Since opening in late January, craft beer drinkers from throughout Western North Carolina have flocked to the Wise Man Brewing taproom in downtown Winston-Salem. The family-friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable service by “Beer Scholars” is only surpassed by the quality of the beer. Their early success has led to rapid expansion, and this past Saturday, they will marked another major milestone as they released their first beer, Mountain Calling IPA, in cans.
Mountain Calling is a West Coast IPA, a style known for strong, crisp, bitter beers bursting with an intense hop character, highlighting citrus and pine flavors. Mountain Calling is dry-hopped with a pound and a half per barrel of Citra, an increasingly hard-to-find hop that lends strong citrus and floral qualities to this clean and crisp IPA.
“Ever since opening night, our customers have been asking when we will package Mountain Calling,” said Jason Morehead, one of three founders of Wise Man Brewing. “Now that we have increased our capacity in the brewery, we finally have enough beer to go around.”
When Wise Man opened, they had five fermenters allowing them to produce roughly 3200 gallons of beer at any given time. After nearly running dry their first weekend, they quickly scaled up production and purchased three additional fermenters, almost doubling their capacity to 5900 gallons. Although they had originally planned on not repeating recipes, customer demand in the taproom made it clear that some of the popular beers like Mountain Calling should be brought back. “What inspired us to start our own brewery was a love of innovation and experimentation,” explained Sam Victory, Head Brewer and founder, “but it’s safe to say that Mountain Calling is here to stay, and we are excited to now offer it in cans!”
Beer has been canned for decades, but has seen a resurgence recently, especially among small craft breweries. According to the Brewers Association, small breweries nationally increased the amount of canned beer by 23.7% between 2013 and 2016. In the Triad, this trend has caught on in the last few months with Four Saints, Preyer, and Gibbs leading the way. Can releases in other regions of the country attract long lines of passionate beer fans. Time will tell if this trend catches on in North Carolina.