Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Hi-Pitch IPA

Hi-Wire Brewing
Asheville, NC

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.7%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Our whirlwind tour of Asheville, NC was already a success prior to our visit to Hi-Wire Brewing. Dinner and a couple of brews at Wicked Weed was followed by some outstanding fresh pours at Green Man, then a stop at Asheville’s newest brewery, Twin Leaf, for a hop and dog fix (Asheville really loves them some dogs). We entered Hi-Wire around 9pm, thinking we’d only have time for a quick pint before they closed. We were wrong.

Hi-Wire is a textbook example of a unique Asheville brewpub: small and unassuming, consisting of a small handmade bar in a corner of a fully functional brewery. Look to your right and you’ll see a couple of small high top tables, a bathroom, and a bar. Look to your left and you’ll see a forklift, countless cast aluminum barrels, and a concrete floor with a drain running the length of it. Talk about casual … I’m guessing a customer that walks in wearing anything Carhartt is immediately put to work.

When we arrived at Hi-Wire, there were a few guests sitting at the bar and one table occupied. We pulled up to the bar where a friendly bartender poured us a couple of fresh pints of their American IPA, Hi-Pitch. We were quickly engaged in conversation with a local baseball coach who noticed my Milwaukee Brewers cap. Turns out he was friends with a former Brewer and he regaled us with some excellent stories from back in the day. For two hours we sat at Hi-Wire and talked baseball, the Midwest (our new friend was a frequent visitor to our area) and craft beer. Our bartender was very forthcoming about Asheville, not only the good beer but also the culture and the food. She gave us an outstanding suggestion for lunch the next day, a small Jamaican restaurant a little off the beaten path that was well worth the trip. A couple of hours at Hi-Wire epitomized the unique atmosphere and friendly people we met in the city of Asheville during our one day venture.

We ended up having three pints at Hi-Wire rather than the one quick one we assumed we’d have time for. On our way out of Asheville the next day we made a stop at Bruisin’ Ales and bottles of Hi-Wire were available for purchase. I picked up a couple of bottles of Hi-Pitch IPA, as well as a couple of bottles of their Imperial IPA, Man Eater, and their Black IPA, The Contortionist. Man Eater turned out to be a decent but unspectacular double IPA. The Contortionist was a disappointing take on the black IPA, though it was still very drinkable.

Hi-Pitch is a good example of why getting beer fresh on tap in at the source far surpasses anything you can get packaged, even if it was packaged fairly recently. Hi-Pitch is a year-‘round offering and Hi-Wire doesn’t provide a date on their bottles, so I cannot say for sure how old my bottles were. There was no apparent skunkage, but the overall profile was different from what we drank at the brewpub.

Hi-Pitch from the bottle pours exactly as one would expect from an IPA: mild carbonation with a creamy head about a half inch thick that quickly dissipates, leaving some nice lacing on the top and residue on the sides. A perfect dark golden brown hue, it’s unfiltered with quite a bit of sediment and cloudiness to the appearance. While it may not look much different than many of its fine IPA brethren, Hopheads such as myself never get tired of looking at such a beautiful glass of beer.

Aromas are as pleasant as the appearance. Huge notes of citrus hit you right off the bat, mainly grapefruit and orange zest, with a small hint of black pepper in the background. Piney aromas quickly follow, giving it that resinous, slightly bitter scent. Hints of earthy malt and sweet sugars come through at times, as does a touch of astringent alcohol, but overall this is a pure hoppy aroma that makes one think they must be drinking on the West Coast, not near the East Coast.

The flavor is solid as well, though as expected the freshness that characterized it at the brewery isn’t found in the bottle. Out of the bottle, the initial notes are a little more bitter and earthy … on tap, they were more floral, crisp, and citrusy. Bitter, resinous pine, sweet sugary malt, and a touch of citrus all come into play in the bottled version. There’s more acidity to the bottled version and the alcohol comes through more than it does on tap (it’s 6.7 percent ABV, fairly strong for a standard IPA). The flavor profiles change more in the bottled version as well. On tap that crisp, fresh, hoppy profile maintained throughout the session. From the bottle, the profile is still fairly clean and crisp at the outset, but gets thicker and stronger as the session progresses, ending with an astringent bite. Both versions contain essentially the same elements in the flavor profile, but their strengths vary and they’re present at different times when comparing the bottled and tap version.

All in all, Hi-Pitch is a fine example of an American IPA regardless of whether you’re enjoying it from the bottle at home or fresh on tap at the brewery. And while Hi-Wire might not be the best brewery in Asheville, we enjoyed it immensely and felt it epitomized all there is to love about this unique beer-loving town in the heart of the Appalachians. Should you ever find yourself in Beer City USA, make sure to swing by Hi-Wire and enjoy a fresh pint of Hi-Pitch … you will not be disappointed.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on November 15, 2014.
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