Another Super Saturday leads to another Thirsty Thursday. This seems to be how I like to kick off June. Instead of sticking around Charlotte, this time a group from Charlotte headed up to Asheville on a five-brewery tour. I am embarrassed to admit that after seven years of making a home just over two hours away, I had never made the journey west to enjoy all Asheville has to offer. Technically, I still haven’t enjoyed all the city has to offer, but I have enjoyed a good deal of their beer.
First stop: Wedge Brewing Company. At the end of the day, I proclaimed Wedge was my favorite. I loved the shaded outdoor area and the generally easy vibe I got there. If I lived in Asheville, I could see myself enjoying a beer under an umbrella there on any lazy Saturday. It was quickly pointed out to me that, while Wedge was great when we where there, it might not be so great if it were a rainy day. The long covered porch might offer some solace, but the bar area itself is teeny tiny.
I ordered the Noble Cider which - despite my professed love for Wedge – was not a Wedge beer! Instead, Noble brews the cider that Wedge sells. When we visited, the cider was so new that its release party had not even taken place. Ciders have held a special place in my heart since my college days when drinking Hornsby’s was a luxury.
I simply love the fresh, crisp taste of this type of beverage, and Noble Cider was a perfectly light but flavorful summer cider. While at Wedge, I did try a sip of their Hemp Ale, Oatmeal Stout and Witbier. All were something I would order, but the Witbier was particularly delicious.
Second stop: Highland Brewing Company. I have a friend who would say her hands-down favorite beer is Highland’s Gaelic Ale. I have never much cared for that beer, but I know Highland brews quality beer. I looked forward to visiting the brewery to try their many other varieties.
And try them I did. The spicy Razor Wit Belgian Wheat has usurped Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy as my favorite summer beer, and I can see myself drinking quite a few of the rich, chocolaty coffee Black Mocha Stouts this winter.
On a rainy day, I probably would have said Highland was my favorite stop of the day. They have a very nice indoor facility and a comfortable outdoor area. One of their beers certainly inspired my favorite review of the day. St. Terese’s Pale Ale was described as tasting like “a hop peed in a cup.”
Thrid stop: Green Man Brewery. Quaint is the word that comes to mind as I search for a descriptor for Green Man. The space is small (there is only one indoor bathroom!), but there is plenty of outdoor seating. Plus they have a Yoda.
This is probably one of the more goofy reasons to like a place, but I loved the way the Green Man logo changed according to season. It was fun to recognize one of the faces in our group of pint glasses was wearing sunglasses. Then I saw my Green Man was wearing a winter hat, while the girl who sat beside me had a Green Man with pretty autumn leaves in his hair.
A more reasonable reason to visit Green Man is for their beer (not their logo). I enjoyed the Summer Wheat (noticing a pattern to my beverage choices?). My notes on the day began to wane at this point, so all I can offer in way of a descriptor is “spicy, but not quite as spicy” as the wheat beers at Wedge and Highland. I know. You will just have to go there and see for yourself.
Fourth Stop: Wicked Weed Brewing. I was really looking forward to Wicked Weed. They advertised beers flavored with cucumbers and other beers flavored with plums! Neither was available when we were there, but I happily enjoyed the Passion Fruit Saison. As much as I liked this flavorful saison, the Tyranny Hoppy Red Ale ale was a mistake.
The individual responsible for the “hop pee” Highland review said the red ale smelled like a dumpster. My initial reaction was one of surprise. I had no idea my friend had such a dramatic streak. But he was right! It smelled exactly like a dumpster on a hot summer day, and once you had that smell in your nose, the beer tasted just like that smell. Not breathing in the aroma of the beer before taking a sip did not help. My friend was much more gracious about the situation than I, simply noting that sometimes things just go wrong. This was certainly one of those mistakes.
I was bummed that, after all of my anticipation, this was the most disappointing stop of the day. Wicked Weed gave off more of a restaurant than a brewery vibe, and since we stopped by during the Saturday night dinner rush, it was barely controlled chaos at the bar. If I make it back to Asheville before another seven years go by, I would definitely like to give Wicked Weed another try. Their menu looks delicious, and they have new beers advertised on a regular basis. I am presently intrigued by the sound of their Peach Habanero Saison and Black Angel Cherry Sour.
Fifth Stop: Lexington Avenue Brewery. We ditched Wicked Weed early and headed on down the street and around a bend to LAB. If you thought my notes on Green Man were bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I got off my wheat beer kick and enjoyed the Cream Ale here. Our waitress described it as the lightest beer they brewed. Shy of trying all LAB beers, I will agree.
Like Wicked Weed, Lexington Avenue had a good looking menu. I had the opportunity to try the Drunken Chicken – grilled free range chicken, whiskey glazed bacon, arugula, caramelized peppers and onions on a house made hoagie – and was happy with the results. Not astounded, but happy.
Across the street from LAB, the storefront full of lit paper stars at Chevron Trading Post caught my eye. I took about 20 gazillion pictures of those stars, but I will leave you with just this one. I am glad the store was closed by the time I arrived or else I would have likely bought one…or two or three. Plus, I need a reason to go back, right?