The Me­mo­ri­al­ists

With deep roots in the town’s his­tory, a di­verse lineup of in­spired beers, and ma­jor ex­pan­sion in its fu­ture, Burial Beer Co. has es­tab­lished it­self as a fun­da­men­tal planet in Asheville, North Carolina’s craft-beer-soaked uni­verse.

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Breakout Brewer: Burial Beer Co. - By Emily Hutto


brew­ery scene: a quaint, crim­son abode filled with fer­men­ta­tion tanks and sur­rounded by trees and hops vines; rus­tic wooden bar­rels stacked up ready to be filled; rolling blue moun­tains in the back­ground. Now imag­ine that stand­ing in front of that farm­house is a hand­somely aged Tom Sel­leck with his arm around Sloth from The Goonies.

At Burial Beer Co. in Asheville, North Carolina, you don’t have to imag­ine that scene be­cause it’s painted as a huge mu­ral on the side of the build­ing on Col­lier Av­enue. “We have this thing with Tom Sel­leck,” says Co-owner and Head Brewer Tim Gorm­ley. This thing started with a vel­vet paint­ing of Mr. Sel­leck that used to hang in the now-de­funct Crag­gie Brew­ery around the cor­ner. The Crag­gie owner en­trusted one of Burial’s long-time em­ploy­ees with the paint­ing for safe­keep­ing, and it even­tu­ally made its way onto the wall at Burial, which was opened in Asheville by Gorm­ley, Doug Reiser, and Jess Reiser in 2013.

“He has this very sexy look to him, ob­vi­ously, be­cause he’s Tom Sel­leck,” Gorm­ley says of the paint­ing. “End­less peo­ple found it en­ter­tain­ing, and the self­ies spread all over so­cial me­dia. It be­came an iconic part of our bar.”

An­other iconic el­e­ment of Burial’s bar is a poster of Sloth from The Goonies. Sloth and Tom Sel­leck came up when it came time to de­cide on the sub­ject of a mu­ral for a blank wall out back. “Drinks were pour­ing,” re­mem­bers Gorm­ley. “We were like ‘what hap­pens if the owner wants to take this back? We should memo­ri­al­ize this, make it per­ma­nent, so Tom will never leave us.’”

So that’s just what they did—they hired lo­cal graf­fiti artist Gus Cutty to glo­rify Tom Sel­leck and Sloth. “It’s be­come a quin­tes­sen­tial part of Asheville,” Gorm­ley says.

Much like their adored mu­ral, Burial Beer Co. has also be­come a quin­tes­sen­tial part of Asheville in its few short years in busi­ness. Its own­ers chose this North Carolina moun­tain town as home be­cause of its highly ed­u­cated drink­ing pub­lic. “We thought it was a sup­port­ive com­mu­nity with an es­tab­lished scene, which we needed for the beer styles we wanted to make,” Gorm­ley says.

One such style was sai­son, Gorm­ley’s fa­vorite beer style be­cause “it’s an open can­vas for ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and ap­pli­ca­tion of all sorts of tech­niques, spic­ing, [and] fruit­ing.”

At Burial, where there are no flag­ship beers, the sai­son se­lec­tion is al­ways evolv­ing. On the menu could be any­thing from the pep­pery Blade & Sheath, with notes of apri­cot and melon, to the dry-hopped Mag­pie on the Gal­lows that fer­mented on cran­berry puree, orange peel, cloves, and ju­niper berries. “We’re al­ways do­ing sen­sory [tests] with our beers and de­con­struct­ing them,” Gorm­ley says. “We’ll try a dif­fer­ent yeast strain or a slightly dif­fer­ent fer­men­ta­tion tem­per­a­ture; we’ll add pep­per­corns to beef up the phe­nol part of the pro­file.…we have a phi­los­o­phy that none of our beers is per­fect.”

That same phi­los­o­phy ap­plies to Burial’s IPAS. “We’re in this ever-go­ing quest to cre­ate the ideal IPA for each cus­tomer,” Gorm­ley says. “In some IPAS, we’re go­ing for dank fla­vors, some are go­ing for fruity, juicy, or trop­i­cal. We’re try­ing to have a di­verse se­lec­tion so some­one can come into the bar and find [his/her] per­fect IPA … and we know per­fect is in the eye of the be­holder.”

Guests at Burial get even more IPA va­ri­eties through the Cer­e­mo­nial Ses­sion IPA that fea­tures dif­fer­ent hops each time it is brewed. Cer­e­mo­nial, which is avail­able in cans, has used Nel­son Sau­vin, Eureka, and Amar­illo hops, to name a few. Next up is a batch brewed with fruit-for­ward and earthy Vic Se­cret hops. “Cer­e­mo­nial is the fu­ture of IPA,” says Gorm­ley. “Some hops are be­com­ing more and more rare, and some of the sex­i­est hops are get­ting harder to find. Ro­tat­ing hops va­ri­eties al­lows us to stay flex­i­ble and rel­e­vant.”

From dy­namic IPAS and shift­ing saisons to the year-round dark beer (of­ten a stout, oc­ca­sion­ally a brown ale) to the mixed­fer­men­ta­tion sour beers that Gorm­ley has been ex­per­i­ment­ing with re­cently, the va­ri­ety of beer styles avail­able at Burial is vast and ever chang­ing. This di­ver­sity re­flects the com­pany’s farm­house-style ap­proach to their beers—brewing with what’s avail­able, when avail­able, and rarely mak­ing the same beer twice.

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