Monday, August 31, 2009

History Lesson

I'm a wee bit late in posting this, but the Thirsty Monk is hosting a Dogfish Head Ancient Ales Week that started tonight. This week will feature four of Dogfish Head's historical ales, three of which have never been on tap in Asheville before. The festivies have already begun tonight, as the Monk has tapped the Midas Touch, which is based on ingredients found in 2700 year old drinking vessels in Turkey. If you haven't had the Midas Touch before, it has some great mead like qualities that come from the addition of honey. This will be followed tomorrow night by the Chateau Jihau, which is based on a 9000 year old recipe found in China. Yes folks, fermented beverages have been around for a long time. Wednesday will feature the chocolate and chile flavored Theobroma poured from a bottle. And Thursday they will tap the Sah'tea, a juniper and chai tea flavored beer based on an old Finnish beer style called Sahti, which used juniper and other herbs to flavor the beer before hops came into style. Thursday night will also feature the debut of the Punkin Ale, Dogfish's spin on the ever popular pumpkin beers that show up in the fall. Oh, and there is a chance that a very special limited Dogfish beer could appear on cask that night as well (I've been sworn to secrecy on this one, but I hope they can get it).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Allagash Bash

Asheville has been host to several of the beer worlds biggest names over the past couple of years, including Alain De Laet of Delerium Tremens, Adam Avery of Avery Brewing, Lee Chase, former Stone Brewer, and of course, Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Heck, I even ran into Jeff Lebesch and Kim Jordan, owners of New Belgium Brewery, on my birthday last year. Next week, another big name will be visiting our fair city. Rob Tod, Brewmaster for Allagash Brewing Company, will be in town to promote his brewery, which is well known as being one of the best belgian style breweries in America.

The festivities begin at 5 pm on Tuesday the 25th at Bruisin' Ales, where Rob Todd will be on hand for a beer tasting. This is a special tasting that requires a reservation, and it costs 15 dollars, with proceeds going to the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is an excellent opportunity to meet one of the country's premier brewers, and to sample some of Allagash's fine beers. In addition, Julie and Jason will be preparing some great food to be paired with the beers. Just call Bruisin' Ales at 252-8999 to make your reservation.

The fun doesn't stop there, as Rob Tod will be heading over to the Thirsty Monk after the tasting at around 7 pm. The Monk will have five Allagash beers on tap all week, including the Black, the White, the Hugh Malone, the Fluxus 2008, and one of my personal favorites, the Interlude. They will also have a special keg that evening, the Burnham Road, a smoked beer. The Allagash festivities continue all week at the Monk, with Pint Night on Wednesday and the Odyssey, my other favorite Allagash beer, will be on cask Thursday. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Beer Fests Galore

The approach of fall means many things. Cooler weather, so I can put on my vintage 1993 flannel shirts. Raking leaves. And beer festivals. There are a bevy of events coming up, so lets run down some highlights.

On Saturday September 5th, the second annual High Country Beer Fest will be taking place in Boone, NC. I haven't been to the event, but you can't go wrong with good beer and the great scenery of our northern North Carolina Mountains. Tickets are 20 dollars in advance, and the beer pours from 4-8 pm. Proceeds from the festival will go to the Hospitality House in Boone, and, get this, the Ivory Tower Brewery at ASU, which will be the first educational non-profit brewpub in the country. The brewery will include courses on brewing and beer, in addition to running the facility with green energy. It may be time for me to go back to school.

Of course, Brewgrass will be two weeks later on the 19th. Tickets have been sold out since sometime in 2003, but if you want to go, check craigslist, and by all means, show up. I have seen people selling their tickets for reasonable prices every year.

If you don't mind a drive, the World Beer Festival in Durham is on October 3rd. I have been to this event for the past two years, and while it gets a little crowded and the time flies by, it is still a great event, featuring quite a few beers that are not available locally. Tickets will go on sale in early September.

Thanks to a comment in my previous post, I was informed of another event happening the same day as the World Beer Fest. Hotoberfest runs from 12 to 7, featuring beer, music, family activities, and prizes. At some point I will post about my Atlanta trip, but in summary, Atlanta is a great beer town, and you could visit some of the area's breweries and brewpubs to make it a weekend. Tickets are on sale and are 30/50 dollars.

The next weekend, Asheville will be hosting its inaugural Oktoberfest on October 10th, sponsored by the Asheville Downtown Association. About time I say, but better late than never. The festival will truly be a local event, featuring many of our local breweries along with german food from three local restaurants. Many of the local brewers will be featuring seasonal beers for the event, and I hope to see them be in the true Oktoberfest style. This should be a fun time. Tickets go on sale August 31st for 25 dollars.

Go ahead and fill up your datebooks, and we'll see you at some of these events.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Odds and Suds

Wow, its already the middle of August. Time has been flying by this summer. Just wanted to post a quick writeup of the area beer happenings.

First up, a new watering hole is on the horizon. Work will soon begin on what will be called Pack's Tavern in the old Hayes and Hopson building located on Spruce Street adjacent to Pack Square. They plan on featuring over 80 taps, which should make it the largest selection in the city. Folks here in Asheville have been following the controversy surronding the development around Pack Square for the past couple of years, and at one point the Hayes and Hopson building was scheduled to be demolished. Thankfully, they have found a reason to keep the historic building, and politics aside, I hope to see the building remain and be put to good use. Tentative plans are for the pub to be open in early 2010.

Speaking of other pubs, lots of work is being done to the Universal Joint, located across from the Bledsoe Building in West Asheville. I'm not sure if it will be a beer destination, but any new place on the west side is good news to me. No word yet on when the opening date will be.

I also happened to walk by the Lexington Avenue Brewery the other day to see how far they are coming along. Needless to say, previous estimates of their grand opening have been premature, but that is par for the course with all the work that is involved in building a new place. I will say the interior is starting to come together, and the beautiful curved bar practically begs you to take a seat. My guess is that they will not be open until sometime in the fall. I'll be sure to pass along any info I get.

Tired of hearing about new bars? Sorry, I have one more to tell you about. The Thirsty Monk is opening a location in Arden for all those folks who hate to drive downtown. The new bar will be located in Gerber village, and will have a nice outdoor patio for the warmer months. The bar will be a mixture of local, national and Belgian ales. Plans are for the Thirsty Monk South to be open by the end of the month.

If you missed out on Brewgrass, tickets are still available for the Asheville Tourist's Baseball and Beer festival coming up on August 22nd. Over thirty breweries will be represented, along with music and food.

Thats it for now. There are lots of exciting things happening over the couple of months, and I hope to keep you informed.