Is the end of a vacation really the worst part? After a glorious week in Asheville our time in Western North Carolina was nearing the end, as well as its crescendo. This time the end was the icing on top. Wether it was the extremely hip and convenient confines of the downtown, or the expansion of districts like South Slope and West Asheville, the 828 was in full bloom. This final recap of our journey will spotlight some amenities that extend beyond Asheville proper.
|Bold Rock Hard Cider|
Our lovely tour guides and their awesome daughter knew just where to begin the day. A short drive away is the newest location for Bold Rock hard cider, a back to basics take on pressing apples into adult libations. Mills River and the bucolic back drop of tree covered mountains provide a laid back atmosphere. The tap room nestles itself along the production room—think modern warehouse with a purpose. Once the options were surveyed we decided on three tasting flights. The little lady had her self a nonalcoholic cider (another reason this place is cool, kids have an option too). There was a pair of ciders that stood out. The first and perhaps best, was Bold Rock's Premium Dry (6%). It reminded me of Golden State Cider. Yet this dry cider had much more of a champagne feel to it and less fruit in the nose, which I like. Another fine example was the Dry Hopped (4.7%). This was as complex as any pressed spirit I've experienced. The long story short; west coast hops meet Blue Ridge apples—delicious. Bold Rock was worth the drive.
A quick trek led us into the Disney-like theme park that is Sierra Nevada's newest location. Also located in Mills River, this California trend-setter has set up shop in the grandest of scales. The taproom, restaurant, gardens and stage feel almost too wine-country-like. It's an added perk however when all of the amenities are top-notch, new and clean. After wondering the grounds it was time to settle in for some much needed lunch, and of course, more beer. Our hot wings and salads were super tasty, as was the cheese fondue dip, mmm. There were four ales that stood out. Two of the three were saisons. Brew Love Saison (6.2% 32 IBU) was a great interpretation of a traditional saison. I'll be looking for this in California. The Tropical Saison (6.5% 23 IBU), a theme I tasted quite often in NC, was more nuanced than the latter. It's bubbly carbonation helped to push the fruit forward aromas. Perhaps the tastiest IPA of the journey was the Audition DIPA (7.8% 67 IBU)—another great ale I hope to see out west. This double was very clean on the palette and not too hot, as the lower IBU would suggest. Dare I say it was Russian River-like. Last but not least was the Pub Pale Ale ((5.6% 38 IBU). I got the feeling that this was an in-house only ale. It possessed a luscious mouth feel with good texture, an unfamiliar trait that created a smooth finish. I'm glad we went to the biggest damn taproom I've ever seen.
Back in Asheville there's a great local tavern on Church Street. Foggy Mountain Brew Pub was a friendly bar and grill that seemed to be more of a locals' spot. Their service was friendly and inviting, furthering the already chill aesthetic. I suggest stopping in for their balsamic Caesar salad and an order of fried pickles. Also, peep their amazing bathroom signage. The Spoaty Oaty Pale (5.6%) from Appalachian Mountain Brewing was knockdown good. I'm pretty sure we ordered more than one round of these. I mean come on, an Outkast inspired ale! Another thing, Asheville's beer pricing was on point. Rarely, if ever, did we pay over $5 for a pint. Speaking of not paying outrageous prices; check out Hi-Wire Brewing. Hi-Wire hosted the wedding party. Due to debauchery there's no review.
|Wedding at the S&W|
The whole reason we were in North Carolina was to celebrate two of the liveliest, kindest and most fun people I know. Rojo-linger and Pesci were tying the knot, as beautiful couples often do. They created a one-of-a-kind wedding that was magical for everyone who attended. Thanks for making it special. Congratulations to my friends, I love them very much.
My trip to Asheville was long overdue. I'm so appreciative of the people who made it memorable. I had an amazing time.