I was fortunate enough to attend the pre-opening last night, and it is everything that I could have hoped for. The draft selection was a good representation of different Belgian styles, and over half of them have not been seen in Asheville before. A particular highlight was the Kasteel Rouge, a Belgian ale that bursts with a sweet cheery flavor with nary a hint of the 8 percent alcohol content. This is a wonderful beer that would go great with chocolate and other desserts.
Every beer on tap was served with its own glassware, even the unusual Kwak glass that sits in its own wooden stand. Legend has it that the glass originated in the 18th century from coachmen who could not leave their coach and horses while they waited for their passengers. Mugs were not practical, so Pauwel Kwak had a special glass made for them to hang on their coaches, so they could enjoy his beer while they waited. Come to think of it, this may have been the very first cup holder. Of course in today's age, I personally would avoid using any taxi drivers that are drinking beers while waiting for a fare.
Another great thing about the Thirsty Monk is that they will also feature local Belgian style beers that will be served right alongside their imported counterparts. They currently have the Pisgah Solstice, but will include others in the future, including beers from the upcoming Wedge Gallery Brewery that should be opening soon.
Having a Belgian beer bar in Asheville is a great testament to the beer culture that has been fostered here over the past decade or so. To my knowledge, the only other Belgian beer bar in the south is the Brick Store Pub in Atlanta, which has a metro population that is 25 times that of Buncombe County. I truely hope that our beer community can support such a great establishment.