Fonta Flora provides history with brews
The past couple times I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina, I had hopes of making it to Fonta Flora Brewery in Nebo, an hour’s drive to the east.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make that trek, despite my marked interested in all the things they’re doing at the brewery’s Whippoorwill Farm. The things they’re doing include: seasonal brewing ingredients; Appalachia farmhouse fusion with Belgian and English roots; cultivating community togetherness through partnerships with other local farms and artisans; a farmers market for stocking up on fresh goods with a beer every Friday; art and crafting classes featuring skills like shibori indigo dyeing; a focus on healthful living with run and bike clubs and yoga; and even a theology conversation at the brewery’s Morganton, North Carolina, location, where all are welcome for friendly discourse while enjoying beer and breaking bread together (or at least some locally produced snacks).
The brewery's name is a respectful nod to the history of the area, where roots run deep and memories stretch long.
Where Lake James now snakes its path just north of Nebo and snuggles into the embracing edge of Pisgah National Forest, there once was a community called Fonta Flora. As history teaches us, we can’t stop progress, and in this case, progress looked like the damming the Linville River to harness its hydroelectric power to satisfy electrical needs.
The town was at least partially flooded, about 100 residents were displaced and the once idyllic farming community was washed away.
Fonta Flora Brewery’s original location is in Morganton, North Carolina, less than a half-hour’s drive east of the farm brewery. It still crafts dreamy batches of beer infused with the bounty of the land, along with kombucha and wine on draft. They have a goal of opening a third location sometime this year in Charlotte, North Carolina.
If you can’t make the trip to North Carolina, you’re in luck because Fonta Flora Brewery beers are beginning to find their way into our area.
What kind of flavors might you expect from Fonta Flora offerings?
Whippoorwill is Fonta Flora's 4.5% alcohol by volume session take on the witbier style, and it is named after the dairy farm that once was on the land they now own. It’s brewed with oranges, coriander and Earl Grey tea. If you’ve had Earl Grey tea even once in your life, you’ll remember how unique it is. The secret ingredient is oil of bergamot, which is extracted from the rind of a Citrus bergamia fruit.
The beer poured straight gold with slight haze and was topped with only a thin white head that disappeared entirely, possibly a result of the oil of bergamot because oils negatively affect head retention.
It smelled of sweet juicy oranges, freshly peeled and zested; the soapy, dusty citrus scent of crushed coriander seed; of diffusing a couple drops of my doTERRA bergamot essential oil. It was spicy and exceptionally inviting.
The flavor was full of earthy, dried orange peel and a subtle presence of bergamot. The tannic qualities of the black tea dried out much of the wheat softness so often experienced this style of beer, while spicy yeast and lemony notes rounded out the end of every sip. There was a soft middle in this beer, but it wasn’t quite as creamy as witbiers often are. It was an exciting change of pace and thoroughly enjoyable.
Bloody Butcher’s label — two parallel knives with ears of corn for handles — drew me in before I even opened up the bottle, Curiosities are a thing of beauty to me and this label certainly fits that bill. In style, it's a 6.4% ABV mixed culture fermentation brewed in the grisette style (learn more about grisettes at bit.ly/LNP_grizacca) and with heritage red corn.
This fourth incarnation of this beer poured a sunny, lemon gold with ample haze and a fluffy white head. The aroma was tart and sour up front with lemons, hay, light barnyard, grass, herbal notes, wildflower honey and warm dust. The flavor offered lemon, pine, wet horse blanket and leather. It was extra tart and juicy, ended dry and reminded me of dipping my head under ocean waves and licking my lips when I surface again.
A sipper due to its puckering nature, Bloody Butcher smacks of sophistication and pleasure.
Contact Amber DeGrace with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and find her on Twitter at @amberdegrace.