Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brown Beer and Autumn Hikes: Two Great Tastes that Go Great Together!

The last two weekend I've gone hiking. After these hiking trips I have enjoyed a brown ale at a local watering hole. I thought I would share those with you.

The first hike was at Laurel River near Hot Springs, NC. It was a 7 mile hike total, which was a little long for someone like me. I really wanted to give up at about the 6 mile mark but where would I go? No helicopter would come rescue me, so I had to keep hiking.

After we did finally crawl back to the car we drove into the town of Hot Springs to the Spring Creek Tavern and had a seat at the bar. It is a really nice place with great atmosphere. We haven't tried their food yet, but we plan to next time we're up in Hot Springs.

I ordered a Bell's Best Brown, a great year round brown beer brewed by Bell's in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I consider Bell's my first craft brewery even though that is a slight exaggeration. I went to college in Kalamazoo but at the time I didn't drink beer at all so I can't really claim to have been a fan in the 90s. I'm willing to jump on that band wagon now, though.

This brown ale is one of my favorites when I am in the mood for malty goodness, which I usually am about this time of year. It is well balanced with just enough hops to give it some character but not too much to draw attention away from the roasted malt flavors.

If you like traditional browns with just a hint of something extra this one is a good bet for you. It is sweet and caramel-y. It is perfect for a crisp fall afternoon or for the first beer to quench your thirst after a long and strenuous hike.

For the second hike in as many weeks, we drove down to Tallulah Gorge in North Georgia and met up with some friends from Atlanta. The hike around the gorge is pretty easy with the most difficult being over 600 steps down to a suspension bridge and 500 steps back up to the top of the gorge. It took me a while to make it up the steps. I'm not really what you would call "in shape" and I have asthma so I puffed my way up one section of stairs at a time.

After our hike we drove up to the town of Clayton, Georgia and discovered their quaint downtown area. We stopped for dinner and drinks at the Universal Joint. I was surprised to find this place in such a small town. There is also a Universal Joint in Ashevlle.

There I ordered a Duck Rabbit Brown Ale which is brewed in Farmville, North Carolina. They served it to me in a Red Hare glass, which is a brewery out of Atlanta. It seemed appropriate. Duck Rabbit specializes in dark beers and their Milk Stout is one of my very favorites of all time, which I know is a pretty bold declaration.

Duck Rabbit Brown Ale is rich with a very well played bitterness to the hops profile. It is a strong beer that can stand up on its own if you like that sort of thing. The dominating flavors for me in this one is chocolate and coffee but neither are overwhelming. They play off each other and the hoppy bitterness very well. If you want a brown beer with a little more punch than most of them check out this one.

Have you been out hiking this fall? Have you stopped for a beer afterwards to quench your thirst? What have you been drinking?

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