Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Winter Warmer Wrapup

The Winter Warmer this year was a blast. The folks at Asheville Bruise Cruise should be commended for putting on such an excellent event. They thought of everything, right down to having a coat check. I really appreciated having a festival that showcases all the great local and regional beers that are available to us.

Some of the highlights included a barrel aged Milk Stout from Duck Rabbit Brewing (I just love barrel aged beers). The oaky vanilla aftertaste really elevated what was already a good beer. Another pleasant sent surprise was from Triangle Brewing Company out of Durham, who brought two casks to drink from. One was a Raspberry Coffee Chocolate Imperial Stout (that is a mouthful), and the other was their Extra Pale Ale flavored with Habenero. The Pale Ale was quite a treat, and the heat from the peppers was just enough to give it a distinctive bite without it being too overpowering. I can only imagine how good that beer must be with some grilled meat. The local breweries also had some great beers. French Broad had a Belgian Stout, Pisgah brought their popular Valdez Coffee Stout, and I got to have a taste of the Wedge Super Saison from the bottle (this is a must purchase for local beer fans). All in all, a great day to drink beer.

Early in the session, I noticed a brewery I had never heard of pouring beer from large gallon glass jugs. The Oyster House Brewery will be Asheville's newest brewery as they should be pouring beer at the Lobster Trap in the next few weeks. They have a really small brew system and will only be pouring at the Trap from my understanding, but I hope to learn more and have a separate writeup on them in the near future. With Craggie and Lexington Avenue Brewery opening this year, this will make 10 breweries in Buncombe County (11 if you count the two breweries associated with Asheville Brewing).

Speaking of Craggie Brewing, if you haven't had a chance to try them out yet, they are having a tasting on Tuesday, February 3rd starting at 5:30. Be there or be square.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Odds and Suds

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. If my life were just drinking beer, I would post every other day. Let me take a moment to think about a life that just involves drinking beer...........

Okay, done. Friday, January 23rd marks the one year anniversary of the opening of the Thirsty Monk. I can recall how excited I was that a Belgian beer bar was opening in Asheville, and I can say in hindsight that I have not been disappointed. To be honest, part of me was worried that we might not be able to support a beer bar that was strictly devoted to Belgian styles, but thankfully I was wrong. Shame on me for underestimating Asheville's thirst for great beer. In a years time, the Thirsty Monk has thrived and expanded upstairs to include some great American craft beers in addition to their fine Belgian selection. Hopefully y'all can get a chance to stop by on Friday night to help them celebrate their Anniversary, and they will be featuring beer specials and giveaways. If you can't make it tomorrow night, you might want to swing by on February 4th for a very special pint night featuring a cask version of the Highland Black Mountain Bitter.

I hope everyone got tickets for this year's Winter Warmer Beer Festival, which is happening Saturday afternoon at the Haywood Park Hotel ballroom in downtown Asheville. I checked for tickets two days ago and they were still available, and I had every intention of giving everyone a last minute heads up, but alas, tickets are sold out. I will be there with figurative bells on, so I hope to see everyone there.

On February 5th, the fine folks at Bruisin' Ales are having a mead tasting from a local meadery, Fox Hill Mead. I'll be honest, I have had very few meads but I am looking forward to trying a couple out, and that fact that they are local just makes it even more appealing. Hopefully I can get educated a bit more about meads. I also think this should count towards the number of Asheville breweries, which keeps growing every year it seems.

Speaking of new Asheville breweries, the Mountain Express just ran an article highlighting one of our local music studios, Echo Mountian, and their ties to what will be Asheville's newest brewery, the Lexington Avenue Brewery. It looks like they might be opening later in the spring, with an IPA, a white ale, a stout, a pilsner, and a marzen among others. I am excited to see a couple lagers in the mix, and am looking forward to trying all their wares in the near future. The brewer for LAB will be Ben Pierson, a former brewer at Green Man who will be making his return to the Asheville brewing scene. Come to think of it, this will be the third brewery that will have featured a former Green Man brewer (Extra points for the person who can name the other two).

That is all for now. Hope to be back with a post game report on the Winter Beer Fest next week.