Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Asheville Beer Week 2013: Sunday through Tuesday

This weekend kicked off the second annual Asheville Beer Week. I have been waiting 365 days for this week long, city wide event.

Matt on the Bus
A rival from Grand Rapids MI
The week started off with a bang. On Sunday afternoon we went on the LaZoom Comedy Tour which featured a special Beer Week performance by local sketch comedy group The Ferrel Chihuahuas. I will say I had no idea what to expect but it was a crazy good time. Beer was supplied on the bus by Bruisin' Ales and Asheville beer celebrity Julie Atallah was on hand for the tour. The comedy was top notch and we stopped at not one but two breweries along the way. (Wedge and Dirty Jack's, if you're keeping score.) As a side note, at the Green Man tasting room (AKA Dirty Jack's) we were able to check out their Rush Tribute Beer to celebrate the Canadian band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a lifelong Rush fan this was kind of exciting and the Red Barchetta did not disappoint. The trip was so crazy that a friend sitting on the patio of a local bar heard us drive by while we were singing the fantastic song, "A Moocher is a person in your Beer-borhood." You know the tune - from Sesame Street. Other versus included the Hipster and the Beer Snob. Fantastic. I've had the song stuck in my head for days now.

I find it hard to believe that much will top the LaZoom and Ferrel Chihuahua Comedy Beer Tour.

On Monday we took things easy and went to dinner at Jack of Hearts where we are Monday regulars.

Laundry beer
Then yesterday (Tuesday if you're keeping track) we made it to three total places. First, we had to make a stop at Bar of Soap mostly because we had to do laundry. I love their canned beer selection and a current favorite is Uinta Brewing's Sum'r ale which is easy to drink and only 4% alcohol.

In spite of the photographic evidence I do not recommend the consumption of laundry soap with your beer. Also, in case your wondering, the sock change purse is where we keep our laundry quarters. It made sense. You know, because it is a sock.

Milk Stout Float
After our Laundry was done we went right up the street to Luella's BBQ which was hosting a "Duck. Rabbit. Pig." event with Duck Rabbit Brewing out of Farmville, NC. We were able to meet the beer rep from Duck Rabbit, but unfortunately I don't not remember his name - though we did talk with him for quite a white. Luella's had prepared several small plates so we ordered one of each and they were amazing. The best being apple, bacon, and cheddar fritters with a molasses butter sauce. I would eat those every day. We also had a Duck Rabbit Milk Stout float made with the stout, of course, and Ultimate Ice Cream's salted caramel flavor ice cream. It was absolutely delicious and decadent.

After Luella's we walked up to the Asheville Brewing Company's Brew and View on Merrimon. We wanted to try their special Beer Week release of the Perfect Day IPA. It was very hoppy and quite refreshing. At this point I had forgotten I was trying to take photos so you're just going to have to imagine it.

There are more events for the rest of the week - including the Beer City Festival on Saturday. Stick around and I'll share more about our fun times.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Best Beer You Can't Get in Asheville

As you might have noticed, I am a fan or broadly sweeping statements. I thought I might share with you my favorite regional beer from somewhere other than North Carolina.

The key statement here is that this beer is not available in North Carolina. Sure, there are a lot of great beers from around the country that I could have mentioned but this one is particularly special to me. Also, breweries like Founders from Grand Rapids, MI and several offerings from Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee are distributed here so they don't count.

I want to share the magnificent beer called Southern Pecan from Lazy Magnolia Brewery on the southern coast of Mississippi.

According to their website they are available in most of the states surrounding us but they have yet to make it across the North Carolina border.

I first had Southern Pecan on a trip to New Orleans several years ago. We flew to New Orleans to meet some friends to go to see the Detroit Lions play the New Orleans Saints. This was the opening game of the 2009 season. The reason that is significant is because the Lions had just come off of their 0-16 season. The only team in NFL history to accomplish 16 consecutive losses in one season.

So for all the bad football we were about to watch, Matt and I wanted to discover beer that was better than the two for one happy hour macro-brews served at most of the local bars.

We discovered a place called Beer Fest in the French Quarter. Like many of the bars along Bourbon Street, Beer Fest was kind of dark and gross but they had some really interesting and incredibly expensive beers on tap. This selection included beers from a brewery we had never heard of - Lazy Magnolia.

So we tried the nut brown ale, Southern Pecan. At the time, nut brown ales were probably my favorite style and this beer did not disappoint. I found it a smooth and creamy beverage with just a hint of sweetness. We had just discovered our New Orleans beer experience.

Several years later, while we were living in Atlanta, Lazy Magnolia started distributing to Georgia so we were able to get this beer at our favorite local beer bar.

I don't miss much living here in Asheville - the beer scene is so great and there are a lot of wonderful beers distributed into our city - but I did miss Lazy Magnolia's Southern Pecan. (I also miss one brewery out of Atlanta that I'll tell you about sometime...)

Last week, Matt was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest and he returned with a 12 pack of Southern Pecan just for me. Isn't he sweet?

So if you find yourself in New Orleans - or Mississippi for that matter - check out this nut brown beer.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Beer City USA Poll Open Until Friday, May 10th

Taps at Green Man Brewery, AKA Dirty Jack's, in Asheville
There are just a couple of day left to vote for Beer City USA. Check out the poll here if you haven't voted yet.

I cast my vote on Monday. I voted for Asheville, of course. There are 22 cities on the list and I am extremely proud to live in one of them.

I am extremely happy to live in a city where there is such an amazing beer culture. I love that I can walk between several top notch breweries within the downtown area. I am excited that more will be opening their doors.

I decided on Monday that I was only going to drink Asheville beer until the voting was closed. Not that it would do anything to influence the vote. I just love Asheville beer. I just decided that for one week I want to support the local brewers only. It is for me more than them.

Wall o' beer at Bell's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo
Asheville has been Beer City USA for four years in a row, tying last year with Grand Rapids, Michigan. I think we have some great competition this year. I was surprised to see three Michigan cities on the list (Along with Grand Rapids are Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor). My fear is that this will split the Michigan vote. Out of the three, I personally prefer Kalamazoo - home of Bell's Brewery - because I went to college there and I love the beer.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter who wins the most unscientific internet poll. What I do know is that Asheville has a fantastic beer culture and we like to share it with the rest of the country. Want to see what it is all about? Then come on down to Asheville.

Asheville beer week starts on May 25th, eventually culminating with Beer City Fest on June 1st. We will be at various events around town so we hope to see you there.