In which Sj and I continue to loosen our belts in order to make room for some amazing food and drink! If you want more info on our previous days check out HERE, HERE, HERE.
Day 5 of our trip really started by meeting up with one of Sj's jewelry-making friends, Barb, and her husband Bob for a lunch at the renowned Tupelo Honey Cafe. While getting acquainted we broke our fast with a very filling and tasty meal. I got my "South" on and had classic fried green tomatoes and buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits. Yum! Of course I was full for the rest of the day, but well worth the indulgence.
Next we headed to a Cherry Tree Beads, a local bead store that mainly does on-line business but has a physical shop nestled in a warehouse outside of town. My jewelry making wife finally got to sate her bead addiction by rolling around in beads like Scrooge McDuck in his pools of money. I can't complain as she let me pack much of our car with beers to mule home, while her beads took up very little space...
Our friends then drove us a bit further to the new Sierra Nevada Brewery complex. Since the "real" Sierra Nevada is California, I hadn't really planned on visiting this new expansion project, but I'm very glad that we did get out there! We didn't make a tour, but I wandered around a little bit with my camera. As we pulled into the large parking lot, I was struck by the sheer immensity of the place. This makes the new Surly Brewery look like a children's playground! Solar power cells on large poles gather in light from above the parking to channel into green use for the brewery. Reclaimed kegs on poles form a line of bike racks. And copper, wood, and huge stainless tanks finish the picture. Wow! A we entered the taproom, three large burnished copper kettles off to the right make you know that you are in a brewery. The taproom itself is large with long high tables and solid stools.
Our server was very helpful and helped us navigate the list of over 20 tap beers available. They did do samplers, but they were very tiny (2 oz)--more to help decide what to get a pint of than as a drink unto themselves. I have been drinking Sierra Nevada beers for ages and thought I had tried most of them. I was wrong. Not all of these make it to Minnesota, and some seem to be taproom only, so there were plenty to pick from. Sj was happy with her Ovila Quad with Plums, and I settled for a Barrel Aged Bigfoot snifter. OK, I didn't settle, I was psyched to find that on tap! Talking more to our server, she was not a local, and had moved to Asheville when her husband took a brewer job with Hi-Wire. Based on her recommendation, we ended up heading there the next day. The food looked great, much of it incorporating Sierra Nevada beers into the recipes, but we were too full after out Brunch to have any room. We also dropped a fair amount of money in the huge and varied swag shop, loading up on tap handles, bar mirrors, Ovila, and shirts. Great merchandising!
By the time we got back into Asheville proper, it was time for our early dinner reservations at Curate. Pronounced Cure-Ah-Teh, this is an upscale Spanish tapas restaurant that was suggested by our wonderful niece, Anna. Still not incredibly hungry, we ordered a few plates to share and were very happy with everything we ordered. I'm a sucker for Jamon Iberico (the thinly shaved Spanish ham that is much like prosciutto. Tasty black footed pigs! I forgot to take pictures of the amazing food, but did get a pic of this strange Spanish ale that I drank with it.
From Curate, it being early evening and sun still shining, we headed back to the brewery district. Because that is what you do in Asheville! Wanting a nice desert beer, we headed back to one of our favorite local breweries, Burial, for their Bolo Coconut Brown Ale. I really did love that beer and that place!
After our quick stop, light fading fast, we headed back into the downtown area to visit one more brewery. This time we tried out Lexington Avenue Brewery, also called The LAB. We had passed this place several times on our wanders through town, but had saved it for a later evening as it was closer to our hotel. Even on a Tuesday night the place was fairly busy, but we found some seating fronting the sidewalk. The day had been warm and the inside of the brewery was a bit stuffy, but our seat allowed some nice cool evening air to circulate around us, as well as some great people watching as folks walked past. The place is fairly big, with an extensive bar. I liked the feel of it, and can tell there was some decent money put into the business.
Our server at LAB was very good and helpful, always a plus in my book. We ordered a sampler so we could try all the beers and some truffled fries that were tasty but difficult to eat as they were shaved so thin. The beers were pretty good overall, with only the cream ale really striking me as not great. My favorites were the light and refreshing Belgian table beer, and the Three Threads Porter, both very respectable. This place is worth a visit while you are wandering around Asheville.
With just one more quick stop at Sovereign Remedies for another impromptu cocktail, we headed off to the Hotel Indigo for bed!
Coming up next: Art! Admiral! Apples! And Beer!