a quick glimpse of our tour for Blue Ridge Outdoors – we’re like you. We’re average Western North Carolinians who love local beer and tried to save a few bucks by pulling off an inexpensive but interesting stay-cation. We hope you enjoy the article, but we hope more that you get out there and try the beer for yourself!Some Lessons:1. Beer in Western North Carolina is really good! We knew this. I held WNC beer in high regard before our tour but after reading Asheville Beer and trying every beer from every brewery, I feel even more strongly that what we have in WNC when it comes to breweries and beer is really special.2. When you drop your preconceptions, you’re rewarded with amazing new experiences. I thought I knew what kind of beers I liked. I still like what I thought I liked, but now I know, and am not ashamed to admit, I really like light beer! When I first started drinking craft beer, I fancied myself as a robust stout and porter kind of guy… then I was a really a smooth porter & amber/brown ale dude. Then just a solid, smooth, flavorful amber/brown man. But now, after a tasty exploration of over 100 local beers, I can thoroughly appreciate the lighter side of beer. There’s some really good, really flavorful and enjoyable light beers out there! So open your mind before you go tasting and you might find some new favorite brews!3. Not all WNC breweries and beers are created (or crafted) equally. And not all are perceived equally. Jenny liked a lot of beers I’d never get a pint of; I savored many she thought were just OK. I’m pumped that we have so many breweries but they’re not all of the same quality and their beers are not amazing just cause they’re made locally. Some had plastic sampler cups, sour beers and no tasting guides; others had nice flight platters with generous six-ounce glass samplers with detailed beer descriptions and tasting guides. Some had cramped tasting rooms with blaring music and others were aesthetic beauties to behold encapsulated in thriving restaurants.You’ll have to experience the breweries and beers for yourself to hone your personal preferences. We’ve provided a short glimpse of the best of each brewery below but our opinions are just opinions. And there are at least as many opinions about beers as there are beers and beer drinkers. So have fun, explore, take it all in and hopefully you’ll discover your favorite brews and breweries!4. The beer scene is alive and constantly changing. One brewery (Craggie, in Asheville) closed during our tour and one opened (Blue Mountain Pizza in Weaverville). A couple breweries put out new seasonals after we had already visited them making our goal of trying every beer brewed by every brewery in one week even more elusive. Big brewers are headed to WNC and more microbreweries (Altamont, Wicked Weed, and others) are planning on opening or starting to brew beer. So there’s always something new to discover in the Western North Carolina beer scene.Brewery Reviews – the short & sweet of all 19 WNC breweries.AshevilleAsheville is a great beer town! After traveling all over Western North Carolina, we’ve realized that Asheville really has amazing, well-established breweries. Again, we knew this… but wow! The maturity level of Asheville’s breweries is what struck us – there’s so many well-established breweries. Unfortunately, Craggie Brewing Company closed the day we started our tour so we did not visit or review their brewery. However, the same day Blue Mountain Pizza in Weaverville started pouring their very own brews… look for their review below!Highland Brewing Company highlandbrewing.comBeers on Tap7-plus of the region’s most mature brews. Highland is like the granddad of WNC breweries… they know what they’re doing and do it well. The winter seasonal Cold Mountain ranks as my all-time favorite beer. I will not tell you how many cases I bought this year but 2013 is looking good for my Cold Mountain consumption.AtmosphereEven though we didn’t make it this week, we frequent Highland and appreciate their large, open brewery. Highland has one of the larger taprooms and frequently holds community events and film releases.Asheville Brewing Company ashevillebrewing.comBeers on TapNine beers representing a solid range across the craft brew spectrum. Their seasonal Big Thankful Porter, made with sweet potatoes and pecans was a delicious interpretation of a fall seasonal with a smooth porter body and a complex depth.AtmosphereWith two separate brewing locations, ABC has plenty of room for you to enjoy their beer. ABC was one place I realized I took for granted. They’re amazing! Great food and two distinct locations (the Coxe Avenue location with tons of outdoor seating, the Merrimon Avenue location with tons of dine-in movie theater seating).Green Man Brewing Company greenmanbrewing.comBeers on TapSix beers; 3 of them were black (2 porters and a stout). The ESB is my favorite, brewed-year-round beer with well balanced malty, honey, toasty mouthfeel and mild hop finish. Green Man was the only brewery at the time of our tour which had a cask brew (porter) available.AtmosphereA true neighborhood, English-style pub. Green Man is the best soccer pub in the region with a gritty but friendly feel to it. A big bar with amble stools & a couple wine-barrel tall tables round out the indoor space adjacent to their brewing area. A bonus for visitors is that Buxton Avenue holds the French Broad Chocolate Factory and Tasting Room next door to Green Man and Asheville Hardware across the street – a woodworkers candy factory. For these reasons it’s my favorite street in town and has sucked a lot of my money out of my pocket.French Broad Brewing Company frenchbroadbrewery.comBeers on TapFive beers covering the range of craft beers with by far the strongest IPA in the region – a hop explosion. Their Kolsh was sunshine bright; a refreshingly drinkable, wheaty, earthy light beer that helped me realize light beers are worth drinking.AtmosphereA tiny, dusty tasting room that frequently hosts live music. A nice outdoor space is currently under construction. Be sure to note the fish-scale brew tanks on a visit – they’re unique among WNC breweries.Wedge Brewing Company wedgebrewing.comBeers on TapFive beers with a strong showing of two IPAs. One of Jenny’s favorite beers of the region is the Iron Rail IPA – a hop forward IPA with citrus & sugary apricot tasting notes.AtmosphereWedge has just about the best outdoor space of any WNC brewery. Tons of parking, cornhole boards, food trucks and ironwork decor, this river-side brewery in Asheville’s River Arts District is a casual setting that’s local (and Jenny) favorite.Oyster House (located in the Lobster Trap Restaurant) oysterhousebeers.comBeers on TapCurrently three beers represent Oyster House’s offerings with more on the way when their new West Asheville location is open. We enjoyed a full pound of Lobster Trap’s shrimp with our Moonstone Stout (made with oysters). If you like stouts, you’ll like this beer… the oysters are not overpowering at all and lend a sweet tartness to the brew.AtmosphereBrewmaster and owner Billy Klingel was on hand to provide personal service from behind a copper-topped bar set in a fantastic local restaurant. He’s anxiously awaiting the arrival his new brew tanks to get his West Asheville location up and running.Thirsty Monk Pub & Brewery (South Asheville) monkpub.comBeers on TapThirsty Monk nano brewery located on Hendersonville Road in South Asheville filled four of their twenty taps with their own beer. They had two of the most interesting non-traditional beers around. Their Pumpkin Belgian Ale was very mellow & balanced with a soft pumpkin hue in the background, sweetened with vanilla bean. Thirsty Monk was the only brewery to offer a home brewer’s recipe with Jacob Childrey’s Maple Pecan Belgian Brown (winner of Just Economics “Just Brew It” competition) getting the nod. Organic pecans soaked in maple syrup helped give this ale subtle sweetness under a complex dark brown flavor.AtmosphereMonk South is a great neighborhood bar and nano brewery. They were the only brewery to offer an actual tasting guide… many breweries had thorough beer descriptions & menus but the Monk cared enough to provide coaching on how to taste beer. While we were there we picked up on the rumor that Monk South is moving their location to Biltmore Park. While in a way, the new spot will be just down the street, the Hendersonville Road location will surely be missed and hold plenty of great memories in the minds of those who frequent it.Lexington Avenue Brewery lexavebrew.comBeers on TapSix beers on tap with six glass samplers on a nice wood flight platter… LAB seems to care about the details throughout their restaurant/brewery operation not the least of which are the beers themselves. LAB was one of only two breweries to offer a nitro stout (the other was Pisgah). The nitro pour smoothed the stout out allowing one to search for the subtle, mild coffee and chocolate notes hidden in the beer. Their Brown Ale provided a robust, flavorful, balanced malt experience that paired perfectly with their Truffled Pomme Frites.AtmosphereThe LAB was one of those places that, when I stopped to really consider the quality of the brewery, the beers and restaurant, took me by surprise. I’ve been to the LAB a lot over the last couple of years but I think in all that time I’ve missed it’s true quality. Simply put, it’s got great food, a nice range of really good beers and an exceptional atmosphere set square in downtown Asheville. It truly is a prize!WaynesvilleHeadwaters Brewing Company facebook.com/headwatersbrewingBeers on TapSeven beers all holding water-related names like “Heady Eddy Pale Ale” and “Rip Current Red.” The Skipping Stone Stout was one of my favorite stouts of the region – smooth and light mouthfeel with subtle bitterness and a mellow malty flavor.AtmosphereAsheville – it’s right of the highway. Go, taste and see that Waynesville has beer. This brewery is located at the back of a long row of buildings in what some locals called a “storage shed.” Don’t let the description fool you – the innards of Headwaters are welcoming with a large bar, flatscreen TVs and several games including darts, foosball, checkers and a 10-foot basketball goal with it’s own netting so the ball doesn’t bounce around and spill all that delicious beer.Tipping Point Tavern tippingpointtavern.comBeers on TapAn IPA, Brown, Amber & Blonde give something for everyone to enjoy. The Blonde was my personal favorite and another one of those light beers that surprised and confirmed (by that point in the week) that I like light beers. It seemed like sweet white wine in the mouth but was all beer in the hoppy finish.AtmosphereWe timed our visit to take in the Waynesville Holiday Parade on Main Street – which Tipping Point provided front row seats to from within their large front windows. Tipping Point is a great tavern/restaurant space with good food and a selection of regional beer alongside their own.Frog Level Brewing Company froglevelbrewing.comBeers on TapFive beers kicked off our regional brewery tour as Frog Level held the distinction of the first brewery we visited. The Bug Eyed Stout was rich & decadent with subtle coffee in the background. The beer is made with coffee roasted at the next-door Panacea Coffee Company.AtmosphereFrog Level Brewing currently boasts the only legal outdoor drinking space in Haywood County with a beautiful back deck over looking Richland Creek in downtown Waynesville. The long, industrial brick building provides ample space for the brewery to continue to grow.The Rest of the RegionNantahala Brewing Company, Bryson City, NC nantahalabrewing.comBeers on TapThe whopping eleven beers on tap at Nantahala are worth the trip to Bryson City! They have everything – IPA, Blonde, Pale, Amber, Brown, Belgium, Hefeweizen, Porter and several high gravity beers. The Dirty Girl Blonde was the first light beer of our trip to blow my mind. Maybe it’s cause I’m from just south of St. Louis where “Budweizer” is what you get when you ask for a local beer, but this light, clean, mild, easy drinking beer reminded me of home. The Bryson City Brown was another favorite and one of the region’s best browns – mellow, nutty, smooth with a mild hop aftertaste.AtmosphereNantahala shares space with PaddleFish Kayaking company in downtown Bryson City. A small taproom opens to a large, shared game room with tables & chairs that spills out onto an open air front deck overlooking the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad depot. We enjoyed all eleven beers while watching little kids in pajamas board the “Polar Express.” Santa even drove by in a Chevy pickup… no lying. Nantalaha Brewing Company is a true gem of WNC breweries.Brevard Brewing Company, Brevard, NC brevard-brewing.comBeers on TapFive beers – four permanent taps and a rotating seasonal comprise Brevard Brewing Company’s own taps. They nod to next-door (same town) big boy Oskar Blues with Dale’s Pale Ale on tap and a few other locals are also represented. Brevard’s Munich Dunkel was amazing – to quote their tasting guide “if a porter and an Oktoberfest had a baby, this would be it.” And their Smoked Porter Seasonal was one of the most interesting seasonals in the region – smoky smooth flavor coming from the malt that’s kilned with beechwood, this velvety beer would be perfect with a peppercorn-rubbed New York strip.AtmosphereThe relaxed bar-only taproom in downtown Brevard provides a welcome respite for folks who like to play hard in Pisgah National Forest or who’ve shopped or worked hard in downtown Brevard. We were greeted by the resident brewery dog, Hops, and a visiting dog, Barley, while sampling Brevard Brewing Company’s hearty ales.Southern Appalachian Brewing, Hendersonville, NC sabrewery.comBeers on TapSouthern Appalachian has five home-made brews and again I was captivated by a Belgian Blonde. Sweet honey, citrus zest with just enough bitterness to remind you its beer and not white wine.AtmosphereThe bar is set up with ample stools and tables and chairs all in front of their large brew tanks and boasts a huge outdoor space with lots of yard games and outdoor seating. We enjoyed live music in what was probably the most dog friendly of all the breweries we visited – staff jumped to get our pups a bowl of water and offer hearty treats from a large glass jar that sat square on top of the bar. (Note: Just about every brewery was dog friendly in WNC. Only Tipping Point and Oyster House could not accommodate dogs due to the lack of outdoor seating at their restaurants.)Heinzelmannchen Brewery, Sylva, NC yourgnometownbrewery.comBeers on TapSeven German-style beers was a surprising number from a brewery that’s packed into such as small space. Middleworld Brown & Blackforest Stout were my favorites but the Hoppy Gnome made it into our beautiful Heinzelmannchen 2-liter growler for the trip home. (Best growler in the region is a unique distinction.) Jenny favored this mild-hopped brew that I thought had some buttery bread and mild malt notes to it.AtmosphereCo-owner Sheryl Rudd was on hand to provide beer for the humans and water for the dogs. Sheryl and husband Dieter Kuhn have been making great craft beer out of their location in downtown Sylva since 2004. The quaint tasting room has enough space to kick back and try a flight of some exceptional brews.Catawba Valley Brewing Company, Morganton, NC catawbavalleybrewingcompany.comBeers on TapTwelve beers put Catawba on top for the most beers served by any brewery in WNC. And they’re amazing. Catawba has incredible range and hefty line up of high gravities. From the Loretta, brewed with cantalope & cayenne to the super-light Farmer Ted’s Farmhouse Cream Ale to the complex, robust Brown Bear Ale with its mellow malt & toasty notes, Catawba really does have a beer for anyone’s tastes.AtmosphereMorganton has an exceptional brewery tucked away in a nondescript building in the middle of their downtown historic district. Do they know this? Surely they do… more aptly put; does the rest of the region know this? Catawba is amazing! They’ve got a huge tasting room with tons of seating, a large, permanent stage and highly visible brewing and canning operation. And did I mention 12 beers? The nice folks of Morganton will be happy to know that their’s was the friendliest brewery we visited. It seemed like just about everybody in the place came up and introduced themselves to us. They had a little help from some local friends that met us at Catawba who, I think, knew everyone, but still… Morganton has some friendly people! The nice folks of Asheville will be happy to know that co-owner Scott Pyatt is planning on opening a second Catawba location in Asheville in the near future… I’m looking forward to more of their beer and their hospitality!Pisgah Brewing, Black Mountain, NC pisgahbrewing.comBeers on TapTen of their own beers included some of the classics – IPA, Porter, Pale – and a lot of quirky yet quality brews. Pisgah offered one of the region’s two Nitro Stouts (the other was at Lexington Avenue Brewery), a Blueberry Wheat, Dopplebach, Belgian Reserve, Coffee Porter and a Bacon Stout. I’ve never been a big fan of flat out fruit-flavored beers but the Blueberry Wheat was really nice – sweet blueberry throughout supported by a balanced, light crisp beer. The Belgian Reserve, with its sweet maple honey notes, light and refreshingly crisp, was my personal favorite.AtmosphereI’m trying to figure out why I don’t go to Pisgah more often. It’s right down the road from Asheville and provides an understated bar with a wide range of beer offerings and even Heinzelmannchen’s alcohol-free root beer on tap. They’ve got a big stage, outdoor area and nearby field to let the dogs run in. To my knowledge, they’re the only brewery with an outdoor fire pit – a nice touch for all the cool nights in mountains.Blue Mountain Pizza, Weaverville, NC bluemountainpizza.comBeers on TapJenny and I were happy to visit Blue Mountain during their first week of pouring their own beer and tried them both: Belgian Golden Ale and Cascadian Dark Ale. I chose a pint of the clear, pale yellow, crisp Belgian to go with our meal. A nice light beer capped off our week of brewery tours as Blue Mountain was the last of 18 breweries we visited.AtmosphereNestled on the quaint North Main Street in downtown Weaverville, Blue Mountain Pizza blew our minds with the quality of their food and their welcoming, small-town atmosphere. Rocket Science provided some high-quality live music and the pizza was some of the best I’ve had in Western North Carolina. Be sure to stop by and support WNC’s newest brewery.
The September issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine is live! Pick up your copy or read online today for great stories on the 200 year history of the bicycle, a SUPer’s first descent of the Little Tennessee, the emergence of bike fishing in the Blue Ridge, the unspoken scourge of sexual harassment in the outdoors and much more!QUICK HITS94-year-old woman from Charlotte, N.C., becomes oldest marathoner • Trout fishing lures money to the mountainsFLASHPOINTIf you get lost, should you help pay to be found?THE GOODSBiking badass Tristan Cowie picks his favorite gear.TRAIL MIXAmericana Aces—Fresh records from favorite roots songwriters.SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE OUTDOORSFemale raft guides voice their concerns about an unspoken problem facing the outdoor industry.SUP FIRST DESCENTPaddleboarder Chris Lechner completes a SUP first descent of the 139-mile Little Tennessee River. Along the way, he uncovers history beneath the water and wisdom from unexpected sources.YEAR OF THE BIKEFrom tool to toy, the bike has served many roles over the course of history. Follow along on this two-wheeled tribute to learn how the bike came to be and what it’s doing for our communities and economies 200 years later.FULL SUSPENSIONS AND FLY RODSFly fishing and mountain biking go hand in hand in the Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina. SWEAT SHOPSAre boutique fitness gyms like CrossFit, Orange Theory, WellFit, Madabolic, Hard Exercise Works, and SoulCycle offering better workouts? BRO puts them to the test.SINGLESPEED AIN’T DEADConsigned to kids’ bikes for the past century, the single speed made an impassioned comeback in the early 2000s, and for a dedicated few, the spirit of the single speed lives on.BEST BIKE TRAIL THAT YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OFThe Sheltowee Trace is a National Recreation Trail spanning 323 miles through the Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River Recreation Area in both Kentucky and Tennessee.
If you would like a FREE physical copy of the Blue Ridge Classics May issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors delivered straight to your mailbox, please register here by April 27 by NOON. SPECIAL DELIVERY! Sorry, this is no longer available.