Monday, June 30, 2008

Thirsty Monk Expansion Nearly Complete

I got a chance to look into the upstairs expansion of the Thirsty Monk, otherwise known as the Pinthouse. The bar is finished, and the kegs are getting cold, and the space looks great. On seasonable days, the windows in the front can be opened up, and they will also have some benches out front for sitting (but please save a spot for me, okay?) There is still some work to be done, but they are shooting for an opening date of July 3rd. I have a feeling I am going to spend a good amount of time during the holiday weekend here. Below is the tentative draft list for opening night:

Allagash Black
Allagash Odyssey
Bell's Kalamazoo Stout
Bell's Oberon
Bell's Third Coast Barleywine
Clipper City Heavy Seas Uber Pilsner
Dogfish Head Aprihop
Flying Dog Garde Dog
Green Flash Hophead Amber Red
Green Flash West Coast IPA
Highland Cattail Wheat
Lost Coast IPA
Magic Hat Hocus Pocus
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Shmaltz Coney Island Lager
Tommyknocker Coco Porter (or some other porter if they can't get this in time)

Not counting the Highland, by my count there are 11 beers that I have not seen on tap before in Asheville. This is a great list, and they have several beers lined up behind these. It is likely that if you go once a week you will always see something new. Personally, I will be drinking the Allagash Odyssey, a barrel aged Belgian dark ale that is simply devine. That keg will not last long folks, so be sure to try and stop by in the first couple of days. You may also recall that I highly recommend the Green Flash West Coast IPA. To say that I am excited by the expansion would be an understatement.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Belgium set to ride into North Carolina

Yesterday was my birthday, so naturally I started off the evening having some Belgian beers at the Thirsty Monk. And who do I happen to run into? None other than the owners of New Belgium Brewing, one of the largest and most respected craft brewers in the country. Jeff Lebesch, an avid homebrewer, and his wife Kim Jordan started the brewery in 1991 selling 22 ounce bottles of their flagship beer Flat Tire Ale as well as their Abbey Ale, and the brewery has grown exponentially since then, with distribution primarly occuring in the western part of the country. In my travels out west, it was reassuring to know that any time you stepped foot in a bar they likely had Fat Tire on tap. Not only have they shown remarkable growth over that time, but they have done so with an eye on sustainablility. In 1998, New Belgium became the first brewery to buy 100 percent of its power from wind energy, and they also followed green building practices in the brewery as well as producing on-site energy from the methane that is a byproduct of their water treatment facility.

So why am I tellin you all this about a brewery that you have to travel hundreds of miles to even try? Because they are coming to North Carolina. Jeff (J.B.) and Kim were here in Asheville to check out the local beer scene, and to begin discussions on bringing their beers to our state. Jeff said that it will probably be spring of next year before you see bottles (and cans!) of Fat Tire on the shelves. In addition to their standard lineup, we will also likely see some special beers from their brewmaster, Peter Bouckaert, who is the former brewer at Rodenbach. The most famous of these is the La Folie, a flanders style ale that is aged in French Oak for up to three years, and I will finally get a chance to try it when New Belgium comes to our state.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Answering the Challenge

It has been nearly a year since I posted my challenge to Asheville beer bars, where I asked to see more Belgians available on tap, as well as more special beer related events like cask ales and pint nights where you could try a specific brewery and take home a glass. Well, the Thirsty Monk has answered the call.

As I stated a couple of weeks ago, the Thirsty Monk is expanding into an upstairs location, the Pinthouse, where they will feature American craft beers. The plans are to have 16 rotating taps, and they hope to never tap the same keg twice in a row, which should definitely increase the variety of beer. I am really excited about this, and I'm sure there will be some taps that we have never seen in Asheville before. In addition to all the great beers, they will also be having pint nights where you can try a featured beer and take home a glass (these will happen both downstairs and up). And the best news of all is they are aiming to be open by July 4th.

But wait, there's more. On Thursday evening, July 10th, Alain De Laut, owner of Brouwerij Huyghe will be on hand for a tasting of their fine beers, Delirium Tremens and Delirium Nocturnum. You will also be able to take home a Delirium glass signed by the owner himself. A day later on Friday the 11th, the Pinthouse upstairs will be having a firkin of Clipper City Loose Cannon, along with a representative from the brewery. I hope this will be the first of many cask nights, a tradition that Asheville beer bars sorely need (the only fix that I know of is the cask at Dirty Jacks). I hope y'all can make it out to one of these events.

And in other news, Asheville is getting another brewery. As reported by several blogs, Craggie Brewing is looking to open its doors sometime in the late fall, and will be located on Hilliard Avenue near the backside of Asheville Brewing Company. This only adds the already well known reputation that Asheville is the capital of craft beer in the south. If I had any connections with the Chamber of Commerce I would be pushing this town as a beer destination.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Around Town

I meant to do this earlier in the week, but if you follow the Bruisin' Ales blog you got filled in on some of the local goings on. Some of this will be a review of their news, but I do have a couple of extra things to add.

As mentioned by both Bruisin' and Tony Kiss, the Pisgah Vortex I is back. This edition is slightly different from the first, using a variety of hops to try and match the hop schedule of the original. I honestly think it turned out better than before. This beer is on tap for a limited time at Barley's, and also available on Thursday nights at the Pisgah tasting room.

Speaking of Barleys, I failed to notice that Triangle Brewing has made its debut in Asheville. This relatively new brewery out of Durham hit the ground running last fall with a couple of Belgian inspired ales, and they have finally branched out to our neck of the woods. On tap is the Belgian Golden Ale, a deceptively strong beer with a light fruity taste typical of the style. I'm glad to see them finally make it out here, as I was impressed when I first tried them back at the World Beer Festival in Durham last fall.

French Broad has bottled its 13 Rebels ESB, and is avaliable at beer stores around town. They have also released their Re-Session Ale, a cream ale that is both easy to drink and flavorful, and you can afford to have a few while you play pool upstairs at Barleys. I applaud French Broad for making a tasty beer that is lower in alcohol for those times that you want to hang out for a couple of hours at the bar.

And finally, Wedge Brewing Company should be rolling out its Porter on Saturday, and it will be open from 4-10 on Saturday to coincide with the River Arts District Studio Stroll. The hours are likely to expand next week as well, according to the Mountain Express. Don't miss their official Grand Opening on the 19th of July, when they plan on showing the classic movie Thunder Road which was partially filmed right here in Western North Carolina.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beer of the Moment - Peche Mortel

Yes, its been awhile since I have posted a Beer of the Moment. My original idea for this beer was to pick a 'summer but not summer beer'. Well, after having my first bottle of Peche Mortel, that post will have to wait. Peche Mortel is definitely not what one would consider a summer beer, but good beer doesn't care about what season it is.

Peche Mortel is brewed by Dieu du Ciel a small brewpub/brewery in Montreal, Canada, that makes a variety of styles from Belgians to American IPA's. The beer they are best known for is the Peche Mortel, a highly rated Imperial Stout that combines the intense richness of coffee with a deep roasted malts. The taste is one to savor, with cocoa intermingling with the coffee, and a great creamy mouthfeel. This reminds me of the Pisgah Valdez, only with a bit more body. Coffee lovers, stout lovers, or just beer lovers should definitely run to Bruisin' Ales to pick one up, as supplies are limited. While picking this up, you should look over the full selection of Dieu Du Ciel beers. I also sampled the Rosee D'hibscus, which is a Belgian Wheat style ale brewed with you guessed it, hibiscus.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Happy Anniversary To Me

Two days from now will mark the one year anniversary of me contributing to this blog. First of all, a big thanks to everyone who stops by to visit. Asheville is such a special place to live, and the reason I wanted to post here in the first place was to celebrate the exciting beer culture of our fair little city. Thanks also must go out to Asheville's brewers, as they continue to amaze me with their wonderful creations, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. Every brewer that I have met has been more than willing to take the time to talk to me, and it has been great getting to know them. The folks at Bruisin' Ales have also lent their support to the blog, and without it I would not have had as many cool things to experience and blog about. Last but not least, I would like to thank the person who started this site, Mark Stoffan, for having the insight to start the blog and giving me the opportunity to contribute. It has been an incredible experience.

My only regret is that I wish I was able to contribute to the site more frequently. I have had my share of lapses, but I hope to increase my posts going into my second year. But if I am not able to do that, please don't hold it against me. If you have any suggestions as to what kind of things you would like to see on this blog, feel free to let me know. Again, thanks for reading.