Monday, January 29, 2007

Weyerbacher Winter Ale

This beer poured a dark, reddish-amber color with a moderate head. The nose had plenty of malt with hints of chocolate and candied cherries. The initial impression was of vanilla and toffee with a malty finish and slight alcohol. Overall, a decent winter beer, and particularly appropriate for consuming with the current Asheville weather where high temps today didn't break freezing.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Beer for Dogs

We thought we'd seen it all, but the media is having a field day with the news that a Dutch company has released a beer for dogs. Brewed with malt and beef extract (!) the non-alcoholic beer is for Fido's enjoyment following a long hunt or game of fetch. No one in Asheville seems to have it yet but it's available in South Carolina and Georgia.

At left Bailey poses with a bottle of Shipyard and wonders when he'll have his own beer available here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Big Beer Bash

We attended the annual Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters (MALT) Big Beer Bash in Tryon yesterday evening. About 35 or so club members and significant others sampled some outstanding beers (mostly brewed by club members) and gnoshed on some most excellent food. Carl Melissas of Green Man Brewing was there as was "Pisgah Dave" Quinn of Pisgah Brewing. Carl brought a party keg of his fine Dragon while Pisgah Dave brought some of his Baptista, a Belgian-style winter brew that weighs in at over 11% ABV. Only about 100 gallons were produced and this was among the last of it.

Gracious hosts Jay and Arlene deserve lots of thanks for again opening their beautiful home to us for this event.

Here are some pics:

Sampling some of BatDave's outstanding Scottish ale, cask-conditioned and poured from a genuine handpump.

I would love to have Jay's living room bar, not to mention his brewing room downstairs.

Rumors and happenings

Ashvegas scooped us on some rumors making the rounds about some possible new developments on the local scene. However, we can report that the stories about a new brewpub going into the former TS Morrison building are anything but "pure speculation." We know who the brewer will be and we have the facts direct from the source. We'll post further info as it develops but don't expect to see brewing here for at least a year. But plans call for a restaurant and brewing operation which will join Asheville Pizza and Brewing as Asheville's second brewpub (Jack of the Wood technically no longer qualifies for the label since the brewery is now a separate operation and is more of a "tied house")

We can't yet confirm or deny Ash's other rumors about the Wedge Gallery or possible developments on Buxton Avenue except to say that the fine folks at Green Man Brewing don't know anything about the latter. While we prefer to post facts we will report a fourth rumor we've heard about possible brewing activity on Haywood Road in West Asheville. We believe that this may be a skewed report of the new Root Bar that will be opening across from the Ingles on Haywood Road. While no on-site brewing is planned we do anticipate that the beer selections will rival the outstanding choices available at the original location in East Asheville.

In any event, if the rumored breweries do get up and running it's quite possible Asheville could become known for having the greatest number of breweries per capita. How about it? Does anyone know of another city of 65,000 with eight breweries? Or six? Or even four?

Finally, the new second location of Ruby's BBQ Shack has opened on Tunnel Road in the old IHOP building. We haven't visited yet but if their beer selection is anything like that at the Haw Creek site then it should be a winner. We know from the ads in the Mountain Xpress that it's smoke-free but that's it. If anyone has been there post a comment and tell us about it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Blog Asheville Reunites

Cross-posted from BlogAsheville:

Blog Asheville will reconvene after too long a hiatus. Come one blogger, come all y'all bloggers to Joli Rouge, Saturday, January 20, 8pm until the last gasp is gasped. If everyone who's coming will please make comments on others' blogs about the gathering we'll get to meet a lot of these new bloggers who've emerged since the Extravablogiversapaloozathon.

Joli Rouge map is HERE.

We'll regrettably be missing this gathering as it coincides with the annual MALT Big Beer Bash. Hopefully the gathering will become a regular event. We were at Joli Rouge during last month's Drinking Liberally pub crawl and were impressed by the atmosphere and the beer selection.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Shipyard Blue Fin Stout

The final selection from this collection. The stout poured with an excellent head, in fact slightly overflowing my glass. It had a malty nose and a wonderful roasted coffee taste with undercurrents of dark chocolate and a hint of citrus. The head lasted to the end. The mouthfeel was a bit watery but that didn't detract from the experience. An excellent beer. I'd buy this one again.

Shipyard Export Ale

Another selection from my "Captain's Collection," Shipyard's export is a golden American pale. It had a malty taste up front that was redolent of honey and caramel. The finish was suitably hoppy. Overall, a typical American beer that was perfectly drinkable but not outstanding in any aspects.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Bell's Winter White Ale

Beers from Bell''s of Comstock, Michigan have recently become available in Asheville and I was eager to try some offerings from this brewery. I visited Bruisin' Ales this morning and while looking over the winter beer selections the Winter White caught my eye so I bought a sixer.

The beer poured nicely into one of my wheat beer glasses. It's a cloudy, blond-colored beer with a creamy head and medium carbonation. The nose immediately called to mind various German wheats and hefes but the name spoke Belgian. According the the brewer's web site it is brewed with a combination of hefe and Belgian yeasts so there you go. Bananas and bread yeast are first noticeable on the palate and they linger along with cloves and spices at the finish. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied.

Overall this is a decent beer that combines two well-known styles. I wouldn't rank it as a usual winter beer since it would make a better choice after gardening or mowing the lawn than for relaxing by a fire. But it works well today as the weather is unseasonably warm and we have the doors and windows wide open. I look forward to trying other beers from this brewery.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cropton Rudolph's Revenge

As I continue working through the last of my Christmas beers I find myself paying unusually close attention to the labels. They often contain a few gems buried in fine print among the usual alcohol warnings and returnable deposit info. This one has a humorous story about how Rudolph got drunk while taking a break in Cropton, England following his long journey, which caused Santa much annoyance when the presents were delivered to the wrong addresses or not delivered at all.

The beer is a medium-dark amber color and poured with a nice head. It's a bottle-conditioned beer so I was careful not to disturb the sediment or pour it into the glass. The beer is moderately carbonated. It's described as a "dark bitter, using finest Cascade and Styrian Goldings hops and English malt providing a unique hoppy beer with a fruity aftertaste." The malt was readily apparent but the hop character was lacking though it was true to the bitter style. With two excellent hops included I just expected more hop taste to show through. The finish was subtle blackcurrant and cherry with a hint of apple and perhaps citrus in the background. The head was still present by the bottom of the glass and formed a nice Scottish lace in my Barley's imperial pint glass. Recommended.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nice article on Asheville brewing

Each year the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce puts out a glossy tourist rag in conjunction with Journal Communications. I received a copy of the 2007 edition the other day and the first thing I noticed was a cover blurb about the breweries of Asheville. Authored by Kevin Litwin the article focuses on Asheville's four microbreweries and brewpubs. Asheville Pizza and Brewing and French Broad Brewing each get prominent coverage while brief mention is made of Green Man and Highland. The local Brews Cruise brewery tours are highlighted, too. The theme of the article is how the booming local interest in craft beer has benefited these brewers as well as bars like Barley's. The article includes some nice photographs, but I was a bit surprised to see a pic showing Mark Lyons of the Brews Cruise posing with a full pint while sitting behind the wheel of his van! It's obviously a posed shot but the message inadvertently implied was undoubtedly not considered by the editors.

Congratulations to our local brewers and kudos to the Chamber for including a beer article in a tourist publication.

Shipyard Longfellow Winter Ale

This was another Orlando purchase. I picked up a 12-bottle "Captain's Collection" which included three bottles each of four beers including Longfellow. Named after poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the beer is this brewery's winter warmer.

It poured into a glass with ample head. The color was dark and almost opaque. The nose was overwhelmingly of malt as was the taste. In style and appearance it seemed more like a porter. There were very strong caramel-like flavors with little spice. The finish was bitter and lasting.

Overall the beer was disappointing. I would describe it as a cross between a weak old ale and a porter with neither style predominating and with no outstanding characteristics other than the malt. When I brewer is as successful as Shipyard and produces as many beers as it does I guess ones luck turns occasionally.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Winterkoninkske ("Winter King")

I bought this beer in Orlando, attracted by the peaceful winter village scene on the label. The brew is a product of the Kerkon Brewery in Belgium, a family-owned brewing operation whose stated goal is "to bring real hops back into Belgian brewing." Belgian beers aren't noted for heavy hoppiness today but traditionally brewers used far more hops than is now common and brewer Marc Limet wants to return to that earlier time.

The beer as poured into a pint glass appeared dark reddish-brown, translucent and with modest head which didn't last long. The maltiness was noticeable on the nose even through mild congestion from a lingering cold. The initial sip had distinctive malt taste along with a medium alcohol bite. Hops were detected but played second fiddle to the malt. The beer is flavored with juniper berries which were most apparent at the finish. Other flavors included plums, raisins, molasses, and cloves. The beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized and bottle conditioned. Alcohol content is not listed on the label but the brewery states it's a healthy 8.3 ABV.

As I write it is snowing in Asheville and the wind is whistling in the chimney. I can't do better than quote from the brewers' web site: "The ‘Winterkoninkske’ is the ideal beer to make a cold and chilly winter evening pleasant." They will get no arguments from me.