Black Star Line Brewing Co – Making Craft Beer Waves in Hendo
There has been a ton of press of late about Black Star Line Brewing which is perhaps the first female-black owned brewery in the area, and from my research, maybe the world! The fact that they landed in blood red Henderson County – specifically downtown Hendersonville, in the old Basic Brewery location, is in of itself newsworthy. Yes, times are a chang’n! While another article on how and why they started would be newsworthy, I decided to focus on their unique beers.
I spent a couple hours at Black Star Line recently talking to the staff and tasting all the beers they had on tap. Before you ask, I did have help. Brewpon CEO and Community is Brewing Founder Tommy Green graciously came to help with this drinking task.
The brewery, while not officially open yet, was packed. On a Monday night a crowd of locals that heard about Black Star Line were gathered to celebrate, and like me, try out some of their beers.
Simon, one of the bartenders provides us with what he referred to as “the full house” – a mammoth flight of 14 beers. He even included a handy spiral bound notepad and a pen so we can take notes.
In between tours and chatting with everyone, we catch Black Star Line owner and operator L.A. McCrae. She explains that Hendersonville has been super welcoming.
“Friends and fellow brewers Lisa McDonald and Joe Dinan of Sanctuary Brewing are our number one local supporters. We have a similar philosophy when it comes to social justice and building communities. One of our brewers Kay actually came to us from Sanctuary.”
“We’re brew with purpose and focus on small batches. Our tagline reads ‘Welcome to the Sweet Beer Movement’ so you are going to find that many of our beers do have a sweeter flavor profile. It’s a flavor often neglected by many brewers. Sure, we’ll have a couple IPAs, but the majority of our beers will not be hop forward,” adds L.A.
Before we start our epic tasting, we meet with Kay, the aforementioned brewer from Sanctuary, who reaffirms L.A.’s statements about what to expect in their beer.
“We’ll have many traditional styles including pale ales, stouts, and porters, but in most cases, you’ll notice that they have an overall sweeter taste. I did finish the Crusia IPA today which is part of your flight. That is one of the two hop forward beers on tap now. We plan to continue to experiment and try working with some non-traditional ingredients. For one, I’d like to brew a Gruit ale which is basically a brew that uses an herbal mixture as a bittering agent in place of hops.”
This sparks my interest so I ask Kay for an example of an ingredient that can be used as a hop substitute.
“Yarrow is on the top of my list. It is a flowering plant found nearly everywhere in the world and is native to this area too. It is known for its healing properties and has an earthy herbal flavor profile – quite different from hops,” explains Kay.
And now for some highlights of the “full house” beer flight! Technically, it was multiple flights, and since I doubt anyone wants to read about Tommy and me tasting 14 beers, you can watch some of that in the “Happy Quarter of an Hour” Facebook livestream video. So, I’ll just focus on three beers that you likely won’t find anywhere else in town.
First up is The Lorde Honey Pilsner. Named not after the young international popstar, but rather the German African writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist Audrey Geraldine Lorde. Even though it comes in at 7.8% ABV, it drinks like a session beer – smooth and honey sweet. This will definitely be one of my go to beers at Black Star Line.
Next up is the Dat Dere Ginger Beer. With a name like Dat Dere its gotta be good, right? Well, it is! This is a ginger beer so if you don’t like ginger or ginger beers then don’t try it. If you do, then prepare for a mouth treat. Sweet and gingery this 4% ABV brew is one you can drink all day, or night, or both!
Finally, a dark beer for Tommy. We try the Smokey’s Table Porter. Like most of Black Star Line’s beers this has a sweeter taste with an interesting combination of malts and caramel – perhaps a hint of smoke. This one has an ABV of 5.6%.
Black Star Line Brewing is located at 131 Third Avenue, West in Downtown Hendersonville. They officially open their doors for business at their grand opening celebration on Friday, November 10 at 4 p.m. L.A. plans to be open 7 days a week with activities planned for nearly every day. You can connect with and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.