Whether you enjoy sipping a smooth golden ale, something hoppy or a dark IPA, Jackson County’s craft breweries have you covered for NC Beer Month this April.
North Carolina boasts more breweries and brewpubs than any other state in the southeast and Jackson County is renewing its commitment to quality local brews during April with events for locals and visitors.
Not many towns boast walkable brewery tours, but Sylva’s Main Street plays host to three breweries in an easily-walkable, scenic one-mile stretch – called the Jackson County Ale Trail.
The ale trail starts at Sneak E Squirrel, winding its way by Mark Watson Park, beside Sylva’s Historic Courthouse (often called the most photographed building in the United States), down Sylva’s Historic Main and Mill Streets to Heinzelmännchen, ending at Innovation Brewing. Along the route of the ale trail are great restaurants to grab a bite, antique shop and more.
All breweries offer flights (samplings of many beers), pints, growlers and either have food on site or allow you to bring your own.
Last year, Sneak E Squirrel owner John Duncan (who goes by Duncan) joined the scene and opened his family-friendly brewery after outfitting a former car dealership for brewing, complete with a full kitchen. Duncan’s focus is on bringing together neighbors and families into a fun, safe environment.
He offers 13 beers on tap and terms their selections well balanced. “We don’t go for extremes, except for our ‘Beer of the Week’, and then it’s anything goes. We do very good renderings of classic styles,” Duncan said.
“We specialize in game meat, but that’s where normal takes a left turn. From ‘Bambi in a blanket’ to ‘Silence of the Lamburger’ to the upcoming, completely ingredient random ‘Heisenburger,’ the madness never stops,” Duncan said of the Squirrel’s food offerings.
The Sneak E Squirrel recently joined two other well-established breweries in the area, including Heinzelmännchen, known as “Your Gnometown Brewery.”
Heinzelmännchen Beers entice one’s palate and complement what’s on their plate. Brewed by a German Brewmeister you’ll find Heinzelmännchen beers to be full of flavor & complexity with mild hopping and a smooth finish.
In their Bier Halle you’ll find a selection of traditional, year ’round favorites as well as seasonal and specialty beers. They are also well known for their non-alcoholic root beer and birch beer. Locally made soft pretzels and Lusty Monk mustard pair very well with one of their beers.
Sheryl Rudd and Dieter Kuhn began brewing German Ales from Sylva’s Mill Street long before the craft beer movement took hold, and they quickly became a staple in many households, with people driving from out of town to fill their growlers. Heinzelmännchen Brewery, now in its 12th year, has celebrated many successes over the years, including being named as one of the “Top 10 Brewery Tours,” by TripAdvisor.
Dieter, who was born in Heidelsheim near Germany’s Black Forest remembers trips to the local brauhaus to pick-up a week’s supply of beer for his family and his desire to brew started from an early age. He continues those memories by brewing his own beer at Heinzelmännchen Brewery and Bier Halle.
Innovation Brewing, now in its third year is growing and doing so sustainably. This year they installed 100 solar panels on their roof to help cut their carbon footprint by half.
This year they’ve expanded operations and now have 32 brews on tap, a homemade ginger ale and three ciders. Innovation, a seven-barrel brew house has a handful of mainstay traditional ales as well as several IPA’s and a number of seasonal and experimental beers.
“We like to push the envelope by creating fun and unique beer styles using non-traditional beer ingredients such as beets, cilantro, basil and cucumbers to name a few,” said Nicole Dexter, who owns the brewery with her husband Chip. In addition to brews, Innovation has the Cosmic Carryout food truck on hand seven days a week and the brewery is pet and family friendly.
Next year a new brewery will join these three in the southern end of the county –
Whiteside Brewing in Cashiers.
A tip to enjoy Jackson County’s Ale Trail: List and rank the beers by appearance, aroma and taste and try a beer that appeals to those senses.
Below are a few events locals and visitors shouldn’t miss out on:
April 4, 11, 18 & 25 – Sneak E Squirrel Brewery IPA Mondays
April is IPA month at the Squirrel. Each Monday of the month, Sneak E Squirrel will be bringing out a new IPA to celebrate the diversity of the style. Also enjoy food pairings during the celebration of NC Beer Month, including ‘Pork belly BLT’ served on flatbread with custom made aioli sauce with a Belgian Wit-style beer, ‘Clockwork Sneak E.’
April 4, 10, 18 & 25 – Sneak E Squirrel Homebrewing class
Celebrate the art of brewing in NC by becoming a brewer. This four session class with the brewmaster will teach the basics of brewing and get you started on a lifelong adventure in brewing.
Throughout April – Pint and a Pie
Throughout April enjoy a pint of beer and an individual size pizza for only $10 at Sapphire Mountain Brewing Company located at the Sapphire National Golf Club. Experience their Hillbilly Peppers paired with their Whisper Lake Pilsner; Sapphire High Red Ale with Pizza, Burgers or Wings; Chimney Top Stout with Pretzel Bites & Beer Cheese. For more information see www.sapphiremountainbrewingcompany.com
April 1 – Chocolate and Beer Pairing
Sample six Baxley’s Chocolates expertly paired with six Heinzelmännchen beers. ($5 from each ticket is donated to Jackson County’s Good Samaritan Clinic).
Presented by Baxley’s Chocolates and Heinzelmännchen; Time: 5-8:30 p.m.; $10.
April 1 – Sierra Nevada Beer & Cheese Pairing
At Evolution Wine Kitchen – Taste five beers and five cheeses for $15. Live music by Bird in Hand during the evening session. Two
Ticketed event; tickets can be purchased in-store or online at www.evolutionwinekitchen.com.
Time: Two tasting sessions are from 2-4 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. (with music during the evening session).
April 1 – April Fools’ Dinner at Sneak E Squirrel
Randomly selected food will come out of the kitchen. No two April Fools dinners will be the same. Owner John Duncan says the event is “NOT for the faint at heart.”
April 4 – IPA Compare-a-thon at Sneak E Squirrel
Taste five IPAs made with the same grain bill and bittering hops. Only the finishing hops will change. This is an excellent chance to see what a vastly different taste you can get from hops!
April 7 – Live Music and Brews at Heinzelmännchen
Performance by Henry Wong on the guitar – lookout for special beer selections
April 9 – Brew Hop
In honor of NC Beer Month, join Innovation Brewing, Heinzelmännchen Brewery, City Lights Café, Sneak E Squirrel and Evolution Wine Kitchen for the Sylva Brew Hop. Tickets include a souvenir Sylva tap glass, two 6 oz. pours at each location and a chance to win prizes during the hop challenge. Then enjoy a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA) show at Bridge Park for the after-party.
Tickets can be purchased in-store at Evolution or online at www.evolutionwinekitchen.com. Time: 5 to 11 p.m.
April 13 – Sierra Nevada Beer and Cheese Pairing Event
Evolution Wine Kitchen is hosting a beer and cheese pairing with Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Tickets include a selection of artisan cheeses expertly paired with a variety of Sierra Nevada beers. A Sierra Nevada expert will be conducting the pairing.
Tickets can be purchased in-store at Evolution or online at www.evolutionwinekitchen.com closer to the event.
Time: 6 to 11 p.m.
April 16 – Murder Mystery Dinner at Sneak E Squirrel
Our Murder Mysteries are back, and this month’s dinner will include a brewing themed mystery.
April 20 – Evolution Birthday
We’ll say happy birthday with giveaways from Highland Brewing, music from Dirty Ol’ Bathtub, and great beer and food specials all night long. Evolution Wine Kitchen will remain open until midnight.
April 20 – Earth Day Celebration at Innovation Brewing
Live music from Bird in Hand and a special IPA release.
April 21 – Heinzelmännchen Brewery Anniversary Celebration
Come help celebrate our anniversary with special food, entertainment and, of course, our wonderful beers! Live guitar music with Henry Wong. This year’s celebration includes a special release of Kirsch Bock – a malty Spring Ale kissed with cherries.
Time: 4 to 9 p.m.
April 29th – Foothills Brewing Tasting Session at Evolution Wine Kitchen
Pay-at-the-door beer tasting with food specials and giveaways from Foothills Brewing.
For more information about events, contact:
Heinzelmännchen Brewery – 828-631-4466 – http://www.yourgnometownbrewery.com/
545 Mill Street, Sylva
Innovation Brewing – 828-586-9678 – http://www.innovation-brewing.com/
414 West Main Street, Sylva
The Sneak E Squirrel – 828-586-6440 – http://www.facebook.com/TheSneakESquirrel
1315 West Main Street, Sylva