Joe Pullara and his signature brew, Blackalachian

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Joe Pullara was a great friend and one of those people everyone liked. His positive attitude and constant smile were infectious and almost always ensured things would go well with whatever he was involved with.

In that vein, he was an amazing brewer of a few beer styles; brew days at the Pullara’s were always a celebration of friends and family. His “signature” brew was a Black IPA he named “Blackalachian.” We both liked this style and once did a blind tasting of my version of this style, Widmer Brother’s Pitch Black IPA, and Joe’s brew. The blind tasting was held during one of the monthly meetings of Tryon’s area brewing club, YEAST (Youthful and Elder Ale Sippers of Tryon). It was a bit ironic that Joe chose my version and I chose his and no one chose the commercially brewed samples.

We lost Joe this year, way too early in his life, and certainly way too early in ours. I’m not sure the town will ever fully heal from the huge hole in the very fabric of our community but we have to go on. It is, after all, what Joe would have wanted.

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Joe was the Chairman of the Tryon Beer Fest in 2014 and 2015, and under his leadership, the festival was a great success and has become one of the best, intimate beer tasting events in the Carolinas, maybe the entire Southeast. I chaired it in 2013 and am back at the helm this year, but I have really big shoes to fill in order to even come close to Joe’s accomplishments.

This is where Blackalachian comes into the picture.

Joe was toying with the idea of opening a brewpub in Tryon during 2015. The signature beer was going to be his favorite brew, the Black IPA. When he got sick, the brewpub idea was put on hold. The general public never got chance to try this great beer. We considered serving Blackalachian and a few other homebrewed beers at the Beer Fest, but North Carolina rules don’t allow homebrewed beer to be served at festivals. I tried to figure out how to work things out to have Joe’s Brew at this year’s event. I finally thought that if one of our local breweries were to scale the recipe up to a small, commercial quantity and serve it as one of theirs, maybe this would work.

Thomas Creek Brewing, one of Greenville’s earliest craft breweries, has been a close acquaintance and friend of the Tryon Beer Fest since it started. It’s also where I buy virtually all of my homebrewing supplies and the trip to visit Tom and Terri is always a treat. I asked if they would be willing to use their smaller, pilot system to brew a small batch and serve it from one of their taps at the festival. The response was an enthusiastic, “We’d be proud to do this.” Problem solved. We’re going to be sharing Joe’s Black IPA with the 2016 Tryon Beer Fest attendees. 

The photos accompanying this article were taken on August 11, 2016 at Thomas Creek during the Blackalachian Brew Day, organized by Terri and Tom. Friends and family were invited to the brewery to participate in the making of Joe’s favorite brew. Shown are Jessica and Joey Pullara stirring the mash as barley malt is being added. 

So, when you come to the 2016 Tryon Beer Fest, make sure to stop by Thomas Creek’s booth and tent and ask for Joe’s Special Brew, Blackalachian. You’ll be glad you did.

Then make a toast to Joe.

Tryon Beer Fest tickets can be purchased online at If you prefer to purchase in person, you can find tickets at La Bouteille and at the Tryon Coffee House Co-op, located in downtown Tryon. Tickets can also be purchased at the Greer, S.C. La Bouteille location in the historic train depot. Tickets are $35 pre-sale, and go up to $40 at the gate. Go online to learn more about sponsorship for this event.   

The Tryon Beer Festival will be held on Saturday, November 5, from noon to 6 p.m. It is held at the historic Tryon Depot. This is a scenic and intimate location looking over the town of Tryon and with views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.   

 Past Beer Fest events have brought in as many as 1,200 festivalgoers and we cap ticket sales at 1,200 so don’t miss out. This event is produced by the Tryon Downtown Development Association with a partnership benefiting Polk County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters. This is a rain or shine event for those 21 and older. Sorry, no kids, no pets, no guns. ID must be presented at the gate! Follow us on Facebook.


~ submitted by Terry Schager