Beer from Here: Highland Brewing Company – Lost Cove Pale Ale
Started in 1994, Highland Brewing Company was Asheville’s first brewery after Prohibition. The name of North Carolina’s third oldest brewery recognizes the Scotch-Irish that first settled the Asheville area. Owner and founder Oscar Wong’s passion for homebrewing turned into an operation in the 3,500 square foot basement under Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. The original brewery was built almost entirely of retrofitted dairy equipment and could produce up to 6,500 barrels of beer per year. At its new location, Highland has the capacity to brew over 50,000 barrels annually with room to grow.
Highland boasts an impressive lineup of year-round and seasonal brews. Five year-round staples include Gaelic Ale (the first beer brewed; was known as Celtic at the time), Oatmeal Porter, St. Terese’s Pale Ale, Kashmir English-Style IPA and Black Mocha Stout. Six seasonals beers are led by the popular Cold Mountain Winter Ale and Thunderstruck Coffee Porter.
I cracked open Highland’s summer seasonal, Lost Cove American Pale Ale, while celebrating our country’s 239th birthday. This 4.5%, 20 IBU pale ale was named for a feature of the Southern Appalachian landscape. Lost Cove was a legendary ghost town that was thought to be founded during the Civil War era. In the late 1800s the area became notorious for moonshining, but its isolation and economic necessity eventually led to the community’s demise in the 1950s.
The pale ale poured a crystal clear yellow that resembled a refreshing lemonade. There was active and visible carbonation, and an effervescent head that quickly dissipated into a slick, filmy ring around the glass. The pilsner malt dictated a breaded aroma with notes of mild herbs and spiciness from the Hallertau hops. I thought the hop flavors were lighter than described on the bottle.
The light-bodied ale was clean, crisp and refreshing. A thin lacing decorated the interior of the glass. I picked up a touch of citrus and mild bitterness on the end, but the pilsner malt defined this beer. This “session” ale went down fast.
Highland’s motto is “just a wee bit different” and Lost Cove is a testament to that. It’s not your standard pale ale or summer ale. It’s a refreshing, easy drinking beer that can be enjoyed after a days worth of yard work or something to sip poolside.
Lost Cove and other Highland beers can be found in bars, restaurants, supermarkets and specialty stores around North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington D.C.
Brewery: Highland Brewing Company
City: Asheville, NC
Style: Pale Ale
Availability: Summer seasonal; draft and 12 oz. bottles