In which Sj and I manage to wander over miles of property and a million stairs at the Biltmore Estate and drink more beers.
Day 4 of our Asheville trip dawned bright and sunny, leading us to decide on this as our perfect day for the Biltmore Estate. I'm not going to get into much historic detail here since it doesn't revolve directly around beer or food. And hence is lower on my priority list. They were having a special costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit that Sj enjoyed quite a bit. We did the rooftop tour of the estate which was pretty cool. While you couldn't take pictures inside the house, you could do so from the roof.
Once we were done with our house tours, we drove to the Biltmore Village for lunch at Cedric's Tavern, named after the Vanderbilt family Saint Bernard. Looking online it was unclear if this was an actual brewpub or just a pub that served some beers, but by 1 PM we were starving and it was close. The food was very good though somewhat pricey. The beer sampler featured three house beers that were all decent but not stellar--the ESB being the best of the three. On further evaluation they have beers brewed for them by Highland Brewing, so not a real brewpub.
After a late lunch we wandered the expansive gardens and grounds around the manor. Having come from Minnesota where I struggled to find anything blooming at all, this place was a riot of flowers, leaves, and strange southern plant life. I switched to my macro lens and took lots of pictures. During our trek, we kept going just a little further, or taking the next fork in the trail, until we had been out walking for hours. We started the visit at around 11 and left the grounds close to 7 PM.
Hot, dehydrated, leg muscles jumping and spasming from unaccustomed activity, we headed straight for the Wicked Weed Funkatorium. Priorities! Mainly we did this since we had the car out already and didn't want to drag a case of bottles through the streets of Asheville on foot. We each guzzled several glasses of water (thank you kind bartender!) and sipped at another glass of the Red Angel sour raspberry beer. Seriously that beer was amazing! We also shared the charcuterie plate for some early evening sustenance.
After loading up our car with bottles of sour beer, we walked over to Tasty Beverage Co. a block away and shared a glass of a very bright and tart Italian lambic while buying a few bottles there to take home with us. We met a few locals there, who ended up trailing behind us at our next stop.
Not quite ready to leave the "brewing district" we went right next door to Twin Leaf Brewery. I liked the feel of this little taproom. The wide open building has a nice wooden bar with some other table seating, with full view of the small brewing system along one edge. Our server, like many in Asheville, was not a local. We shared a sampler to try most of the available beers. None of the beers were bad, but most were fairly middle of the road. They did have a lot of beers to choose from though! I imagine you have to really up your game to succeed in a city with this much competition for the craft beer dollar. My favorite of the beers was a fine oatmeal stout that I would easily put up against Samuel Smith. No food here other than some snacks, so it was time to move on.
By the time we got our car back to the hotel and beers unloaded it was pretty late and dark. And Sj was getting Hangry. That is Hungry-Angry and you do NOT want to witness it first hand! We couldn't decide on where to eat and many places were already closing down for the night (this was Monday night after all.) We ended up walking past a place (OK, maybe Sj led us to a place) called The Twisted Laurel and being happy that they had a late-night menu. They had mostly Mediterranean and American fusion food, that was good, quick, and filling. They also had a pretty good beer list including Alagash and New Belgium La Folie--unfortunately these were the only two that weren't on special. Typical that we have expensive tastes!
With just a little bit of energy left in us, we decided to visit one of the stops from our Eating Asheville tour: Sovereign Remedies. This bar appeals to those who love unusual drinks and has a frequently changing list of cocktails and smart staff of mixologists willing to improvise based on your own suggestions. They have a limited food menu that really appeals after a long night of debauchery as well as an herbal "Pre-Hangover Tonic" that you can drink prior to indulging. I ended up with some kind of strange citrus-laden Scotch concoction that was very different from what I normally drink, but I liked it!
Not bad for a day full of wandering! By the end of the evening we were dog tired, but ready to get going again the next morning!