Did you know?

Did you know? — The year in review — 2016’s top-read columns

Part 1
By Paul Viau | Dec 28, 2016
Photo by: File TARGET A HAPPY NEW YEAR — We're looking back on the best-read columns of 2016, and wishing all DYK readers a Happy New Year.

For the past few years I have celebrated the year-end by looking back at all the people I have connected with and reviewing my most popular columns. How do we determine which columns are the most popular? That’s a good question.

If it were solely based on in-person comments and compliments, my hummingbird columns would win every year.

If it were based on the number of online comments to columns on The Mountaineer Website, I would be clueless, because I don’t get many comments.

But lucky for me, The Mountaineer Website tracks the number of ‘page views’ for every posting. I can report that ‘Did you know?’ gets hundreds of page views very week. In fact, one of my summer columns is approaching 10,000 individual page views — since June — and no, it’s not me clicking on my column again and again.

So, here — in no particular order — except taking a cue from David Letterman’s ever-popular “Top Ten Countdown,” here is part 1.


The top 10 ‘Did you know?’ columns of 2016


#10 — Jan. 20, 2016 — “Ooorah! — A disciplined approach to craft brewing” — 2,131 page views

DYK’s craft beer-related stories are often the most popular — I’ll drink to that. And this column was special for me, because it’s all about a young Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine) who is now serving in Asheville’s A-B Tech brewing program. His name is Dan Rowe, and I met him while judging a craft beer contest at Frog Level Brewing. His Rye IPA was a clear winner and we developed a friendship, especially when Rowe moved to Asheville and got a job at The Thirsty Monk.

We connect on Facebook these days, and in 2017, I plan to write a DYK on A-B Tech’s Brewing, Distillation and Fermenting program. BTW, that is one of my favorite food groups.


#9 — March 2, 2016 — “America’s favorite sandwich … on draft or in cans.” — 2,137 page views

Every spring, craft beer lovers flock to Catawba Brewing Company’s two locations in Asheville and the main brewery in Morganton to get their hands on a specialty brew with a cult-like following — Peanut Butter Jelly Time.

Catawba’s PBJT is its most popular seasonal, and for good reason — it captures the essence of that peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was the staple of your school lunchbox.

To duplicate this taste treat, Catawba starts with a bready light brown ale brewed with a blend of five different grains, then aged for weeks on raspberries and roasted peanuts. The result is pure ‘Yumm.

Look for the release of Peanut Butter Jelly Time in early March. The Viau family plans to buy a case, and it should be tax deductible, because Carol can’t do income tax prep without it.


#8 — May 18, 2016 — “More NC craft brewers are saying, I think I can.” — 2,189 page views

This column (yes, another one about craft beer) celebrates the growing trend of brewers choosing to distribute their beer in cans — instead of bottles.

Cans are lighter than bottles — making for less-expensive distribution. Cans are Uber recyclable, too — ergo, better for the environment. Finally, cans are more portable and can find their way for all manners of outdoor activity — or inactivity.


#7 — Feb. 24, 2016 — “How can an 18-year-old be on social security and Medicare?” — 2,198 page views

This column was a shout-out to our neighbor and friend, Alden Robinson, who is a leap-year baby — called a ‘Leapling.’ And DYK, Clark Williams of Frog Level Brewing was also born on Feb. 29.

Since I was born just two days before leap year —  long, long ago — I have suffered nearly 70 birthdays to Alden’s scant 18, and in leap-year’s, Clark Williams just became a teenager.

I guess readers really liked the idea of fewer birthdays, and who could blame them?


#6 — Jan. 27, 2016 — “32 Banks Avenue, South Slope, Asheville — Truly a Trio of Temptations

— 2,388 Page Views

This column was about award-winning barbecue, craft beer and artisanal donuts — all under one roof.

I hit a home run on this one, especially after a photo-shoot which required mass quantities of Eastern-style Carolina barbecue from Buxton Hall Barbecue, dozens of hand crafted donuts from Vortex Donuts and pour after pour of Catawba beer.

Clean-up was a labor of love.

BTW, this summer, Buxton Hall was named one of the top 10 new restaurants in the U.S. by Bon Appetit — sadly, having absolutely nothing to do with the column.


In conclusion, it has been my pleasure to write about WNC for nearly nine years now. Did you know? — You’ll have to wait until the first week of 2017 for my top five columns in 2016.

In the meantime, Happy New Year.