Asheville’s Smaller Breweries — Lexington Avenue Brewery, One World, Ginger’s Revenge and Twin Leaf

The final post about Asheville … until the next trip.

I’m just going to plow through some of the smaller breweries in the area that might not be well-know beyond the town or state. During my final night, I was trying to get as many flights in that time and my tolerance would allow.

The Lexington Avenue Brewery is on, ummm, Lexington Avenue. Also known as LAB, the spacious  brewpub has a more modern, industrial space that overlooks one of Asheville’s popular streets downtown. They were about to close an hour early then I showed up, and the bartender was about to give me the stink eye until I asked fun questions about the beer to gain trust. Next thing I knew, she was giving me samples of everything and saying, “You need to try this … and this … ohhh this is new, let’s try this together.”

What I had:

Thumper Belgian Triple
1st Gear Cream Ale
The Knuckle Oatmeal Stout
Eleanor’s Rye
White Pony White IPA
Far Out Session IPA

One World Brewing was cool in a dorky way. Its a subterranean brewery, located in the basement of the Farm Burger eatery. Just follow the signs to the alley, follow the hippie music and head downstairs. Since it’s below street level, it’s actually a bit cooler and comfortable.

I had to roll my eyes at the gray-haired, pony-tailed tie dye cover band playing “Spirit in the Sky” and “Give Peace a Chance,” but ultimately, you just have to roll with it.

As part of their peace and love theme, they had a hemp beer, called Hempin’ Ain’t Easy. I couldn’t tell that it had hemp in it.

Chocolate Truffle Stout
Czech Yourself Before You Brett Yourself Saison
Hempin’ Ain’t Easy
Patcha Mama Coconut Porter
Citra Bomb IPA
Ashevegas Pale Ale

Ginger’s Revenge exclusively brews alcoholic ginger beer, but not a single redhead in the place. What gives? They had just had their grand opening when I was in town.

Basically, they have their base ginger beer, then there are added flavors. I found it delightful and enough ginger spice kick. This one to keep an eye on when they start canning.

Lime Agave
Orange Mint
Honey Chamomile
Original

Finally, Twin Leaf is in the middle of all the action south of the city center. Within eye shot is the Funkatorium, Green Man, Burial and Catawba. By the end of the night, I was using the bathroom every 30 minutes and all the beer was tasting the same. In any event, the milk stout was damn good.

Dark Matter Oatmeal Stout
Udderly Amazing Milk Stout
Luminosity Belgian Tripel
Hibiscus Wit
All You Feel Is Sound Saison
Elevensies English Bitter
Brett’s Last Batch Saison

For Family Fun in Asheville, Try the Asheville Pinball Museum

There’s plenty to do in Asheville if you get tired of breweries, barbecue and fresh mountain air. I’m a sucker for pinball. It reminds me of 80s arcades — the same you see in season two of Stranger Things.

It does seem like every city as a combo retro arcade and craft beer bar. In the Northeast, the inventor of the concept, Barcade, has six locations in New York, Jersey, Philly and Connecticut. They plan on expanding to Detriot and Los Angeles in the next two years.

If you want a family friendly throwback with the booze, the Asheville Pinball Museum focuses on retro pinball and new age pinball machines that shoot lasers and have fancy video graphics.

With dozen of machines at your disposal, you have plenty of opportunities to fail. You pay by the hour or for an all-day pass if you don’t want to see daylight.

The drawback is that with all that noise, you can’t hear all the sound effects from games like Ghostbusters, Metallica, The Walking Dead, Star Wars or Sopranos. They didn’t have my favorites, Indiana Jones or Twilight Zone, which I played on college for endless hours. In any event, they got a few retro games in the back room in case you want to get some Dig Dug into your time there.

If you need a little advice to rule your pinball game, here’s some quick video with tips from an expert:

 

Automatic for the People Turns 25, And You Can Still Visit Weaver D’s in Athens, GA

The iconic REM album, Automatic for the People, was released 25 years ago this year (Oct. 8th). It features some of their best songs — “Man on the Moon,” “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” and “Nightswimming.” I’m leaving out ‘Everybody Hurts” because it’s almost comically corny now.

If you find yourself in the band’s hometown of Athens, GA, you can visit the soul food restaurant that inspired the album’s title. Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods on 1016 E Broad S is not too far out of the way for you just to drive by or get out and take a picture. It’s actually across the street from one of those upscale multi-use apartment complexes with random businesses on the ground floor.

At one point it was going to close, but local outcry and support made sure it stayed open and operating.

When I paid a visit, I just poked my head inside to see what was up. You can get fried chicken and gravy, pork chops, collared greens, mac n’ cheese, fried fish and sweet potato pie to name a few items from the menu.

Despite Being Sold to Big Beer, A Visit to Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium is a Must

A month before I arrived in Asheville, local legends Wicked Weed announced that they sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev. The move was so controversial that other brewers backed out of the company’s annual sour beer festival in protest, while local bars refused to stock them anymore.

That’s just silly. It’s their company, they can do what they want. I remember when indie bands like R.E.M. and Death Can for Cutie signed to major labels, fans were offended.

My response is that there are 4,800 other breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev hasn’t bought yet, so go to them. In the meantime, let’s drink some Wicked Weed.

Since W.W. isn’t distributed up north, this was first trying the local favorite. The main location is a vast restaurant, tap room and bottle shop. Their line-up is just way too extensive to sample everything, so I made myself a mix-n-match pack to try later.

The real draw is the nearby Funkatorium, which specializes is barrel-aged sour beers. You’re in for a rare treat because a good portion of the beers never make it outside of the bar. Grab yourself a small flight and savor some funky beers.

The taproom, as you’d expect, is filled with dark woods and barrels that lead to the warehouse. The bottle shop is dangerous because of all the funky and rare beers, but it ain’t cheap. Some out-of-production bottles can run you up to $30. I opted for Arcanic, a Belgian Strong Ale that clocks in at 12.1% ABV.

With my little flight, it helpful to drink some barrel-aged water to cleanse your pallet. Also be aware of the fruit flies buzzing all around. As for what to get, pick your favorite fruit or style and they’ll something that fits that your flavor profile.

Here’s what I had:

  • Watermelon Saison
  • Medora Blackberry Blonde Sour aged in red wine barrels
  • Plainsdealer — Bourbon barrel-aged sour fermented with lemon zest
  • Khatta Masala — Barrel aged American Sour Ale fermented with mango and spices
  • Silencio — Bourbon Barrel-Aged Black Sour Ale with Coffee and Vanilla

Gravy Flights and a Jam Bar Are a Thing at Asheville’s Biscuit Head

I’m not a big breakfast kind of traveler. Afterwards, I just want a nap and it will slow me down. The world of brunch is something I avoid. In North Carolina and the vast south, you have to have a some biscuits and gravy, y’all.

Going to the popular and always crowded Biscuit Head was a no-brainer. When you don’t know where to go for great eats, just find which places that have their own cookbook and go there. Also, when their motto is to put some “mouth in your south,” that’s my type of attitude.

There are two locations, the closest one to where I was staying was at Biltmore Ave, but I drove around the parking lot and saw the 20+ line out the door. Thus, I went Haywood St., and for some miraculous reason, at 9am, there was no line. Once I ordered and took a seat, the line grew instantly to 10 deep. Great timing is a key to great travel.

So yes, gravy flights with biscuits is on the menu. That’s just too much yummy for a solo traveler. I just went with a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit sandwich with side of fried chicken gravy. I then took a few samples from the jam bar that had about 30 selection. They have some of those in jars to go, but I went with the sweet fire hot sauce to go.

It was the perfect amount of food where I felt sufficiently stuffed, but not wanting to crawl in a ball and take a nap. You know it’s good when your licking your fingers around the bowl to get all the gray you can.

Here are the gravies that are available, plus a gravy of the day. GRAVY OF THE MUTHA FUGGIN’ DAY, YO:

  • Espresso red eye gravy
  • Fried chicken gravy
  • Pork sausage gravy
  • House-made veggie “chorizo” gravy
  • Sweet potato coconut gravy
  • Mushroom medley gravy

The Thirsty Monk Is Where to Drink The Best of North Carolina Beer

Tthe website I trust for my drinking destination recommendation is Draft Magazine. Every year, they put together the top 100 beer bars in America. On that list consistently is The Thirsty Monk in Asheville.

After my visit, those Draft Mag peops know what they are talking. I’ve been to their recommendations in Nashville, Atlanta, San Diego, Portland, Vermont and Denver and the beer list and bartender knowledge were nothing but stellar.

The Thirsty Monk, a Belgian tavern theme place in downtown, has two levels of beer goodness. The downstairs bar, which is cooler temperature wise and has couch, is where you can find rare Belgian bottles that ain’t cheap. The ground floor serves simple food, a extensive tap list of North Carolina beers and their own Belgian-inspired home brews.

As it seems to be a thing in Asheville, the bar is filled with ironic beer paraphernalia and assorted humorous brick-a-brack. A toy monk holding a unicorn?!?!? How delightful! I loved the monk mascot so much I bought an empty growler.

Here’s what I had:

  • Brother Noah stout
  • Screaming Monk Belgian IPA
  • Holy Wit
  • Abby Blonde
  • CocoNorm porter

 

 

Beer Voyage — Oskar Blues, North Carolina

Hellooooooooo. Is it beer you’re looking fooooorrrrr. I can see it in your eyes.

Oskar Blues is another major craft brewery that chose the great state of North Carolina to build a production facility and tap room. This is one of two locations outside of their home state of Colorado (the other being Austin, TX).

Based in Brevard, NC, it’s a 30-minute drive from the beer mecca of Sierra Nevada’s North Carolina facility and a 42-minute drive from Asheville. While Oskar Blues is a well-known and well-respected brewery with Dale’s Pale Ale being a staple of craft beer, it’s not a “must-visit” for beer travelers.

The facility is if a drive bar made a brewery. It does go with the Oskar Blues brand in that it’s a little rough around the edges. The beer garden is sparse and on a 100-degree day, it was not optimal for day drinking. As you can see, the towering mural was under construction.

The tap room, where you enter through a gate of cans, is located above the tanks. It’s mostly a large merch store with a horseshoe bar and a few tables around.

The tap list has their year-long flagships (Pale Ale, Mama’s Little Yella Pils, Old Chub), rotating seasonals (Hot Box Coffee) and a few one offs. When I visited, I was looking at the chalk board to decided on my flight and happen to pick 3 out of the 5 were kicked. That’s all fine and good. I picked others. The next person did the same thing, the beers were out. OKAY! Here’s the thing. It’s a chalk board. Chalk boards come with chalk erasers. A simple three second swipe with the eraser solves the problem of people ordering beers that are not available.

Here what I did have:

  • Priscilla Pale Wheat
  • Amarillo Hopped Experimental IPA
  • Freedom Tickler French Saison
  • Fugli IPA
  • Beerito Mexican Lager