Oskar Blues

Moments in Asheville 2014

The Wicked Weed.

The Wicked Weed.

Asheville, NC, three weeks later and I’m still thinking about all the fun, cool places and the awesome beer all over the city. In this post, I will write a bit about the bars and breweries we visited and try to do them justice with words and pictures. I just wanted to share some of the spots and events I checked out during my time there.

My first stop during my trip was the Thirsty Monk (Awesome name for a brew pub, if I do say so myself). We stopped by their newest location — they now have four in total — in Reynolds Village. They had a special Belgian beer event with over 20 Belgian style beers. The samplers were $15, if I remember correctly, for three waves of four 4 oz beer samples. Local beers from NC and the nearby regions were what were offered such as Oskar Blues, Lexingston Ave Brewing, Wicked Weed and Highland Breweries to name a few of the many on tap. The event was packed, but we managed to find a table outside. The weather was perfect. It was nice and cool with the fresh mountain air breezing nicely, it was a very nice change to the hot and humid South Florida weather and perfect for some Belgian style beers. A couple of my favorites were Big Boss Brewing’s Zombie and Oskar Blues Tickled Pink.

Altamont Brewing co. which we stumbled across after a little league baseball practice, is just a cool, chill spot. In order to get in, one of us was required to become a member of the brewery which was just $1 and is required to by law by NC to any brewery that doesn’t serve food. The brewery is dog friendly, has a ping-pong table, indoor and outdoor seating and live music. The event we went to had a rotating tap every couple hours with new brews being untapped. We played some ping pong while we sipped on our brews and then moved outside and had a Strong ale, that sadly I can’t remember the name of because it was pretty damn good.

One of the coolest, unique places we got to visit was Beer City Bikes in downtown Asheville. BCB is a bike shop with a beer bar in the middle of the shop. This is right at home for me and my girlfriend who were riding around the city on our bikes exploring before a beer and cheese pairing a few blocks away — more on that later. The bar was set in the middle of the shop surrounded by bikes, gear and stationary cadence machines. This would probably one of the spots I would be at at least once a week if I lived near by it was such a cool, chill spot for cyclists and beer lovers to hang out and grab good local beer. One of my favorite spots I got to check out in Asheville easily.

The Wicked Weed Brewing in Downtown Asheville serves as the brewery and restaurant. The upstairs had a bar and seating both indoor and outside while the brew room and tap room were downstairs that also had a outside area with benches and a stage for performances. The downstairs bar had over 30 beers on tap and if it wasn’t for the special Menage-A-Freak Triple IPA being released that night I would’ve had a hard time picking out what to drink. I’m glad I managed to get a taste of the Menage-A-Freak, since its a very limited one week release for Asheville beer week once a year due to its brewing process. Menage is a Triple IPA with an 11.4% ABV, but felt very smooth. Only wish I could’ve had another opportunity to try it again and write about it a bit more in depth. Wicked Weed was one of the larger breweries I managed to visit while I was there and a local favorite for good reason, usually very crowded with beer lovers at all times of the day. When I make it back again, I will definitely make my way to the “Weed.”

The Wienhaus was one of the last stops we made while in Asheville. We purchased two tickets for a cheese and beer pairing and explored the inside of the shop. They had wines, local and imported cheeses and of course beer. There was also a bar that served beers from the bottle and tap as well as wine by the glass. They had very nice selection of beers from all over NC, the US and imported brews too! They even had the giant Magnum style beer bottles that you can see below for sale. The event was for four beers with four different cheeses paired specifically for the brews picked. The beers were first picked by the shops son who runs the bar in the Wienhaus and the cheeses were the then picked by the affineur or cheese expert based on the taste, feel and ABV of the beers. To be honest, I think they did and amazing job selecting the cheeses for each respective beer and they paired nearly flawlessly. It was a fantastic experience and tons of fun. My favorite beer was the Green Man Brewing ESB and a couple of the cheeses that stood out were the beer cheese and the comte which is a french style gruyere — I thought was exquisite! Each table got a platter of cheese which we shared with another beer lover. It was awesome to taste and compare thoughts on the brews and cheese pairings with the others there. At the end of the event we were given a Asheville 2014 pint glass, which i will be giving away in my next post. Details on that soon.

Our final stop before we hit the road back home didn’t have anything to do with beer, but I thought was very cool and should be shared with you. Dough, a very sweet bakery (pardon the pun) in Asheville that bakes and creates very delicious baked goods! They even hold classes weekly for children and parents to learn to create crazy baked goods. This was probably the one non-beer related spot I really did not want to miss. A really good donut is something I really enjoy. I’ll let the picture spread for itself. Note: not pictured a half dozen donuts for me to take home. They were just as good!

As mentioned earlier stay tuned for my next post which should hit very shortly on how to win the Asheville beer week 2014 pint Glass. Until then Cheers!

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Review: Oskar Blues Ten Fidy

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Keeping with my recent trend, I’ve decided to keep experimenting with stouts as I’m committed to trying a wide range of them. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been a fan of other beers that Oskar Blues brews. Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, is a Russian style Imperial Stout. It is 10.5% ABV and is brewed in Brevard, North Carolina. Oskar Blues was actually originally located in Longmont, Colorado but in 2013 they opened up a second brewing facility in North Carolina where they offer tours and have a taproom as well brew all beers Oskar Blues is known for.

Ten Fidy is shipped in a can as opposed to a bottle, that is what most people are used to. Oskar Blues ships all their beers in cans and I’m sure it gets over looked as a brewer by many because of it. It’s a common misconception by many who aren’t aware of the positives a can offers. Plenty of people think beers shipped in a can aren’t as fresh or that it taste like metal because it’s contained in aluminum. Thats not the case. Cans actually prevent ultra-violet light from hitting the beer and keeping the beer tasting as fresh as possible for longer since cans they aren’t translucent. Cans have made a comeback in the beer world and for good reason. Same amount of beer as a bottle, less weight, cools better and is cheaper to produce.

Ten Fidy has some serious power and flavor. The flavors I got most consistently were chocolate, toffee, malt, barley, a coffee after taste and hints of vanilla. It was rich with good texture and packs a punch. Ten Fidy poured pitch black with a beautiful tannish-brown head. I poured it into both a pint and snifter glass on different occasions. I would probably try to drink this kind of beer out of a snifter if I had the glassware for it. Being a beer with a higher ABV this is a nice sipper. Doesn’t hurt that you’ll want to sit back and savor the rich flavors.

The aroma of the beer was interesting to say the least. It wasn’t bad or pungent by any means, but I felt like it almost didn’t fit the taste of the beer (maybe i got a hold of an older batch). I got very subtle notes of chocolate, hazelnut, vanilla and malt, but for some odd reason had a smell of green olives, it was bizarre. It didn’t ruin the flavor for me or the experience of the brew, but it did throw me off a bit while I was trying to uncover the other scents the beer had.

I can add another stout to my list of beers that I enjoy and I’m actually starting to crave them more and more as I try the ones I like. My stout list is starting to grow and with it my palate for the tastes and ingredients used to make them. I wouldn’t hand this beer to someone who just likes a Guinness or run of the mill stout, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for something full of flavor, can handle the ABV, enjoys the complexity of flavors and likes stouts. As long as the slightly off smell doesn’t bother you, which i don’t think will once you start drinking, I think you’ll love Ten Fidy. I’m still very new to stouts, but I feel this is one of the best I’ve had yet!

Total Wine Beer Ride

A couple days ago I decided to go for a ride to my “local” Total Wine. I don’t exactly live too close to one, but I hadn’t been to one in a while and needed to get up to buy a couple of beer tasting tickets and check for some beers I wanted to try out.

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The ride was actually pretty smooth. I tend to bike anywhere from 60-90 miles depending on the week, so a 25+ mile bike ride isn’t out of the norm. It took me just under an hour to make it almost 15 miles from home to Total Wine. Since I was biking, I had taken my Chrome messenger bag–with just a banana, water bottle and wet wipes, to wipe myself off when I arrived–I had limited space on what I could carry back home with me. Which honestly, might’ve been a good thing considering I would either be there for too long, a couple hours easily (I love Total Wine) and would spend more money than I probably should. I can actually fit quite a bit in my bag, but it had more to do with weight and ergonomics of having beer bottles on your back for an hour ride or so. However, I digress.

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My goal for this beer haul was to find anything that caught my eye, something I hadn’t had or wanted to try again and grab a couple stouts that I’ve read up on or have been recommended. I think I managed to achieve what I sought after.

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I’ll begin with new beers that I’ve never tried prior to this trip: I picked up a Don De Deiu, by Unibroue, two cans of Ten Fidy, by Oskar Blues, two St. Martin, by Brasserie De Brunehaut and a Chocolate Stout, by Rogue Brewery.

My favorite Unibroue beer is probably La Fin Du Monde. I usually suggest it to anyone looking for a good, not very hard to find and different than something that isn’t a typical domestic beer. Tres Pistoles is also a great beer that I enjoy very much from Unibroue. With that in mind, I picked up a bottle of Don De Deiu.

I’ve had few different beers from Oskar Blues before and especially enjoy Dale’s Pale ale and G’Knight. I decided to pick up Ten Fidy after looking up and being suggested to try this particular stout. I picked up two cans, one for my friend, John, who at the moment is my main man for stout recommendations, and one for myself of course.

Back to Stouts. As I’ve mentioned previously in posts, I don’t have much experience in stouts, but I would eventually like to expand my taste. I did finally find one that I think is exceptional and am now very hopeful I’ll find more that will make me enjoy Stouts and Porters as much as many of you do.

I’ve never had nor heard of Brasserie De Brunehaut and was just browsing the Belgium imports section when the bottle caught my eye. This is the perfect time to try something I’ve never had. I’ll get back to you after I’ve tried them out.

Now to the two beers that I’ve previously had: Abt 12, by St. Bernardus and Le Freak, by Green Flash Brewery.

I picked up the Abt 12, by St. Bernardus, simply because I think its great. My girlfriend, who has been amazing helping me along the way with tasting and getting the blog up, also really enjoys Belgium style Dubels, Tripels and Quads. I got this one for both of us to share and because I hadn’t had one, in what I felt was too long thought it was a great beer to share with someone special.

Lastly, Le Freak, by Green Flash brewery. I tried this at a YardHouse and the description simply said Imperial IPA. Le Freak is actually an American style Belgian IPA. I finally got to try this about a week ago and boy was it something I wasn’t expecting and was very pleased with. I’ve had numerous beers from Green Flash and they’ve usually been right up my style of adding a decent amount of hops, so I was expecting something a kin to Hop Head Red or West Coast IPA. However, what it ended up being was an Imperial IPA, similar to Dogfishhead’s 90 minute, but fused with a Belgium Trippel and it was awesome.

I will be posting up some thoughts on some, if not all of these brews very soon. I’ll try and bring you guys more from my bike adventures to find some great beer as well as bringing you along for some cool and crazy plans I have working to share. If you have any thoughts, suggestions or ideas you’d like to see don’t hesitate to leave a comment. As always, hope you all enjoy some great brews. Cheers!