Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

A very happy New Year to all you beer drinkers in blogland. Please be responsible and don't drink and drive. We want you to be around to read us during the coming year.

I apologize for the lack of recent activity. I developed a sinus infection over Christmas which became an ear infection that's resistant to antibiotics. The meds preclude drinking so I haven't had a beer since the day after Christmas. I'm dizzy and off-balance from the inner ear involvement so the effect is about the same, though . Someone please have a flute of lambic for me tonight.

Here's to a positive and happy 2007.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Post-holiday humor

I hope everyone had a most enjoyable holiday. I'm still in not-so-sunny Florida where a F2 tornado about 30 miles from here blew away a bunch of homes yesterday. I'll be posting some beer reviews soon but in the meantime here's a bit of humor from Tuborg. Thanks to Hop Talk for this one.

Drink 'till she's cute.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New beer store opening today

Bruisin' Ales is scheduled to open today. This is Asheville's first and only all-beer store and is located at 66 Broadway across from Lark Books, about a block north of the Mellow Mushroom.

The beer selection and future plans both look fantastic:

Unfortunately I'm away for the holiday and will not be able to visit until next week. If anyone gets down there please post a comment and let us know what you think.

I expect this store will a big success.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pubcrawl report

Some of us at Asheville Beer enjoy a good dose of liberal politics along with our beer. So for almost a year now we've been attending the weekly get-togethers of our local Drinking Liberally chapter on Thursdays at Asheville Brewing on Coxe Avenue. Last evening we led a pub crawl of downtown Asheville which attracted 12-14 people.

We began at the Wild Wing Cafe on Biltmore with Syntax, Felicity, and Kathryn. The atmosphere here is typical sports bar/pickup joint but I may have to put it back on my pub crawl page since the beer selection has improved. Bass was on special for $3 including the glass. I took the bait, commenting that it would be interesting to see how long the glass lasted before breaking or being inadvertently left behind along the way. More on that later.

Moving on to ED Boudreaux's we were joined by several more folks including Kyle and Jen, Screwie Hoolie, Nicole and her husband, and Kate. Good BBQ and other food was enjoyed along with excellent beer. I had a Pyramid Snowcap which was the seasonal special. Boudreaux's always has suprises in store for beer lovers and this visit was no exception.

Plans tentatively called for the next stop to be the Ebony Grille since I had met the owner at Brewgrass and was told that she expected to reopen by Thanksgiving. A quick check on the fly showed that the place is gone. Evidently another case of the best laid plans going awry. We quickly moved on to the Smokey Tavern where we hung out awhile and were joined by Edgy Mama and Ash. I drank a Rolling Rock since I wanted to see if it had changed since being taken over by A-B. The bottles still state that the beer comes from the "mountain springs" and "Old Latrobe" although it now actually comes from "Joisey" where there are few mountain springs.

Feeling increasingly mellow we headed for Fred's Speakeasy, located in the basement of Fiore's restorante. I had a Sweetwater 420 and played fooseball or the first time ever. Yep, it's true. I always played air hockey or pinball (now I'm dating myself) way back when and this was a new one for me. Felicity won but I managed to score 4 goals. The mens room here should be preserved as a monument to the art of graffiti. I especially enjoyed the limerick about Dick Cheney to the left of the urinal.

On to Joli Rouge, one of Asheville's most avant-guard clubs. Member Felicity signed us in as her guests. Here we also hooked up with fellow library IT person Luke and his new wife. I enjoyed an excellent Maudite. The atmosphere was relaxed and enjoyable with sofas and tables spread around in nooks and alcoves and the regulars seemed like a friendly group. This bar made the evening for me.

Our next stop was Scully's. The Scull-man wasn't in but there was a good crowd. Several people in our group hadn't visited before and thought the old Gypsy Moon was still operating in this location. I enjoyed an Allagash White and good conversation with Nicole who is also originally from Maine. It was here that Felicity, EM and Ash left us, with others having departed earlier. By this point we were down to Kyle and Jen, Syntax, Screwy, Pete (where did he join up?) and me. We moved on to BoBo Gallery but there was a cover charge. The Brazilian band would have been great on another night but for now we had "other priorities" as the VP would say.

Pushing on to the Bier Garden we hung out awhile, just gnoshin' and sipping a fine Old Foghorn barleywine. Screwie did a live blog post as we debated whether to continue. Consensus being reached to call it a night Kyle and Jen left in a cab while Syntax and I left in Pete's VW Rabbit. As we dropped Syntax at his home I exited the car to move into the front seat only to hear the sickening sound of breaking glass as my Bass ale souvenir slipped out of my jacket pocket and shattered in the middle of Syntax's driveway. Well, it almost made it! I picked up as much of the glass as was possible in the dark and Syntax promised to deal with the remnants in the morning. Pete dropped me at my house shortly thereafter and did me the undeserved kindness of not breaking anything in my driveway. Thanks for the ride, Pete. The next beer is on me.

The crawl was a great success and people seemed to enjoy themselves. Is anyone up for a summer crawl on a steamy evening?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Great Divide Ridgeline Amber

The beer pours nicely with abundant head but not enough to overflow the glass. The sweet maltiness hits the tongue initially before quickly fading to a mild hop taste ahead of a slightly dry finish. Mild fruitiness is noticeable. The mouthfeel is smooth and there is moderate carbonation. A rich Scottish lace lines the glass as its contents disappear. A most excellent beer that I last drank in May during a tour of the Denver brewery. Available in Asheville as part of the 12-pack brewery sampler. Recommended.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Great Divide Saint Bridget's Porter

The beer when poured into a pint glass left about a three-quarter-inch head which dissipated quickly. The color was dark brown and opaque, with little light transmission when held to a lamp. The nose was of burnt wood with malty undercurrents. The mouthfeel was of medium consistency, with the taste an initial impression of roasted almonds and warm chocolate which transitioned to a malty finish. The beer seemed more like a stout and reminded me of a more watery version of Guinness. An interesting beer from an excellent brewery. Worth a try.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wychwood "Bah, Humbug!"

One of the beers I picked up at Peabody's yesterday was a Bah, Humbug Christmas Ale from England's Wychwood Brewery, the same folks who brew the well-known Hobgoblin dark ale. ("What's the matter Lagerboy, afraid you might TASTE something?") With snow coming down hard and the roads becoming slippery we decided to stay in tonight. After building a fire I went to ye olde beer fridge and pulled out the Humbug thinking that a cold, windy, snowy night would provide a perfect backdrop.

The beer poured nicely into an imperial pint glass, displaying a rich reddish-brown color with modest head. The initial sip produced a watery mouthfeel with abundant maltiness. There wasn't overpowering spice taste but a noticeable trace of cinnamon was present. I also detected a bit of pepper at the finish. The beer comes in at only 6.2% ABV but there's a noticeable alcoholic presence. There wasn't any detectable hoppiness. The beer was very mildly carbonated. The head was long-lasting and was still present when I finished the brew.

Overall, a drinkable beer but a bit weak for the Strong Ale style. With all the other seasonals available I doubt I'll buy it again soon.

Road trip

Occasionally we make a road trip to see what the beer scene is like elsewhere in North Carolina. Work took me to Boone for a couple of days where I had occasion to visit Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants. What a find! This place probably wins the award for the best beer store in the Carolinas. With all due respect for Asheville's fine stores Peabody's can't likely be beat for the scope and variety of their beer selection.

Some highlights noted during a feeble attempt at focusing through our delirium of excitement included a selection of bottle-conditioned ales from J.W. Lees of Manchester, England. Also seen were several Jolly Pumpkin ales. These beers are rare finds in the southeast and I haven't seen them in Asheville yet. Another interesting beer is Appalachian Ale, a pale ale brewed by Carolina Beer Company and only sold in Boone. It's available in bottles at Peabody's and on draft at the Boone Saloon on King Street. Winter seasonals were prominent and included Festive Ale from Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing Company. This beer is also available in Asheville and will make a good consolation prize for anyone who loses out on obtaining this year's Cold Mountain from Highlands.

There were a lot of other prizes hidden here and there among the many shelves, coolers, and boxes stacked on the floor. Chances are if Peabody's doesn't have a beer then it isn't widely available in North Carolina. I could have easily dropped several C-notes in here if not for my excellent self-control (not to mention a finite beer budget and a wife.) If you are a serious beer enthusiast and want to experience once again the excitement you felt as a small child when you saw your gifts under the tree on long-ago Christmas mornings then get in the car and head for Peabody's soon.

Peabody's Wine and Beer Merchants
1104 Highway 105
Boone, NC
(828) 264-9476