Friday, June 22, 2007

On Tap - Barley's

This will be a semi-regular feature, in which I, your intrepid blogger, ventures out to a local Asheville bar or brewpub in search of good beer. Most of my focus will be on seasonal releases and rare microbrews from near and far. Hopefully this will inspire the thousands of people who read this blog to set forth on their own beer odyssey.

Today's featured bar is Barley's Taproom. Barley's has long held the title in Asheville for most beers on tap with 43 in all, and they do an excellent job of highlighting North Carolina breweries. If you go there hungry, you can grab a table downstairs and order a slice of pizza, a pita wrap, or a beefalo burger to go with your beer. Recently, they have undergone an expansion of their kitchen, so there should be a couple of new things on the menu in the coming months. If you don't feel like eating, you can always go upstairs and hustle your way into a game of pool or throw a few darts. Barley's also features live FREE music three times a week and trivia on Monday nights.

Okay, now that the obligatory introduction is out of the way, let's move on to the beer. If the summer heat is getting to you, our very own French Broad Brewery has a beer to quench your thirst. Go ahead, wipe the sweat off your brow, and order a Gateway Kolsch. Germany is most famous for its lagers, but if you order a beer in the city of Cologne, they will pour a top fermented ale known as Kolsch. Light in color and body, it certainly looks like its lagered counterpart, but the ale yeast lends a slightly more fruity character. The Kolsch actually tastes like a hybrid of the two, as the Kolsch yeast ferments at slightly lower temperatures than most ale yeasts and many Kolsh's are lagered for a short period of time. I had a pint last night and it was light and refreshing, and it made me want to book a plane to Cologne so I could try the real thing. Donations will be accepted.

Speaking of beer traveling, on my list of things to do before I die is to go to Belgium. Since that isn't in the cards in the near future, I have to settle on drinking Belgian style beers here at home, and Barley's just so happens to have one on tap downstairs. Brooklyn Brewery has recently been releasing some special draft only Belgian style beers, and the current selection is the Abbey Singel. While most Belgian style beers I drink are high gravity, this one could be described as a Belgian session beer, weighing in at a modest 6 percent. Light in body, fruity, with a definite Belgian yeast presence that is slightly spicy with hints of banana. This goes down easier than its higher alcohol brethren.

My last featured beer is one that has been on tap upstairs off and on for awhile. Foothills Brewing has been churning out some great beers lately, and the beer that first really peaked my interest in them is the Seeing Double IPA. A sweet sipper with more malt than you find in a lot of Double IPA's, but the citrusy hops remind you of why this is called an IPA. There is also a pleasantly mild alcohol burn that reminds you that you are drinking a beer that is 9.5% alcohol. Go easy on this one kids.

Another beer that I didn't get around to drinking was Catawba Valley's Bier D' Clam. If you didn't catch the double entendre, I suggest reading that last sentence again. This is an Oyster Stout. Yes, they make beer with oysters. No, it doesn't sound appetizing, but I have had an oyster stout from Rogue that was fairly tasty. I shall try to have this on a return trip, and if anybody has any insight on this beer let me know.

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