Day 2 of @AvlBeerWeek #Craftbeer #Beercation #AvlBeerWeek

May 25, 2014

So much fun. I could sum up yesterday with just those three words. I started the day off drinking coffee at my friend Wes’s house and writing yesterday’s post. I published it hastily so I could make it to Hi-Wire Brewing’s Ringmaster’s Reserve bottle release and brunch. Luckily they had wifi, so I was able to fix all my typos and add in the hyperlinks. Today I don’t know if I’ll have that luxury.

1st event of day 2!

1st event of day 2!

I enjoyed the event. There wasn’t any lines and I was able to get food and my bottles pretty easily. I sat down and enjoyed washing down my waffle covered in mango chutney with the belgian ipa. I could have stayed for hours, but it was time to meet up with Wes, Aaron, Rob and Das Krewe at Wedge Brewing for Just Economics Just Brew It homebrew festival.

Rob and I helped Wes pour his Scotchy Scotch Scotch Butterscotch Scotch ale and his Balls A’ Fire Cinnamon beer. Wes had made up his own infusion contraptions where the beer was poured through funnels full of butterscotch or red hot candies. By themselves, the infusions were a little to much, so we quickly settled on telling people to try the beer on it’s own and then to add a shot of the infusion. That seemed to be the magic combination, and Wes got many compliments on the brews.

Wes's booth and homemade infuser

Wes’s booth and homemade infuser

The best part of this festival was the creativity of the homebrewers. The recipes, the beer names, the signs were amazing. My favorite beer, name and sign of the fest belonged to Jay Love who brewed a session IPA called Lord Chugginton’s. I liked it so much I told him that I wanted to buy the name and recipe from him. He did give me his awesome sign for it.

My favorite beer of the festival

My favorite beer of the festival

As the festival proceeded in the dusty parking lot behind Wedge, Rob kept going to the brewery and buying us full beers. Here we were surrounded by free beer, yet he wanted full pints. Who am I to argue with the concept of that? At the end of the festival it was awards time. Wes won a trophy for most creative for his Scotchy Scotch Scotch! I was tired from being in the sun, and had sobered up, so I drove back to Wes’s house for a quick nap, a shower and a change of clothes. I needed to rally for the night! I had met so many cool people and made plans to hang out with friends old and new.

Wes displaying his award with Das Krewe

Wes displaying his award with Das Krewe

 

After I felt refreshed, I headed over to Catabwa’s new brewery in Asheville where I met up with my people. It was a release party for their seasonal King Coconut. I arrived to a table full of my friends and absolutely covered in pitchers of beer. They even had a glass waiting for me.

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After a few rounds we made plans to take the party back downtown. Some of our group wanted to hit up French Broad Chocolate Lounge, while others wanted to go anywhere else. Wes and I parked over in the South slope brewery district and dipped into Twin Leaf Brewery for a half pour. It was my first time checking them out. Really nice place with a great selection. While there I ran into my buddy Pete who currently works for Olde Hickory brewing.

After Twin Leaf we headed towards Wicked Weed where there was another crazy long line. We headed towards Thirsty Monk but never made it that far. We stumbled across a new brewery I hadn’t heard of before called One World Brewing. We had to check it out! We got our first drink when the rest of Das Krewe made it over to join us. I didn’t really hang with my friends because flirting  upstairs with a girl I just met  became my priority. Her name was Carmen, and she worked there. Before I knew it, it was getting really late and everyone was ready to call it a night. I wasn’t ready to leave, and certainly knew I shouldn’t be driving. Wes had started sobering up over the last hour or so and took the keys and got us safely back to his place in South Asheville.

So what’s on the agenda today? I’m going to the bottle release at Wicked Weed. Then it’s WESTSIDE FEST! I’m running the randal during this and am looking forward to it. What else will the day have in store? More drinking, more flirting and lots and lots of fun. You can follow along on my twitter, untappd and instagram. Also make sure to follow Asheville Beer Week on those same social media outlets as well as Facebook. A big shout out to Asheville Ale Trail as well.

Check out the pictures below. See y’all around town.

Cheers,

-R@TcheT-


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-


With My New Jobs, When Will I Have Time To Write Again?

May 5, 2014

CurtisFest happened a few weekends ago. It was very small and intimate and truly felt like a family get together. Everyone knew each other or at least felt like it by the end of the fest. There was incredible bottle shares. I hardly left the “Brew Mob Lounge” that we set up. I saw a lot of friends I hadn’t seen in awhile and hopefully rekindled some friendships that had died out. When the fest ended, I went out afterwards. The first time in months I hung out in downtown Knox, even though I probably shouldn’t have. I’m not going to say much more about that other then I’m glad I did though.

Last Friday was Hops for Hope, another small intimate beer festival. This one took place at The Lily Barn in Townsend, TN. It was a fund raiser for The New Hope Advocacy Center. I volunteered and set up my Randal full of hops and strawberries and ran Lagunitas Pale Ale through it. Many of my beer industry friends were in attendance. The whole event was fun, but sometimes it’s all about the after party. A row of cabins was reserved for the brewers and reps at Dancing Bear Lodge. We all met up afterwards. Evan from Foothills had some killer beers to share and so did Lauren from Cherokee, Cynthia from Eagle, Donald from Blackhorse, Dave from Saw Works, (Redacted) of Casual Pint.  There were many other people there, some I had just met, some of which I didn’t know. There was serious drinking, drunken dancing, hot tubs and ridiculous amounts of fun into the early hours of the morning. I promise y’all the embarrassing dance videos are erased (except for Morgan’s, we’re gonna make that one viral, lol). As for the rest of what went on, the general consensus is, what happens in Townsend stays in Townsend 😉

With everything in my life right now, I can see it getting harder to carve out time to work on this blog. There’s some edits I want to make, so general design changes, etc… I still put aside and hour a day for running. Monday evenings are booked with the run at BBM. Other days are taken up by my son and work. I’ll still try to write because it gives me an outlet and a way to organize my thoughts about what I see and experience in our craft beer culture. I also know I have more readers then I ever expected to at this point because I see the stats. Sometimes I still don’t believe people read this.
With that said the only beer focused events on my radar is Asheville Beer Week from May 23-31 ending with Beer City Fest and Knoxville Craft Beer Week ending on June 21 for Knox Brew Fest. June 20th is going to be our grand brand launch at Bluetick Brewery. We are planning an epic party for that where we introduce our beers to the world. I am hoping to have a couple of my small batch series on tap for the event. If anything happens, or I find time before then, I’ll write and let you know about it. Check back later, I’ll try to upload some pictures in the next day or so if I can find the time

Cheers,

R@TcheT

 


A Pleasure to Give Asheville’s MALT #Homebrew Club a #KnoxBeer Tour @Reinkster @SawWorksBrewing @Suttrees @SmokyMtnBrewery

July 29, 2013

A while back my friend and legendary Asheville homebrewer, Adam Reinke, approached me about guiding a tour of Ashevillians through the Knoxville Beer Scene. I didn’t have to think twice about it. Over the last couple of months, we coordinated our plans and set the itinerary.  The trip was put together by Asheville’s homebrew club, MALT (Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters) . They chartered a bus to bring them over the mountains and back.

Adam Reinke (in Green), his wife Missy and some Asheville friends

Adam Reinke (in Green), his wife Missy and some Asheville friends

Everyone knows that Knoxville has just a fraction of the breweries and craft beer bars that Asheville does.  At the time we originally planned, Knoxville only had 3 operating breweries. Black Horse Pub had not yet opened, so was not included on the tour. The bus arrived at Saw Works Brewing Company at 10:30 am. Co-owner Jonathon Borsodi and head brewer Dave Ohmer had graciously agreed to open early to accommodate the group. Everyone settled in for flights and samples of beer before going behind the scenes where Dave talked about brewing for Saw Works and answered questions. (click on pictures below to enlarge).

After we were done at Saw Works, we headed over to Gay Street to check out Downtown Grill and Brewery, home of Woodruff Brewing Company.  This place has long been my home away from home. Whenever I have friends visiting from outside the area, I always bring them here. The IPA has been a go to of mine, and years ago this was the only spot to get decent craft beer in all of downtown. There we ate lunch, sampled beer and spoke with assistant brewer, Tommy. (Once again, click on the pictures below to enlarge)

After everyone finished up at Downtown Grill and Brewery, we walked across the street to Knoxville’s best Craft Beer Bar, Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern. When planning this trip, I definitely wanted to show off where us Knoxvillians go for the best draft selection. Sure other places might have more taps, but when it comes to the rarities, Ol’ Sut’s is usually the only place that has them. The group walked in and settled up to the bar. A few people went next store for bottling shopping at Downtown Wine and Spirits. Matt, Stanton and Anne were bartending that day and were happy to pour samples and talk about the selection. We sat around drinking, talking beer, making dirty jokes and coming up with hilarious yet inappropriate names for cider. When we gave everyone the 15 minute warning to get back on the bus, Stanton graciously grabbed a bottle of Rivertown Lambic out of the cooler and poured a sample for everyone. it was very much appreciated.

Before heading to the bus, I took a few of the group over to The Casual Pint on Union Avenue for some last minute bottle shopping. I bought a few selections myself before getting back on board. The Next stop was Smoky Mountain Brewery in Turkey Creek.

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This was the last stop of the days tour. They knew we were coming and had an area all ready for us. We sat down and ordered food and beer while waiting for Brewmaster Marty Velas to arrive and guide us through. I tried several of their beers that I haven’t had before and found them all to be top notch. Marty arrived and we split the group in half to take turns touring the brew house. Marty very graciously poured beer for the guest and talked about the brewing process and the history of Smoky Mountain Brewery.

Well like all good things, the tour came to an end. Much beer was consumed and many people picked up beer they were unable to get back home. We loaded back into the bus and headed back on the interstate. The bus dropped me off back town and I said my goodbyes. It was a great time and I really appreciate all the beer and food bought for me by the group. I made some new friends and look forward to meeting them for beers in Asheville next time I visit. Anytime anyone wants to come visit Knoxville, I will be more than happy to show you around. Maybe I should actually Start a Knoxville Beer Tour. Then again, how’d would I find the time?

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Enjoy the video from the day below. It’s really bad quality because I used a stupid app to do it. When I was recording I had no idea it was doing a split screen or weird color thing. I should have just recorded with the regular camera app, but I’ll know better for next time.

I also want to let everyone know that on Thursday I will be on WBIR’s Live at 5 at 4 talking about craft beer and beercations. This is August 1st which is also IPA Day. I am hoping someone will record the video for me so I can post it here.

Until next time, drink one for me.

-Ratchet


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.

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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 Friday, Day 5 and 2nd to last day of our #AVLBeerWeek #Beercation

May 31, 2013

Friday morning found us back at Izzy’s Coffee Den. We had actually gotten a late and barely had time to enjoy our drinks as we worked on the blog. Before we knew it, it was time to go to the next event. We had recieved a private invitation to attend Digital Relativity’s Beer Marketing (That Doesn’t Suck!) workshop. This event took place on the 10th floor of the Hotel Indigo. Arriving to complimentary valet parking for attendees, we were escorted to a posh condo overlooking Asheville. Many of other other friends in the beer industry were there. Brewers, venue owners, marketing and sales reps, and of course, bloggers. Leading the workshop was none other then Pat Strader. We’ve both know of each other and have been friends on untappd, but this was the 1st time meeting in real life. Pat walked us through an informative 2 hour presentation while we sipped beer and snacked. I learned quite a bit from this workshop and plan on implementing some of his suggestions as soon as possible. Being that it was going to be a very busy day, so of the brewery reps had to excuse themselves early to get ready for various events they were hosting around town. We had planned on taking a trip on the Pisgah Brewing to see our friend Gaines and to take a short tour and purchase some rare bottles. We realized how short we were on time. Gaines was at the workshop and apologized that he wouldn’t be bale to take us on a tour but he would make sure to let other people at the brewery know we were coming so they could show us around. As we left Hotel Indigo, Julie from Bruisin Ales told us that she had just gotten a shipment of the rare bottles from Pisgah the day before. We elected to go there instead and picked up a few other things that had just came in as well. By now we were hungry and Katie always craves Panda Express when we are in town, so we headed over to the Asheville Mall so she could get her fix and I could pick up a new cord for my beleagered computer. After getting her food to go, and a quick stop at Radio Shack, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the Asheville Rare and Wild Beer tasting event. We could see the line forming from our hotel balcony.

It didn't suck

It didn’t suck

At 6 pm we walked the few short blocks to The Mill Room where The Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting was taking place. This was a small event with only 250 tickets sold and many breweries brought their rarest creation. Many of the bottles and kegs were the last ones in existence. We walked around seeking out the rarest of the rare and were joined at the event by our #KnoxBeerCrew buddies Todd & Joey. It seemed like everyone at tasting knew each other. This tasting was put together & sponsored by All About Beer Magazine with a portion of the ticket sales going to Pints for Prostates, an organization that focuses on men’s health issues. I really enjoyed the event. Most of the beers will never be brewed again, the food was amazing and hanging out, meeting and socializing with everyone was great. The only thing I thought could be done better next time is to extend the time the event runs. With over 30 different beers being served, the 3 hours alotted was just not enough time to responsibly sample everything that I wanted to.

When the event ended at 9, we got our group of friends together and decided to go to Wicked Weed to enjoy thier new collaboration with Foothills, Batch 69. I had glasses, stickers, magazines and other swag from the event, so I headed to the hotel to drop it off while Katie, Joey and Todd went to WW. I took a few minutes to freshen up, drink some more Emergen-C and down the last of my multi-vitamins. I arrived to find Wicked Weed packed, as is typical on a Friday night. I bluffed my way pass 2 sets of door guys by telling them I was already seated with my friends and had just walked out for a moment. This allowed my to bypass the line and go immediately to drink with my buddies (yeah I know, I suck.) I bought a half pour of Batch 69. This beer is a combination of Wicked Weed’s Freak of Nature Triple IPA and Foothill’s famous Sexual Chocolate, brewed and combined together at the same time. It was incredibly delicious and I may or may not have purchased a mini-growler to share with friends back in Knoxville. I spoke with Luke (who I almost didn’t recognize at first due to his 70s costume and wig) about this beer. I asked why they didn’t name it Sexual Freak. He laughed and said that is what they considered at first but knew it would be too risque. It just so happed to be the 69th batch brewed by Wicked Weed, so it was just fitting to call it that.

We sat around enjoying each others company and beer. I was happy to see that Todd was having an indepth conversation with Mitch Steele, while Katie spoke and hung out with Abby, Luke’s wife. Aaron and Stephanie Carson came to hang out as well. There was a band playing funk jams. They were really good, and afterwards hip hop music played while inebriated patrons got down and danced. It was getting late and around 1 pm we headed towards The Thirsty Monk for 1 last beer. Katie did her best to heard us 3 big drunk guys down the road and keep us out of trouble or from falling off the sidewalk. We got to the Thirsty Monk to find it closed (again!). Instead we headed across the road to Jack of the Woods. After one last beer it was time to pass out. We said our goodnights to Joey and Todd and passed out almost immediately.

Today is another big day. We are going to take a quick tour of Riverbend Malt House and then get ready for Beer City Festival. That runs until 6, and we’ll see if we can make it the whole time. Other Knox Beer Crew friends of ours such as Matt and Krissy Crowell and Jason and Beverly Anderson are coming in for the day. They will be bar hopping while we are at the fest, and we have plans to hang out tonight. Since this is our last day of beercation, we plan to make the most of it. Tune back in tomorrow for a recap, and in the mean time, check out my untappd check ins to see what delicious brews I’m consuming. There is also my twitter feed and the #AvlBeerWeek tag to follow as well.

See you at the fest!

Cheers,

-Ratchet

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Recap of Thursday, Day 4 of our @AvlbeerWeek beercation. @CatawbaBeer

May 30, 2013

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Yesterday started off in typical fashion with the hunt for coffee. Being away from my cold, dark room at home makes it a little bit more difficult to sleep as long as I would like to in a hotel. My body woke up promptly at 7:15 and wouldn’t allow me to go back for a few more hours. I grabbed my computer and snuck out of the hotel to let Katie finish snoozing.

Since I’m in town and am looking for new experiences, I thought I’d try a different coffee shop other than Izzy’s. Checking “the Google“, I decided to head over to High Five based on their online ratings. They serve counter-culture coffee, which is one of my favorite fair-trade organic brands. Being that it was morning and I could already feel the heat of the day approaching, I opted for an iced coffee, sat down with my drink, and settled in to write my post.

An hour later, my Internet privileges had expired, so I went to the counter to purchase something else. The staff there told me how to get back online, and after struggling with it for five minutes, I asked someone who worked there for assistance. They were very helpful and I was able to get back online and continue writing. About this time, Katie had awoken and texted me. I told her where I was and she came to meet me and help me work on my blog. She is one helluva great editor when it comes to my somewhat rambled and disjointed writings. (She insisted I take this part out but I won’t let her.)

We worked until it was time to leave to go to meet with Billy Pyatt at Catawba Valley Brewing Company in Morganton, N.C. Located an hour east from Asheville, Catawba Valley is one of the local craft beer brands that has been available in Knoxville for as long as I can remember. Back when the only place to get a craft beer was Barley’s, I fondly remember nights of drinking their Firewater IPA. So, when we ran into Billy when we came into town on Monday and he graciously extended his invitation to visit, that made it to the top of our Must-Do list.

The drive over didn’t seem to take long at all, and we arrived in downtown Morganton at Catawba’s spacious location. Billy was expecting us and warmly greeted us at the door. He was finishing up a phone meeting with a new distributor, so we had time to admire their set up and take a few pictures.

Billy didn’t keep us waiting more than a minute or two, and started off the tour by telling us about Catawba’s Asheville expansion. For those of you who haven’t heard, Catawba Valley is opening a small 7-barrel specialty brewery in the space across the street from French Broad Brewery, in Asheville’s Biltmore district.

As we spoke, we walked around and he showed us a few critical pieces of Catawba’s infrastructure, such as the grain hopper, glycol system, and their 10-barrel brewhouse. We met with Scott, Billy’s brother, co-owner, and head brewer, while he was finishing up a batch of their famous King Coconut Porter. I always find the smell of cooking wort intoxicating. As he opened the brew kettle, I took a big whiff. I love that smell!

Having grown organically over the years, it seemed Billy and Scott had a story about each and every piece of equipment over the years. For example, I noticed a big, tall, 40-barrel fermenter looming ahead. Billy told us the story of how that used to be one of Highland Brewery’s first fermenters back when they were brewing in the basement of Barley’s.He said it sat abandoned for years and it was a three-day, slow, meticulous process to remove it from the building so that they could put it back to use at Catawba.

Billy also pointed out various fermenters that they were testing or were planning to install at the new locale. As everyone who is familiar with Catawba knows, when it comes to packaging, not only are their increasingly popular beers available on draft at locations throughout the southeast, but they are also a packaging brewery that opts to can their beer.

We worked our way over toward their rather impressive and relatively new canning line. Billy walked us through each step of the process, going as far as canning up a special can of Catawba Valley canning line water to bestow upon my Khaleesi. She was pretty excited.

It takes about one to one and a half seconds per can to fill and seal. As quickly as they can can the beer, the labeling process is a whole lot more tedious. Each label is applied manually by hand. For each twenty barrel batch of beer that is canned, Billy advises that it takes their employee a solid three days to apply all the labels to a batch. But man, does it look good! Catawba is also very adamant about the quality of their beer and they weigh each individual can to make sure not one single customer will ever be shorted.

Next, we walked through a secret door and ended up, low and behold, in their tasting room. I can definitely imagine this being THE place to spend your weekend nights. Actually, unbeknownst to us, Billy is very familiar with this building. Having grown up in the area, he used to visit this very space back in his high school days when it was a BYOB honky-tonk dive, “Slick Willie’s”. Needless to say, it’s come a long way since then!

Weeks are filled with event nights in the tasting room, everything from Thursday open-mike nights, to traveling bands, to wedding and corporate receptions. While food isn’t offered, the small-town feel of Morgantown really comes alive with the fact that so many catering options are available. We didn’t want to impose for too long, as Billy’s a very busy man, and as we were saying our goodbyes, he kindly offered a six pack of our choice to take with us. We both agreed – Firewater IPA.

Right before we left, he recommended his favorite local eatery, Pat’s Snack Bar, to fill our bellies before the drive back home. Once again, I really want to thank Billy and Scott for their gracious hospitality. We cannot wait to come and visit their new Asheville location when it opens in August. Here’s a small clip to show you how contagious Billy’s enthusiasm can be.

After the visit to Morganton, we drove back and took a quick swim at the hotel before preparing ourselves to go back out again. There were (as usual) plenty of events that were going on that evening, so we wanted to hit as many of them as possible.

We first visited the new wine/beer bar, Weinhaus on Coxe Avenue close to the Monk. I’ve visited this shop often over the years, when it simply a bottleshop and not a bar. I can remember, over 10 years ago, buying Highland bombers for $3 or $4 each, going back and selling them to my buddies for a flat $5 (to make up the gas money, of course). Tonight, the Oskar Blues rep Amy was hosting a pint night. So we headed into Amy’s Weinhaus to take a quick video (as seen below) and sample the Chardonnay-barrel aged Mama’s YellaPils, as well as one of my favorite high gravity IPAs, Gubnah.

I spoke with the store manager, and Amy’s boss, Chris Russell the Oskar Blues Southeast sale manager on our way out. Khaleesi and I talked his ear off about how excited we were that they had joined with Lipman Brother’s Distributing and were going to be a part of the Knox beer culture soon! I heard that cans are already starting to show up in the big stores like Kroger, having been at The Casual Pint and a few other of our favorite beer stores for a few weeks now.

Thursday was one of the busiest days of Ashville Beer Week schedule-wise, with many events going on within walking distance. Although the Highland Brewing Company Six Barrel Shoot-Out was at the top of our list, we elected to skip it due to location and to keep from having to drive. As we left Amy’s Weinhaus heading toward Barleys, who would we run into again other than our good buddies and Stone Stalkers. We paused for a quick pic, to show a few of my Knox Beer Crew buddies like Todd and Jason what they were missing out on.

Look who we keep running in to.

Look who we keep running in to.

We told Scott and Mitch we’d catch up later (surely) and headed down the road. We arrived at Barley’s too late to meet with the crew of All About Beer, who had invited us to a small event they were doing for Rare and Wild Beer Tasting ticket holders. However, we arrived just in time for the upstairs Foothills Brewing and New Belgium Tap Takeover.

We grabbed seats and I settled up to the bar when I noticed they had this year’s Sexual Chocolate, as well as the 2012 batch. While waiting for the bartender, I chatted with Evan, the Foothills representative. He told me to get the Olde Rabbit’s Foot, which is probably the rarest of the rare when it comes to North Carolina beer. He told me how he had to pull some serious strings and do a lot of pleading to get the brewery to agree to send one small keg to Barley’s for the event. This is the first time his beer has been poured outside either one of the three breweries that produced it. For those of you who don’t know, Olde Rabbit’s Foot is a collaborative effort between Foothills, Olde Hickory, and Duck Rabbit. They combine Sexual Chocolate, Event Horizon, and the DR Signature Milk Stout into the best-tasting bourbon-barrel aged imperial stout I’ve ever had in my life. It was so good that the little devil on my shoulder was trying to tell me to smuggle a growler of this out of the bar to share with my #KnoxBeerCrew pals. The devil on my other shoulder told me to do it to, but I realized how big of an inconvenience it would be, so I just let it go.

We enjoyed our beers at Barley’s while hanging out with crews from both New Belgium and Foothills. It turns out there are quite a few New Belgium people in town from the main plant in Fort Collins, including one of the head brewers, Alex, who, someone who isn’t used to being interviewed or the “face” of New Belgium because of all his behind-the-scenes work. I was able to take a few videos, as seen below.

We then stopped by Jack of the Wood for the Mitch Steele Extravaganza. The chefs had prepared a special menu to pair with some rare Stone beers. Katie opted for the burger and I got an order of the most epic onion rings I’ve ever had in my life, complete with Arrogant Bastard ketchup. We said a quick hello to Mitch and Scott and headed on to our next destination, Wicked Weed.

Everyone knows that Wicked Weed brews some epic saisons, and for this event, they had pulled a keg for pretty much every one they’d ever brewed. We met up with our good friends, the Reinkes, and pulled up seats next to them on the back patio. Adam introduced us to Brent from Riverbend Malt House. I’ve been particularly excited to tour this facility tomorrow before the Beer City Fest. We didn’t get to spend a lot of time in discussion, but am really looking forward to learning more in a just a few hours.

Everyone ended up ordering different saison batches and pass them all around, so we could try to sample them all. I was most with impressed with the V Chocolate and Raspberry Saison they had originally brewed for Valentine’s Day this year. Katie particularly enjoyed the X Passion Fruit Saison. She loves farmhouse ales so was thrilled to participate in this even. Honestly, all of the beers were incredibly great and I was happy to have the opportunity to sample most of them.

At this point it was getting late and we wanted to have one last beer at the Thirsty Monk before we called it a night. However, on par with every other night this week, we arrived at the pub just a few minutes after last call of the night. Accepting fate, we headed back to the hotel where we finished the night off with a bottle of Weyerbacher’s Heresy.

It was a long day, but a good day, and the big plan for tonight is the Asheville Rare & Wild Beer Tasting. Some of our#KnoxBeerCrew buddies are coming up for this event, I’m hoping that when the event ends at 9, we’ll still be physically able to walk over to Wicked Weed for the Batch 69 release, the collaboration between Foothills Brewing Company’s Sexual Chocolate and Wicked Weed’s Freak of Nature IPA. Make sure to check back tomorrow for more stories from#AVLBeerWeek. In the meantime, click the pictures below, and feel free to leave a comment. We’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Ratchet