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Beer City USA

July 20, 2011

It goes without saying that while visiting a town voted “Beer City, USA” by the Association of Home Brewers we’d enjoy our fair share of flights, pints, growlers, and – in our younger days – funnels. In Asheville, NC, we found no shortage of options to slake our thirst.

Whenever we visit a new place, we’re always eager to try the local brews. So our first stop was to Bier Garden where we lined up, and knocked down, offerings from regional brewers Green Man, Pisgah, and Highland. Nothing jumped out at us as exceptional. Certainly our first sampling of ‘Beer City’ brews didn’t tickle our taste buds the way other lesser known places, like Pensacola Bay Brewery did.

Thirsty Monk

Our next stop took us across the pond to the Thirsty Monk, where Belgian beers are a specialty. The great thing about the Belgians is that they’ll brew just about anything along with their beer, so the varieties are practically endless. On this day, we were in the mood for something different, so we had our knowledgeable, if not always attentive, bartender pour us everything from sour ales to a beer brewed with mustard seeds and aged in cognac barrels.

Prior to this tasting we had zero experience with sour ales, but I’d heard their taste described as ‘unique’ – which sounds like a euphemism for bad. ‘One weird-ass beer’ is how I’d describe Alvinne Cuvee Freddy. It went down like sour carbonated wine, filled with tart cherry and hints of barnyard – yup barnyard. Um-um good. This isn’t a casual drinking beer but one whose taste needs to be acquired. Freddy shouldn’t feel bad, though. After all, we just met.

The tastings improved incrementally from there, but we didn’t discover anything terrific in our search for something new. We did finish with an outstanding dark triple called Gulden Draak. But that’s no surprise; we love triples, and this one is awesome.

Bruisin Ales, Asheville, NC

Off the bar stool we found a great retailer, Bruisin’ Ales, which stocks over 900 beers ‘from around the world and around the corner.’ It’s the kind of place you’d expect to find in Beer City but can’t be sure you’ll find elsewhere. Leaving nothing to chance, we stopped in a couple of times to fill our cupboards for the long road ahead.

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