If we told you that Heady Topper, Pliny the Elder, and Founders Brewing’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout were all going to be served at a single beer dinner taking place in Asheville later this month, you’d think we were playing an April Fool’s joke on you, wouldn’t you?  We’re not….

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Tickets available in…

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The link below will go live at 7pm on April 7th, 2015, allowing you to buy tickets online. Limit 4 tickets per person.[symple_button url=”http://shop.ashevillealetrail.com/product/furry-friends-beer-dinner-tickets/” color=”orange” size=”large” border_radius=”0″ target=”self” rel=”” icon_left=”” icon_right=””]Get Tickets Now[/symple_button] [/symple_box]Today, the Blue Ridge Humane Society announced a truly one of a kind fundraising beer dinner at Catawba Brewing’s beautiful new showcase facility in downtown Asheville, featuring not just three, but four of the most highly acclaimed beers in the world, with all proceeds from the event donated to the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

The Furry Friends Beer Feast, presented by Budweiser of Asheville, Greenlife Grocery and Ward and Smith, P.A., will take place on Sunday, April 26. The five-course dinner will bring together three of BeerAdvocate’s top 13-rated beers in the world – including RateBeer’s top two-ranked double IPAs on the planet – with special treats from Asheville-area breweries Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Southern Appalachian and Catawba Brewing (which will be pouring its wildly popular PB&J Time Ale). In addition to world renown double IPAs Heady Topper from Vermont and Pliny the Elder from California, and the iconic Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Michigan, the unprecedented beer lineup will also include the top rated Speedway Stout from Alesmith Brewing of San Diego.

The Furry Friends Beer Feast is the pet project of one of the Asheville Ale Trail’s occasional contributors, Gary Glancy.  Gary, a Certified Cicerone and beer writer whose work appears at CraftBeer.com, has spent weeks, if not months, organizing this one of a kind event that will put some of the best beers on the planet all on one table.  Gary tells us “It’s probably safe to say there’s never been a public beer-dinner lineup like this – anywhere. Any one of these elusive beers would be an enormous draw on their own, but all four together, combined with a stellar lineup of local brews is epic.  Except for KBS, which is harder to snag than a ringside seat to Mayweather-Pacquiao, these highly coveted out-of-state brews are not available in North Carolina, so this will give some very passionate craft-beer fans a rare opportunity to try them all in one memorable evening.”

What began as a crazy idea following Glancy’s third annual Furry Friends Film Fest in January (another benefit for the Blue Ridge Humane Society) quickly became a mission. The journey began earlier this month when Glancy, who had just finished a late-night bartending shift, embarked on a 13 1/2-hour drive through constant rain to Founders Brewing in Grand Rapids, Mich., to get his hands on the extremely limited annual release of KBS. That was only after scoring a prized online ticket in February, which allowed him to purchase up to three four-packs of the bourbon barrel-aged stout at the brewery.

“I stuffed my trunk with a bunch of local and specially aged beers from my beer cellar,” Glancy said, “and was able to trade with people for a couple more 4-packs to have enough for the dinner.”

In the middle of the month Gary will take off yet again on a 17-hour odyssey to Vermont to hunt down Heady Topper with the help of a friend of a friend who lives in the Green Mountain State. Heady, as it’s known, is available almost exclusively in Vermont, and even then, only at select accounts.  Heady hunters are know for their tenacity, tracking delivery days and times just to get in line at a store in hopes of snatching some up before it’s gone.

Glancy has already plotted out a strategic plan to acquire enough Heady for the event.  After Vermont, Gary will drive to his old stomping grounds of Long Island where a connection of his will facilitate the purchase of the Alesmith Speedway Stout.

Around the same time as his romp up north, Pliny the Elder should be wending its way back from the West Coast. Lutrelle O’Cain, executive director of the Blue Ridge Humane Society, heard of Gary’s quest to land some Pliny for the dinner, and when Gary was having trouble sourcing some, O’Cain set off on a mission of her own, arranging with friends in the San Francisco area to bring Pliny with them during a mid-April trip to North Carolina. So…what this means for people lucky enough to attend is that the beer will be ultra-fresh – a critical factor for these world class IPAs to retain their vibrant hoppiness.

A summary of these headliner beers’ makers, origin and accolades (note: final list – updated 4/7/15):

  • Heady Topper (8.0% ABV), The Alchemist, Waterbury, Vermont: BeerAdvocate’s current No. 1-rated overall beer in the world; RateBeer’s current No. 2-rated double IPA in the world; perfect 100 on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer
  • Kentucky Breakfast Stout (11.2% ABV), Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids, Michigan: BeerAdvocate’s current No. 13-rated overall beer in the world; Business Insider’s No. 6-rated beer in the world (2014); perfect 100 on BeerAdvocate and Ratebeer
  • Pliny the Elder (8.0% ABV), Russian River Brewing, Santa Rosa, California: American Homebrewers Association’s “Best Commercial Beer in America” the last six years in a row; RateBeer’s current No. 1-rated double IPA in the world; perfect 100 on BeerAdvocate and RateBeer
  • Speedway Stout (12.0% ABV), Alesmith Brewing, San Diego, California: Business Insider’s No. 3-rated overall beer in the world (2014); Ratebeer’s No. 2-rated (non-barrel aged) imperial stout in the world; 97 on BeerAdvocate, 100 on Ratebeer
  • Union Jack IPA (7.5% ABV)Firestone Walker, Paso Robles, California: Paste Magazine’s Top of the Hops IPA Challenge champion – “Simply the best IPA in America,” the magazine states.

Also worthy of headlines are these exception and rare beers being presented from some of our best local brewers:

  • Catawba Brewing: The wildly popular PB&J Time Ale
  • Hi-Wire Brewing: A rare 2-year-old Flanders sour red – Hi-Wire’s only sour to date, aged in Bulleit rye barrels. We get to be the Guinea pigs on this one!
  • Oskar Blues Brewery: Small-batch collaboration IPA with DC Brau called “Smells Like Freedom.” (92 on BeerAdvocate)
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing: A rare barrel-aged version of the exceptional Ovila Quad with Plums.
  • Southern Appalachian Brewery: A delicious new Barrel-Aged Raspberry Belgian Ale (aged in wine barrels).

“One can imagine the expense of not only the beers themselves, but the cost to acquire them,” Glancy said. “We simply could not afford all this without the incredible support of distributor Budweiser of Asheville, Greenlife Grocery and the Ward and Smith law firm, all of whom are huge supporters of craft beer here in Western North Carolina. And of course a huge thanks goes to our amazing local breweries here for the beers they contributed. Everyone was totally behind the cause.”

In an interesting twist, all of these legendary beers will be served to attendees in small dog bowls that were custom made for the event.  “I really want people to remember why we’re here, and reinforce the good work the Humane Society does for animals in our area.” says Gary, who did not really say that, and this paragraph is the ONLY part of the article that is our April Fool’s Joke.

The Asheville Ale Trail is proud to also be helping out with the event.  Reservations for the Furry Friends Beer Feast will go on sale April 7th, 2015 at 7:00 pm.  Glancy wanted the beer dinner ticket sales to go on in the evening so that people who work during the day would have a (better) chance to buy tickets.  If it went on sale at noon, he reasoned, a lot of people might never even get a chance to attend .  Tickets for the event are $125 per person, with proceeds going to the Blue Ridge Humane Society.  If you’re thinking that may seem a little steep for a beer dinner, let me remind you of the beer list just a few paragraphs up, plus the meal, plus the amazing beers that will be served from our area breweries.  When all is said and done, this event will be a once in a lifetime chance for true beer lovers.

There are only about 30 tickets available for the event, so if it’s something you’re interested in, we recommend you mark your calendar.  The link above will go live at 7pm on April 7th, 2015, allowing you to make a reservation online.  You will be sent a confirmation email at the time of purchase, and on the night of the event, you’ll be checked in to the private event room at Catawba Brewing’s new downtown location.

Hope to see you there!

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