Last week was quite a unique week-long brewpub crawl for me. It all centered around going to see the Raconteurs in the ATL on Wednesday and the Black Keys in Asheville on Friday. Those are two of my favorite bands going right now (well, more so the White Stripes, but the Raconteurs are still a great band.) So I knew going in it was going to be a good week.
In addition to seeing some awesome live music, I had the chance to visit some good brewpubs. My adventurous week started the weekend before at the Dunedin Brewery in Tampa, which I chronicled in a previous post. I had a couple days to recover from that excursion and it was off to Atlanta on Wednesday.
The artisan cheese plate at Five Seasons
Nicole’s parents’ graciously hooked us up with a gift certificate to Five Seasons Brewing, which we hit before the Raconteurs’ show. The Five Seasons is a first-rate high-end brewpub. The food was great and their lineup of beers was solid top to bottom. We got the “extended” sampler, which featured a few “secret” beers they had on tap but don’t readily reveal to everyone. (This was one of my first experiences of z-list celebrity and I have to say, it was pretty cool!) Here’s a quick summary of the beers we sampled:
- Munich Helles – Medium-bodied lager with light hop flavor; not as dry as many light lagers.
- Festbier – Slightly more body than the Helles, but not as sweet or malty as many Oktoberfest style beers.
- Copperhead ESB – This was my favorite. It had a very complex flavor. It starts with some gentle hop flavor, but it finished a little sweet. Usually it’s the other way around. A great beer to experience.
- Nut Brown – Deep walnut color. Fuggles hops gives this beer an earthy character. Easy drinking and not too sweet. It’s dry hopped, so there is a subtle hop character that is absent from traditional English brown ales. My second favorite session beer after the ESB.
- Tripel – Fruity and sweet with a slightly sour finish. Nice spice, moderate, but not over the top like some Belgians.
- Unfiltered Porter – Intense roasted coffee aroma and flavor. Bitter, dark chocolate finish.
- Barleywine – We must have been really good, because right as we were wrapping up, they brought us a barleywine sample. There is no better way to finish a meal than with a barleywine. It was sweet velvet. I wish I had a cigar to enjoy with that beer.
I wanted to give a quick shout out to Big Ken, our gracious beer provider, and David, who was training with Ken that evening. They did a great job and made us feel right at home. If you’re ever there, you’ll know Big Ken when you see him. Tell him I sent you. He probably won’t remember who the hell I am, but at least you can confuse the hell out of him.
The Raconteurs show at the Tabernacle was phenominal. We were on the floor about 15 feet from the stage. They started out a bit close to the vest, but once they hit a 10 minute version of Blue Veins they truly entered the Benioff zone. They also did a sweet extended version of Broken Boy Soldier, and of course wrapped up the encore with Carolina Drama.
On a beer note, the Tabernacle had some nice choices, including Sweetwater 420 and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It was a very cool place to see a show and they get awesome bands to play there. I’d never want to live in a big city, but the music big cities draw is definitely tempting.
Friday it was off to Asheville for the Black Keys at the Orange Peel. We started off the afternoon at Jack of the Wood, which features Green Man Ales, brewed a few blocks from the pub. After a round we went to the tasting room at the brewery. There I was able to enjoy a couple pints of cask-conditioned IPA. It was creamy, hoppy wonderfulness. If it wouldn’t have put me on my butt, I would have had a couple more pints, but I had a long night ahead so I had to cut myself off. I have discovered a new love, and it is cask ale. I hope Nicole isn’t jealous.
And let me take this opportunity to say how much it sucks that we can’t have tasting rooms at breweries in South Carolina. Due to typical laws that make no sense, our state government won’t allow brewers to sell beer in the place it is brewed if they also distribute ourside of their location. It’s one or the other. There is just something about being able to enjoy a pint or three at a brewery. It’s different than a brewpub, because people are there only for the beer. It’s not the food, it’s not for live music or some other draw. It’s all about the beer, and you know everyone else is there to appreciate it like you are. If there’s one thing that will make me move out of this state, other than the heat, cockroaches, poor education system and lack of pro sports, it’s the stupid beer laws.
Now, where was I? Oh yeah…
After hanging out at the Green Man tasting room, we headed back to the hotel to get cleaned up before grabbing dinner and heading to the show. For dinner, we wanted to try something different, and none of us in our crew had ever been to the Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company. And so that no one can ever accuse me of being blindly positive and kissing up to everyone I write about, I’ll say that the food and beer was average at best. I think the pizza is better at Barley’s Tap Room and the beer was ok. I tried a few samplers of their beer and nothing stood out. I ended up getting pint of their IPA, but it didn’t have a distinct hoppy flavor or anything. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not terrible, but at the risk of someone from there pouring a beer over my head if they see me at a bar, I’ll stop there.
The Black Keys
From there we went to the Peel to see the show. The Black Keys only played for about an hour and 15 minutes, but in that short amount of time they just kick your ass. Dan Auerbach is a blues guitar savant and his vocals have a rusty sound that makes him sound like a black blues singer from the 70s. And Patrick Carney wails on the drums like he’s John Bonham reincarnate. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough.
I also wanted to mention that the Orange Peel is probably my favorite place to see a show. Not only is Asheville just a cool town, but the Peel is an awesome venue because it is one big open floor, it’s clean, and they have a really good beer selection. I actually got a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA at the show. How many music venues can claim that?
It was a great week and truly a unique sequence of events and venues. I’m not sure I’ll ever have another week like that. That is, unless I can take this blogging gig on the road. Anyone interested in sponsoring my blog can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. :)