Day One of My #AvlBeer @AshevilleBeerWeek #Beercation

May 24, 2014

I’ve been looking forward to this since last year. It’s ASHEVILLE BEER WEEK! Asheville is Mecca for beer lovers, Beer City USA, and my favorite city to visit. Last year I was an official guest blogger for ABW, but this year the official blogging is being done by my friends over at Asheville Ale Trail. I am simply here to enjoy.

I got into town around 6pm on Friday evening. My original plan was to head over and see friends at Urban Orchard but on the way into town I received a text from a friend informing me that there was a Green Man meet the brewer event and tasting at Appalachian Vintner. Since App Vintner is always on my itinerary, I opted to go there first. I arrived and settled up to the bar where I was greeted by Charles. I placed an order. I thought it appropriate that my first official beer of Asheville Beer Week would be the Asheville Brewers Alliance White IPA. This cloudy, hoppy and tasty beer is a perfect representation of the style, and of Asheville.

My first beer of Asheville Beer Week.

My first beer of Asheville Beer Week.

 

After I finished it, I ordered Green Man’s Berliner Weisse. I walked over and spoke with Green Man’s brewer to ask if this was the previously bottled Shadenfreude, but he informed me it was not. I told him of my love of Green Man’s beers and showed him a picture I keep on my phone of when I had bottles of all the small batch stuff.

I have more pictures of beer on my phone then anything else

I have more pictures of beer on my phone then anything else

After talking some more, it was time for some bottle shopping. I walked around and carefully chose a small selection. This trip is being done on a shoestring budget, so more times then not, I kept having to put back bottles of stuff I wanted. As I sipped and shopped, Charles came over to inform me that he had just tapped a keg of Olde Hickory’s 2013 Event Horizon. How could I resist? This beer is better as it warms, so I cupped my half pour tightly in my hands to lend it some of my body heat. While I was shopping, I noticed on Untappd that other Knoxvillian friends of mine were in town. I paid for my beers and headed to try to catch up with them. As I drove downtown, I saw Julie from Bruisin’ Ales on the front patio of  Thirsty Monk. I parked and walked over there. Jason from Bruisin‘ was on the front patio and after we said our hellos, I walked to the bar where I saw my favorite Asheville bartender, Clete. Sitting at the bar was Julie and Jason came in to join us. I had a pour of Stone’s Sprocketbier while we chatted. I wanted to hit up Wicked Weed, so I said goodbye and walked over. When I arrived, there was a line to get in. At this point I was hungry so I headed over to Coxe Avenue to get a slice of pizza (and more beer) at Asheville Brewing Company. I settled up to the bar and ordered. After awhile I got a text from my friend Jerry that himself, Millie, Robert and Brittney were over at Barley’s and I should join them. Right when I was leaving, an incredibly gorgeous girl stopped me outside the door. “Are you Ratchet?” Caught off guard I stammered, “uh, yeah.” “Oh hey, I read your blog, you in town for beer week?” We talked for a bit while my phone kept getting text from Jerry asking were I was.
I didn’t want to be rude to my friends, so I invited her to join me, but she was in the same position with her friends waiting inside at Asheville Brewing Company. We talked about getting together at some events and said goodbye. I stupidly forgot to get her number. So if you are reading this, email me and let’s hang out at Westside Fest, ok?

Catching up with my buddies at Barley’s we had a drink and made plans where to go next. We agreed that Thirsty Monk would be a good choice, especially since Robert said he hadn’t been there before. We walked over, bought a round upstairs and then headed downstairs for another. The group wanted to go to Asheville Brewing Company, and I was with it, but convinced them to go across the street to my favorite dive bar, the Asheville Yacht Club. I love that place! It’s small, rough, rowdy and has good drinks.  I have some great memories associated with it. We ordered some more beer. Our crew was a little disorganized and wanted to go over to Jack of The Woods, but a quick check showed there was a cover charge, so we passed and settled back to our drinks at Yacht Club. It was getting late and I still had to make my way to my friend Wes’s house in South Asheville. I said goodnight and parted ways with the rest of the crew as they headed for Asheville Brewing Company.

 

I got to Wes’s house and we hung out a bit and tried a few brews. I was tired and knew that today would be huge, so I called it a night.

Today’s agenda is fun. Wes is a great homebrewer and is pouring his beer at Just Economic’s Just Brew It homebrew festival. I am helping at his booth, Midnight Oil brewing. I’m really looking foward to seeing all my Asheville friends. The last 2 years the locals have told me that this event is their favorite part of beer week. Before this I’m going over to Hi-wire Brewing’s Ringmaster Release and Belgian Waffle Brunch. I’m trying to hurry up and write this so I can go. Tonight after Just Brew It, a group of us are going over the Catawba’s Asheville location for the King Coconut release party.

Well I need to get out the door and get to it. I’ll be live posting today’s festivities on TwitterInstagram and Untappd. I’ll try to write again tomorrow. Check out the pictures below.

Cheers,

-R@TcheT-


Last day of our #AvlBeerWeek Beercation and goodbye to Asheville (for now).

June 2, 2013

The last day of #AvlBeerWeek and our beercation did not start in typical fashion. We had stayed out pretty late and drank many beers the night before. Luckily I properly hydrated and took my vitamin supplements, so no hangover. However, because of the time we ended up sleeping in. We woke up with very little time to get ready for the first activity of the day; our planned tour of Riverbend Malt House.

They sell directly to homebrewers as well!

They sell directly to homebrewers as well!

Rushing to get there for the 11  am tour, we arrived 20 minutes late. We were able to walk through and catch the tour in progress in the germination room.

germination

Traditional floor malting

Co-founder Brian Simpson was talking the assembled group through the malting process. He described where the grains come from, how they are germinated and how long it takes. He also told us of their capacity and about some of the trials and tribulations they faced as a new business. We from the germination room to the next area of the malt house where they dry and kiln the grain. Riverbend’s other co-founder Brett Manning walked us through this part of the process. I took a small video of him describing how and why they kiln the malt.

I found the tour and close look at the equipment very informative. Once this year’s NC hop harvest comes in, I’d love to brew a beer with them and Riverbend’s malt. The tour ended and we headed back to the hotel to update the blog and get ready for Beer City Fest.

Beer City Fest

Beer City Fest!

Beer City Fest is the big ending for Asheville Beer Week. All the breweries in the area set up on Roger McGuire Green downtown. This was the 4th annual edition of this festival. Asheville happened to lose the online “Beer City Poll” this year to Grand Rapids Michigan, but that in no way takes away from what this jewel of a city has to offer. This years festival was bigger and better with all the breweries bringing their ‘A’ game.

The day was hot, and we spent time walking around trying many great beers and socializing with friends. Katie’s favorite beer at the festival was Holy City’s Fancy Stout, a big badass caramel stout. My favorite was Nantahala Brewing Company’s Trail Magic 5, a crisp, refreshing saison brewed with honeysuckle flowers painstakingly picked by head brewer Greg Geiger. Here’s a quick video of him talking about that beer.

What really surprised me about the festival were the people who would come up and say hi and tell me that they love reading my blog. Every time that happened, it really made my day.  I made sure to give everyone who did that one of my refrigerator magnets I keep in my pocket.  I also met Mags Bonham and her husband who had traveled all the way from Vermont for Asheville Beer Week. Of course, since they were from Vermont, I talked to them about my favorite IPA, Heady Topper. Mags makes some really cool hop jewelry, so check out her etsy page and tell her I sent you. I also want to give a big shout out to my buddy Trevor who offered me more sunblock. I had layered up back at the hotel, but I needed that recharge. After a few hours of walking in the heat and drinking beer, we were exhausted. We elected to leave the festival an hour early to take a nap in the air-conditioned hotel room. I set my alarm and passed right out. Later when showering and getting ready to go back out, it dawned on my why I was able to fall asleep for my nap so quickly. In the rush of everything, I had neglected my morning coffee.

After recharging at the hotel, we headed back out. Our friends from the Knox Beer Crew, Matt, Krissy, Jason and Beverley were in town. They were out in West Asheville eating, and we thought we’d do the same. Katie is big on Mexican food (I joke that a majority of her diet is nachos) so we headed out to a spot recommended by many locals, Papas and Beer. With a name like that, how could we go wrong?  We arrived and went inside and was seated within 5 minutes. I looked at the beer selection, and better than your typical Mexican restaurant, I was a little disappointed. Not that the craft beer selection they had was bad, but they only had 4 local craft beers on tap. I don’t know, maybe with a name like Papas and BEER, my expectations were too high. I still didn’t feel like drinking, so I stuck with water. The food was really good, and Katie was able to get her daily margarita fix. After eating, we made a quick pit stop at Appalachian Vintner to pick up a few more things for a friend back home. By this time, I had room for desert, and since we wanted to experience as much as Asheville as possible on our last night, we headed to The Hop on Merrimon avenue. This was another locally recommended spot. I thought they had beer flavored ice cream, but there wasn’t any. Hey locals, am I getting this place confused with somewhere else? I specifically remember having beer ice cream at one of the local beer events. Anyway, no beer ice cream, but we did get a small scoop of some delicious flavors. Next we parked back at the hotel and headed over to meet our friends at The Thirsty Monk. The Monk Pub was packed, but we only had to wait a few minutes to be let inside. We settled sat at a table with our friends downstairs and enjoyed a beer. It was hot and one of our friends wasn’t feeling good, so they didn’t stay long. They said their goodbyes and Katie and I finished our beer and headed out for more last night adventures. We hailed a cab from downtown to the Wedge Brewery. We arrived around 10:45 and realized they had closed at 10. Is it just me, or I do I remember wrongly the Wedge staying open later than that on a weekend night? Anyway, we hopped back in the cab and went back downtown. We walked over to the Vault on Rankin for a drink. One drink later, we hit up the Sky bar. We liked the patio, but as we sat for 15 minutes wondering why no one was taking our drink order, one of the locals told me they were closing for the night. That was fine with me because after blowing through my savings this week, I wasn’t really looking forward to spending $12 on a cocktail. At this point we were exhausted and went back to the hotel. I feel asleep in short order.

So here I am at Wall Street Coffee House writing this post and looking back on this week. I sure had a great time and will miss being here. Luckily I live only an hour and 45 minutes away. There are many places and breweries that I wanted to visit, but haven’t had the chance. This just gives me another excuse to come back as soon as possible. Until then, I will miss the food, the beer but most importantly my friends both newly made and long time known. Without y’all, Asheville wouldn’t be what it is. Anytime y’all want to come over the mountain, let me know. I have space for you to stay and would love to show you around our “Scruffy City.”

Before I end this post, I want to personally thank Dr. Patel and the staff at Downtown Inn and Suites for making our week-long stay wonderful. Sure there are fancier hotels in the area but as far as cleanliness, location, friendliness of staff and affordability, you really can’t beat staying here. Even if  I suddenly and expectantly became filthy rich, I would continue to book rooms at this fine establishment.

Alright Beer City, until next time…

Cheers,

Ratchet


Recap of Wednesday, day 3 of our @AvlbeerWeek beercation. @AppVintner

May 30, 2013

Once again I started the day off in the search of coffee. Having became a big fan of Izzy’s Coffee Den’s Mexican Mocha, I knew exactly where to head in my pre-caffeinated state. This time I was able to convince the beautiful Katie Khaleesi to accompany me. While we drank our coffees and worked with my crappy laptop, she read my copy of The Naked Pint.

After struggling once again with computer issues, I finally was able to get most of yesterday’s post written. By that time, K had an appointment at Spa Theology (girls do different things on vacation). I headed back to the land of slow wi-fi (the hotel) to finish uploading files. While Katie was getting her relax-on, I had gotten a text from my good friend and fellow Knox Beer Crew member, Jason Smith, saying he was making a day trip to Asheville for Beer Week! Cool!

After Katie’s spa trip and my technological hassles, it was time to go out and get beer. First on the agenda was the Asheville Brewing Company release of Reinke’s Red Ale. This batch was local homebrewer, BJCP judge and Asheville Beer Week Committee member Adam Reinke’s recipe brewed on ABC’s 7-barrel system. As a homebrewer myself I realize what a great honor it is to have a pro-brewer like your beer enough to want to brew it on their system. We had to go show our support. However, once again I messed up on the timing of the event and we ended up there an hour early. Since we had some time to kill, we walked over to Wicked Weed to have a quick half pour. We arrived and went to the downstairs bar and were greeted by Walt. We talked for a little bit, but I could tell by all the activity that they were in the middle of a full fledged brew day. He told us to try the super rare Ryes Above brewed by New Belgium. Only seven barrels of this was ever brewed and Wicked Weed just had to have some left over from an event. Wow, it was amazing. Kat ordered the Coolcumber American Golden because the description sounded like the perfect drink for a hot day. We shared our beers like we always do. I have to say that every time I drink something produced by the Wicked Weed guys, I’m blown away by the quality, originality, skill and taste of what they brew. Well, about this time, I ran into Luke, who was a whirlwind of activity back in the brewing area. I’m not the kind of guy who wants to distract someone in the middle of a project. I said hello and told him I knew he was busy, but asked if he would mind filming a little something for the website. He was happy to take a few moments out of his busy work day. The results are posted below.

After the video, Luke asked if we have tried the Freak of Nature Triple IPA. We said we had not, but we were definitely planning on it. He went to the bar and graciously poured us a couple of samples. While we sipped on this incredibly delicious concoction, he told us all about it. This is a high grav IPA that hides its alcohol behind a plethora of dry hops. We were stunned by how good it was. Just writing this post makes me want to put away the computer and high tail it back there for some more. So seriously, I can’t recommend this beer enough. Go try it yourself and thank me later.

With a lot on the agenda, it was time for the next event. We picked up Jason at Asheville Brewing Company where we had parked and was sampling some brews. The previous day, Kat had spoken to Elizabeth of Boulevard Brewing at the Belgians at the Ballpark. She had told her about an event at Altamont Brewing Company that was not on the ABW website. K looked it up online and we stopped over for a quick drink and to check it out. we arrived and I walked up to the bar with Jason. Could my eyes deceive me? I pointed to a tap handle. “Do you see that?!?” I asked him. “Next to the 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat?” “No, no, on the other side of that one.” “OH. MY. GOD!” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they had Foothill’s Sexual Chocolate ON TAP!!! Let me tell you, Ashevillians who have it so good, we Knoxville beer geeks go out of our way for this beer. We don’t have it like y’all. You would be surprised what doesn’t make it to the other side of the mountains. For many of us, like Jason, this is our Carolina white whale. Usually when this is released each year, caravans of Knoxville craft beer lovers make a pilgrimage just to track down the illusive tapping. Forget about bottles, many of us would trade a body part for one. While Jason and I enjoyed our find, Kat and Boulevard’s Elizabeth talked about the other rare selections on tap. Boulevard had a sessionable test beer called Nelson Grape Ale. It was a light summer beer brewed with Nelson Sauvin hops and Muscat grape juice. It was very thirst-quenching and it very awesome to get to try a rare test batch. Other brewery representatives were in attendance, such as my buddy Erica from Highland. Most of the beers on tap were rarities. It was so nice to sit around sippin’ and socializin’. Altamont was hosting a cook out in the parking lot and processing chickens out there as well. I ran into head brewer and all around cool guy Gordon Kear and talked him into a doing a short video. Here it is in all its glory.

With so much to do, it was time to hit the next event. We headed off to Appalachian Vintner for their mini-fest. On the way we took a quick pit stop at Hops & Vines to peruse their bottle selection. Jason picked up one of the last six packs of Sierra Nevada‘s six-year Bigfoot Barley wine vertical.

We arrived to find Appalachian Vintner the most packed I’ve ever seen it. They pulled out all stops getting rare beers from Sierra Nevada, Foothills, and Starpoint brewery. We settled up to the bar and made our selections. I went with a Starpoint Duh! DIPA. Kat chose a cask-edition, dry-hopped Hoppyum, and Jason went with Mornin’ Wood Double IPA.

With beer in hand, we carefully weaved our way in and out of shoppers to review their expansive selection of rare craft beer. I had already had some items on the list I had planned to pick up for friends, but due to the crowd, I decided to put off the majority of my bottle shopping for later on in the week. Kat, however, couldn’t pass up a few sours and farmhouse ales that are unable to be obtained in Knoxville.

At this point, I realized that time had gotten away from me again. While my good friend, Adam Reinke’s Red IPA was being poured at Asheville Brewing Company, Mitch Steele from Stone Brewing Company had already begun his meet and greet at Bruisin’ Ales. As we were getting ready to pay for our beers and be on our way, I was able to spend some time with Appalachian Vintner, owner, Charles Alexander, speaking with him about his store and their events for Asheville Beer Week. Below is a short video of the conversation.

Before we ventured on to Bruisin’, going and trying Adam’s beer was next on the list. We walked into ABC and it was packed. Adam, his wife Missy, and their friends and family were already at the front table enjoying a pitcher of the infamous brew. As I headed to the bar to get some glasses, Adam made sure to tell me to grab a Reinke Red Ale shirt. I was thrilled, as usual, to receive another ABC shirt, additionally, one touting my friend’s brewery release.

As I was chatting with other ABC employees, Mark a friend of Adam’s, dove into discussion with Kat and Jason about a caravan to our Scruffy City this summer to tour the breweries and taprooms we have in the great city of Knoxville. Tentatively planned for the end of July, we’ll make sure to let everybody know so we can show our good friends from the other side of the mountains just how we do things on our side of the Smokies.

So, how was Adam’s beer? If I had to describe it in one word, I’d say “phenomenal”. Very well-balanced maltiness, tons of hop aroma, and dangerously drinkable. There were only seven barrels brewed, and it’s sure to go quick. Make sure to get down there and get yourself a glass or three before it’s all gone. To hear more about it from Adam’s perspective, check out this video we filmed back in the back of the brewery.

As much as we wanted to stay and socialize, I didn’t want to miss out on the meet-and-greet with the legendary Mitch Steele. Saying our goodbyes and making plans to meet up again later this week, we headed the few short blocks away to Bruisin’ Ales.

I expected it to be standing-room-only, but being that it was near the end of the event and close to closing time, most of the crowd had dissipated. More time for me!

We started off saying hello to all our staff member friends, and introduced ourselves to Mitch and the Southeastern Stone brewery representative, Scott. I had met Mitch previously back in October at GABF where I got him to sign a copy of his book, IPA: Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale. It was, of course, great to see him again, especially in a more intimate setting where we’d have more time to chat.

Mitch is very personable, outgoing, down-to-earth, and loves what he does. They were pouring samples of four of Stone’s flagship beers: Sublimely Self-Righteous, IPA, Cali-belgique IPA, and Ruination. Mitch was more than happy to speak to me about his experience as Stone’s Head Brewer, and the research and development that went into writing his IPA book, as seen in the video below.

As I was speaking with Mitch, Katie and Scott had struck up a conversation about his role as the Southeastern representative (what do you know, sales and marketing folks tend to flock together). Here she is speaking with him on camera and enjoying some of the brew.

We met many other friends and fellow beer-geeks, such as the president of MALT (Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters). We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with him and trying his brew at Beer City Festival this upcoming Saturday.

We said our goodbyes to Mitch and Scott, and joined Jason and his mother for dinner at Lab, secretly hoping we’d run into to Mitch and Scott again. I sampled Lab’s Rye Pale Ale, while the others took a break from beer for a bit. And who would you guess that walked into Lab as we finished our meal, but Mitch and Scott. We exchanged helloes with them, goodbyes with Jason and his mom, and headed back to the hotel to regroup for our next adventure. Katie took a dip in the pool while I uploaded some photos and videos for my much-beloved blog readers, and about 10:30, we headed out again to Thirsty Monk.

We found that downstairs still had the same selection of Allagash and New Belgium beers that we’d had previously, so in our quest to try as many unique (and rare) beers as possible, we went to check the tap selection upstairs, where there was a Bell’s Brewery tap takeover in progress. Finding that the kegs had blown of the ones we were the most interested in, we opted for a quick half-pour of Oarsman Ale, and made the decision to head back over to Wicked Weed before they closed. Once again, as we were leaving, we ran into our new Stone stalkees. We tried to get them to join us at the Weed, but having planned that for their schedule the next day, we went on without them.

Arriving back at our newest go-to spot, we opted for some sours. I got the Apricot Darkness sour, while my beautiful Khaleesi chose the Wild Abigail Sour Dubbel. Both were tasty, tart, and triumphant. At this point, it was nearly time to close, so after visiting briefly with Luke’s wife, Abby, we headed back to the hotel.

After all the beer and adventures of the day, we passed out in short order. It’s hard to believe that our beercation is half-way over, but I have to say, it’s been nothing but awesome so far, however, I’m looking forward to the second half, beginning with today’s tour of Catawba. Honestly, there are so many events that it’s hard to keep straight, so make sure to tune in tomorrow for details. However, be sure to follow the twitter and untapped feeds for exclusive first-looks at the videos, prior to being published on the blog. Also make sure to check out #avlbeerweek on Twitter to see how other beer fanatics are celebrating, and don’t forget to tweet us if you’re in the area. We’d love to meet up and have a beer with you! Below are pictures of yesterday’s adventures; click to enlarge.

Cheers,
Ratchet


Recap of Tuesday, day 2 of our #AVLBeerWeek beercation

May 28, 2013

Yesterday started off for me like most days do. When I wake up, two thoughts immediately come to mind: food, coffee. It doesn’t matter what order they are in as long as they pretty much around the same time. The hotel had the complimentary breakfast, but I knew that I’d have to walk to get a good cup of joe. I grabbed my laptop and headed towards my favorite morning locale, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. I arrived and in my groggy pre-coffee state was confounded by the fact that the door was locked. I then noticed the sign that they don’t open until 11. “What sort of trickery is this?” I thought. I. NEED. COFFEE!!! It then occurred to me that I could look up other coffee shops on my iBrain. “Siri, what is the best coffee shop in Downtown Asheville?” “Looking up beast pooping spots in Downton Abbey.” “Siri… I hate you.”

I then decided to use what the old folks commonly refer to as “The Google“. I did a search for coffee and Izzy’s Coffee Den was at the top of the list with glowing reviews. I walked over, bought an iced Mexican Mocha and settled in to write. My blog post took forever to get together. Mostly because I am using a laptop from 2007, which is approximately 23 in techno-years. It does things like overheat, shut off at random, freeze up and generally be a pain in the ass. I’m currently writing the second  third draft of this post having lost my first one two.

Two iced Mochas later, I was pretty buzzed because I consumed four times the caffeine I normally do. I finished my post and headed over to Bruisin’ Ales for the ABA Hoppy Saison bottle release. As I hung out, sipped, and shopped, Channel 13 filmed a segment on the special beer. Watch the video and see if you recognize anyone. After making my purchases, I headed back to the hotel to meet back up with K and to proofread the blog one last time before publishing. It was 2 hours until Belgians at the Ball Park, so we had some time to spare. We stopped by the Thirsty Monk for the downstairs Allagash/New Belgium tap take over and both got a flight of 4 different and delicious beers. We also got hooked up with some cool posters and glassware. Khaleesi shot a quick video of me talking about my flight.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

After we drank our flights and stashed our beer swag back at the hotel, we headed over to Asheville Brewing Company’s Coxe Ave location for the Perfect Day IPA release. I brought a homebrew to give to Mike and hung out and spoke with him, Doug and the assistant brewers about the beer and future brewing plans. Mike gave me a shirt from the event. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one in Khaleesi’s size.

Mike Rangle finding me a shirt that will fit. ( Take a XL shirt but with size XXXL beer belly adapter.)

Mike Rangle finding me a shirt that will fit. ( I take a XL shirt but with size XXXL beer belly adapter.)

It was now time to walk the few blocks away to McCormick Field for the Bruisin Ales Belgians at the Ball Park event. This was something Kat and me had been really looking forward to. It turned out to be a small, intimate affair. There was an amazing beer selection, great food and camaraderie amongst the attendees. I met several brewers, representatives, and hung out with old friends. Honestly, I spend most of the time socializing and very little time paying attention to baseball. I know that the Asheville Tourist minor league team won, but that’s all I can really tell you about the game. Still, what an absolutely great time we had. We took a view videos as seen below. Katie did a great job on her first interview for the website. Check out her talking with Boulevard Brewing Company’s Elizabeth Belden.

Error
This video doesn’t exist

After the game was over, we headed back towards the hotel. At this point we were both hungry again, and Asheville Brewing Company was on the way. We stopped to have one last drink for the night and slice of pizza. By this point we were both tired and headed back to the hotel to sleep.

Today there is yet again many events to choose from. Adam Reinke’s Red Ale gets released at 4pm at Asheville Brewing Company, Appalachian Vintner is having a mini-fest at 5, and Mitch Steel from Stone is doing a book signing/ beer tasting at Bruisin Ales at 6. Add in the other various events around town and it’s another full day. Tune back in tomorrow to see where we’ve been and what we drank.  In the mean time, let me know you’re out there reading this. Please leave a comment below, We’d love to hear from you.

Click on the pictures below to enlarge.

Cheers,

-Ratchet


Recap of Monday, day 1 of our #AVLBeerWeek beercation

May 28, 2013

We planned to leave Knoxville at 12:30, but as most vacations go, we got a slightly late start and left Knoxville at 2:30. We made great time and it worked out that we arrived in Ashvegas a little bit after 4. That turned out to be alright, because that was the time that the ABA Hoppy Saison release party at Greenman kicked off. We skipped checking in to the hotel. The nice desk clerk laughed at me on the phone when I called to tell her we’d be checking in late, around 7 pm. I guess that’s not “late” in the hotel biz, I just didn’t want our room given away because we got considered a no-show. Yeah, I know I can be neurotic sometimes.

We drove straight to Dirty Jack’s, the Greenman tasting room. As soon as we parked and walked in, we were greeted by several of our Asheville beer friends. Right by the bar was Adam and Missy Reinke ordering their pours of ABA Hoppy Saison. We grabbed a table with them and were soon joined by Gary Glancy, another ABW guest blogger. Committee member Caroline Forsman was in attendance as well as Asheville Brewing Company’s Doug Riley and Mike Rangel. I also had a chance to meet and touch base with Asheville Ale Trail’s  Hilton Swing. It’s likely that I’ll be writing an exclusive report for his website, so be on the look out for it later this week.

As we sat at Dirty Jack’s enjoying the conversation and beer, I noticed on twitter that the only guest blogger I hadn’t yet met was in the house. I did not know what Sarah Spooner looked like, because on her twitter profile, half her face is covered. Katie made it her mission to determine which of the females at the bar she was, based on eyebrows. She struck out the first time and was convinced she finally knew who she was. She told me to go ask. After looking foolish the first time, I told her I wasn’t going to do it. She made a bet with me (don’t ask), that if I asked her if she was Sarah, and she was wrong, that I’d win the bet. Challenge accepted. Well K was right, and I got to meet and chat with my fellow guest blogger. I also need to make good on my bet (I haven’t forgotten darlin’).

I also spoke with Billy Pyatt of Catawba Brewing Company at length. This was the second time we’ve met, the first being at GABF in Denver last year. Catawba is opening an Asheville location and we spoke about the plans, the history of Catawba and what it takes to be a professional brewer. He also graciously extended an invitation to take Katie and me on an exclusive tour of their Morganton location. This is something we absolutely can not pass up, and we plan on working out the details with him today.

Greenman’s head brewer and local beer legend John Stuart was there as well. I know who John is, having seen him around, but I’ve never spoke or officially met him before. I introduced myself and tried not to sound like a gushing fanboy as I told him that his rare batch releases are my absolute favorite beers. I explained how I’ve had every one of the limited edition 750 ml bottles, going out of my way when necessary to procure them. He was very personable and we talked about his brewery, beer week and his decision to send his beers to Knoxville (thanks Tupelo Honey!)

After a few more half pours, we decided to check into our room and unpack. We checked the ABW event schedule to plan our next move. We saw that Barley’s was having a French Broad flight night with free glassware. We headed that way. Since it was 2 hours after the official start, all the free glassware was gone. This wasn’t completely unexpected. We both got a half pour of beer. I had Foothills Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout and Katie Khaleesi had Foothill’s Jade IPA. We looked at our plans. As we sat there, we thought, well maybe we could go across the street to Wicked Weed for another half pour, then hit up Thirsty Monk for the Rogue XS event. Katie had to go shopping for a bathing suit so she could lay out by the pool at the hotel (we are on vacation, after all). I noticed that where we were going was right next to Carolina Cinemas.

I had visited Carolina Cinemas on a previous trip to Asheville. I knew that they had a decent local draft beer selection. Since we we’re going to be out that way anyway, why not catch a movie? We skipped Wicked Weed and Thirsty Monk and headed over to see the Hangover Part III. I wanted to bring attention to this theater for other beer tourist such as myself who want another option for beer and entertainment. We arrived and approached the counter. “Is the manager around?” I asked. No, he just left, but I am the assistant. I explained who I was and that I was in town writing for the Asheville Beer Week website and wanted to ask him some questions about Carolina Cinemas and their beer selection. He gave me the manager’s card and told me to give him a call. I called up Greg and introduced myself. I asked if it was alright to speak with him and get some information about their operation. He was happy to talk to me. I asked about the beer selection, the decision process on behind what to carry and how they get the beer that they serve. He told me that they focus on local craft brews. Pretty much what they carry comes straight from the breweries themselves, with the exception of Catawba which comes through a distributor. I also asked if they get special limited releases. He told me that they do get some of the popular seasonals such as Highland’s highly sought after Cold Mountain. At the end of the conversation, he generously offered to comp our tickets for the showing. It was very much appreciated. We purchased a Shiva IPA for myself and K had Pisgah’s Nitro Stout. We walked into the theater and had the whole place to ourselves. Of course, this being a Monday night after a long holiday weekend, it wasn’t completely unexpected. A few more couples trickled in before the movie started. I’m a beer blogger and not a movie critic, but I will say that The Hangover III wasn’t all that great. It had a very flimsy premiese, rehashed jokes and none of the originality of part one. That being said, by all means see it and decide for yourself.

So if you are looking for something else to do while in town, don’t hesitate to hit up Carolina Cinemas. First run movies, great service, incredible beer at a very fair price of $5 a pint… you really can’t go wrong. We will definitely be back!

After the movie we hit up Wally World (yeah, I know, they suck) to get a few things. Sunblock, bathing suit etc. Well my darlin’ Khaleesi is kind of a candy addict. For months now she has been obsessing on “the great Skittles controversy“. Apparently Skittles have changed their green from lime to green apple (gasp!), making the original flavor a highly sought after collectible. Bags and boxes going for ridiculous amounts of money on eBay. She believes they have a shelf life of several years. She has also apparently been monitoring Skittles sales online and struggling with purchasing one of the last of the original 1 pound bags. Well at Wally World, we made a quick trip down the candy aisle. Low and behold, digging through the bags and boxes of Skittles, she hit pay dirt! Two big bags of original Skittles buried underneath the new ones. I thought she was going to cry. I’ve never seen a grown woman so happy to find candy. She looked through the 4 ounce boxes and found more with the original lime! Thirty dollars worth of candy later and we were on our way back to the hotel. It was around 12:30 at this time and we thought we’d go to The Monk for one last night cap. They were closed however, so we went back to rest up for today.

Next on the agenda is hitting up Bruisin’ Ales for some bottle shopping. At 4 pm, Asheville Brewing Company’s Perfect Day IPA is going on tap. Today’s big event is the Belgians at the Ballpark starting at 6pm. Nine innings, nine brewerys, food and 27 beers. Phew! Tickets are still available, and I’m sure this event will be epic! Depending on how things go, we may hit up a few other bars and breweries as well. Tune in tomorrow for recap of todays beer based adventures.

One more thing I’d like to mention. Not only are we here to drink great beer and hang out with our current friends, but to make new ones as well. If you read this blog and spot me out and about, please introduce yourself and say hi. If you do, I will hook you up with a little souvenir or something.

Well it’s off to Bruisin’ Ales. Make sure to follow the Asheville Beer Week Twitter feed as well as the hashtag #AVLBeerWeek. Follow along with me on my twitter feed and my untappd check ins as well.

Enjoy the pictures below. Click to enlarge.

Until tomorrow…

Cheers,

-Ratchet


#AVLBeer Asheville’s Winter Warmer: Good Beer, Good People, Great Time

January 30, 2013

I was able to once again visit the nearby beer mecca of Asheville, NC for this year’s Winter Warmer Beer festival. The event this year was on the main floor of the Asheville Convention Center.

The entrance

The entrance

Arriving a  little early to avoid a long line, I ended up being one of the first people in.

Cups waiting for their new owners

Cups waiting for their new owners

At 3 pm they opened to the general public (those of us who had regular tickets and not early VIP admission). I headed directly to Cigar City’s booth and was happy that there wasn’t a long wait to try their rare and delicious beverages.

IMG_3309

Cigar City Brewing Company from Tampa, FL

Cigar City Brewing Company from Tampa, FL

After tasting Bourbon Barrel Aged Big Sound, Humidor Series Double American Black Ale and Church On A Hill Barley Wine, it was time to go over and see the good folks at Wicked Weed‘s booth.

Wicked Weed had the longest line all the way through the festival

Wicked Weed had the longest line all the way through the festival

Luke from Wicked Weed and myself

Luke from Wicked Weed and myself

I spoke with Luke for a few minutes and tried some of their beers that I haven’t had yet. They are as good as everyone says they are. Freak IPA is especially delicious. I walked around and spoke with various brewers. I also ran into fellow Knox Beer Crew members and people I had met at other beer festivals.

Dieter from Heinzelmannchen Brewery and myself

Dieter from Heinzelmannchen Brewery and myself

Myself and Jason Caughman, owner of Pisgah Brewing

Myself and Jason Caughman, owner of Pisgah Brewing

Nicholas "Big Magic" Walsh was VERY happy to see me.

Nicholas “Big Magic” Walsh was VERY happy to see me.

Knox Beer Crew represent!

Knox Beer Crew represent!

I won the prize for making the creepiest face possible in this Knox Beer Crew Picture

I won the prize for making the creepiest face possible in this Knox Beer Crew Picture

Katie @Junebugbatticus of Knox Beer Crew and Neil @YazooBrew of Yazoo Brewing Company getting goofy.

Katie @Junebugbatticus of Knox Beer Crew and Neil @YazooBrew of Yazoo Brewing Company getting goofy.

Mark Baggett @MarkPBaggett of Knox Beer Crew

Mark Baggett @MarkPBaggett of Knox Beer Crew

Beer up the Yazoo!

Beer up the Yazoo!

The Yummy HeinzelMannchen Gnomes at work

The HeinzelMannchen Gnomes at work

There was even some cider on tap

There was even some cider on tap

One thing I noticed about this year’s festival is that several of the local breweries were not in attendance. I did not see Asheville Brewing Company, Oyster House, Nantahala, Wedge, Green Man or Altamont. It left me wondering why they weren’t there. Maybe someone will read this and leave a comment below to clear up the mystery. Also I do regret not getting to the MALT booth before the homebrew ran out. I should have known. EVERY beer festival, the homebrew always runs out first. I do want to give a big shout out to Adam Reinke who I’ve been following on twitter for awhile but finally met in real life. I’m looking forward to showing him and the Asheville contingent around when they come visit.

Well after hours of sampling great beer, hanging out with friends, eating the food provided and having an overall great time, Winter Warmer came to an end. That did not mean the end of the fun, not even close. A short rest break at the hotel and it was time to head over to check out the now opened Wicked Weed Brewery.

The place was packed and there was a line and wait to get in. From my understanding, it’s been like this almost every night since they opened. Luckily a party left shortly after my friend and I arrived and we were allowed in. We walked inside and glanced around. I immediately spotted Erich, Pam and the Studio Brew crew holding  seats for us.

IMG_3340

Erich and Pam of Studio Brew with friends.

Wicked Weed's Saison IV fermented with Pineapple. Very tasty and highly recommended.

Wicked Weed’s Saison IV fermented with Pineapple. Very tasty and highly recommended.

After some beer and food, it was time to check out the bar downstairs. There was a whole other beer selection down there. I wish I had taken more pictures.

Erich took this picture and emailed it to me.

Erich took this picture and emailed it to me.

There were 2 more stops before the evening would end. Erich, Pam and friends had called a cab to go back to their hotel, so we also left Wicked Weed. I wanted to go get a 6 pack of one of my favorite beers, Ninja Porter. Asheville Brewing Company had just started canning it a week or so previous. A quick half pour was enjoyed and a couple of 6 packs were picked up. After dropping them off at the room, it was time for 1 more stop before calling it a night.

Ninja Porter, open up a can of Whoop Ass.

Ninja Porter, open up a can of Whoop Ass.

Anytime I go to Asheville and stay downtown, I always end the night at The Thirsty Monk. Considering that it is considered one of the top 100 beer bars on the planet and that it’s only a block from the hotel, there’s no reason not to. However, by the end of a long day of sampling beer, I was pretty worn out. I just had 1 half pour of Green Man’s Rainmaker before stumbling back to the room.

IMG_3352

Beer Cage across from the couch downstairs at Thirsty Monk.

The next day came and it was time to head on. By this time my budget for the trip was almost exhausted, but I still had to stop by Bruisin’ Ales. Inside I ran into Knox Beer Crew’s Matt Crowell who was checking out. I managed to get buy the smallest amount of beer I ever had from that world class bottle shop.

The least amount of beer that I have ever purchased from Bruisin Ales.

The least amount of beer that I have ever purchased from Bruisin Ales.

Hopefully I’ll visit Asheville again real soon. Until then, I encourage you to follow Thom O’Hearn on twitter, he’s the new beer writer for Mountain Xpress. It’s the job Anne-Fitten Glenn had before she got the marketing position at the new Oskar Blues plant.

almost31.jpg

Two more items before I sign off. As you can see by the background image on this site, the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival February 9th is SOLD OUT. I knew it would, and tried to warn everyone who said they were going but hadn’t bought tickets yet. If you’re lucky, you might find them on Craigslist.

fixThe last item is incredibly important. Fix The Beer Tax is a group lobbying to do just that in Tennessee. The recently launched website (as well as twitter feed and facebook page) has a lot of information on this very important issue. It also has a link where you can send a message to your state legislator  to let them know how you feel about this issue. I strongly encourage everyone to do so.

Well enjoy the Super Bowl this weekend. I don’t really care who wins, but I’m slightly pulling for the Ravens so Ray Lewis can retire after a big win. I’ll post again soon, possibly live from the Tennessee Winter Beer Festival.

Until then, can the Ratchet Brews Crew of Todd, Richard, and Dalton  meet at the Brewery on High this Sunday at noon for some beer filtering, kegging, bottling and LLC discussion? Let me know y’all.

Cheers,

Ratchet


Infusion video, @KTPOktoberfest round up and a lazy Sunday enjoying #AVLBeer.

September 23, 2012

Well by the end of yesterday’s Oktoberfest celebration in Kingsport, I was beat. I packed the CR-V and walked over to Stir Fry Cafe where I had dinner with the owners and brewers of both Moccasin Bend Brewing Company and Studio Brew. I love the comaderie that brewers have, and I always gain some insight and learn a lot about the industry that I some day plan on joining. I ate and then shortly made my way back to my hotel to finish uploading pictures before I passed out. What a great event and once again a big thank you a shout out to Aaron Carson and Das Krew for organizing this and inviting me to participate. A special thanks once again got to Lindsey, Flipper and Richard who were an immense help to me. Because of their assistance I was able to have a very enjoyable time.

Today I woke up, and wrestled with my slowly dieing computer and slow ass hotel wifi to convert the video Richard took on my iPhone of my infusion workshop. It went well. It was way better and easier that last year’s infuserless fiasco. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here it is:

So today I figured I’d go spend a few hours relaxing in Asheville, updating this site and sipping on brews. I made the drive and Richard followed. We planned on meeting up for lunch with fellow Knox Beer Crew member Matt Crowell, but got here and found out that he bailed. After driving past a few closed breweries, I come to the realization that nothing happens (beer wise anyway) in Asheville until noon. When Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe ave opened, we came right in. I have tried the newest beer to their line up, Coconut Booty, a porter with, you guessed it, coconut. I also dropped off several bottles of my Butternut Squash Ale for Mike Rangle, the owner and a friend of mine.

I am going to go to Bruisin Ales where I intend to pick up a few things for myself and friends back home. Some breweries I wanted to visit are closed today (Craggie) and other places open late. I plan on being back to Knoxville in time to have dinner with my son, so I can’t stay in town long or drink too much. Maybe I’ll just visit Thirsty Monk for 1 beer then some water before heading back home. I really like Asheville, and wish I could stay longer then a few hours. I guess that’s why I am planning a Christmas vacation here again this year.

Well this is all for now. Thanks to everyone I met this weekend. I hope our paths cross again. Until then,

Cheers,

Ratchet
Update 3pm. I was on I-240 just left Bruisin Ales when I decided that I wasn’t ready to leave. I turned around and was the 1st customer in the door at The Thirsty Monk when it opened at 3. I got a half pour of Catawba’s Arlo’s PB & J brown ale. It’s amazing and the story… Well, make sure you hug your kids.

20120923-151046.jpg