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.

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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.

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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


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

Asheville-Beer-Week

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