Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Month: June 2016

Hoppy Trout Brewing Company

We wrapped up a show at Andrews Brewing Company around 9pm and asked the bartender if there was somewhere nearby to get food. She recommended Hoppy Trout Brewing Company. This is one thing I love about this industry, one brewery sending us to the next brewery.

We drove over to Hoppy Trout only to find out that they stopped serving food at 9pm, but their bar stays open until 10pm. We decided that since we had found ourselves in a brewery we’ve never tried we might as well wait a little longer to eat. So we decide to get food later at the Huddle House and made our way to the bar.The place was busy with people finishing their meals. The physical bar itself was a cool mix of woods patched  together. Everything seemed simple, not over the top, yet super comfortable. They had a great variety of their own brews on tap. They also had a few guest taps, one from Noble Cider and one from Boojum Brewing. We, of course, wanted to try theirs. Fresh in from playing music, I wasn’t thinking about tasting and reviewing beers. I went straight for a full pint of their All Hail Ceasar IPA, a deliciously orangy beer. Aj put more thought into it. He tasted the Nelson Sauvin Single Hop IPA, the Mungo Double IPA, and the Dr.Smore on Nitro. Each beer was a tasty surprise. Another new brewery making great beers right out of the gate. The guy serving us knew his stuff and was really fun to talk to. We found out before we left that he is a brewer for the Hoppy Trout. Judging by the brew, he’s a good one and he’s working with good recipes.

Once we had beers in hand, we toasted to new beers, small businesses, and a good show. Behind us we could see the guys cooking in the kitchen and the flames of the brick oven pizza. They were moving fast, you could tell their night was almost over. The bartender disappeared for a minute and came back with good news. The cook in the kitchen was Tom Rodeck, the brewmaster and co-owner of the establishment and he wanted us to try their pizza. What?! We don’t have to eat Huddle House?! The night just kept getting better. Soon we had a delicious pie in front of us. WOW! Crust, sauce, toppings, it was all perfect! Since we were the last pizza out, Tom came out of the kitchen to say hello and ask what we thought.. It turned out Tom had seen us play once before at Andrews Brewing and was looking forward to having us play at the Hoppy Trout once their patio is built. We’d be glad to! Everyone was so friendly. From wait staff to owners to patrons, we were surrounded by smiling faces.

hoppy troutSo there we go! Another awesome addition to the brewing community. More great people and more great brews! We can’t wait to go back and take a tour of the facility. I hated posting this with no pictures other than the fuzzy shot I captured that night, but decided to get the word out anyway. Go check it out for yourself!

 

 

The Hoppy Trout is located at 911 Main Street in Andrews, NC. Find them on Facebook or check out their websiteLiz and AJ Nance are an Americana duo performing around Western NC.

 

 

 

 

An Open Letter to Brewery Owners

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”  – Edward Abbey

IMG_1527We are well into the rise of the craft beer scene and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. New breweries are opening, seemingly every week. Lots of small breweries have kicked it in to high gear to expand. The interest is there so, why not? Banks are ready to give business loans to brewery owners with dreams. Private investment firms want a chunk of the action so they are chomping at the bit to get involved and expand their portfolios. Even big beer wants in.

It is a fabulous business to be a part of and a wonderful time to get in. It is full of great people producing great products, and long-term breweries willing to share their knowledge.  However, with a growing scene there is a growing sense of competition and with competition, often times, comes ego. While many of you are managing to grow while staying humble and true to your roots, some of you are letting it go to your head. And I don’t mean an awesome frothy head.

11958174_10153103929540905_1996659729759751727_oI once served as VP to a fast growing NC brewery. When I first started the job we used to jokingly say that this industry was less than 1% asshole. After doing the job two years, I was sure I had met the entire 1% or else the number was climbing. I have seen breweries leave their small towns for beer fests with their chests puffed out so high they can’t see their consumer. Their ego blinded them from every customer that wanted to make contact, from every blogger that wanted to say hello, and from every fellow brewer who just wanted to feel like part of a team. I have seen tourists stop owners and brewers to offer compliments and be treated like a waste of time. I have visited brewery taprooms where pretentiousness flowed more freely than the beer. I can’t wrap my head around this. You are producing something that makes people happy! Why not let the people tell you how happy they are?

Now with all that said, I do understand ho12065503_10153499761747107_8462991802045593468_nw much work is involved in running a full-scale production brewery. I know that stopping to tell someone they are appreciated isn’t what’s on your mind when you’re trying to figure out how to fill 5 pallets with bottled beer in an afternoon and your Maheen just went down. A lot of these small courtesies are often left to other employees. Taproom managers, bartenders, and wait staff should be trained, not just for the physical labor part of the job, but to have your best interest in mind when speaking to customers. There’s nothing worse than being a day laborer who has to say “that WAS the owner” after unpleasant experiences are had and complaints need to be made. Most of you are excellent at managing money and time, but aren’t made to be in the public eye. That’s ok! Let your employees be the smiling face you can’t be!

It is possible to be awesome and not think you are better than everyone else. Don’t forget where you would be without the customer. Another important thing to remember is that every time a patron leaves your bar, they are taking the notes from that experience back to their families, friends, and social media accounts. Word of mouth is a great asset. Don’t ruin that by letting a sense of pride do the talking for you. Also, most of you are bringing an amazing economic impact to the small towns you are in, but that doesn’t mean you should treat the locals like you’re doing them a favor by being there. Be partners with your community! Make them more than grateful you are there.

I guess this could be an open letter to all business owners and operators. Choose community over commerce and let the growth happen naturally. As you expand, do so with your roots in mind as well as your goals. Slow steady growth is better than rushed ideas and poorly executed visions. Rely on your team. Be leaders, not bosses.

If you’re doing something you love, why not do it with love?

Stay Humble. Cheers.

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New Belgium Asheville

Last month my husband AJ and I attended the opening of New Belgium’s taproom in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC. It wasIMG_1550 Tuesday, May 2nd and even though it was a weekday, I knew everyone was looking forward to this so I wasn’t surprised by the turnout. We visited in the mid-afternoon and while the place was packed, the open layout kept it comfortable. The sign at the door told us they loved us and when we entered the taproom, we really felt the IMG_1531love. The folks on staff were grooving and did an awesome job keeping up with the masses. Table and bar service alike were excellent. There seemed to be no first day hiccups. I was thrown off by there being no place to leave tips, not on the card and not in a jar. Then I remembered that New Belgium is an employee owned company. That was the only logical explanation I could come up with.  It also helped me realize why everyone was in such high spirits. This is more than just a job to them. It is their life. They care about the company and the company cares about them. To the consumers this translates to happy, knowledgeable,  and caring bartenders serving up a quality product. Serving up something to be proud of.

We enjoyed our beers in the grassy yard next to the taproom. The porch was full and the sun was out, but we were the first to brave sitting in the new, thick grass. Soon others followed suit. We all watched as, in the distance, the brewery’s production facility wasIMG_1527 being finished. Enjoying craft brew and watching a brewery come together. I love that feeling.

Deciding to stay true to what I like, I had the Citradelic Tangerine IPA. Aj ordered the Botanical Imperial IPA. Both were tasty. Aj’s beer had a nice spicy, citrus flavor and aroma. Glad he IMG_1533went with one we hadn’t tasted. I almost ventured into the watermelon lime beer, but decided against it. Although, it does seem intriguing. Maybe I should have…..

New Belgium Brewing has done well, not just for themselves, but for the communities surrounding their breweries. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad they chose Asheville as their second home.  And they chose a beautiful spot too! A nice place along the river. You can see the artwork from businesses on the other shore from the deck. While the landscaping was mostly still under construction around the brewery and taproom, you could tell a lot of thought and concern were going into the planting and planning of watershed areas.

We are excited to come back with friends and tour the facility. We are also looking forward to future events and releases. Thanks for having us!

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