One of life’s simplest pleasures is a PB&J sandwich. It brings back great memories as a kid.
Tonight I scored. I got an invite to Catawba Brewing‘s special release party of their Peanut Butter Jelly Time brew at their Rickhouse tasting room in Asheville. That’s right a peanut butter and jelly brew. This brew has achieved a cult status amongst lots of craft beer lovers. Several friends pleaded to bring back growlers because they knew they would never have the opportunity to purchase it.
At the first whiff of the aroma and you’re a 9-year-old again. It smells like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And it tastes like one….but on top of a nice beer backbone.
Catawba Brewing‘s main production facility is located in Morganton, NC, about a hour’s drive out of Asheville. They have a tasting room in Biltmore Village and in downtown Asheville, where they had their release party for their distributors and people in the trade. Tomorrow, March 4th you’ll be able to buy it in Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee and northern South Carolina. More will be shipping soon to eastern North Carolina and according to the head of brewing operations Kevin Sondey, it will be gone in little over a week.
This year they brewed approximately 230 barrels or the equivalent of 3,100 cases of Peanut Butter Jelly Time. It will be available on tap and in cans.
This is a special release beer that is in it’s third year of full production but has a much longer history than that. According to Jetta Pyatt, co-owner of Catawba, one of their former brewers lost a child in a horrific accident years ago and tried to find a way to honor a child that loved the simple things of life, “blue skies, rainbows and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”
After the brewer left they decided to carry on the tradition. Sondey, with feedback from Billy and Jetta Pyatt and many others at the brewery they decided to make a brew that was much more approachable. They succeeded by starting with a good light brown ale and let it age in a tank of dry peanuts. After the it achieved the right balance they added a pure raspberry puree that gave it the jelly flavor. They succeeded.
Many brewers use peanut extracts and their brews can take on a medicinal flavor to some palates. When tasting it cold it’s smooth and flavorful. I’ve always been admonished to wait until a dark brew has warmed up to really enjoy the full range of flavors. This brew I think is best enjoyed cold. As it warms up the peanuts pick up and you start to lose the jelly. Still very good but if you want that memory rush back to your childhood try it cold.
This brew is obviously unfiltered. It’s got lots of peanut “stuff” in it. Brewing this beer is pain of sorts. Peanuts are loaded with oil and after the aging process they now have a ton of soggy peanuts and “huge globs of peanut oil” they have to deal with according to Sondey. They just mix it in with the grains from the other brews and some happy hogs and cows will enjoy them.
And by the way. Asheville is the perfect vacation spot for beer lovers. Check out AshevilleAleTrail.com
It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!
Author Bottle Report