Last day of #AvlBeerWeek and recap of @BeerCityFest

June 3, 2012

Well last night was the earliest I’ve been to bed since I came to Asheville for Beer Week. Every night I’ve been out drinking and enjoying the food, libations and culture that Beer City USA offers. Last night, I wanted to stay out late, but my body wouldn’t let me. C’mon liver, just one more day. You can do it! Anyway Let me recap what I can remember of yesterday and what I have planned for the last day of my beercation.

The day started out as the previous ones, with me waking up and heading downstairs for breakfast and the all important coffee. Using a combo of my wordpress app and my laptop, I was able to get yesterday’s post up quickly. I then packed up everything to go check into Hotel Indigo for the last night of my stay. I arrived at this hotel and walked in, kind of overwhelmed on how posh it is. Thanks again Mom Linda for getting me this room for my birthday. Once I was situated, it was time to walk down to Roger McGuire Green to wait in line for the festival. Once in line I met some Knoxvillians, and their Asheville friends. I am so sorry I forgot y’alls names. I am horrible with names and have to hear them repeatedly before they stick. It’s a serious flaw of mine and it’s something I struggle to overcome every day.

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Roger McGuire Green downtown where the festival was held

The festival was sold out, but when I looked on my Craigslist app, I saw that many people still had them listed for sale. I gave the number of one seller to a person in line without a ticket. I saw him later in the festival. Once I got in, I made a quick round just to see what there was before I actually even got a beer. My first one was Brown Shugga by Laqunitas. There’s no way I would have remembered that on my own, thank goodness I logged every one of them into untappd.

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This was my favorite beer of the festival

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Once again, Todd (& his epic beard) from Catawba brewed my favorite beer fo the festival

I saw many people I know from the beer scene at festival. One of my favorite people in the regional beer scene is the brewer from Catawba Brewing Company, Todd. Him and his buddies (sorry the whole names escape me thing) are really cool and down to earth. Todd makes absolutely amazing “special edition” or “one offs” beer. The last beer festival I was in Asheville for (see my Winter Warmer post) my favorite beer was his Pumpernickle Rye. We spoke for awhile and I had his Belgian Blonde brewed with cantalope and cayenne. The combo was unbelievable and set the back of my throat tingling. Someone please let the owners of Catawba know that they need to let Todd bottle some of these rare beers so we can take them with us!

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The best swag of the festival was Holy City’s squirt guns filled from a keg full of water

I walked aroung the festival collecting stickers, coasters and other swag for my beer cave, and to share with friends. New Belgium had cool stuff such as bike tube patches, lip balm and ranger patches. The coolest swag at the fest went to Holy City Brewing out of Charleston, SC. They had squirt guns! Someone was filling them up with water and handing them out. I got one, but it was apparent that carrying it in my pocket was not a good idea since it was leaking. I used it to rinse my glass between rounds. Someone suggested filling it with beer, but I took a pass on that idea.

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Crowd at Beer City Fest

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Myself with Doug, the head brewer from Asheville Brewing Company

I walked around enjoying beer and talking with brewers and other people I knew from the beer scene. I went to the Asheville Brewing Company booth where I saw Mike Rangle. Always a pleasure to speak with him. He introduced me to the brewer, Doug. I had seen him before, but this is the first time we had actually met. I told him how much I enjoyed his beer and that Ninja is my all time favorite porter. After seeing him, I ran into Dieter from Heinzelmannchen. It’s always a pleasure to speak with the friendly Dieter. My only regret is that I don’t have time to visit his brewery this trip. I’ve have to make a point of next time taking a quick trip to Sylva, NC.

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Me with Dieter from Heinzelmannchen

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The Heinzelmannchen booth

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One of the many beers I enjoyed at Beer City Fest

Near the end of the festival I waited in a super long line for Thirsty Monk’s Coconorm porter that they released at 3pm. I liked it very much, but it still wasn’t as good as Tennessee Valley Homebrewers Club member Jay Schrade’s toasted Coconut Porter, but it was a close second. Next I spent some time hanging out talking beer with Greg and the crew from Nantahala Brewing Company. They had their newest Trail Magic release, an imperial IPA with lemon grass. They are having a bottle release at their brewery on June 8th. Bryson City is not that far of a drive, and it’s a beautiful one. If you haven’t been to Nantahala Brewing Company, you should go. You are seriously missing out if you don’t.

Beer City Festival ended at 6 pm, but I made plans to leave early to go take a power nap at the hotel. While I was at the Festival, many of my Knox Beer Crew Friends were out in Asheville bar hopping. I planned on hanging out with them in the evening, but I knew if I was going to do more drinking, I would need to recharge. So around 4:30 I grabbed a couple of slices of Barley’s pizza and headed back to the hotel. I drank some tea, took a vitamin and set my alarm for an hour long nap. Waking up feeling refreshed, I hopped in the shower, got dressed and walked over to Thirsty Monk where I met up with Nick, Jeff, Matt and his wife Chrissy and her friend. I could tell the guys were feeling a little on the drunk side. I had half a pour of Evil Twin’s Imperial Biscotti Break. While hanging out there I saw someone posted on twitter that Tom Selleck was at Craggie Brewing company, just a few blocks away. I casually mentioned this to the guys. In their inebriated state, they thought it would be hilarious if we had our drunken pictures taken with him. The next thing I know we are on our way. We get there, and Tom Selleck WAS there. Just in Velvet painting form, behind the bar. We had been punked! Well played twitter, well played. We had a round anyway and Matt and I posed for the below picture.

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We saw on Twitter that Tom Selleck was at Craggie Brewing, so my Knox Beer Crew friends thought it would be funny to go get our picture taken with him. It was funny!

After 1 drink at Craggie I convinced the crew that walking a mile away to Wedge Brewing company wasn’t going to kill them, so off we went. Wedge is one of the most popular places for craft beer lovers in Asheville to hang out, so sometimes they run out of some styles of their beeer. I had a half pour of a hoppy Hellesbock. After sitting around, talking and eating peanuts and Nick nommming down on tamales from the food truck, we decided to head back. As we walked I got a text to meet with Mary and Orion for dinner. I said goodnight to the crew, and when to meet them on Wall street downtown. We walked around trying to figure out what we were in the mood for. We ended the night at the Noodle Shop. I was pretty much done at that point, and my stomach hurt. I could only eat a few bites. As much as I wanted to go back to Thirsty Monk, I knew there was just no way. As we walked back to the hotel we heard a women yell out “He stole my purse!” On the other side of the road a guy was running down the sidewalk. A couple of people tried to stop him. He pushed one guy down. There was a crowd chasing him. I hope they caught him, the women got back her purse and no one (but the thief) got hurt.

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On our walk to Wedge, Matt found time for one of his favorites. Hurricane HIGH GRAVITY!

This is my last day, and the official last day of Asheville Beer Week. I have so much beer and beer swag, I am worried I don’t have enough room in the car for it all. I still need to stop by Bruisin’ Ales and pick up a few more things for myself and for friends back in Knoxville. I get to end my beercation by going on the LaZoom Beer Run tour today. I heard it’s hilarious and I’m really looking forward to it. I will post about it tomorrow. If we met this week, or you’ve been reading my blog, I’d really like to hear from you. Please leave me a comment.

Cheers,

Ratchet


The growing #KnoxBeer and @KnoxBeerCrew scene

January 12, 2012

Over the last several years beer culture has exploded in the United States. Market share of the big 2 beer companies (AB InBev & MillerCoors) has taken a hit because consumers are becoming saavy about craft beer. In the “Scruffy Little City” of Knoxville things have changed big time in just the last 5 years. We’ve gone from having 2 breweries to 3. Bearden Beer Market opened the first completely beer focused store (sorry Leaf and Ale, you’ve always been mostly cigar focused in my mind) and others followed. Don and Rob of The Knox Beer Snobs started their website which gave me inspiration to start mine. We’ve had a small but dedicated homebrewing group here for a long time, but just in the last year or so I’ve become aware of others like Legit Brew and Underground Brewing Company. Social media and apps like Facebook, Twitter and Untappd have made it incredibly easy to connect with and share craft beer experiences with others. So yes, the Knoxville beer scene has grown considerably.
This growth has lead to the creation of a new local club, The Knox Beer Crew. We’re a group of fellow beer connoisseurs who have bonded over our love of this tasty fermented malt based beverage. Some of us knew each other in real life, some of us met through twitter and untappd check ins. I see it as a natural outgrowth of use of the #KnoxBeer hashtag on twitter. I’d remember spreading this idea around to some of the guys at the Brewer’s Jam. I’d use the hashtag whenever I was going out to have a beer, or if there was any events or news about the local beer scene I wanted to share. Others were using it to and pretty soon it morphed into #KnoxBeerCrew. This was used to announce beer runs and get togethers amongst us twitter friends. Local web developer, fellow beer geek and all around cool guy Matt Crowell put together a website for Knox Beer Crew. Matt designed it to help organize and expand our small but growing scene. On this site members can post a profile that includes their favorite beer and beerstyle, a wish list of beers they’d like to try and a link to their untappd page. Members may also post their craft beer related pictures and can post beer related events to the calendar.

So what’s the point in having a beer club and a website like this in Knoxville? Well, primarily it’s a way for us to share our love and appreciate of craft beer. It’s also a way to help each other experience new beer. Many of us have gone out of town and brought back hard to find beers. We also often get together for tastings. The other night we were invited to a last minute tasting of beers from Brooklyn Brewery, Sweetwater and Yazoo at Bearden Beer Market. So check out the website, add us on untappd and twitter, join the crew. You’ll be glad you did.

Like I said above, I did get to try some offerings from Brooklyn Brewery. A few of their tasty brews will soon be on the shelves in Knoxville. On January 23rd we’ll be able to get their Brown Ale and their Lager. Both are really tasty, but I found that I loved the Lager. It’s an all malt lager, no corn and rice adjucts that I’ve come to associate with American Lagers. The brewery rep, Jeff also brought along a keg of their wheat wine, The Companion. It blew my mind on how good it was, but unfortunatly he said it won’t be available around here. If you go somewhere they have it, grab me a bottle! One of the coolest thing about Brooklyn Brewery is that the Brewmaster is none other than the world famous Garrett Oliver. Since he helped write The Oxford Companion to Beer, to say he knows what he’s doing would be a understatement. This man is a genuine beer genious. After seeing a copy of the aforementioned book, I knew I had to have it. It’s 900+ pages, but expect a post with a review when I’m done reading it.

Well I won’t write post until a week from Saturday. That’s when I’ll be attending Asheville’s WINTER WARMER BEER FESTIVAL!!!! Another great beer fest in my favorite city. I’m so excited about. The 21st can not get here soon enough. I think I will try to live update this website from the event. Remember those post of my live updates of my brew days? Think of that but with a lot more drinking. Should be informative, entertaining and funny! Let’s see if I can actually pull it off. Until then…

Cheers,

Ratchet