"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Other Brewing Mayor

Colorado is a “purple state;” it is neither gun-totin’, truck-drivin’, tobacco-spittin’, no-schoolin’ conservative red nor is it lazy, good-for-nothing, bleeding-heart hippie, liberal blue.  Colorado is red and blue and every hue in between.  Political views are mixed; we could go either way in any election which is why Romney and Obama fight for our votes like Burt Reynolds and Tom Selleck over the last tin of moustache wax.  Most Coloradoans live within a stone’s throw of both a Democrat and a Republican but, luckily, we have a bipartisan factor that unites both sides: beer.

It’s no secret that Colorado is home to a beer-craving population and an exponentially growing number of breweries so why shouldn’t it be that our government doesn’t reflect that love of suds?  When talking about beer and Colorado politicians one would be remiss not to mention current governor and former Denver mayor John Hickenlooper who opened the state’s first brewpub.  But that’s the obvious answer.  What about current Denver mayor Michael B. Hancock

One couldn’t call Mayor Hancock a master brewer.  Before Wednesday, September 19th, he’d never been within five feet of a hop plant, he thought yeast imparted bitterness, and the craftiest beer he’d ever had was Corona.  Every beer geek has to start somewhere, though, and Mayor Hancock started the right way.

The Mayor arrives at Denver Beer Co.
Every beer geek knows the Denver-hosted Great American Beer Festival but few realize beer flows beyond the convention center; the whole city celebrates craft beer culture during Denver Beer Fest (Oct. 5th – Oct. 13th).  To commemorate the city-wide festival’s fourth year, its governing body VISIT DENVER collaborated with Denver Beer Co. and the Colorado Brewers Guild and invited Mayor Hancock to lose his brewing v-card.  With pumpkins supplied by Denver Urban Gardens and with expert guidance provided by Denver Beer Co.’s Charlie Berger and Patrick Crawford, the Mayor rolled up his sleeves, milled some malts, shoveled some spent grains, tossed a few hops into the boil, and brewed his inaugural beer on the Denver Beer Co. system.

Left to right: Charlie Berger, Mayor Hancock, & Patrick Crawford
The cynical among you may wonder just how much real effort Mayor Hancock put into the process and, quite honestly, he didn’t do a whole lot; he arrived wearing slacks, a crispy, starched shirt, and high-polish dress shoes—not exactly appropriate brewing attire.  It was a photo-op session through-and-through but, knowing that, it leaves just one question: who cares?

The Mayor is introduced to hops
It doesn’t matter that Mayor Hancock is a brew newbie, it only matters that he recognizes craft beer’s positive influence on Denver.  I wouldn’t expect the mayor of Pittsburgh to be a steel mill veteran and I wouldn’t expect the mayor of Detroit to assemble sedans in his spare time but I do expect them to support the industries that define their respective cities and that is exactly what Mayor Hancock was doing at Denver Beer Co.  Denver is the place to be for craft beer and the Mayor would be foolish not to give breweries their due props.

The Mayor cleans out spent grains
And due props he did give by touting the importance of small businesses and explaining the role beer has in shaping our city’s culture and image.  Mayor Hancock may not know his lagers from his ales but he knows a social movement when he sees it.  What better way to endear himself to local beer geeks than by talking smack about Colorado beer’s biggest nemesis: Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino, who, early this year, opened his big, fat mouth and let loose some hogwash disparaging Colorado beer.  Mayor Hancock gaffed in his initial response to Menino’s asininity by mentioning the wide-swath the mostly foreign-owned, Golden-based corporate giant Coors cuts in the beer market when he could have made a stronger argument emphasizing the numerous independently-owned craft breweries located right in his own city.  Nonetheless, one thinks that riding a grain-milling bicycle while simultaneously drinking a Hefewezien and shouting “Take that, Boston!” does much to smooth-over past flubs. 

It's good to be the Mayor
After pressing a few palms and cheesing for the cameras, Mayor Hancock left to attend to his mayoral duties.  The employees of Denver Beer Co. brought out trays of free beer samples for the media which, surprisingly, remained largely untouched.  The reason, I think, is because I’m used to covering beer stories and being surrounded by other beer blogger.  When you throw the Mayor into the mix, the story’s appeal spreads beyond the beer world and into general, public interest thus attracting real journalists.  Real journalists don’t necessarily jump on free beer like a beer blogger.  This would also explain why, when the Mayor exposed his brewing ineptitude, I was the only one chuckling to himself like a parent watching his toddler struggle with a simple task; hardly any of the media knew more about beer than the Mayor thus they didn’t understand the unintentional silliness of some of his comments.

Free media beer!
If this event proved anything it proves that Denver remains a solid craft beer mecca.  Two brewing mayors?  Not many cities can claim that.  Not to mention our hosting the Great American Beer Festival and our countless small, neighborhood breweries.  Raise your pints, Denver, and toast to your beer dominance. 

Want to get a taste of the Mayor’s beer?  It will be tapped at Denver Beer Co. on October 5th in time to kick-off Denver Beer Fest.  As of now, the beer is anonymous; go to the VISIT DENVER Facebook page and vote for your favorite name or submit your own.  The Mayor will announce the official name at the tapping party.



Friday, September 14, 2012

Beer Gets Beastlier at Brew at the Zoo

I have a three-year-old niece.  I have a girlfriend that teaches middle school life science.  I have a friend employed by the Denver Zoo.  Add it up and it equals me being at the zoo a lot.  Not just the Denver Zoo, either; I’ve been to zoos all over: San Diego, Indianapolis, Washington, D.C., and even Sydney. I’m a zoo advocate.  They rehabilitate injured and orphaned animals.  They're leaders in conservation efforts.  Most importantly, though, they bring the wildlife experience to city kids.  How do we expect the sons and daughters of urbanites to give two figs about the rainforest when the only tree they’ve seen was growing out of a sidewalk?  Why should they care about the polar bears going extinct when they only know of them through Animal Planet?  Kids need zoos to foster a connection between themselves and the great, wild world beyond.  We don’t need any more apathetic slack-jaws letting our planet go to hell; we got plenty of those already.  Some may derisively call zoos “animal prisons” but they’re blind to the whole picture—your bleeding-heart is misplaced, Mr. Granola, and would be put to better use elsewhere. 

I, for one, support my local zoo especially when support means drinking craft beer and that’s just what eco-conscious beer geeks had the opportunity to do during last Friday’s 15th annual Brew at the Zoo.  Proceeds from the event helped finance The Red Apple Scholarship Fund which allows people of diverse economic backgrounds the chance to interact with animals through educational programs.

Having attended the 14th annual Brew at the Zoo, Nicole and I had an idea of what to expect.  Nonetheless, there were a number of changes since last year.  For example, the Toyota Elephant Passage was but a pile of construction material in 2011; this year, it was open for exploration thus granting us the opportunity to see the eponymous pachyderms, the fishing cat engaged in its namesake activity, the elusive clouded leopard (so elusive, in fact, that a zookeeper said that he’s only seen them twice), and one of my favorite animals: fruit bats!  I’ve loved fruit bats for a while but my admiration for them was cemented last year when I saw wild ones in Cairns, Australia.
At the Toyota Elephant Passage
Get a good look of the clouded leopard now; it's the only time you'll ever see it
For those too lazy to go to the animals, roaming zookeepers with carry-on sized, non-lethal zoo denizens brought the animals to them.  Nicole and I met Short Stack, a pancake tortoise, an owl, and, for some reason, an opossum.  Did the zoo run out of animals?  Did the boss say, "We need another animal!  Quick, somebody go outside and grab the first thing you see!"  What's next?  A squirrel?  Jokes aside, all animals deserve to be protected, even nasty-looking marsupials. 

Ecologists say an ecosystem without diversity is weak and subject to cataclysmic extinction.  The same can be said about beer festivals that lack variation.  Thankfully, Brew at the Zoo boasts great brewery diversity, even more so than last year.  Less-than-a-year-old breweries like Big Choice Brewing, Lone Tree Brewing Company, River North Brewery, and Vine Street Pub & Brewery were present alongside veterans like New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Odell Brewing Company, Left Hand Brewing Co., and corporate giants MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch.  A healthy selection makes a beer festival and with 31 breweries, two cider houses, and 15 restaurant booths there was a metaphorical herd for which the predatory beer geek to prey upon.
As with any beer festival, details get lost in the mix: too much noise, too many breweries, too much beer in the system.  There were a few standout memories, though. 

As I mentioned earlier, I have a friend who works at the zoo.  That friend has a coworker who makes hats out of six-pack carriers.  My well-honed skill is making duct tape wallets so, half a year ago, we traded one Colorado flag wallet for one Left Hand Fade to Black hat which I wore to Brew at the Zoo.  While waiting in line for Milk Stout, I nonchalantly stuck my head in close to the pourers until they noticed what it was perched atop my head.  They seemed to get a kick out of it.

Copper Kettle Brewing Company’s Mexican Chocolate Stout is quite possibly the yummiest stout I’ve ever had but I’d only enjoyed it once, months back, so I lined up to get some more.  But, in this case, the beer’s not the story; the story centers on a nearby occurrence.  Two amorous Bactrian camels with libidinous urges brought out juvenile sex puns in the most mature guests.  Five humps: four of them nouns, one of them a verb.
Always a party at the CAUTION tent
CAUTION: Brewing Company’s headbrewer Danny Wang may not be a close, personal friend but we do recognize each other when we’re in the same vicinity.  For that reason, I was designated liaison when my friend wished to express her love for Lao Wang Noodle House, the elder Wangs’ restaurant.  I expressed my love for his beer so I got the last or second-to-last pour of CAUTION beer before they tapped out for the night

Remember Jared Pakele of Paramount Café that hooked me up with some awesome pre-Great American Beer Festival events last year?  I saw him last Friday, as well.  He told me this year’s events are going to be bigger and more numerous so, hopefully, I’ll be able to check a few of them out.

Although I didn’t participate (too busy drinking beer), other attendees seemed to be having a great time with giant Jenga, the silent disco, and live music.

Critics bemoan contemporary society for selfishness, for not caring about global crises, for having “first world problems.”  I think people care plenty about the status of the world, they just offer support through unconventional means—like drinking beer.  I can’t even pretend to know how much money was raised that night for the Red Apple Fund but, with the zoo selling-out tickets at $70 a pop, one imagines it was a hefty sum.  And it didn’t happen as a result of a black-tie gala, it came from shorts, t-shirts, local suds, and feral beasts.  Have a worthy cause that’s struggling for funds?  Have you tried beer?  It always brings people together and nobody bats an eye at donating $70 to charity when they’re rewarded with a rollicking good time and all the craft beer they can drink.



Drink a lot of beer and hang out with monkeys and this is liable to happen

Friday, September 7, 2012

After the Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 2

After experiencing the artistic ambiance of Wedge Brewing Company, Nicole and I headed downtown to Jack of the Wood, a Celtic bar and former home of Green Man Brewery.  The brewing equipment may no longer be housed on-site (as such, if it were in Colorado, it wouldn’t be eligible on Nicole and I’s brewery count—our requirement is that the beer must be enjoyed at its birthplace; the Buxton Avenue location would have qualified, though) but Green Man beer was nonetheless on tap.  I ordered the Porter (6% ABV), a black, red highlighted ale with short-lived, off-white foam.  It smells of milk chocolate or mild coffee with perhaps a hint of caramel.  The flavors are all-around light but with milk chocolate being the strongest of the weak.  A faint, roasted quality takes a backseat.  As in the aroma, there is a caramel sweetness deeply entrenched but an attuned palate can find it.  Porter finishes relatively dry except for a gob of spit that forms in the back of the mouth.

Just across the street from Jack of the Wood is the Thirsty Monk, a beer bar with a unique concept: American craft beer and appropriate décor upstairs, Belgian classics in a cellar-like atmosphere downstairs.  All due respect to the Belgians but I’ve said it before and, by God, I’ll say it again—I always drink local.  I wanted something from North Carolina, not from across the Atlantic.  We remained upstairs.

Ceiling of Thirsty Monk
I did, however, order a Belgian-style ale: a saison from Asheville’s Craggie Brewing Company.  There was a minor issue, though: it was served in a pint glass!  I begrudgingly admit that pints suffice (and I stress suffice; a pint is still the least acceptable of all acceptable drinking vessels) for most beer styles e.g. pale ale, IPA, porter, stout…etc. but Belgian-style beers—saisons included—ought to be served in a bulged, stemmed glass--tulip-shaped, if possible.  Belgian beers are famous for complex aromas and flavors of fruit and spice, it’s a shame to kill the experience with glassware that diminishes such unique attributes.  Think this is just beer snobbery talking?  How would you react if you ordered white wine and had it brought to you in a coffee mug?  The concept's the same.  Respect the beer; use appropriate glassware.  

Despite the cards being stacked against it, the beer still smelled and tasted quite lively.  Craggie Saison has a rocky head and a body that’s lemon-peel yellow when held to light.  It’s hazy but one can hold the glass at eye level and see what’s happening on the other side as if looking through a Vaseline-smeared window.  Nicole thinks I’m crazy (and perhaps I am) but when I first sniffed Craggie Saison I smelled cinnamon.  I also detected a touch of sour and an aroma like banana bread.  The flavor and aroma are alike—banana with suggestions of sour (like sour apples) in the aftertaste.  A Big Red-esque cinnamon flavor that only I seem to taste jumps up quickly then, just as quickly, fades away.  Like a typical saison, it’s light and finishes dry.         

We departed Thirsty Monk and drove to the nearby town of Black Mountain where we set up camp and visited our last brewery of the day: Pisgah Brewing Company Did I say in my last post that Wedge Brewing Company and Strange Brewing Company were similar?  Well, those two are fraternal twins; Pisgah and Strange are identical twins.

Pisgah from the outside

Pisgah taproom from the beer garden

Pisgah beer garden from taproom 
May the Lord help you if you don’t know exactly where you’re going when attempting to visit Pisgah.  This little brewery is tucked deep in an industrial strip with hardly a sign indicating its existence.  It feels like entering Fight Club when I walking through the front door: concrete walls, concrete floors, and nothing that doesn’t say “you’re about to be murdered by a backwoods psycho killer.”  Then, after navigating a short hallway, the mood changes from intimidating to welcoming.  Although concrete is still the building material of choice, the walls are adorned with artwork, flashy, colorful paper orbs hang from the ceiling, and an inviting wooden bar sits to the side ready to sate your beer cravings.  It’s a secret beer oasis, a reward for those with the ambition to search-out its unmarked location and brave its foreboding ingress.
Blueberry and Pale Ale

I ordered their Pale Ale and sat out on the beer garden i.e. the loading docks.  Pale Ale is a hazy, brassy color with thin head.  The aroma betrays something spicy—perhaps rye?  Likely, it's simply the hop character.  A very low level of bitterness and a slight hint of lemon, fresh-cut grass, and black pepper define the flavor.  I assumed there were Chinook hops in this beer and, after further investigation, I turned out to be correct.

Nicole, meanwhile, had a pint of Blueberry Wheat which she found delicious as it featured the eponymous fruit but didn't overwhelm the palate with sweetness.  

We camped in Black Mountain that night and headed back to Asheville the next morning where we chowed down on a southern-style breakfast at Early Girl Eatery, moseyed about The Botanical Gardens at Asheville, visited Bruisin’ Ales to make a mixer-sixer of local beer for our dog-sitting friends, and wound up at Asheville Brewing Company.

I had a Summa-Rye Lager whose artwork depicted of a Japanese warrior riding a surfboard.  Get it?  In fact, the whole establishment seemed to be based on puns.  Case in point: IPA the Fool with its gold chain and denim jacket logo and the Snidely Whiplash-looking art for Ashevillain Black IPA.  The food menu, likewise, reads like two college kids reciting pun-ified titles and lines from their favorite movies and TV shows: Lord of the Rings (onion rings), A Few Good Chicken Fingers, Gimme Your Tots (tater tots), and Homer's Garlic D'oh Knots.  

We drank what our bodies could handle in Asheville so, leaving many brewery stones un-turned for our next visit, we packed up and drove to Cincinnati.  There, we made camp at Big Bone Lick State Park (Tee-hee!), caught a Reds game, and enjoyed a post-game brew at Moerlein Lager House just across the street from the stadium (thanks to the Hoperatives for the recommendation).  I forget what I had at Moerlein because they were out of my first two choices so I eventually settled on something.  It was a house-made brew, I do know that much.  Nicole, on the other hand, ordered Roebling Imperial Robust Porter from Rivertown Brewing Company and quickly declared it one of the best beers she's ever had.  Shortly thereafter, we read some of that beer's reviews and saw that hardly a good word has been said about it.  This proves that all beer reviews should be taken with a grain of salt (mine included).  Our palates are unique; a majority of people may rip apart a certain beer but that doesn't mean that you won't like it.   

At the Reds game
Moerlein Lager House
The next day we kept on our northerly path, stopped in Oldenburg, Indiana to eat the best fried chicken ever at Wagner’s Village Inn, and eventually made it to my hometown of Marion, Indiana.  A major family reunion was slated to occur in a few days so Nicole and I took advantage of what little time of  rest we had by lounging on the porch, floating in the pond, and downing leftover beers from the Beer Bloggers Conference.  Luckily, most of my relatives are happy guzzling Bud Light so my stash of craft beer remained as untouched as a tofu sandwich at a NASCAR race.  I did, however, allow (encouraged, really) the few craft-centric kin I do have to dip into my supplies.

With the reunion over, there was nothing for Nicole and I to do but blast across the prairie and get back home to Colorado (with a stop in Kansas City to grub on that famous Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ).  It was the very definition of a whirlwind trip and, exhausted though we were, we hardly had more fun in our lives meeting new people, seeing new places, and drinking new beer.  We don’t have a century’s old brewing tradition, we have corporate beer giants sullying our good name, but, regardless, this country is truly the best when it comes to beer; vacations like the one we just experienced proves the point that, no matter where you go in America, there’s great, local beer to be had.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After the Beer Bloggers Conference: Part 1

The Beer Bloggers Conference had concluded but that didn’t mean we were headed home.  More beer was calling so, shunning the setting sun, we took I-65 South towards our next destination: Asheville, North Carolina.  There was, however, more fun to be had en route.

Windy Corner
Our first stop after Indianapolis was the Windy Corner Market in Lexington, Kentucky.  An old, rustic shack surrounded by gardens, situated at the intersection of two country roads, nary another building in sight; this place—the epitome of quaint—belongs in a bygone century.  Gazing out its windows, my eye saw nothing but impossibly green pastures, rock walls straight out of an Irish postcard, and grazing thoroughbreds retired from or preparing for the Kentucky Derby.  The food’s good, too; I indulged in a pulled pork sandwich which was delish and washed it down with an IPA from local West Sixth Brewing.

West Sixth IPA
We kept driving south until we crossed the Tennessee border.  There, we camped at Indian Mountain State Park and rested for the next day’s adventure at Dollywood.

Those who know me know I have two great, geeky passions: craft beer (obviously) and roller coasters.  You know from reading this blog how much I love beer and how much beer trivia I’ve crammed in my brain.  Now, transpose the subject matter to roller coasters and I’ll be just as enthusiastic.  Roller coasters and beer are similar, really; almost everybody likes beer and roller coasters (maybe not at the same time) but beer geeks and coaster freaks take their passions to whole new levels. 

This isn’t an amusement park blog, though, and due to the risk of losing my audience, I’ll get back to beer shortly.  It should be noted, though, that I count each individual roller coaster I ride and Dollywood boosted me to 252.  Nicole’s only at 65 but she’s a relative newcomer to the world of coasters.

Indian Mountain State Park
After getting our ride on, we drove over a slightly hilly road the locals claimed—I assume jokingly—was a “mountain pass,” and, before long, we were in Asheville. 

Before I go further, I’ve got a bone to pick.  Asheville is considered the craft beer hotspot of the East and, now that I’ve been there, I can see why accolades come so freely; breweries are abundant and they produce great suds.  However, I’m dubious of the fact that Asheville’s won Charlie Papazian’s BeerCity USA Poll four times in a row.

By Papazian’s admission, “BeerCity USA is about showcasing what is really driving the American craft beer phenomenon we are all enjoying. It’s about the view on main street, grass roots, community support; it’s not about mainstream data, averages and statistics.”  Thus, it’s anything but scientific; it’s based on opinion and that, honestly, is fine.  The problem, as I see it, is that beer cities with big populations will always defeat beer cities with small populations.  This year, Grand Rapids tied for first with Asheville and Michigan and North Carolina composed the highest voter turnout: 10,560 and 8,164.  The population of those respective states: 9,876,187 and 9,656,401.  The population of Colorado is 5,116,796; we’re competing against states with nearly twice our population!

The Rocky Mountains may not boast as many residents as the Blue Ridge Mountains but we do boast a lot of heart.  This year, the beer geeks of North Carolina decided to nominate three cities: Asheville, Charlotte, and Raleigh.  Colorado put four—four!—in the race!  In fact, Colorado put more cities in the poll than any other state including famous craft beer meccas Oregon and California.  We’re isolated, we’ve just a handful of people, but the community support for local craft beer is strong enough to overcome such hurdles.   

That community support may well be Colorado’s downfall: with so many nominations in so close proximity, votes get split.  In Asheville, the closest competition is Charlotte (129.94 miles by road), Raleigh (246.5 miles), and the next closest contender is Cincinnati.  Denver, on the other hand, is 29.26 miles from Boulder and 63.85 from Fort Collins; throw a baseball in downtown Denver and you’ll hit another BeerCity USA hopeful.  Plus, Durango was thrown into the mix this year.  They raked in mountain-town votes that would have otherwise gone to a Front Range city. 

Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins (maybe Durango, too; they’ve only four breweries but that’s a lot for a town of its size) are all deserving of the top spot but how does a Colorado beer geek choose?  I voted for Denver because it’s where I live but, if home was equidistant from each city, I’d have a much harder time deciding.  Other cities clump together and share votes (e.g. San Francisco/Oakland – Bay Area, Phoenix – Tempe – Scottsdale…etc.) but Colorado is divided and conquered.  If we were nominated as “Front Range, Colorado,” we’d have it in the bag. 

There are crippling faults in the BeerCity USA system resulting in wild inaccuracies.  Colorado can never win because we have too many beer-y cities and not enough people to give them the votes they deserve.  We have passion and community support in spades but we don't have the logistics.  For that reason, no city should feel bad for not winning and no city should brag too hard if they do win (hell, no city should feel bad if they fail to be nominated; I claim Indianapolis as a top ten beer city but it wasn’t even an option this year).  Personally, due to its erroneous nature, I vote we do away with the poll altogether.  Let’s all just be great beer cities and not worry about who’s “best.”  

Now that I’ve cruelly diminished Asheville’s achievements, let’s begin rebuilding our relationship with me saying I do believe that Asheville kicks some serious ass when it comes to craft beer.  Nicole and I visited a lot of local breweries and loved them all; it’s a fantastic place to grab a pint and it's the place to drink on the East Coast.  There, now don’t storm my house with torches and pitchforks, North Carolina. 

Gateway Kӧlsch

The first order of business after a lengthy drive was to visit Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria to stuff our faces and enjoy handcrafted beer.  I ordered the Gateway Kӧlsch from French Broad Brewery (tee-hee, "French Broad").  It’s a clear and effervescent beer featuring a thin, barely-there head.  It looks like dark champagne and showcases a yeast-forward, bready, dough-like aroma.  The flavor’s bright and lively—great for quenching thirsts on a sweaty, July day.  Like the aroma, the flavor is all about yeast but with the lightest imaginable level of hop bitterness.

Sufficiently sated, we travelled to our next destination: Wedge Brewing Company.  

Wedge is on the banks of the French Broad River (tee-hee, again) and many parallels can be drawn between Wedge and Denver’s Strange Brewing Company.  When driving south on I-25, one can look to the right and say “Hey, there’s Strange!  Wait, how the hell do I get there?”  Same with Wedge; you can see it when you’re crossing the Haywood Road bridge but I’ll be darned if anyone can figure out how to get their car to the front door.  Both breweries are in funky, industrial settings; neither brewery is in a high-end suburb, beer geeks have to travel less-worn trails when seeking either out.  Lastly, both have unpolished beer gardens situated next to train tracks.  The overall impression from both Wedge and Strange is that of a secret craft beer clubhouse: locals and stumble-upon tourists only!

Wedge is, well, wedged in at the bottom of a three-floor brick building that looks like it might have been a factory at one time.  Asheville is known for being artistic and Wedge’s neighborhood is exceptionally so—just above it are galleries and across the street is a glass-blowing studio.  This free-living Bohemian philosophy is reflected in the taproom—words that come to mind when at Wedge are “underground,” “indie,” “hip,” and “coffeehouse.”  I ordered Golem (9% ABV), a hopped-up Belgian strong ale, and took a seat on the equally avant-garde patio.

Golem is cloudy and the same color of orange as the homonymic fruit.  It’s topped with a thick but not mousse-like head—the foam isn’t malleable.  The smell of this beer is resplendent with quintessential Belgian yeast complexity: fruit and spice.  In this instance, the fruit is apple.  The flavor is big on orange zest both in its citrus and bitter qualities but the bitterness, while prominent, is not overbearing.  Coriander spice warms the mouth and a dry, yeasty aftertaste finishes off Golem.

I’m not through with you yet, Asheville!  Stay tuned for more from North Carolina.


I love Wedge's concert backdrop 

Artsy wall by Wedge

Inside Wedge