Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Page 2 of 3

The Geeky Bartender

One of my favorite places in Bryson City to hide out and enjoy a craft pint is The Cork & Bean Bistro. Their beer selection is always fresh and always centered around North Carolina’s finest. During a recent visit, while sipping a deliciously spicy brew from Mystery Brewing, the bartender asked, “Why do you always have a beer? When are you going to try one of my cocktails?” I believe my response was, “I’m a craft beer drinker and writer, and I think I found a way to write off beer as a business expense.” He asked how he could get me to write about him. I told him he would have to use beer or something from a tap. I wonder how long he thought about that…..

bank draft cocktailc&bBrad is a mixologist who prefers to be called a “geeky bartender”. With a curled up mustache and his knowledge of fancy bitters, this suits him well. We often find him entertaining guests with his drink knowledge and sparkling personality. He has tended bars in more places than most of us have lived, picking up new ideas for new drinks along the way. He invented the cocktail menu for Cork & Bean, and it is extensive. The names of the drinks play off of the fact that this bistro is located in an historic building that once housed Bryson City Bank.

The drink that finally puts Brad in my blog is the Bank Draft. Needing something involving beer, he used Duck Rabbit’s bank draft cocktailc&b rocksMilk Stout to cook up a new syrup, a salted espresso stout syrup! I tried the syrup by itself and loved it, so I made plans to come back after work and have a drink. Brad reserved two seats at the bar for me and my husband. Once seated, he mixed the drink right in front of us. Another couple sitting to our right began asking questions about Brad’s mixes and bitters. He is very knowledgeable and doesn’t mind sharing what he knows. Even with a packed house, the entertainment never stopped. The flavor profile of my cocktail was very complex, my palette and mind were doing flips. Not being a huge liquor drinker, I was impressed at how strong the drink was yet I could still feel all those different hits to my taste buds. The ingredient I had to look up in this cocktail was the Burlesque Bitters. The primary flavors are Hibiscus flower and sour berries, but there is definitely a peppery spice to it as well. Loved it!

Now this was just one drink on a very thorough list! I highly recommend going out and trying one for yourself. Call ahead for reservations and to make sure Brad is working. You won’t regret it.

Thanks to Brad, the geeky bartender for helping us expand our horizons. If you havn’t had the chance to enjoy one of his cocktails, it’s time to find your seat at the bar in Bryson City.

New Brewery Coming to Bryson City, N.C.

Mark and Kim Pettit have been vacationing in Bryson City for 15 years. I had the pleasure of meeting them several years ago during one of their many visits to Nantahala Brewing Company. Sharing a love for craft beer and music, and a passion for people, we hit it off. I’d look forward to seeing them every year, either in the brewery while I was working or in the audience at various performances. These were two people who genuinely loved people, art, music, and the beauty of our small mountain town.  Lovers of the finer, yet simpler, things in life.

IMG_5024The renovation of the building they chose in Bryson City started awhile back and has had everyone’s curiosity peaked. Is it going to be a restaurant? A bar? It looked cool, like a place I’d love to hang out. Imagine how happy I was to find out it was going to become Mountain Layers Brewing Company! And then even more excited to find out that it was Mark and Kim who were opening it!

Since they’ve moved to Bryson City full-time, I’ve looked forward to getting together withIMG_5021 them, but building a brewery from the ground up takes a lot of your time.  Mark and Kim have a kind of excitement about life that radiates. It makes you want to get pumped. This past Monday I had the opportunity to stop in and see how the place was coming along. Their enthusiasm made it very easy to get excited for them and their future. They have been working hard and are looking to have beer on tap sometime before the end of this year. Mountain Layers will have a bar on two levels. IMG_5023The downstairs bar will give patrons a view of the brewhouse. You’ll be able to enjoy a beer and watch the magic happen! The bar upstairs will be a little bigger and has a rooftop deck with amazing views of historic downtown Bryson City, the Tuckaseegee River, and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. I can already see where my regular seat is going to be….IMG_5022

Even though Mark and Kim have some brewing experience under their belts, they didn’t want to get in over their heads. Going from home brewing to a full scale brewery has its share of challenges. In order to keep them ahead of the game they have recruited some outside help. Noah McIntee is joining the team as Head Brewer and General Manager. Noah comes to Mountain Layers by way of Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. in Franklin.  In their recent press release, Noah had this to say, “Mountain Layers is being built on an infectious passion for community and people – two of the core traits that define craft beer culture. I’m honored to be working with Mark & Kim in this exciting venture that embraces and explores the many layers of this amazing region.” Mark and Kim commented, “Noah brings a commitment to quality and creativity as well as a genuine embrace of the community.”

Mountain Layers Brewing Company is planning to open this fall. Autumn just cannot get here fast enough. Find them on Facebook to keep up with their progress and plans for opening.

 

Mountain Layers Brewing Company™ is going to be a  7 barrel craft microbrewery and taproom.  Located on Everett Street in beautiful downtown Bryson City alongside the Tuckaseegee River. Located in Swain County at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, the new brewery is built on the belief that the mountains have layers of history, cultures, and people which are all reflected in our ancient blue mountains stacked one after the other to the horizon.

Haywood Smokehouse

A VW van pulled up in front of my house…..and I got in. dogwood winter 039

We grabbed our fiddle player and headed NE out of Bryson City in search of tourists to entertain. This was to be the beginning of our tiny bus concert series. We cruised through Sylva, NC first, but movie filming madness made it hard to get anywhere. So we back tracked to Dillsboro, NC. There were a lot of cars around, parking lots were full, but no one was walking the sidewalks. We figured this was due to the fact that it was lunch time. Edogwood winter 057veryone was inside eating. We parked the bus, strapped on our instruments, and walked into Haywood Smokehouse. There we were, a three-piece band, instruments in hand, totally unannounced and uninvited. We asked the lady at the counter if it would be possible for us to occupy a small corner and entertain her lunch guests. Luckily someone in the kitchen recognized us and vouched that we “didn’t suck”. I believe, those were his exact words. Soon we were shaking hands with the owner who was asking us to follow him. We walked out the front doordogwood winter 054 and around the building, where he led us down the sidewalk to a banquet room. As we approached the door, the man tells us that there is a Mini Cooper club in town. They had reserved the room for their group of 50 or so drivers and we were to be their dinner music. So we took a place in the corner of the room and shared our music with car enthusiasts from all over. Once they were wrapping up, we decided it was our turn to sit down for some BBQ. We had made enough in tips from the drivers to feed the band and cover gas. We made our way back to the main dining room of the Smokehouse and got seated.

dogwood winter 053We grabbed menus and I, of course, noticed they had a few craft beers, both on tap and in bottles. I ordered the IPA from Highland Brewing. This particular restaurant has changed hands a few times since I’ve lived here. The fine folks who own it now aren’t new to the Smokehouse business, they have a location in Waynesville, NC as well. I ordered the brisket quesadilla, which ended up being an instant favorite and something I will return for. We were a happy band of well-fed girls enjoying our afternoon, and our lunch wasdogwood winter 059 complimentary for sharing our tunes.

As we were leaving, instruments still in hand, a huge storm blew in and kept us from making it off the porch. What the heck, one more beer!dogwood winter 061

 

 

 

Haywood Smokehouse is located at 403 Haywood Rd in Dillsboro NC and 79 Elysinia Ave in Waynesville NC 28786. Check our their website for hours and a menu.

Dogwood Winter is an acoustic all girl band consisting if Erin Worley on banjo and vocals, Alma Russ on fiddle and vocals, and Liz Nance on guitar and vocals. They play an interesting mix of original ballads and strange rock/pop covers that make you feel like they were all written in the mountains. The band formed a couple years ago on the porch of the Nantahala Brewing Company and can be seen gigging around western NC.

 

Beer or Coffee? How ‘Bout Both!

13528327_10154035139932107_6598488559337948026_oMy two favorite times of the day are morning and beer:30. Rich, bold, black coffee before a breakfast consisting of a muffin when I’m in a hurry or a bacon, egg, kale burrito when I have the time. And then a cold craft beer….the lunch beer. A great way to break up the day.

Lately, maybe because it’s warmer than usual in Bryson City, my go-to beers have been IPAs. People who know me well know that I started out as a dark-beer-only kind of drinker. Pounding stouts at 100lbs and keeping up with session IPA drinkers weighing in at over 175lbs was easier for me than you would imagine. Now with that being said, you can imagine how excited I am that so many brewers are bringing my favorite stout and porter flavors to the IPA. I know it’s not a new thing, but it hasn’t always appealed to me the way it does now. They also haven’t always been this well executed. I know there are a lot of great coffee IPAs out there so I’m only going to touch on a couple that I have enjoyed recently.

13576635_10154063865102107_1541417171997625220_o Let’s start with the Mocha IPA from Stone Brewing Company. I picked up a 6-pack of 12oz bottles in Sylva, NC at PJ’s BP. The bottle states that it is a “style-defying double India pale ale with cacao & coffee”. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s seeing a tasty description like this on a beer, getting excited about it, then never tasting any of the flavors they claimed I would taste. However, this one did not disappoint. Because it is a double IPA it was slightly similar to a white stout in mouthfeel and booziness, yet it was still crisp like a traditional IPA. The cacao and coffee aromas were strong but did not cover up the wonderful scent of hops. I was actually very surprised at how the coffee and hop flavors coexisted. My husband was quick to let me know that he had found a new favorite beer. I was with him when we first saw it, but he couldn’t bring himself to try it. Glad we finally did!

The next beer is a collaborative brew that was released last month.  Appalachian Mountain Brewery13559012_10154063865112107_2353976034691015384_o joined forces with Fonta Flora to bring us Baba Budan Coffee IPA. We purchased a 4-pack of 16oz cans from Ingles in Bryson City, NC. Baba Budan was a 16-century Sufi who is said to have smuggled the coffee bean to India from Yemen, making it available to the rest of the world. If that is true, we owe him a great deal of thanks. What better person to name a beer after? When I cracked open the first can, the aroma reminded me of my favorite part of a shot of espresso, the crema. The color was beautiful, slightly golden orange. The head was a creamy off-white. The IPA part of this beer is in true West-coast fashion and packs a citrusy punch. The combination of citrus and espresso notes made me think of the tropical places that both originated from. I expected all these flavors to give way to the bitterness of coffee and citrus, however the finish was dry and clean. It may be dangerous how drinkable this one is for me. Two of my favorite NC breweries combining two of my favorite things. Thanks, guys! We’ll be purchasing this one again….and again.

So my two loves have found each other in a way I never saw coming. Thanks to these brewers for realizing how many craft beer lovers are also coffee lovers. I can’t wait to explore more. I started strong, these two may be hard to follow. On my next off day, I may just have to skip the hot cup of joe and opt for a breakfast beer!

13178990_10153937679347107_1867020787664824838_n

Appalachian Mountain Brewery is located at 163 Boone Creek Drive in Boone, NC. Fonta Flora Brewery is located at 317 N Green Street in Morganton, NC. The Mocha IPA was brewed at Stone Brewing’s World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, CA.

Pj’s BP gas station is located at 237 Asheville Hwy in Sylva, NC. Though you wouldn’t guess it from the outside appearance, this place has one of the biggest and best beer selections in western NC!

All three breweries can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and all those other fun social media outlets, so check ’em out!

 

 

 

 

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.

cropped-beer1.jpg

 

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!

IMG_1552

Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, and Art Festival

IMG_4431

Pearl Bottom Radio entertaining the crowd.

This weekend I was in my old hometown of Griffin, GA and had the pleasure of attending the Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, and Arts Festival.  First, I must say that I was happy to see that the town I left has some progressive thinkers and that festivals like these are happening. While it was small and humble, it lacked for nothing. There were great beers , fine IMG_4368wines, and even finer works of art. The stage hosted some very talented local IMG_4374musicians. Ice cold bottles of water were free for the taking and the same tent was offering free breathalyzers to make sure everyone was good to go.  The Grazing Here food truck was on site serving up a tasty lunch. The set-up was orderly and the people were friendly. Even the local law enforcement helping with gates and road closings seemed to be enjoying the crowd.

The ticket price was more reasonable than I expected. While early-bird and VIP passes are available, I paid the general admission price of $10 which got me through the gates with my own commemorative pint glass. I was then able to purchase tickets for beer tastings. They were $1 per 3 oz pour, which was cool. If you really liked a beer, you just cashed in IMG_4363four tickets and to get a full 12 oz pour.

I tried lots of GA beers,however there was craft brew from all over being poured. I tasted the Fixin’ To Session IPA from Jekyll Brewing, the Cadence Belgian Ale from Reformation Brewing, and the Cannon Dragger from Burnt Hickory Brewing. I also enjoyed sampling beers from Monday Night Brew, Jailhouse Brewing, Wild Heaven and Creature Comforts. Georgia has a lot to offer in the way of craft beer. The scene is growing. I am happy that my home state is producing some tasty brews.

Now for the coolest part? Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, & Art Festival is used as a way to raise money for various local charities. This year the proceeds went to Camp Southern Ground, a camp that allows children to “overcome academic, social and emotional difficulties so they may reach their full potential and provide the tools necessary to achieve excellence in all facets of their lives”. Sounds like a worthy cause to us.

IMG_4365 I am looking forward to attending this festival again next year. The beer and people were too good not to want more. Festivals aren’t easy. A lot of behind the scene stuff goes on before the fun begins and the work doesn’t stop when the gates close. Thanks to all of the dedicated people who made this happen. I was glad to be a part of it. Cheers!

 

Brewer Noah McIntee

Somewhere between his dedication to Lazy Hiker Brewing, time with his young family, and service to his communitylazy hiker and pets 008 brewer Noah McIntee found time to sit down with me earlier this year.

Noah came to the small town of Franklin, NC with an extensive work history in the craft beer industry and the personal dream of building a brewery from the ground up.  It all started with a team , an idea, a building, and some money. Noah came in with the brewing experience to make lazy hiker and pets 003it all a reality. Lazy Hiker Brewing came together in just six months and at a low cost due to the team’s dedicated vision.  Noah had his hand in every aspect of the brewery – even traveling to China to design the tanks used on the premises. So why all the attention to detail? Taste their beer and you’ll know. While Lazy Hiker is still a young brewery, celebrating one year on June 11th, you can taste the experience. They hit the ground running with quality brewing standards and the knowledge of how to “make beers that work”.

 

So what’s Naoh’s Favorite Lazy Hiker beer? He says it’s the Slackpack IPA. “I was nervous when I settled on this recipe. It’s not a west coast IPA, it’s not an English IPA. It uses American yeast and American hops that make it a little spicier and more floral. It has a flavor profile that I like.”lazy hiker and pets 010lazy hiker and pets 009

When I asked Noah what his favorite part of his job or this industry was he answered, “the connections with people and the sharing of ideas over a beer.” That’s my favorite part too, Noah. Thanks for taking the time, the people here really are great!

 

lazy hiker and pets 012 lazy hiker and pets 016 lazy hiker and pets 017

Lazy Hiker Brewing is located at 188 W. Main Street in Franklin, NC. Visit their website for more info.

 

Derailed Bar & Lounge

beers and some 059In Bryson City, North Carolina, Anthony’s Pizza has always been a popular place for locals and tourists alike. I mean, who doesn’t love a New York style pizza? Plus, you can get a pie to-go and walk two doors down to enjoy it at Nantahala Brewing Company.

Now you don’t have to leave to get a good beverage. Last year, on top of an amazing makeover of the restaurant, they added a separate bar and lounge for the grown-ups. Dubbed Derailed, this lounge offers amazibeers and some 060ng cocktails, wine, and, of course craft beer.  Situated just across the street from the depot of The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad, it’s in the hub of town making it a great place to people watch! Plus, the porch is kid and dog friendly and there’s live music on Saturday nights. However,  if you’re trying to escape the hustle and bustle, kids and dogs, then step inside and find yourself a cozy corner to hide-away. The lounge area is 21 and up. Seating ranges from bar stools and tables to velvet sofas and leather recliners.

I love this environment. A place where everyone can drink together regardless of their choice of beverage.  My last stop in found me at the bar enjoying a draft Green Man ESB and laughing with a stranger who was sipping a high dollar glass of wine. Her partner enjoyed a regular ol’ beer and a shot of whiskey.  Something for everyone.  I always scope out the craft beer bottle list, as their selection rotates. They also have a couple microbrews on tap. We’ve found beers from New Belgium, Green Man, Lazy Hiker, Sierra Nevada, Founders, Natty Greene’s , Brewery Ommegang , and more.

So, whether you’re looking to share a cold brew and a hot pizza with friends or enjoy a cocktail all by yourself, this is a great place to check out on your next visit to the mountains. This little town is full of surprises!

beers and some 052 beers and some 051 beers and some 053beers and some 054 beers and some 055 beers and some 050

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Under the Tap

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑