Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Asheville, Hilton Head, and the Triangle

After my diligent blogging in May with the brew course and Pints for Pets, I feel so lazy this month; partly because I was out of town for a while, which is a bummer because Adam and I might have been able to hook up for a pint.

Anyway, I did manage to drink and bring back some good beer because of my travels. My wife and I did a week on Hilton Head with her sister and her family. Amy and Jeremy and our two nephews, Jackson and Jude, had a great time at the beach. Did a lot of biking, sunning, and eating.

On the way there, Dana and I stopped for a day in Asheville, NC. I got to try some beers from Green Man Brewing (Jack of the Wood) and we of course hit the Thirsty Monk for some nice selections on tap. Of particular enjoyment was Ommegang Grand Cru Rouge, a wonderful sour ale on tap.

Before leaving town, I also hit up Bruisin' Ales, the best beer store in Asheville if not the state of North Carolina. I grabbed some Carolina beers and found some others not available easily here, such as a Struise Black Albert.

On Hilton Head, the only brewpub is the Hilton Head Brewing Company, which has been around for quite a while (mid 90s), yet every time we go there it consistently amazes me how they stay in business. The beers are usually mediocre and the food is hit or miss, but the service is usually good. There's just no WOW factor, but I guess as they don't have that much competition beer-wise, they get by.

On the way back from vacation, we broke up the trip again by overnighting in North Carolina, this time in Cary. We lived in Chapel Hill for a year and Cary for two, and this was the first time we'd been back since 1999. Other than some friends, we don't miss the Triangle. We drove around a bit to see what had changed, but didn't spend much time there. Beer highlights included buying two mixed six-packs at Trader Joe's for less than $12, and I also found some goodies at the Whole Foods in Raleigh. It amazes me that Victory Wild Devil sells at Whole Paycheck in Raleigh for $8.49, when it costs me $9.50 here in my own town in the same freakin' state in which the beer is brewed. Maddening.

We did hit the Weaver Street Market in Carrboro on Saturday morning for lunch items for the ride home, including a small piece of chaource cheese that we can't get in PA.

Anyway, the trip was good and I ate tons of great seafood and oddly, drank less alcohol than on any other trips to the beach ... must have been the sobering influence of my nephews :)

In other news, the remaining parts to for my new mash tun came in and so I hope to finish that this week in order to all grain brew a saison or a tripel in the next few weeks. I still have to buy a CO2 tank and regulator and clean out some kegs in order to keg batch 08B03 (yes, it's been sitting in a carboy this whole time) which still smells terrific. If I mess up the kegging, I won't feel too bad. I'd like to be able to take a keg to my family reunion on the 4th of July!

Finally, Dave seems to have made good use of my brew keg, burner, and wort chiller this past week for a barley wine and second runnings 'table beer'. Can't wait to taste those.

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