After a lot of convincing, my parents and I finally have Sarah half way beliving that if she’ll go rafting, she won’t fall out of the raft. So my mom booked us a trip down the Nantahala in Western North Carolina. The day before our rafting trip Sarah says we might as well go up a day early so we don’t have to drive at the butt crack of dawn. So I happily said, “Ok let’s go!” See I had done lots of pre-planning already. I knew Nantahala Brewing Company was very close. But, no hotels in Bryson City. So I’m on Google Maps scanning around for hotels nearby. That’s when I run across another brewery that I had totally forgot about. Having seen their name countless times in the NC Brewers brochure, you’d think I’d remembered where it was, since it’s actually 30 minutes closer to Athens than Nantahala.
So we head north and arive at Heinzelmannchen Brewery around 4:30 Saturday. It’s tucked away on the (for us) outbound lanes in Sylva, NC. One would think that this time of day on a Saturday would be super busy. We walk in and wonder if anyone is even there. Then out of no where pops the owner and head brewmeister, Dieter Kuhn. Dieter being from Germany sticks to his roots in all his beers and brews them in true Germany style. North Carolina is different from Georgia in that they charge you for tastings, but can sell you a growler directly from the brewery. Georgia strictly will not allow the brewers to sell beer to the customer. With us not being in my manual shift car I was set, and even given permissions to sample all seven beers on tap today in 4 oz. samples. For probably the first three or four samples the brewery is still only occupied by us, Dieter and Hannah, who is in the brewhouse working away in her ‘milking boots’. I guess since this is a brewery and not a dairy farm those were actually brewing boots. Finally a couple of guys walk in and get growler refills. You can get free 2 oz. samples when getting a growler fill. Again, better than Georgia in that, yes, we now have growler shops. No you have no idea what those 64 oz. of craftbeer that you’ve never had before is going to taste like when you get it home. North Carolina 2 – Georgia – 0.
I can’t begin to describe how friendly and open Dieter was to us. He had a steady flow of business the entire time we were there. yet he would still educate and entertain us even as he’s filling their growlers. We talked beers, beer styles, brewing, you name it for the next hour and half. Hannah would step away from her work from time to time to get a drink of water or grab more ingredients as she was in the process of brewing another batch of their Middleworld Brown. We start talking dark beers and hops while I sample the Black Forest Stout. Which he tells us is actually a schwarz bier but he calls it a stout, well, because he’s the brewer, he can do that. This was my first time having a schwarz, which is actually a pils base with dark malts to give it a dark color ofcourse and roasted type taste. Yes, it too was damn tasty. That’s when he tells me Hannah has brewed a black IPA on their 5 gallon SABCO system that they use for speciality brews. He then goes over to her and asks for a 4 oz. sample, which was brewed 4 days ago. Ha! Not yet released beer score for me. Super nice hop aroma and light IPA’eske body, and it’s only 4 days young. He then brings over the hand written brew sheet (hand written = awesomeness!) so I can see the hop build after I asked about it. Now how many brewers will do that? Terrapin will only tell me that Sunray uses a German style yeast. Lazy Magnolia will only tell you that they add pecans to their malts. I don’t really blame her on that one though. Dieter says it should be ready in another three or so weeks. (I’m glad I can make it a day trip.)
I was super shocked at home small the place was, but they certainly make it work. Being in the brewery industry for eight years means something is working. The location and the cute small downtown area just go hand in hand with one another. Unfortunately for us, no t-shirts. Although Sarah over heard him tell another group that was in for growler fills that he’d have some by next week. So I hope they’re around when we go back for a fill of the black IPA. After he spent so much undivided time with us, we couldn’t walk out empty handed. Plus Sarah had commented several times on how much she likes the flip top growlers he was selling. Once I told her that they’re functional for me other than just a growler, like making yeast starters, she said I could buy one.
If you are anywhere near Sylva, or even want to experience a beautiful drive up highway 441 from Athens, stopping into Heinzelmannchen Brewery is well worth it. I’m sure Dieter Kuhn will be just as nice to anyone interested in his craft made beers.