I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 1 of Asheville with a Really Thirsty Monk

Have you noticed that "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" is getting better with age?  You even get random Jazzy Jeff sightings, which sadly never occur in Blockbusters like Independence Day or Hancock.  All they had to do was give Jazz one awesome line in an alien movie and it would've made that movie a million times better and his career.  I seem to recall Jazz never really spoke even when he was the DJ, and Will Smith was the rapper though, so maybe it's mute like Terminator X, who speaks with his hands.  What does this have to do with Asheville?  Nothing really, except this show is one of those shows that you'd never watch at home in a million years, but is perfect to have on in the hotel room while you're getting ready in the morning for your days adventure.

Leaving Cincinnati for the mountains of North Carolina was great prospect.  We've all seen mountains and just because it's been awhile for me, I don't need to bore you with the details of the sights because I live in a swamp nowadays, but mountains kick the ocean's ass repeatedly.  

Enter Asheville.  

We had dinner at some place called Uncle Tupelo Honey or something which is allegedly "world famous."  I love that phrase, "world famous" as some small restaurant in a mountain town has been dined in by some denizens of French Guyana.  Basically, if I haven't heard of it, it's not world famous.  The Great Wall of China is world famous as is the Eiffel Tower.  I'd say Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan are world famous, and perhaps nobody is as world famous as Muhammed Ali, but the Uncle Tupelo Honey Café, just a great restaurant that's constantly loud and crowded.  It may have been nice to have breakfast there, but when you find a breakfast place that's incredible (and there are several in Asheville) right next to it that is more peaceful called, the Early Girl Eatery, that has a pulled pork breakfast bowl which goes great with a side of bacon and somehow caters to vegetarians as well, you gotta go for it twice, even if the second time turns out to be louder than the Tupelo Honey but with more bathroom space. 

My favorite part of Tupelo Honey was the local flights of beer.  Seeing it was our first place, it seemed like the beer possibilities were plentiful, but had we gone there towards the back end of the trip, well, we would've tried them all by then.  Here's our flight:

(cue Blackalicious' "First in Flight" song for background music)

French Broad's Gateway Kolsch, which we had tried at our hotel (a free tasting came with the room on two beers).  French Broad by the way isn't a "sexy lady" beer.  It's named after the local river basin, but obviously the jokes can be made aplenty. 

Pisgah Pale Ale was really good, but this isn't the time for local beer reviews.  Over the course of our trip, we went to 7 different local breweries and 3 more beer houses and had a variety of beers.  I'm sure close to all will be reviewed over the next few days ... or a week or so as I initially meant for this to post on Tuesday, and here it is Thursday.  

Green Man IPA
French Broad Wee Heavy-er Scotch Ale. 

After a nice Wee Heavy-er walk around, we ended up at what would become our favorite watering hole, The Thirsty Monk.  If you like Belgian Beers, this is the place for you.

The first beer I had to have wasn't from Belgium at all, it was in fact, from New Belgium, proud makers of the WORLD FAMOUS Fat Tire, and what I hoped would be a great dessert beer with the Abbey Grand Cru.  Oh la la.  Quite possibly thee perfect dessert beer, and at 9.5% alcohol, it's gets you started on a lovely evening.  Though it tastes nothing like the legendary Golden Monkey (it's much sweeter for starters) it does that same job.  After being bloated off of some seared Tuna, I can now drink beer again.  This turned out to be my magical beer of the trip. 

Ordering it wasn't easy though, as I saw that little elf troll like dude that adorns bottles of La Chouffe.  My first La Chouffe experience was one of the crispest beers I've ever had (I love crisp beer more than Crispin Glover) so I was excited for this one, called the Houblon which was part IPA, so we saved it for last.  Many of these beer places in Asheville serve half pints which if your splitting beer with a loved one, are definitely the way to go over flights.  Both forms however are what enabled us to try so many beers on our journey without getting too drunk.  After Angi finished up her Urthel Saisonnaire, we started half pinting the ones we hadn't had before. 

Here's the Saisonnaire: (sadly no picture of the Grand Cru)

Angi loved the Unibroue Ephemere Cassis, which is possibly the fruitiest beer I've had in my life.  The good part is it wasn't too sweet, so it wasn't one of those obnoxious fruit beers, but my macho self couldn't drink too much of it.  It's probably another good dessert beer.  The two below are said Cassis along with the Orville Saison ...

which was apparently brewed at Sierra Nevada, but aside from Sierra Nevada's machinery, they had nothing to do with the process.  What made it so good was the fact that it tasted so similar to our Saison.  I like beers that make me feel like we're doing something right. 

These two are the Scotch Silly which I'm most likely too scared to ever drink again and the Weyerbacher Verboten, which had it's own thing going on, like a semi-sweet pale ale.  Interesting.  

We ended with the underpants gnome brewery known as La Chouffe and they're Houblon as well as Urthel's Hop-It, which we sadly do not have pictures of.  Part of the reason I love Belgian beers is because they're rarely hopped out.  These were intentionally hoppy (after all they were part IPA).  Angi loved'em.  I thought the Urthel Hop-It was pretty good because it wasn't too hoppy.  La Chouffe?  I'll stick with their original crispin glover beer that I currently don't know that name of. 

After all these beers, we walked upstairs, into their other bar.  The American one.  

It wouldn't be me without assigning numerical values to all the beers I tried right?  Well, here ya go:

New Belgium Abbey Grand Cru (9) - A 10 if your looking for a dessert beer.  An 8 if you have it any other time.

Urthel Saisonairre (8)
Ephemere Cassis (6) Just way too fruity for my tastes, but great at doing what it's doing.
Ovila Saison (9)
Weyerbach Verboten (9)
Scotch Silly (5) Like I said, this one scared me.
Urthel Hop-It (7)
Chouffe Houblon (5)

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