Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Baaaack

I’m baaaaack!
An Ale Sharpton apology, kickin’ it at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC and 10,000 reasons why beer is the sh*t!
I was testing out Range Rovers in
Asheville, NC aka BeerCity USA

My bad.
Well it’s been a minute and I apologize for that, but after the theft of my awesome laptop, it has been a pain in the ass to travel, juggle everything and still find the time to post a blog that rocks over the past week. To add, God bless this notebook I am temporarily using, but it just is no comparison to in terms of speed, memory, monitor size, etc. It’s been a pain in the ass, but I have finally caught my wind. Again, my bad on the wait.

Asheville NC.
Anyways, after that tearful apology, I just got back from Asheville, NC, the awesome city that may be small in size but huge on beer! Just ask the thousands who voted Asheville as the 2010 BeerCity USA. Although it’s assumed that I was all over the beer scene here, hopping in and out of anything ale-related, my alter-ego was covering a story on the awesome Land Rover Experience Driving School at the famous home of the Vanderbilts—the Biltmore Estate—and was "confined" to their ridiculously lavish property for two days.  (It’s definitely a spot to bring your honey to—especially during the winter and spring time.) I had so much fun learning how to drive these plush SUVs up and down hills laced with snow, and across iced-over streams (see the pic). Two things were accomplished: I am more confident to take on any road condition and second, the Range Rover is officially my dream truck. I strongly recommend you experience the "Experience"; here's the link: Land Rover Driving Experience
In Ale Sharpton mode, it was an almost unbearable tease that so much brewing goodness was available just beyond the gates of the 800+-acre property, but I did try some of Biltmore’s own that are contractually brewed by the Highland Brewing Company not too far away. Named after the Vanderbilt family’s beloved St. Bernard, there was the Cedric English Pale Ale (5.5% abv) which was bready, slightly sweet up front with a mellow hop finish, and the Cedric Brown Ale (also 5.5%) that was a nice mahogany-colored session brew that was nutty with subtle notes of toffee. They did a decent job with both, but I was really craving a serious dose of hops or something “imperial.” I was told I had to head in town for a place called Bruisin’ Ales to buy one of their 900+ brews on the shelves, sip a pint at Barley’s, or visit any one of the nine breweries in town including French Broad, Craggie, Lexington Avenue or the aforementioned Highland. Since a trip was impossible with the itinerary I was given, I enjoyed the Estate and made it a prerogative to drive back up with a few of my beer-loving homies as soon as possible in 2011.

10,000 reasons to love beer.
After my was flight cancelled on Wednesday and then catching another one that left at virtually the same time back to Atlanta (don’t ask), I found out why. The freezing rain left black ice everywhere including the runways, so after safely landing from a mere 30-minute flight, I had to stop by one of my favorite brew spots to re-up since I only had two Ballantine Ales (it’s been years since I have had a 40-ounce in NYC and they finally have made their way down here so I had to cop a six pack), one Lagunitas Maximus IPA 12-ounce, five exotic bombers and an Emelisse Imperial Stout I brought back from Holland that I refuse to open—yet.  After reading an esteemed beer enthusiasts’ group email I belong to, everybody was trying to find out where to get the extremely limited edition of Bell’s Batch 10,000 Ale—A Commemorative Brew. Now I already know how Bell’s gets down when it comes to limited editions that have us beer nuts go in a frenzy including one of my top five IPAs, their gangster HopSlam (which I am sipping on in my logo and website header), so I had to get it before they ran out. Dodging three car accidents and ignoring cyberspace warnings that no one will have it by the time I reach town, I got to Green’s on Ponce and asked the worker if he had any 10,000 left. The bearded clerk smiled and said yes, although I was limited to buy only two 12-oz bottles for $7 each. “$7 for one damn 12-oz bottle beer that is only a few states away???” I exclaimed. “Give me the two, man. Damn.”
After feeling subjected to brewing pimpdom, I took the “L”, grabbed a four-pack of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout for .50 cents less than one Bell's Commemorative, a $2.79 bottle of Innis & Gunn for my business partner, and headed to the counter. It turned out that the dude was wrong: the Bell’s 12-0z was only $2.99 a bottle! The beer gods have rewarded me for my dedication (and stupidity) to be willing to pay that much initially, and it turned out to be a great evening.

Note: In a recent press release, Bell’s Marketing Director Laura Bell said, “Batch 10,000 seems like a good milestone to end the series at. It’ll free up other opportunities for specialty beers in the future.” Let’s hope so because Bell’s is truly one of the best microbreweries in the country that makes product that justifies beer nuts like me driving over black ice to score a “$7” 12-oz. bottle of brew—or two.

Ayyo, look for a truly well done "Cruisin' For A Brewsin'" episode I have coming out on the totally cool site, Thrillist.com/Atlanta. (Search: Ale Yeah). A major shout out goes to the site's head honcho Mike Jordan who hooked it all up and filmed it. 

Hoppy Holidays!

 

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