Thirsty Thursday: Asheville Breweries

8996654835 6ddddba226 Thirsty Thursday: Asheville Breweries

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Drink

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As Cinco de Mayo week winds down, I have good news and bad news. The good news is the recipes perk up. The bad news is my blog posts get shorter. Perhaps that is actually good news followed by even better news!

Today’s good news comes at you in the form of a Michelada con Camarones, or Spicy Beer Cocktail with Shrimp. I prefer beer or wine to liquor, but I can enjoy a good mixed drink from time to time. The key word – good – is one that I am sure differs for everyone. For me, good is a drink that tastes of more than just alcohol.

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This drink combines the flavor of a good Bloody Mary – one of my favorite mixed drinks – with a dark larger. A mixture of three fruit juices – tomato, lime and orange – is seasoned and spiced with Worcestershire, garlic and a chile pepper of choice.

Topped off with beer, I found it intense but enjoyable. It is not something I would want to order with a meal, but it is a drink I could sip throughout the afternoon. Preferably a sunny afternoon. On a white, sandy beach. Perhaps I will see you there. Cheers!

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Looking for something more suited to your tastes? Check out my Cinco de Mayo or 5 o’clock Pinterest boards for more Mexican-style recipe or cocktail ideas. Until tomorrow, enjoy!

Day 1: The Appetizer – Pumpkin Seed Salsa
Day 2: The Main Dish - Mexican Noodle Casserole
Day 3: The Side Dish – Baked Mexican-Style Beans
Day 4: The Drink
Day 5: The Dessert
Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: The Drink
Serves: 4 (pint glasses)
  • For the Glasses
  • limes or lime juice
  • chile powder
  • Up to 24 shrimp, cooked and peeled
  • For the Drink
  • 2¼ cups tomato juice
  • ½ cup lime juice, plus additional for the glasses
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ serrano chile or jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 bottles of dark lager of your choice (I used Dunkel from local Olde Mecklenburg Brewery)
  1. Dip the rim of each of four glasses in lime juice or ring a slice of lime around their rims to coat with juice.
  2. Then dip the rims into chile powder spread across a shallow plate.
  3. Do the same with the shrimp, dipping their tops into the chile powder. Set aside.
  4. Puree the tomato, lime and orange juices with the Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, garlic and chile or pepper.
  5. Pour the beverage into the prepared mugs and top off with a dark lager of your choice. (You might have a little extra beer left in each bottle, but that is okay. You can add it as you go along, drink it straight away, or use a larger glass to begin with.)
  6. Garnish with the shrimp and a lime wedge if desired. Using a wood skewer to rest the shrimp along top of the glass is recommended.

Happy New Year’s Eve Cocktail: Sparkling Rosemary Grapefruit Soda

Christmas 026 Edited Happy New Years Eve Cocktail: Sparkling Rosemary Grapefruit Soda

Happy New Year’s Eve! After a wonderful week that included visiting with family and friends, I have begun to look forward to the new year. Déjà vu? It is by complete coincidence that I chose to post a grapefruit-inspired drink on both last New Year’s Eve and this one.

I have wanted to make this drink for some time. The two times per year my girlfriends and I get it together enough to make it to brunch, we typically find ourselves at a restaurant that serves a very similar – if not the same – drink. It is delicious, refreshing and the perfect use for winter citrus. As suggested in the original recipe, the rosemary-infused simple syrup is also a great sweetener for lemonade.

Speaking of lemons, this Rosemary Gin Fizz Cocktail is another delicious drink that also makes use of rosemary. I drank a couple of those on Christmas day and found them lovely. I then made these Rosemary Grapefruit Sodas the day after Christmas. Given that I am just now posting them, I have resolved to be more attentive to my teeny tiny blog in the New Year.

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Last year, I wrote my resolutions were to practice yoga on a more regular basis as well as to make a galette, Charlotte and Baked Alaska. I succeeded at the yoga and the galette. I did not even try the Charlotte and Baked Alaska, and perhaps more surprising to myself, I did not care. Preferences change, and I decided I simply was not in the mood. Maybe I will get around to those desserts this year and maybe I will not. Either way, I’m sure it will be fine.

I have decided I really do not see a problem with making resolutions any time during the year. My goal on Memorial Day was to finish the five published Game of Thrones books by Christmas. I have been reading (which in this case means looking at  the book on my dresser) A Dance with Dragons since September. In my defense, I have read Gone GirlWhere We Belong, and A Casual Vacancy in the meantime, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

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Tonight, I have been invited to a party. I would prefer to stay at home and relax on the couch with a book (see above), but I decided to kick-start achieving my resolutions by getting out of my comfort zone. If you find yourself in need of a little resolution inspiration, I found the lists 32 Things You Should Stop Caring About and 25 Things You Need to Forget About rather enlightening.

This year, I struggled to choose my resolutions. At what point do resolutions cross the line into a plain ol’ to do list? The best I can come up with is to start rinsing with mouthwash. I brush and floss, so that next step seems logical.

I am also going to try to meditate, which for me simply means pausing for 15 minutes out of the 16 hours I typically spend awake. This means I must stop for just one of 64 of my 15-minute waking increments. This sounds achievable, yet I have been working on taking just these few minutes for myself  since July. I always tell myself that I will start tomorrow. This time, tomorrow literally is tomorrow. Right after I make cupcakes. Enjoy!

Christmas 040 Edited Happy New Years Eve Cocktail: Sparkling Rosemary Grapefruit Soda

Happy New Year’s Eve Cocktail: Sparkling Rosemary Grapefruit Soda
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup grapefruit juice (about two grapefruits)
  • 5 cups club soda or plain sparkling water
  • Ice, for serving
  • Rosemary sprigs, for garnishing
  1. Combine the plain water, granulated sugar and rosemary in a saucepan over high heat.
  2. Stir occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch, about three to five minutes.
  3. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the rosemary flavor to infuse throughout the syrup.
  4. When the time has passed, use a mesh strainer (or colander in a pinch) to strain the syrup into a pitcher. Discard the strained rosemary.
  5. Add the grapefruit juice and stir to combine.
  6. Immediately before serving, add the club soda or sparkling water and again stir to combine.
  7. Serve over ice and garnish each glass with sprig of rosemary.