Hi-Wire Brewing - Sour Blonde with Lemon & Rosemary (RBC Exclusive)
Serving Temperature:48–55° F
Suggested Glassware:Tulip, Flute, or Chardonnay Glass
The Hi-Wire Sour Blonde with Lemon & Rosemary pours a hazy golden yellow, with a thick pillowy white foam head. The tightly stacked bubbles retain the head quite well and leave behind fine lace. Visually stunning, this attractive brew gives off aromas of its main components as it’s poured into the glass: lemon, in this case freshly zested, to capture the essence without adding needless acidity, and rosemary, as one would expect to find in an herb garden, and not some flavorless branch in a plastic box from a supermarket. Those aromas develop into candied lemon peel, floral lemon blossom, and a hint of lemon leaf. The rosemary bush adds a delicate fresh herbal note and an earthy quality as it warms slightly. There is a subdued amount of barnyard type funk woven in as well as hints of hop spice and ginger-like aromas. The mixed cultures working in the neutral oak barrels bring out a lactic vibe, with a hint of woodiness and vanilla, without any sweet or caramelized aromas to get in the way of the fruit and herbs. It thus brings out other citrus aromas such as mandarin orange, yuzu, and minneola. Pale malt aromas bring it all together in a satisfying olfactory experience.
Upon taking the first sip we are greeted with delicate tartness exemplary of the style and subtle sourness that build slightly upon every taste. The fresh lemon zest is perky and fruity, lasting from start to finish and working nicely with mild bitterness from a dose of Ekuanot hops. The rosemary is more subtle initially, but as we dive further into the glass the freshness the herb adds to this beer is quite pleasing. The balance of citrus and herbs are complimented by the yeast and mixed cultures used in fermentation and bring out the spice flavors we experienced in the nose. The 2-row pale malt profile is lightly bready and cracker-like, and easy on the palate with light toastiness, allowing for woody notes and earthy flavors to come through. The Sour Blonde with Lemon & Rosemary is medium bodied and smooth with a light, prickly mousse, and a long, tart, mouthwatering finish inviting us back for more each time.
Drink the Hi-Wire Sour Blonde with Lemon & Rosemary now, or it can be aged up to a year for the freshest lemon and rosemary aromas and flavors. Beyond a year, we expect the impact of those special additions to start fading. For food pairings, we recommend playing off the beer’s natural acidity and the lemon and rosemary character. Roasted chicken with rosemary lemon butter, or a simple lemon parsley couscous both sound perfect to us.
Hi-Wire Brewing got its start in the summer of 2013, founded by Adam Charnack and Chris Frosaker, and it quickly became one of the fastest growing craft breweries in North Carolina. Their bread and butter has been in creating well-balanced core beers like the Hi-Wire Lager, Bed of Nails Brown, and Hi-Pitch IPA, and their main production facility—affectionately known as The Big Top—opened up in 2015. Based out of Asheville, the brewery currently has two locations there, including the production facility as well as the South Slope Specialty Brewery & Taproom, which focuses more on their wild and sour ale offerings. As of today, Hi-Wire also operates spots in Durham, Knoxville, Wilmington, Birmingham, Charlotte, and Louisville, with Cincinnati and Nashville coming soon.
The creation of the Big Top Production Brewery & Taproom has allowed their South Slope location to become more of an experimental hub for their barrel-aged beers and sour ales (of which we’ll be featuring one this month—their Sour Blonde with Lemon & Rosemary). They’ve got a pilot system at South Slope that lets them focus on recipe development and smaller-batch creations—including this exclusive offering they’ve put together for the Rare Beer Club this month. Hi-Wire’s been on our radar for a while now, ever since we were visiting World Beer Festivals back in North Carolina, and their ability to successfully brew both traditional styles as well as out-there new concoctions has kept us coming back for more. This circus-themed brewery does a lot of charitable outreach, hires local artists for their artwork, and sources as many local ingredients as possible for their operations. They focus on creating a welcoming environment for friends to get together, and we’re excited to be able to highlight the bounds of what this place has been brewing in recent years with this latest Rare Beer Club exclusive.
You may be able to find some of Hi-Wire’s core releases in the southeastern part of the U.S., including their Bed of Nails Brown ale, Hi-Wire Lager, and their big range of flagship IPAs: including the Hi-Pitch Mosaic IPA, Lo-Pitch Hazy IPA, and Double Hi-Pitch IPA. They’ve also got a rotating flagship of session sour beers, in addition to the many one-off, seasonal, and specialty releases they’ve been creating. Hi-Wire has picked up a number of key awards over the years for their various creations, including being named the Best New North Carolina Brewery of 2013 by the folks at RateBeer, as well as winning gold at the Great American Beer Festival in 2016 for a German-style märzen, in 2019 for a sour brown ale aged on Palo Santo wood, and in 2021 for a Japanese Dry Rice Lager with Ben’s American Sake Koji.
No reservations are needed at any of the tap rooms and all have space available to rent. The Big Top has its own beer garden and is home to all of Hi-Wire’s large-scale events, and you can sample a pint of their latest creations next to the tanks where they were fermented. Hi-Wire currently distributes in draft and bottles to parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, and Virginia. They can also ship beer to various other states through their Online Beer Shop. For the latest info, head over to hiwirebrewing.com.
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