It’s official! We’re in Asheville for #AVLBeerWeek !

May 27, 2013

We skipped checking in the hotel to go straight to Greenman’s Dirty Jack tasting room for the ABA Hoppy Saison release. Damn if it isn’t good! Here’s the first beer o’ our beercation:

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Katie and Myself’s first official beer of Asheville Beer Week. ABA’s Hoppy Saison.

Cheers to a great beer week with Adam & Missy Reinke.

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Cheers!

Achievement unlocked!

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Yes, I’ll admit my geekiness.

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I LOVE this place!

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Dirty Jack, Greenman’s tasting room.

More to come tomorrow!
I’ll try to publish by noon each day. Cheers!

-Ratchet


Beer, Beer and More Beer! It’s time for Asheville Beer Week 2013 #AvlBeerWeek

May 26, 2013

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Ever since last year’s inaugural Asheville Beer Week, I’ve been looking forward to the second one. With every month, week and day that has passed, my excitement has grown. Now here I am, a mere day away from my week long beercation, and I can’t wait to be back in the Paris of the South. Last year I had so much fun that I knew that no other vacation would even come close. Why waste my precious vacation days from work on anything else? A trip to the beach? I grew up near them in Florida. Look at me, out in the sun I practically burst into flames like the vampires on True Blood. PASS. Camping in the woods? For a weekend, maybe, but a whole week living like some burnt out hermit? PASS. How about going to Europe? What kind of high roller, made-of-money, jet-setter do you think I am? PASS. What about going to the West Coast? Sure sounds like fun, but costs a whole lot more in travel than a trip across the Smokies.

Craft beer is my hobby and my passion. Combine that with a world-class city full of great restaurants, bottle shops, breweries, interesting architecture and incredibly kind and generous people… THAT is my kind of place. It’s what brings me back every chance I get.

Unfortunately, Katie and I won’t be there until Monday. We know we are missing Just Economic’s Just Brew-it Homebrew festival on Saturday and LaZoom’s Sunday Beer Run. I know from personal experience from attending many beer festivals that the ones that have homebrewers serving their creations are always the best. I did the LaZoom’s Beer Run last year and it was truly a highlight of beer week for me.

We do plan on making up for missing these events by attending as many things as possible between the Monday through Sunday that we’ll be there.

K and I were able to make a quick trip to Asheville and back on Friday night to attend Asheville Scene’s VIP kick-off party. We got to hang out and have a few beers with some good friends of mine, and make many new ones. I finally met several people I know from twitter in real life such as Thom O’Hearn, the beer writer for Mountain Xpress. I also met my fellow ABW guest blogger, James Raiford (we’re in the same shirt/media pass club). The rest of the crowd consisted of the beer-luminati of Asheville, from other bloggers and beer writers, to the Asheville Beer Week organizers, brewery owners, brewers and the godfather of the Asheville beer scene, Oscar Wong. It was a really short stay, but a great time. Katie drove us back to Knoxville afterwards. We both had a lot to do this weekend to prepare to be away from home for so long.

So here it is, my Sunday evening. Saturday, we hiked up Alum Cave Trail with a small cooler full of canned craft beers to sip while enjoying the view. I traded a rare beer yeast strain to a buddy in St. Pete and he sent me back a box full of Cigar City Deliciousness (Thanks Tom!). Sunday, I knew I needed to pack for the weekend, but had to brew a batch of my very much in demand Chocolate Covered Strawberry Stout. Tommorrow morning I will be going on a packing and loading the car rampage.. I hope I can remember to bring everything, including the homebrew I promised to a few Asheville friends.

I’ll be blogging every day for Asheville Beer Week. My plan is to start every morning by writing a recap and posting pictures of the previous day’s events. I will be tweeting as much as possible and posting my beer check-ins to Untappd. So, to my Knoxville friends who are planning on coming up at anytime during the week, text me so we can meet up. The same goes to any of my Asheville friends, I hope we get the chance to share some great brews and conversations.

There are so many events, there’s no way Katie and I can do them all. Here are some of the major ones that we have tickets to or are planning to go to:

Monday: Green Man for the ABA Hoppy Saison release, Asheville Brewing Company for the Perfect Day IPA release, possibly a beer or 2 at LAB, French Broad flight night at Barleys and of course, Thirsty Monk.

Tuesday: A beer here, a beer there and then BELGIAN BEER AT THE BALL PARK MINI-FEST! Nine innings, 9 breweries, 27 beers. Thank goddess that there’s a free shuttle. With this kind of drinking, it’s doubtful we’ll do anything but pass out at the hotel afterwards. I’m ready to drink until I find baseball interesting.

Wednesday: Bell’s Tap takeover at Thirsty Monk, Stone’s Mitch Steele meet and greet book signing at Bruisin’ Ales, and App Vintner’s mini-fest (Sexual Chocolate, OMG!).

Thursday: Thirsty Monk’s NC v SC Craft Beer Civil War, Highland’s 6 Barrel Shoot Out, Wicked Weed’s Saison Tap Takeover, a quick pint at the Winehaus (free OB glass), and the Premier of Crafting a Nation film at Asheville Brewing Company’s Merrimon location.

Friday: Beer Marketing that Doesn’t Suck workshop at Hotel Indigo, High Wire brewing release at Thirsty Monk, Greenlife grocery beer and cheese pairing and Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting.

Saturday: Touring Riverbend Malt House, Beer City Festival and beers afterwards at various bars/ breweries around town.

Sunday: Searching for replacement liver, last minute bottle shopping and going home.

Enjoy the pictures below from the Scene VIP party. I am also linking this Video of Beer Guy Tony Kiss interviewing a few people. If you look closely, you’ll see Katie and me in the background of a few shots.

We’ll be in Asheville by Monday afternoon, see you then.

-Ratchet


Surprise beerday birthday trip from @JuneBugBatticus to Asheville #AvlBeer @WickedWeedBeer @AVLBeerWeek @ChocolateLounge

May 7, 2013

By Asheville Beer Week guest blogger Ratchet, Ratchetbrews.com

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday. Honestly, I didn’t make plans and figured I would just go have a drink at one of my favorite local bars here in Knoxville, maybe catch a movie and generally be low key about it. The older I get, the less important celebrating my birthday is to me. I mean, who wants to grow old? If I wasn’t for my amzing drop dead gorgeous girlfriend, I probably would just stayed at home, cleaned my house and organized my beer cellar. BOR-RING! Luckily I have DO have an amazing, drop dead gorgeous, craft beer loving, travel companion of a girlfriend. Staying at home and not celebrating wasn’t an option. She told me that I only turn (insert random number here) once and she was determined to help me make the most of it and drink some beer! She gave me a great birthday gift by booking us a short get away to our favorite BEER CITY, Asheville.

Beer City USA, 90 minutes that way!

Beer City USA, 90 minutes that way!

The plan was to leave Saturday after seeing some friends at the kick off of Knoxville’s Market Square Farmer’s Market. For various reasons, we didn’t leave town until after lunch. That was totally fine with me since I was able to have nachos and a White Mule pale ale at The Downtown Grill and Brewery before hitting the road.

We arrived to a rainy Asheville. After checking in to the hotel we always stay at, Downtown Inn and Suites, it was time for some bottle shopping! The first (and my favorite) bottle shop we stopped at was Bruisin’ Ales.  As soon as I knew we were going to Asheville, I reworked my budget so I could buy rarities not available at home to replenish my cellar. Shopping at Bruisin’ is great. Not only is it owned by 2 of the coolest people in Beer City, Julie and Jason Atallah, but they also have great selections to try with their sip and shop. You also never know who you are going to run into there. As was the case when this time when I ran into local emcee/street poet/ artist by the name of Chachillie. We spoke for a little while and he ran an idea for a music video by me. He also kicked a freestyle rhyme out on the sidewalk in front of the store. I saw Julie on her way out and got a birthday hug. After going over our options Katie and I made our purchases and decided to head up the road to our next stop, Appalachian Vintner.

App Vintner as it’s known also boast an amazing selection of beer, wine and other libations. Located in the outskirts of what’s considered the Biltmore Village area, they have a bar with an expanded tap selection. They go out of their way to have rare and tasty beers on tap. I purchased a half pour of a 2011 vintage Uinta Labyrinth.  My primary loyalty will always be to Bruisin‘ but the great thing about having multiple bottle shops in town is that there is always something different. Some shops sell out of certain brands and varieties sooner than others. Katie and I spent even more money and I was able to pick up a few things to share with my friends. I also got a gift for my buddy Richard Groves so he can have something special for his 1000th Untappd check in.

Well with 2 bottles shops down, we thought that we might as well hit one more just to see what else we could find. Hops and Vines is a homebrew store with a limited bottle selection. Since it’s primarily known as a place to buy brewing supplies, they sometimes have a few rare craft beer bottles that are sold out elsewhere else. I picked up a 6 year vertical of Sierra Nevada’s BigFoot Barley wine at a decent price and 1 or 2 other things. At this point it was getting late and we still hadn’t hit any breweries. It was time to go a few blocks up the road to Altamont Brewing Company.

Altamont Brewing on a rainy day in May.

Altamont Brewing on a rainy day in May.

Katie enjoying beer at Altamont

Katie enjoying beer at Altamont

The last time Katie and I visited Altamont they had just started brewing. At that time they only had their porter on draft. This time around they’ve been at it for a while and had a great variety. Since we were brewery hopping and planned on hitting as many places as possible, we only stayed for one drink. I had the Hopped Red and Katie had the Amber. Both were delicious and well crafted. We drank our beer while listening to live music and soaking up the local vibe. I really like the neighborhood bar feel of Altamont and will make sure to always fit it into our itinerary.

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Drinking and winking at Altamont Brewing Company.

The next stop of the evening was another must visit when in Asheville, Wedge Brewing Company. Everyone knows I love Wedge’s beers, location and complimentary peanuts. We found a table inside by the bar looking towards the fermenters. We drank half pours of the Hellesbock, Derailed Hemp Seed Ale, Witbier and a Saison of theirs that I hadn’t had before. By the time I ate a whole bowl of free peanuts, I realized a little too late how hungry I was and how I hadn’t eaten since lunch. It was time to leave and head for dinner (and another round of drinks) at Wicked Weed.

We arrived at Wicked Weed through the pouring rain. It was a Saturday night, so we knew to expect a wait for a table. We checked in with the hostess and got a pager to tell us when our seats would be ready. Down the stairs we headed to  grab a drink. As I walked towards the Downstairs bar I heard “Hey Ratchet!” I turned around and who did I see but Wicked Weed’s head brewer Luke! We spoke for a while and he talked about the brewery’s success, the sour and barrel programs and introduced me to his brother Walt who is in charge of those. All this time I was sipping on their Genesis Blonde Sour. After some great conversation with the Dickinson brothersKatie and I headed upstairs to have a meal. By this time my stomach wasn’t doing so great. All the beer I had drank throughout the day combined with Wedge’s peanuts was not a good combination. I ordered fries and a beer and could not finish them. This was my fault for not eating anything substantial since earlier in the day. I know better but in the excitement of everything, I had just plain forgot. I alternated between watching my darling nom on one of Wicked Weed‘s epic burgers and going outside to walk off my discomfort in the rain.

After leaving Wicked Weed it was time for a nightcap at Thirsty Monk. I still wasn’t feeling up to putting anything else in my belly, so I just went and sat with Katie at the downstairs bar as she sipped a few tasty Belgian style ales.

The next morning the weather was still rainy and chilly. It was Cinco De Mayo which Katie is big on, (must be ’cause she’s originally from Texas) so she insisted on tracking down some great Mexican food. First things first, we had to get coffee. Much like I am with beer, I am a coffee connoisseur. I usually only drink fair trade organically grown coffee fertilized with crystalized free range unicorn tears and hand roasted by Norwegian elf spirits. I would rather have a headache from not getting my morning cup-a-joe than drink hotel coffee. Over the years I have had coffee from many places all within a walking radius of the hotel. I’ve been searching for that perfect cup. I finally found it. From now on it’s only French Broad Chocolate Lounge‘s Counter Culture French press coffee for my morning fix. They also have the best selection of pastries, cakes, liquid truffels and other tasty treats to go with it. I got my french press light roast and Katie opted for the Oaxaca Hot Chocolate. I saw they had Highland Mocha Stout cake and couldn’t pass up getting a slice.

Oaxaca and Highland Mocha Stout cake at French Broad Chocolte

Oaxaca and Highland Mocha Stout cake at French Broad Chocolate

After coffee and my decadent snack, it was time to get a solid meal. Looking up Mexican fare on our phones, Katie found Limones. It seemed like exactly what she was looking for, so we headed over. I’m really glad we went. The service, decor and food was all top-notch. I didn’t need a big meal having had cake previously. I knew I wanted a cervesa so I could earn my Cinco De Mayo badge on Untapped. I chose Bohemia after looking up reviews for it online. It’s was a very decent Czech style pilsner brewed in Mexico. It was light, refreshing and paired great with my scrambled eggs and home fries. We ate and ended up boxing plenty of food for later.

The day was getting on and I had things to do back at home in Knoxville. My friend Vanessa was up from Florida visiting my son and his mom, and I didn’t want to miss her before she left. After a quick stop at Earth Fare to look for more beer, Katie and I hopped back on the interstate for the drive home. Our trip to Asheville this time was short but sweet. We are already looking forward to our week-long vacation for Asheville Beer Week. There are so many events during that time that we’re still trying to decide which ones to go to.  We already have tickets to a few things such as the Asheville Rare and Wild Beer Tasting and Beer City fest.

Thanks for reading about my Asheville birthday trip. I highly encourage everyone reading this to get your friends to go online and VOTE. Let them use your tablet, your smart phone, you sister’s mac, your weird brother’s Linux, the library computer or that 56k modem your grandma is still has hooked up to go vote for Asheville to retain the yearly title of  Beer City USA. The polls are private this year but Grand Rapids is being very vocal in the comments. Let’s help Asheville win the bragging rights for the 5th year in a row. Once again, Click here to vote.

Enjoy my photos below. Click on them to enlarge.

Until next time, Cheers,

Ratchet
Until next time, Cheers,

Ratchet


Live Blogging today: Road trip to @Nantahalabrew bottle release. #AVLBeer

March 23, 2013

TrailMagicFBsized13Road Trip! Today Richard, his wife Sandy, and myself are hitting the road. We are leaving this morning to go to Bryson City, NC for Nantahala Brewing Company‘s Trail Magic #4 bottle release! It’s no secret that Greg at Nantahala brews some of the finest beer in the area. The last time I went for the bottle release, I drove up on Friday and spent the night in Bryson City. Well, Richard had planned on going Saturday and offered to drive. I agreed to go with him on Saturday and save the money on the hotel. Of course this frees up more money to buy beer!

So I will be live blogging in real time the fun of our trip there and back. Any funny things said, beer drank, videos taken will all be uploaded from my iPhone. Subsequently, this is will also be my first guest post for the newly launched Asheville Beer Week website.

9:26 am: My ride just arrived. We’re taking I-40 to 74 from Knoxville to Bryson City. I usually take the scenic route through 441, but that’s not a possibility since the landslide.
10:18 am: You know that really curvy part on I-40 in the Smokies? It makes it really hard to type on an iPhone. On the plus side, I’m now officially in North Carolina. Woot!
11:50 am: Here at Nantahala Brewing Company & hanging out. 10 minutes until the bottles go on sale. Hanging with Richard, Todd and head brewer Greg.

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Todd, Richard with head brew greg (in orange) in the background.

Brew Mob Video! Click to see my interview with head brewer Greg.

12 pm. Go time! 4th in line waiting my turn.

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Bottles on sale

12:25 I got my bottles and am enjoying the company of friends at the bar.

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My lovely selection of bottles: Trail Magic #1, 3, 4 and Chocolate Cherry Stout.

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I got bottle numbers 25 through 28 of Trail Magic #4, Russian Imperial Stout aged in Maker’s Mark Barrels.


1 pm: Just explained the concept of vertical tastings to really cool Natahala beertender Harrison (as pictured below).

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Everyone at Nantahala Brewing Company is super cool. Harrison is no exception.

2:17 pm: Well after a few rounds of sample size beers, a tour if the brewery and a look at the barrel room courtesy of Greg, we’re back on the road. Next stop, Sylva, NC.

2:35 pm. Heading towards world famous, yet semi-secret craft beer store, PJ’s BP gas station in Sylva, NC

2:55 pm. Oh. My. Goddess! This is the BEST gas station beer selection EVER!

Click here for a Brew Mob exclusive video of P. J.’s.

After P.J.’s, it was time for a quick visit to Dieter and Heinzelmannchen Brewery.


4:45 pm: What a day! After Sylva we headed in to Asheville for a quick stop by Bruisin’ Ales.


5:30 pm: What a great day of beer based adventuring! I tried many great beers, saw some good friends, and purchased a great selection of craft beer. We are currently heading home to Knoxville. I meant to be back sooner since I’m providing a tap box and CO2 set up for a friend’s surprise birthday party tonight. I want to sincerely thank Richard for driving today. I was great seeing all my NC friends and I look forward to my next trip across the mountains.
Thanks for everyone reading along online. I’d love to here from you in the comment section below.
Cheers!
Ratchet


Announcing #KnoxBeerWeek and Logo design contest. @KnoxBeerSnobs @KnoxBeerCrew @bluesandbarbq

January 14, 2013

On Sunday January 13th at 1 pm many of Knoxville’s craft beer producers, distributors, venue owners and managers, bloggers and supporters met at a secret beer based location to discuss and plan Knoxville Tennessee’s second annual craft beer week. Knoxville has joined the growing list of cities celebrating their own unique craft beer culture with a week of tastings, beer dinners, cask, rare one off beers, special events and the 3rd annual Knoxville Brew Festival at the end. The dates for this great week long celebration is June 22nd through June 29th 2013.

J.T. Baker Bar manager of Sunspot, Rob of Knoxbeersnobs.com, Dave Ohmer of Saw Works, Don of Knoxbeersnobs.com, Todd White of the Markeyt in Maryville

J.T. Baker Bar manager of Sunspot, Rob of Knoxbeersnobs.com, Dave Ohmer of Saw Works, Don of Knoxbeersnobs.com, Todd White of the Markeyt in Maryville

Still early in the planning stages, but I can tell you that we really want to make this huge. Some of the things discussed were a collaboration beer between Smoky Mountain Brewery and Saw Works Brewing Company and a home brewer competition. As we progress towards the date, more info will be available on the new website KnoxBeerWeek.com. You can also keep up to date on twitter @KnoxBeerWeek and the Knox Beer Week Facebook page.

Matt Crowell, webmaster of KnoxbeerWeek.com, Louis Kitrell of Blues and BBQ blog, Russ Torbett and  Jeremy Walker of Eagle Distribution at the Knox Beer week planning meeting

Matt Crowell, webmaster of KnoxbeerWeek.com, Louis Kitrell of Blues and BBQ blog, Russ Torbett and Jeremy Walker of Eagle Distribution at the Knox Beer week planning meeting

Like with any event of this magnitude, we need a logo. A plan was hatched and a contest born. Do you think you have what it takes? Fame, fortune and best of all PRIZES are yours to claim if your design gets picked to represent Knox Beer Week. This logo will be used on all promotional material for Knox Beer Week and hopefully serve as a untappd badge as well. To enter email your spiffiest design to info@knoxbeerweek.com and we will pick the winner at our March meeting. We haven’t exactly determined what the prize would be, but it will be something very cool. We’re thinking something along the lines of 2 tickets to Knox Brew Fest, some swag from Eagle’s vaults, certificates for growlers and swag at participating bars and breweries, etc. We’ll announce the exact prize pack as soon as we solidify it. Just know we are going to insure that whoever wins is going to be VERY happy. Here are the rules: Entries must be received by February 21st. All submissions become property of Knox Beer Week. Entries/ design submissions are limited to 3 per person. Prizes have no cash value. Must be 21 to enter. Nothing offense that you wouldn’t want your elderly conservative grandmother to see.

Now that we go that out of the way, I sincerely hope you have gotten your ticket to next month’s Tennessee Winter Beer Festival in Townsend. I spoke with a few of the organizers who happen to also be members of the Knox Beer Week committee and they say this event is more then likely going to see out real soon. I’ll just refer you to this post by The Knox Beer Snobs and my post from last year on the subject. I absolutely loved being part of last year’s event and am so looking forward to this one. Sales are limited to 200 tickets total, there are very few left. You can get them online or purchase them at either The Casual Pint locations. The money spent is well worth it. It’s a great event, you get beer, a shirt, food and support a very important cause. I will be there and I hope you will be too.

The last thing I want to mention is the new Knox Beer message board. This is going to be a shared Knoxville Beer forum where anything can be discussed. It was just set up and the colors and design are still being worked on, but feel free to sign up and start posting.

Upcoming import beer dates:

January 23rd- Terrapin Wake N Bake night at Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern. I’ll be “Randalizing” this beer with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans. Listen to the Dude.

January 26th- Asheville Winter Warmer Beer Festival at Asheville Civic Center, NC.

February 9th- TN Winter Beer Fest at at the Laurel Valley Country Club in Townsend, TN

April 13th- Thirsty Orange Beer fest at Mellow Mushroom in Johnson City, TN

Cheers,

Ratchet


Day 4 of my #beercation to #AvlBeerWeek @BeerCityFest !

June 2, 2012

Ok today recap of yesterdays adventures at Asheville Beer Week will be short. I don’t have time to sit around all day and wait for my hotel’s slow internet to upload. I have to pack up the enormous amount of brewery swag and glasses, and all the beer I bought. I am checking out of Downtown Inn and Suites and Into The Hotel Indigo, a fancy hotel stay I was given as a birthday present (thanks Mom Linda!)

So yesterday started out as the previous. I made my own coffee I brought and ate in the hotel’s dining area. I lounged around afterwards and wrestled with getting the website updated. I was able to clean myself up and head down to an ESB brewing workshop at Fifth Season Garden Supply. I already know how to brew an ESB, but I didn’t have anything else planned and figured it would be good to hang out with people interested in homebrewing. The garden shop also doubles as a homebrew supply store and is right behind Green Man’s brewery. Honestly, that was my main reason for going, because the workshop promised a tour of Green Man afterwards. Since I love Green Man’s ESB, I figured maybe the workshop was using their recipe and I would get to know how to replicate it. Well, they did a more basic recipe, but I did get to meet and hang out with some pretty cool people, a few who are already extract brewers. The workshop was very basic. When it ended, we did go to Green Man for a quick tour. I did get a run down of the hop, grain and yeast bill of Green Man’s ESB, but not amounts. I am touring them again tomorrow, so maybe I can get more specifics.

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A basic homebrewing workshop at Fifth Season Garden Company

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Sign up at the Green Man tasting room

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Fermentation Tanks at Green Man

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A few looking out from the Brewing area of Green Man

Well after a pint of Green Man’s Session fest Scottish Stout, I headed for the next event. On the way I stopped and got a tofu Spring wrap from on of Asheville’s Many food trucks. It was amazing. If you see this truck on the streets of Asheville, get food from them, you won’t be disappointed.

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The next Beer Week event I went to was the Mystery Brewing release party at Bruisin’ Ales. Eric Lars Myers is a writer a former homebrewer and the current head brewer, owner and CEO of Mystery Brewing Company of Hillsborough, NC. He brought along copies of his book, North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries. He also brought along for of his brews to sample. I spoke with him about brewing, got him to sign a copy of his book for me and had a great time at Bruisin’ Ales. I hung out for awhile before heading to the next event.

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One of Mystery Brewing’s selections.

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The 1st Mystery Brewing beer I sampled. Very light and refreshing. Eric brews good beer.

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For another angle of this picture, see Bruisin’ Ales’ twitter feed @bruisinales

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Mystery Brewing has great descriptions and unique beer names

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Eric of Mystery Brewing, Myself and Julie from Bruisin’ Ales. Probably my favorite picture taken of me at Asheville Beer Week so far.

   Well, I went off to the next event. Barley’s was having what they called “Sexual Lychee Night” which consisted of them tapping a keg or New Belgium’s Tart Lychee and Foothills Brewing Company’s Sexual Chocolate. I already have had Tart Lychee several times, seeing how we have it on tap at Suttree’s. I have only had Sexual Chocolate once, from a bottle. I had never had it before on Draft. I got there and spoke with the bar tender and he advised me that they were waiting on the brewery reps to get there before they tapped the keg. I had another beer while I waited. By that time a twitter/ untappd friend of mine, Jeff Haws arrived in town. He met me at Barley’s. I was able to get a pour of the ultra rare Foothills beer and replenished my tank with a slice of Pizza, before heading back to Thirsty Monk.

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Foothills Brewing Company’s ultra rare and highly sought after beer, Sexual Chocolate.

I had to stop back and drop off my book and a few things at the hotel first. When I got to the Thirsty Monk, they were at capacity and couldn’t let anyone else in. Downtown Asheville was packed and I could see from all the untappd check ins that many people arrived into town for Asheville Beer Week &  Beer City Festival. They did allow me on the front porch and I sent Jeff in to get me a beer. I was eventually able to go in, but at that point I already had a comfy bench seat out front where I spent the rest of the night slowly sipping my beers. Jeff eventually headed back to his hotel. As I set that, I met the brewer for Mother Earth Brewing company while he waited for them to let more people in. We talked for a minute and then Aaron from Brewer’s Summitt arrived to hang out and drop off some promotional material. We headed downstairs, where I ran into Greg from Nantahala Brewing Company. It seems like every brewer in town for today’s Beer City Fest made their way to the Monk at some point yesterday. It was getting late so Aaron gave me a ride back to the hotel. I have a ton of Brewer’s Summit posters and other promotional material I need to distribute, so if anyone would be willing to give me a hand, it would be very much appreciated. 

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@JeffHaws at The Thirsty Monk.

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Super Rare Sierra Nevada Beer that was brewed for Brian Grossman’s wedding. “Love at First Bike”.

Well I am going to now start getting ready for today’s Beer City festival. I need to pack this hotel room, and get some food. I should also hit up a grocery store to stock up on provisions like sun block, water and snacks to help me make it through. Once again, if you read this and use twitter, I’m on there as @RatchetBrews . I also wanted to give a big shout out to whoever is doing the @AvlBeerWeek twitter feed for all the retweets. See y’all at the festival. #AvlBeerWeek continues…


Some of my tips for surviving (my 3rd day) #AvlBeerweek aka “note to self”

June 1, 2012

Well here it is Friday, day 3 of my Asheville Beer Week experience. I’ve had a really good time so far. I’ll go ahead and skip the set up and go directly into my recap of yesterday.

Started the day by lounging around in the hotel room, trying to get yesterday’s post to load.  At noon, I went and saw Men In Back 3 at Carolina Cinemas. It was the best of the 3, really well done and I recommend seeing it. What was really cool about the theater is that they have an amazing draft and bottle selection. I didn’t want to get started drink too early, so while I admired the list, I actually skipped the imbiding.

When the movie ended, I went next door to Wally-World to stock up on Multivitamins and spring water. While I was in the movie, My friend Booze Traveler aka Trader Scott came into town. I drove to Bruisin’ Ales where I met up with him. We sipped a few samples of beer that they had on tap and picked out bottles. I got some pretty good scores that I’ll post a picture of later. I dropped the big ol’ box of purchased beer off at my hotel room and contemplated my next move. I really wanted to go to Hops & Vines in West Asheville for thr homebrewers night, but that would have meant driving. That is one thing I do not do is drink and drive. That’s a set in stone rule as far as I’m concerned. So I elected to stick to events within walking distance. This of course meant the Thirsty Monk where they had a Colorado tap takeover. Breweries such as Oskar Blues, Ska Brewing, Great Divide and Breckenridge Brewery had brewers and reps on hand. I scored plenty of bottle openers, sticker and coasters. I met Arlo from Ska Brewing and talked about their beer and the fact that they had thier super limited release of Skaworks Orange on draft at the event.

Me with Arlo from Ska Brewing

We left the Monk and headed over to Barley’s where we sampled a couple of secret drafts from Lost Abbey. If you went to the upstairs bar and mentioned Untappd, they hooked you up with some free samples. Both beers were incredibly good and incredibly strong. Thank god for sample glasses, because if I would have drank a pint of either of those I would have had to call it a night. I only stayed for the samples so I could head to the new brewery announcement at Wedge.

A sample of Lost Abbey’s Saison at Barley’s

About The Lost Abbey beers I sampled

When I go to Wedge, the place was packed. There was a line going out the door for beer. All the Ashevillians I meet really love this place, and I can see why. Very cool, laid back vibe and amazing beers. I had a glass of their Oatmeal Stout that I will go out on a limb and proclaim one of the best I’ve ever had of that style. I stayed only long enough to enjoy that one beer, talk a little bit with Cleat from Thirsty Monk, and meet and speak with the owners of the newest brewery, the Wicked Weed.

About the New brewery, opening next to the Orange Peel, December 2012

The Wicked Weed brewery will be a 15 barrel system located right next to the Orange Peel. The owners I spoke with said they paln to open sometime in December. I think I just planned a future trip.

Mock up of the Wicked Weed

I wanted to stay longer at Wedge, but I was getting really hungry.

I hadn’t ate anything substantial since breakfast. I knew from checking the Asheville Beer Week website that there was a $5 buffet at Lexington Avenue Brewery. I went there for it, and I can only describe it as bizzare. The Buffet was in the back room where the bands play. I asked the doorman if I could check it out before I committed. He said to go ahead, and I walked into one of the most surreal scenes ever. The room was pitch black except for some muted blue lights illuminating a way too loud jazz fusion band. Lounging around is various states of disinterested hipness were honest to goodness beret and turtleneck wearing jazz beatnicks. The “buffet” consisted of 2 pans of unidentifiable stuff that you could only tell was there from the over powering curry smell and the lights from the stage reflected off the metal. The whole scene was weird, uncomfortable and awkward. I turned around and walked out.

After that fiasco, I met up with Scott at Jack Of The Woods. By then I was tired from all the walking, and worn out from not eating right. I ordered a half pour of Catawba’s Strawberry Rhubarb Berliner Weiss and a half order of nachos. The combination of spicy and sour was more then my empty stomach could handle. I took a few bites, a few sips, and I was done. I boxed up my food, paid my tab and went back and took a long powernap at the hotel.

After an hour or so, I was refreshed, so I rallied and met Scott in the hotel lobby where we headed back to, you guessed it, The Thirsty Monk. The place was at capacity, but the doorman was really cool and let us in anyway. We headed downstairs. I had a half pour of Ommegang’s Art of Darkness and Scott bought a bottle of Brooklyn’s Black Ops. We sat and conversed for awhile. Last call was made, so we paid our tabs and on the way out I introduced Scott to Brian from Sierra Nevada.

All and all it was another great day of my beercation. Which brings me to my survival guide. I am going to make sure to do ALL of this today. 1. Wear sunblock. Though today it’s overcast and calls for rain. So I guess #1 would be Check the weather online and plan accordingly. I plan on getting an umbrella. Number 2, Half pours are your friend. If you are going to be drinking for hours and hours, pace yourself. Number 3, eat something! You need a solid foundation for that beer to rest on, multivitamins help, but they are not food. Calories are good if you walk everywhere. Number 4, drink water between rounds, avoid the hangover. Number 5, carry cash. Bars like Thirsty Monk get packed it’s a lot easier to pay for your drinks without having to wait (or make someone else wait) while you pay by card. Number 6, TIP WELL! The bartenders around here are some of the nicest beer loving people in the world. With all the extra people in town for beer week, they are working their asses off. Make sure to let them know that you appreciate them.

Alright well this is all for now. I have an ESB brewing workshop at a gardening place to attend, I still have to shave, shower, change and hoof it there. I need to get off the computer, but I will try to upload more pictures as I check back in. This hotel’s interwebs run a little on the slow side.

See you around town. I’m looking to meet some of my tweeps and website readers, so if you see me, say hi!

-Cheers,

Ratchet

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The tap list at Wedge

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Scott aka Booze Traveler with Brian Grossman of Sierra Nevada

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That Wacky Booze Traveler with the beer that doesn’t exist

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Wedge’s awards

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Outside of Wedge

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Raffle for the new brewery


Having a great time at #AvlBeerWeek. (Day 2 of my beercation)

May 31, 2012

I’m sitting in the dining area of the Downtown Inn & Suites eating breakfast, and drinking the Terruno Nayarita coffee I brought with me. (hotel coffee is typically nasty).

So I’ll recap my adventures that I had yesterday. I got to the hotel, checked into my room, unpacked the car and headed over to Jack of the Woods for lunch. I’m glad I only ordered the garlic cheese fries and not an actual entree. The portion sizes there are huge! Then I went ahead and ordered a beer I’ve never had before, 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon.  For this trip, I’m all about trying unique beers that I haven’t had before.

 I paid for lunch and headed across the street to one of the best beer bars in the world, the Thirsty Monk. I’ve written about the Monk pub before, and it never fails to impress me. This was an official Asheville Beer Week event taking place, a tasting of rare Stone Brewing’s beers. I ordered a flight and got to work. One of best things about this bar is the people you meet. I sat next to a couple of local fellows, Travis and Joel. Joel is also a homebrewer and we had a great conversation. We made plans to drink together again tonight. I also met the local Terrapin Brewing company rep. We spoke about Terrapin and I asked him when we could expect to have their beers back in Knoxville. They have recently added new fermentation tanks, so hopefully it won’t be long before we see them back on the shelves and on tap in Knoxville bars. At 6pm they tapped a cask of Terrapin’s Easy Rider. I thought it was a very well done beer, having a heavy grapefruit aroma from the hops used. Well, I wanted to bar hop, so I said my goodbyes and walked over to Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue for the District 12 Ale release.

A flight of Stone Beers at Thirsty Monk

District 12 is a new Summer wheat beer, named so for the movie, the Hunger Games which was filmed in this area. District 12 is the area in the movie that the main characters are from, which is made up of the Appalachains. When it was being filmed, the actors stayed in Asheville. I only stayed long enough to charge up my iPhone battery and enjoy the one pint. I checked the Asheville Beer Week website and chose the next event to go to. I knew my buddy Aaron (from Kingsport OktoberfestThirsty Orange and Brewer’s Summit ) was at the Belgium Beer Dinner at Pack’s Tavern.

May the Hops be forever in your favor

The dinner was a ticketed event, but sinced it was mostly a meat based menu (and I’m primarly vegetarian) I opted to pass on it. I knew however, that there was great beer there. Since the event started at 6:30 and my arrival was around 8, I knew it was pretty much over. I just walked in like I was supposed to be there. I saw my friend Aaron and went an hung out. At that point, most of the diners had left and the food and beer tables were packing up. I did try a few beers, and had a great conversation about the abbey style ales being brewed under the Ovlia label by Sierra Nevada. We finished our beers and headed out. Aaron and his friend headed to Thirsty Monk where I’d later join them.  I sat down across from the Jackson Building while I played on my iPhone and contemplated my next move. While sitting there, a walking ghost tour group stopped in front of it and I heard some interesting stories.

Some of beers I sampled at Pack's Tavern

My next move was to head to Lexington Avenue Brewery. I stopped in long enough to have their Chocolate Stout on nitro. I like LAB’s beers, but I have yet to have one that’s knocked my socks off. The chocolate stout was pretty unimpressive in my opinion. I do plan on going there again tonight, so I’ll give something different a try.

Cleat, The coolest bartender at Thirsty Monk

Flying Dog was gooooood!

 

After quaffing my beer I headed back to Thirsty Monk to meet up with Aaron. I found him at the downstairs bar. The Thirsty Monk has 2 bars. The upstairs is mainly American Craft beers, the downstairs mostly Belgium craft beers. I elected to stay with 4 ounce pours since I had beer drinking the last few hours and wanted to pace myself. As we sat there drinking and conversating, who should walk in but Brian Grossman of Sierra Nevada and Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River. I introduced myself to these beer world celebrities and spoke with them about their beer. Both of them are giuninely nice guys and very engaging. Brian told me that Sierra Nevada was 95% ready to go to Alcoa when they looked to Asheville. He said he was very worried about coming to Asheville and being seen as the elephant in the room. His fears were put to rest when he met with the local brewing community and they welcomed Sierra Nevada with open arms. Next I spoke with Adam Kimball, the sales rep for Great Divide. I let him Know of my love of their Yeti series. I told him that I planned on visiting their brewery when I go to the Great American Beer Fest in Denver this year. He told me that on the Thursday at the start of the festival they host a big welcoming party event with free food and beer. I’m definitively going to that! Well, next thing I know Brian is next to me at the bar uncorking bottles of the Sierra Nevada & Russian River collaboration, Brux. He generously poured samples for everyone around to try. He explained the name Brux is for the yeast strain used in this beeer, Brettanomyces bruxellensis. He said that this beer was 2 years in the making. It’s going to be a super limited release in 750ml corked bottles. He said it’ll be gone as soon as it hits the market. I want to get several. He advises that this beer will age well for years.

Me with Vinne from Russian River. I don’t know why my iPhone and stupid computer won’t accept this jpeg the right way up.

Me with Brian Grossman of Sierra Nevada

Brian Grossman pouring Brux

BRUX!

 

Well the night ended and I stumbled back to the hotel. This morning I realized an important lesson. If I am going to be bar hopping and drinking all evening, I have to make sure to drink water between rounds. Hangovers suck.

There is a lot more events to attend tonight. It looks like I’ll have some company in the form of my Knox Beer Crew buddy, Trader Scott. Beer will be drunk, tales will be told and Hijinks will insue. To follow along in real time, check out my twitter feed @Ratchetbrews and friend me on Untappd.

Tune back in tomorrow for more tales of adventure during Asheville Beer Week.

Cheers!

-Ratchet