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Senior to Present Research on Microbreweries at Honors Conference
 Kirstyn Burleson
Kirstyn Burleson '13

During the April 5th Southern Regional Honors Conference in Louisville, KY, Limestone College senior Kirstyn Burleson will present her research on the microbreweries of the Asheville, NC area.

Kirstyn, a History Pre-Law major from Asheville, is also a participant in Limestone's Honor Program, the Student Alumni Leadership Association, and the Saint's softball team.

 "The presentation examines the history of the microbrewery industry in Asheville beginning with the earliest production to the continuous expansion into the area of breweries from other parts of the country," explained Kirstyn, who has been working on the project since the 2012 Fall Term. "In my research, I look as far back as the early colonial period for evidence in the ways beer helped shape, not only the location of downtown Asheville, but the families that have lived there for generations. With the help of the infamous mountain moonshine, I show evidence that the homegrown spirits are so intertwined with the definition of Asheville, that one cannot simply be excluded from the other."

The Power of Student/Professor Collobaoration
The project was a classic example of student/professor collaboration as Kirstyn partnered with Dr. Patricia Hoskins, College Historian and Assistant Professor of History. "Every history major at Limestone is required to research and write an original historical research paper. The project is important because it gives history majors the chance to work one-on-one with professors on their chosen topic. This is a skill that will serve them well if they plan on going into any graduate program where the student/professor working relationship proves crucial," explained Dr. Hoskins.

The Napa Valley Area for Beer
Kirstyn chose Asheville because of its prominence in the microbrewery community. "Because of the Beer City USA titles won in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Asheville can now be defined as an East Coast micro brewing giant," she said.

Not only does her research show the effects of past and current microbreweries in the area, but also the possible impact two new ones-Sierra Nevada in 2013 and New Belgium in 2015-will have on the community.
When asked about research for the project, Kirstyn stated that due to the current popularity of the subject, she had no problems finding newspaper articles as well as recently published books, such as Anne Fitton Glenn's Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing, and also several memoirs from known moonshine distillers, all in an attempt to learn more about the brewing world.

Kirstyn chose to do the project due to its major impact on the area from which she hails, as well as revolving around a very interesting topic. Of the whole experience, Kirstyn said, "The entire process has been enlightening for me because college students such as me are constricted by financial restraints when it comes to enjoying good local brew. I was able to try many award winning brews, some that contained interesting ingredients, like jalapeños. Aside from trying the actual product of these popular businesses, I have learned that the history of micro brewing has a direct link to the location of the city of Asheville. In fact, Asheville City Hall stands where it does today because of a tavern."

Focus Driven
Dr. Hoskins was struck by Kristyn's organization and research methods.

"Kirstyn came into the class with a clear idea of what she wanted to write about. She was very interested in her home town of Asheville and in particular, the micro-brewing industry. As the semester progressed and she began her research she discovered Asheville's long history of alcohol production, both legal, and more notoriously, the illegal production of moonshine.

"I found it fascinating that she was able to incorporate not only Asheville's independent mountain tradition of producing home brew and link it to its present day local dominate micro-brewing industry. Even more impressive is her ability to bring that history up to present by observing the potential impact that big brewing companies moving into Asheville, like Sierra Nevada, will have on Asheville's independent, mountain history."