For this multi-part blog post about my recent beercation to Asheville, NC, I can think of nothing more appropriate than to start with the people and work my way backwards to the beer. So here goes:
My travel partner: Erica
Having first met at a sour beer tasting/festival held at Gordon’s Fine Wine in Waltham, MA, Erica and I became fast friends. She is an avid homebrewer and incredibly intelligent about beer (and many other things). Her dislike of India Pale Ales resulted in my getting to drink any that came our way when ordering beer flights (bonus), and her vegetarianism resulted in one of the best meals I’ve had in some time (double bonus, and more about that later). Having a good beer-travel partner is clutch, and I had a great one for this trip. Thanks, Erica!
Great Asheville women of beer: Anne-Fitten Glenn and Julie Atallah
I love Twitter and I especially love it for beer. In fact, I kind of get frustrated when bars, breweries, bottle shops, beer writers, etc. don’t maintain an active Twitter presence. Leading the way in the #AVLbeer Twitter-verse are @Brewgasm (Anne-Fitten Glenn) and @BruisinAles (Julie Atallah). I genuinely appreciated the engagement from both of these women in advance of my trip. While I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Anne-Fitten Glenn in person, her name is synonymous with Asheville beer, and her book Asheville Beer provided some excellent background information for the trip (it also references Jurassic Park in an early chapter).
More about Bruisin’ Ales and the great work owners Juile and Jason are doing later.
First beer stop: Tom; Dave and Teresa (Pisgah Brewing Company)
Erica and I made our first beer stop at Pisgah Brewing Company Friday afternoon en route from Charlotte Douglas International Airport to our Asheville hotel. What a treat! I have a sneaking suspicion that many people that visit Asheville don’t make it to Pisgah (you need to drive there), and that is a damn shame.
When we walked in we noticed a fantastic selection of both Pisgah Brewing Co and guest taps (Foothills Sexual Chocolate, anyone?), and we were struck when the bartender, Tom, informed us that they had fourteen of their own beers on tap! Both Erica and I were extremely impressed with the Pisgah Pale Ale (big peach notes) and Red Devil (sweet raspberries; would make an excellent sour), and we enjoyed many small beers bought in rounds (sorry, Chris L., small in this case refers to the glass size, not the ABV). Tom has been with Pisgah since the beginning, and we found him pleasant and knowledgeable. His semi-regular, 10+ minute absences from behind the bar were refreshing, honestly. It allowed us to meet and strike up a conversation with Dave and Teresa, beer travelers that had journeyed down from Fredericksburg, VA for the weekend. They told us that they and their “mostly middle-aged” friends meet regularly to drink, share, and discuss beer. We would have the pleasure of seeing Dave and Teresa a couple of times during the weekend!
2 best things to come out of stopping at Pisgah:
- Tom introduced us to The Gourmet Chip Company, a shop in Downtown Asheville that makes their own artisan potato chips. I am ashamed to say that I would have probably missed this place without Tom’s help, and this coming from a guy THAT BROUGHT DOWN BAGS OF POTATO CHIPS TO SHARE WITH THE PEOPLE OF ASHEVILLE!!!
- While we were there, a local came in and remarked (only semi-jokingly) that the beer was too expensive. He wanted “one of them $3.50 beers.” Tom was quick to point out that a number of their beers were only $3.00/pint (Pisgah Nitro Stout and Duck Rabbit Milk Stout, I believe). I then interjected with, “No, no, no, the man said he wanted a $3.50 beer, so he can pay $3.50 for it if he wants.” Laughs were had by all, and doubly so by Erica and myself at the suggestion of $3 craft pints in Boston. (Trust me, it was super funny and clever if you were there).
Well that’s the first part of the blog post, and we’ve only gotten through one of the 10 breweries we visited last weekend…Look for Part 2 soon!