It is now Friday evening, a little after 5:00, and we’ve only ‘ticked’ one item on our Asheville Brewery list. Panic is starting to set in. We’ll never make them all…
Oh, ye of little faith.
Hampton Inn-Asheville Tunnel Road: Patrick, Reggie, and the rest of the staff
Please take thirty seconds to read my TripAdvisor review here. Choosing this hotel was unquestionably a major reason for the success of the trip. The property, amenities, and staff are all first rate. Props to Reggie who had the LINE OF THE YEAR!!! on Saturday morning (but more on that later…).
After checking in to the hotel, it was time to get back on the horse.
Wedge Brewing Company: Tom (a different Tom)
From reading Anne-Fitten Glenn’s Asheville Beer (this will likely not be the last time I mention that you definitely need to read this book), I understood that Wedge Brewing Company was located in the ‘River Arts District’. I would butcher any further explanation of the RAD (try THIS instead), but suffice to say the area’s art culture is reflected in both Wedge’s physical space and beers. Though I visited on a cold March evening, locals later told me that it is the go to summer place. The bar has lawn space for Cornhole (Bags), they screen outdoor movies in the summer, and there is awesome local metalwork inside and out.
We ordered our flight and took a seat at the semi-enclosed outdoor bar. We found the Julian Price Pilsner crisp and delicious, the Golem Belgian Strong Golden Ale complex and delicious, and the Vadim Bora Russian Imperial Stout fruity and balanced. And delicious. All of their beers paired well with the complimentary peanuts, and most people seemed to be abiding by an unwritten ‘no peanut shells on the floor’ rule.
We had the privilege of enjoying an extended conversation with a Tom, current Asheville resident (with roots in Northeast Ohio and Boston), who builds circular homes. We talked beer and beer travels, and although he has not had the pleasure of visiting Boston recently, he had fond memories of Commonwealth Brewing (I believe he said, “Man, that was some good beer.”). I had never heard of it, but I’m happy to use this post to pass along some praise and spark nostalgic feelings for any who remember the brewery.
Time to Eat
The Junction: Jason Crosby
The Junction restaurant is a short walk from Wedge Brewing Company (I know what you’re thinking: yes, there are eateries that do not follow the ‘The’ + ‘Adjective’ + ‘Animal’ naming algorithm). The cozy atmosphere and no-wait seating were just what the doctor ordered. Our server was attentive and both the
Fried NC Oysters: Shrimp & Pickled Peppers, Arugula, Smoked Remoulade Sauce, Preserved Lemon-Chive Vinaigrette
as well as the
[Image missing due to immediate consumption]
Smoked Portabella:Fried Pickled Cauliflower, Roasted Brussels, Grilled Endive, Smoked Portabella, Truffled Potato Puree, Herbed Goat Cheese, Preserved Lemon Emulsion
were thoughtfully conceived, well-cooked, filling, and tasty. Erica and I split a can of New Belgium’s new-er ‘Shift’ lager, but we could have easily enjoyed one of the other local draught or bottled craft beer options (Bells Hopslam, anyone?). The cocktail menu was equally appealing. Our waiter said the Sunday brunch is killer, so I’ll definitely have to make it back for that!
Only after reviewing The Junction website for this post have I learned about the recent Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer diagnosis of Jason Crosby, The Junction’s bar manager. Awareness is nice, but money is better. If you read this, please consider donating any amount to Jason’s family: http://www.gofundme.com/28mh6c and/or call The Junction directly for more information 828.225.3497.
Brewery Number 3: Wicked Weed Brewing
More. Wicked. Weed. Please.
Put Wicked Weed Brewing on your ‘breweries to watch’ list. It’s mighty impressive that a brewpub that’s been open for less than three months (mid-December 2012) already has multiple sour and barrel-aged offerings. The only thing more impressive than the creativity was the quality. The beer was goooood. Yes, I’m a sour fan. Yes, looking at an open fermentation tank is kind of (beer) hot. But I am clearly not the only one that thinks Wicked Weed is bound for big things (re: Black Angel Cherry Sour I’m with ryan w.: “my god”).
Understandably, Wicked Weed does not offer beer flights after 7:00 pm. Everything I had was stellar, and I regret not making if back later to try all of their offerings. However, it’s always good to leave some things undone (another reason to head back soon!).
Speaking with part-owner Ryan was very informative, as Erica and I learned that the brewery will be expanding its barrel program by adding off-site storage. The complimentary pretzels and spicy mustard were an excellent bar snack. Our bartender, Abby, absolutely KILLED it behind the bar. And a couple had sex in the women’s bathroom.
And they hung around afterwards…
Here are more Wicked Weed pictures: