Saturday, November 15, 2008

Headin' Up To A-Town/Next Week's Cask!

I took Friday and Saturday this week to visit Asheville, NC for the first time. This college town, nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, is full of small breweries. It took Bob (Ellard Village's GM) and I just 3 1/2 hours to get here from Atlanta yesterday, and we arrived at Highland Brewing Co. around lunch time. We got to see them finishing the hand-bottling of their Cold Mountain 1 liter swing-top bottles. Watch your store shelves for these rarities. Highland president and all-around great guy, Oscar Wong, told us he is seriously considering not doing this special package again in the future. Then he pulled a pitcher of Cold Mountain off of the packaging line for us to try. Can you say "fresh beer"? It was great, and all lips were sealed about some of the top-secret herbs and spices in this year's batch. If you ever get a chance to be in Asheville, don't miss a chance to visit these people. We missed the peak fall colors by about 3 weeks, but the scenery here is still beautiful.

After Highland, the head brewer from Asheville Brewing Co. picked us up and took us to his downtown location. They also have a location closer to campus that houses a movie theater. The beers, ranging from Golden Ale to Porter (the Stout was out of stock yesterday), were all really good. Doug (the brewer) was a great guy, and we got to see his small copper-coated brew sytem out back. The ESB was our favorite, and the Red-Light IPA was worth another trip as well. This was also another batch of really friendly people. Good vibes abound in Asheville.

We were able to walk about 4 blocks to the converted garage that houses the Green Man Brewing Co. and thier pub. A very rustic bar and beer garden show where the emphasis lies with these folks: true English-style ales, no pretensions. The Pale Ale was tasty, there was a beer engine serving cask-conditioned Porter, and 4-5 other taps of Green Man ales. The brewery was exposed beside the bar. No glassed-in display here. The brewer was separated from the patrons by a rope and a sign asking for "Employees Only" beyond the rope. We were treated to a lengthy discussion on yeast propagation and history while getting a sneak peak at a "new" release: Green Man 2007 Russian Imperial Stout, aged 11 months at this point. Brewer John Stuart was a very knowledgeable and hospitable guy. Unfortunately he had to rush off for another appointment, which was not hosting Comedy Central's The Daily Show. That's John Stewart.

After Green Man, we checked out some of the many bars around the Patton Ave./Commerce St. corner. Local beers are everywhere. Scheduling conflicts are going to keep us from going to Pisgah Brewing, which is about 30 minutes outside of town. However, their beers were available at Jack O' The Wood and Yacht Club, just to name a few. The Thirsty Monk has 2 levels: American craft beers upstairs and Belgians downstairs. One visit was not enough, and we are going back tonight. Also tonight we are going to Barley's, which specializes in NC beers, and is rumored to have 20-25 local beers on tap at any given time. I will scope it out for you.

We are going to visit French Broad Brewing and Wedge Brewing today. There are apparently 2 more breweries opening soon/just opened, and we are going to try to find out where these are located. This brewing community is very close-knit, and they are happy to share information about each other. The evening is going to include the stops mentioned above, plus a sit-down with local Belgian beer expert Chris Dotson. The other highlight of today will a stop at Bruisin' Ales, the legendary beer store downtown here. We are going early, in order to prevent spending a small fortune on exotic beers after we've had a few. Tomorrow we head home to rest. This is hard work, people!

Here are some new beers that are getting tapped right now at Atlanta area Taco Mac stores:

  • Breckenridge Christmas is going in at Windward, Newnan & Lindbergh.
  • Corsendonk Christmas has arrived at Lindbergh & Suwanee.
  • Look for Tommy Knocker Rye Porter at Windward and East-West Connector. The Cocoa Porter is available at Perimeter as well.
  • Getting cold? Warm up with Great Divide Hibernation Ale at Decatur or Johns Creek, a Left Hand Snowbound Spiced Ale at Ellard Village, Peachtree City or Metropolis.
  • Hop heads, start your engines! Burn rubber to Perimeter for Great Divide Titan IPA, to Ellard for the Great Divide Fresh Hop, or Windward for Left hand Warrior IPA.
  • One of my all-time favorites, Lagunitas Imperial Red, can be found at Lindbergh and Ellard.
  • RJ Rockers Patriot Pale Ale is arriving at Peachtree City, and their First Snow Ale is about to be tapped at East-West.
  • Suwanee has one of the last Terrapin Oak-Aged Hoppy Monsters going in now.
  • Many more stores are getting their Anchor Christmas this week.
  • Woodstock has the He'Brew Jewbelation 12 right now. They also have 450 bottled beers, so if you need some unusual passport credits, you can defiantely find something there.
  • Lastly, if you have never had a Schneider Aventinus, get over to Winward. You can thank me now or thank me later. This beer is incredible. Manager Jason Everett is very passionate and knowledgeable about beer, so if your there, definately ask for him.

Cask Beer at Metropolis!

  • The cask program continues with our new beer engine at the Metropolis store. If you recall the Vanilla Gorilla from a few weeks ago, we are going to have another Red Brick cask this coming Wednesday. Their Peachtree Pale Ale will exhibit more of its true hop flavor when the beer is served cask-conditioned and hand-drawn. If you can be there, we tap the cask at 5 pm. The last one was empty by 6:30, so don't delay if you are interested in this unique beer experience.