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.