Beer-cation Pt 4 – Green Man Brewery, Asheville, NC

Green Man

On the way back to Florida from Pennsylvania, I knew I would need to stop and visit Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. That place is a spiritual haven for me and whenever the opportunity to go arises, I make every effort to do so. It had actually been longer than I like since I had last been there so I was definitely going there this time. I also knew that the Mountain wasn’t that far from several breweries that would be on my way home from there.

Asheville, NC is only about an hour and a half from Grandfather Mountain, and is home to several breweries, Highland Brewing, French Broad Brewing, Wedge Brewing, and Asheville Pizza and Brewing to name a few.  But I decided to give Green Man Brewing a try. I had tried one of their brews before at a brew pub and remembered liking it, but I had also heard good things about their beers either online or through some other source. So I entered their address in my phone and started the drive there.

The storefront of Green Man Brewery on Braxton Ave in Asheville, NC.
The storefront of Green Man Brewery on Braxton Ave in Asheville, NC.

Once I arrived I saw that the parking nearby is limited, but that is true with a lot of breweries/brewpubs. Being located in downtown Asheville, parking is a commodity. I was able to find parking around a corner on a side street and walked back. The building itself looks like it may have been a garage at one time with the one large wooden door on the front. There is a porch on the entrance side surrounded by climbing greenery.

The Green Man can be seen all over Asheville.
The Green Man can be seen all over Asheville.
Some bottle labels, a few of the hundred or so covering their cooler door.
Some bottle labels, a few of the hundred or so covering their cooler door.

You enter and see a hodgepodge of bar tables and décor, with the central theme being the Green Man (you can learn more about and see more pics of him at their site – And this takes up about half the building. The rest of the building is used for brewing.

Custom  made Green Man Ale sign hanging in brewery
Custom made Green Man Ale sign hanging in brewery
Behind the "Curtain" at Green Man brewery
Behind the “Curtain” at Green Man brewery
Some strange patrons lurking in the back
Some strange patrons lurking in the back

I approached the bar an asked about flights. I was offered the Flagship or a custom flight. I asked for the flagship. I will usually order the brewery’s primary beers so that I can get a good feel of their craftsmanship. This is the product they have all the time so this is what they should be best at making. Their Flagship Flight includes their three year-round brews (IPA, ESB and Porter) and one of their seasonal brews (in this case Forester). If this is an example of the kind of brewing that goes on at Green Man, then I have one thing to say…


A look at the colors of the brews
A look at the colors of the brews, left to right, ESB, IPA, Porter and Forester.

IPA – I am not as big a fan of IPAs as some folks are. Quite often it tastes like they are more concerned with adding hops than with balancing the beer flavor. This is not true with Green Man IPA. There is definitely hops present, but they are properly balanced with malt. Probably one of the better IPAs I have had.

Porter – On the other hand I do love Porters. And this is one of the better one. Smooth with hints of chocolate.

ESB – of the three flagship brews, this one is my favorite. This amber ale is well-balanced, smooth and has a great finish. I got a growler of this to take with me.

Forester – This seasonal is a Stout. Not just a Stout…. The Stout. One of the best I have had. Rich tasting, and smooth with a great finish. I also got a growler of this to take with me.

On their website they that they are building a new three story facility which will include packaging, a retail shop and a roof-top beer garden with a view of the Smokey Mountains. I look forward to going back to visit. Whether you visit them at their current spot or make it to the new one once it is completed, I recommend stopping by if you get the chance.

Beer-cation Pt 3 – North Country Brewing, Slippery Rock, PA

imageWhile driving home to Florida I figured I would stop and see some breweries on the way. This one is a little gem I found on-line the other night. Slippery Rock, PA, like a lot of other western Pennsylvania towns is known for agriculture, coal and a small college (Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania). But it is also known as the home of North Country Brewing (which a sign proudly states as you enter the town limits).

The original construction of the buildings (house and barn) were built in 1805. It has been an Inn, a cabinet and furniture making shop, and finally renovated into the brewery. From the website… “In the spring of 1998, Jodi and Bob McCafferty fell in love with the old storefront and immediately started renovating. They personally rebuilt the structure from the foundation through the roof with gathered local hardwoods and recycled on-site materials. Jodi and Bob McCafferty handcrafted the hardwoods, as well as black walnut and curly maple left from the Uber’s furniture store, into the custom feel found only in Slippery Rock, Pa.”


As you walk in you see the generous use of wood both in decoration and function, which is a feature I love. The front door has a bearded man’s face carved into the front and his backside carved into the opposite side. The tables inside, the rails, the bar all made from large natural wood planks. They pick up the light well and add a warmth to the place. Even the menu is constructed so that the front and back covers are two thin wooden planks (see pic below). If I had to try and peg hole the style of décor I would definitely say an Olde Irish pub, with a little western saloon mixed in.

North country menu
North country menu

Since all I had for breakfast was an apple when I got into town around 11 AM I thought a hardy lunch was in order. I must have been one of the first people there for the day. I was asked if I wanted to sit at the bar and I said sure.

The young lady behind the bar (Danielle) was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu and the beers. I asked about a flight of beers and she showed that they could be ordered in quantities of six, nine or thirteen. And she quickly pointed out that one of the taps on the menu wasn’t available and they had a substitute. I selected six of the thirteen drafts available (see menu below) and ordered one of the lunch specials.

Brew menu

The lunch was called The Breakfast Burger. It’s a half pound angus patty, topped with egg, bacon, ham, cheese and a hash brown served on Texas toast. I ordered it with a side of fries. The burger was on of the best I ever ate. I think the combination of flavors complemented each other. The fries were cooked “Fair Style” and I think had some seasoning on them. They were definitely fresh and delicious. But with the pickle spear and the burger I was lucky to be able to eat half of them.


The six beers I ordered are listed below with a description of them:

Station 33 Firehouse Red – a rich, malty red ale that was smooth tasting.

Squirrel’s Nut Brown – a crisp, malty Scottish ale with hints of nut flavors

Keystone Swankey – This is a common or steam beer that uses a lager yeast but is brewed at ale temperatures. It had a very smooth, slightly bitter taste.

Paddler’s Pale Ale – Clean, crisp dry ale with a hoppy flavor.

Paleo I.P.A. – If you like IPAs you will like this. Strong hops flavor and very aromatic.

Liquid love Chocolate Stout – Chocolate malt and Belgian chocolate were used to make this but I tasted strong hints of coffee.

Of the six I tasted they all were good representations of their particular style of beer, but four stood out. The Station 33, the Paddler’s Pale Ale and the Paleo IPA all has very good flavors to them. But I really liked the Keystone Swankey. I don’t know if I have had a Common (or Steam) Beer before, but I liked the flavor a lot. So much so that I got a growler to go.

I highly recommend stopping by North Country Brewing if you are ever in the area. Not only is is good beer and good food, but the staff are friendly and the bar itself is my idea of the perfect pub. I will definitely try and get back there in the future.


Beer-cation Pt 2 – Review of TimberCreek Tap & Table, Meadville PA

TimberCreek Tap & Table

While visiting my sister and her family in NW Pennsylvania I decided I would see if the craft beer “fad” (I use fad in quotes because I don’t believe it is a fad – see my previous blog The “Death” of Craft Beer) had reached the sparsely populated rural area I grew up in, Crawford County. The county has a little over 88,000 and the county seat, Meadville, has a little over 13,000 people. With a lackluster economy and the limited population I wasn’t sure of my chances. But after a little searching on the internet I found a couple of Micro Breweries in the county, Voodoo Brewing and TimberCreek Brewing. Because of operating hours and my limited schedule I was unable to visit Voodoo and will have to try it on my next visit. But I was not disappointed by TimberCreek.


TimberCreek is a BrewPub by definition. The full name is TimberCreek Tap & Table, it’s two separate buildings connected by a breezeway. The Tap portion is the brewery and tap room. This wasn’t open when we visited but you can easily find their hours on their website. Just outside the Tap is a large open breezeway with a gas-fired firepit surrounded by outdoor seating for those who enjoy their refreshments out in the open.

Firepit & Table

To the right of the fire is the entrance to the Table, which is the brewpub/restaurant. You open a large door and enter into a large open chamber, featuring a high ceiling and exposed wooden rafters. Hanging from the center of the ceiling is a chandelier that throws out soft lighting which highlights the wooden rafters. The bar is on the left, the center floor has high tables and stools and booths with high wooden backs on a raised level line the right and opposite wall. Overall the atmosphere is warm and welcoming.

Chandelier and rafters

There are two menus, one each for food and drinks. Each of the menus consist of two facing pages which I really like. Too many selections to choose from usually means that the food is not fresh. And yet they have enough variety on the menu that they should be able to satisfy anyone’s hunger. My sister had a Philly-Cheese Chicken Sandwich which she said was really flavorful. I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which included their homemade Buffalo sauce and jalapeños. I loved the flavor and I didn’t think it had too much heat but I enjoy spicy food. We both had a side of fries which were cooked “Fair Style”. I prefer fries not cooked as dark but they were fresh and tasted good. And I was glad to see that they send sandwiches out with a pickle spear. Some places forget that traditional touch. We also ordered some chicken fingers and apple slices for my young nephew, which he seemed to like. I tasted his chicken and while it was plain tasting, it should be for a child’s pallet.

The drinks menu had beers on one side and wines and cocktails on the other. Their beer list consists of 5 year-round brews and seasonals. I asked for a flight of their year-rounds so I could sample them. I didn’t want try tasting too many or I would have ordered some of the seasonal samples as well. My sister ordered their non-alcoholic homemade Root Beer which was very good. .

The samples arrived on the flight in the following order: Liberty Blonde – a light tasting golden ale; Werkzaug Stadt – a slightly bitter German style Pilsner; Fresh Squeezed IPA – this had slight hints of citrus and was not a heavy bitter like some IPAs; Meadville Mock Top – a belgian style ale with strong hops flavor; Black Bear – a Porter with hints of chocolate and coffee and a smooth finish. All of them were good representatives of their style but I have to say I liked the Black Bear the best. I ordered a pint to go with my lunch and a growler to take with me. The growlers are the standard 1/2 gallon (which is normal in every state but Florida but that’s a topic for another blog).

If you should find yourself in this neck of the woods and need a good craft beer and good food then I recommend stopping by the TimberCreek Tap & Table. They are located on US 19 in front of the Meadville Cinemas. For more specific info about the brewery or the pub go to:

Beer-cation Pt 1- Review of BrassTap, Gainesville

BrassTap aficionado shirt

While preparing for a road trip up north I decided to go get some supplies for the trip. I prefer to drive and will get some fresh fruit and cheese to snack on during the trip, an old habit from my truck driving days. I decided while I was out I should visit a tap room or brewery before I left so I texted the Dr. to see if he wanted to join me. He said sure and asked if I was going to bring pizza from Lucky’s and i figured why not.

If you’ve never been to Lucky’s Market I highly recommend it. It’s a chain of markets started in California or Colorado that specializes in local grown and healthier choices. In my opinion better selections and better prices than Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market. They also have a deli and make fresh pizzas there. And while you’re waiting for the pizza or shopping you can sup a craft beer (choice of 6) for only a couple bucks. Some of the carts even have cup holders. I relaxed with a Victory Brewing HopDevil then got my supplies and the pizza and headed off to meet the Dr.

We will occasionally meet at the BrassTap (located on Archer Rd in Gainesville) since the Dr lives on that side of town. By the time I got there with the pizza he was already warming a barstool and halfway through a snifter of Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums. I ordered a Goose Island Festivity Ale and we began catching up and eating pizza. Like a lot of Tap Rooms in Florida this BrassTap doesn’t serve food. So they don’t mind you bringing or ordering in your own.

Their description on their Facebook page says “The BrassTap is an upscale beer bar that boasts 60 different craft beers on tap – plus more 300 varieties of import, domestic and local craft bottles, and a great selection of fine wines and cigars.” I have never seen or tasted anything to rebut that claim. In fact, I would add that the staff is very knowledgeable about beers and friendly. Allen Hessell and his son co-manage the establishment. I don’t speak to his son that frequently but I often see Allen when I’m there and he is very knowledgable about the beers and the breweries. And he imbues his staff with that same knowledge.

They have different events each night throughout the week such as trivia night, local bands, etc. They also have something called the Brew Crew. This is a computerized card which not only keeps tracks of the different beers you have but you get rewards like t-shirts, and credit towards future drinks. You also get discounts when you wear the Brew Crew shirts. I recently hit the 100 mark on my card and received my aficionado tee and have a credit waiting for me next time I go in.

BrassTap is a franchise with over 20 locations (mostly in Florida but others in OH, TX, AZ, and NC) and more opening soon. Some serve food and some do not. But if the atmosphere is the same as the one in Gainesville I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.

Beer Basics -101

For those of you new to the craft beer scene the following is information about what makes all of these different beers the way they are. This is just the basics so don’t think you’ll be an expert after reading this. There will be no test after this but you may learn something that your friends don’t know so you can pull it out of your pocket and surprise them at a future gathering.


All beers are made up of four main ingredients: grain – which is malted to release sugars in the grain; yeast – which converts those sugars to alcohol; hops – which was originally used as a preservative for the beer but has become over time a major factor for the flavor; and finally good ole H2O also known as water. These four main ingredients combined in certain combinations will not only give you your alcohol content but the aroma and flavor of the beer.


The most common grain used is barley, but wheat and rye can be added as well. There are many varieties of yeast but only some are used for brewing. And the yeast is what determines whether the beer is an ale or a lager.


When it comes down to it a beer is either an ale or a lager or a variation of one of the two. Ales includes Pale Ales, India Pale Ales, Red Ales, Brown Ales, Porters, Rye Ales, Scotch Ales, Belgian Ales, Cream Ales and Wheat Beers. Lagers includes American, European and German Lagers, Pilsners and Bocks. And all of these Ales And Lagers have many varieties as well as blends between the two.


As I mentioned earlier hops was originally used as a preservative so the beer would last longer. But adding hops also affects the flavor of the beer. And other things can be added to affect the flavor. This can include spices, fruits, vegetables, sugars and even meat.


The last basic ingredient, water, is used throughout the beer making process.  It is used to help release the sugars from the grain, then is used again when the hops are added and again during bottling. The taste of the water used will affect the beer throughout. So making sure the water is good is a must for any brewer.


In the end though the best way to learn about beer is to go out and drink. Try the different types and varieties and breweries. Talk to the brewers themselves because most of them like to talk about how they make their beer. I personally like to try a different beer any time I go out for one. If for no other reason then just because I haven’t had it yet. The more varieties you try the more your tastes will change too. Enjoy.



The “Death” of Craft Beer

A couple of weeks ago you may have seen the ad put out during the Superbowl. It was put out by Anheiser-Busch InBev and was obviously a crack at craft beers lovers. Calling craft beer lovers “Beer Snobs” and showing a gent with an overly large mustache sniffing a snifter of beer before drinking it.

I’m not sure if I was more offended by the over acting of the sniffing or the overly large mustache (I both sport a mustache and sniff my drinks, not just beer, before I drink them).

But what I really found offensive was the direct implication that only Anheiser-Busch took the time to brew beer correctly. I just brewed a batch of American Pale Ale myself and it is requiring at least a week longer than the ad implied in its advertisement.

If you follow craft beer news at all the you have probably seen the backlash of craft beer supporters attacking this ad since then. If nothing else Anheiser-Busch InBev has at least put their name back out there in the public eye. Using the axiom “There is no bad advertising!” as a strategy is usually the act of desperation. I will leave comments on that ad at this point.

I also just read another article asking “Is the craft beer revolution over yet?” which you can read here if you choose.

I am here to say categorically no.. the craft beer revolution is not over. We’re just getting started baby!!

Look, if you don’t like craft beer then don’t drink it. It’s that simple. You don’t see a lot of commercials promoting it (I don’t recall any actually) so no one is pushing it down your gullet. I don’t see billboards and sports teams or models wearing clothing with the craft breweries printed on them.

This is a homegrown- taste driven phenom that will not go away. So get over it already. To paraphrase the late George Sternfels (who was a good man and a great wine sommelier “If you like the beer, drink the beer.” But as a word of caution I will add..

They will have to pry my craft beer from my cold dead hands.


“Where Everybody Knows Your Name…”

You may recognize the tag line from the old TV show “Cheers”. If you don’t then the premise of the show took place in a neighborhood bar. The show characters were the bar owner, the staff and some regular patrons.  I’m not going to delve into the plot lines but suffice it to say that the show lasted several years because you became involved with characters. It was comforting to tune in every week and see those people on the screen.  You can look it up on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu. That’s what a good happy hour place should be like.

Trying to find a place like that in a college town like Gainesville can be difficult. A lot of establishments cater to the college kids and who can blame them. And even if you can find a place more for a slightly older (no wise cracks) crowd the staff is usually made up of those same college kids. So if they work there long enough to get to know you… give it a minute… They’ll be gone at the end of semester.

This is why I like Gainesville House of Beer. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the drafts they serve. I’ve been going there for about two years now and while some of the staff has changed some have still remained because they like what they do. In fact while writing this I finished a delicious Einbacher Dunkel and wanted something else. Megan asked if I wanted an IPA or a Lager. I said Lager and she brought me two samples, a lager which tasted good, and a wonderful tasting Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock which I think she knew I would like more.

On the way in to HOB I passed Amanda, who must have just finished her shift, in the parking lot and we exchanged greetings. And I don’t think I’ve seen her in over a month. She has a very discerning palate for beers and will gladly give her recommendations on a good draft.

Then there is Kat, who has not only helped broaden my tastes in beers, but has become a friend. This young lady not only knows her beers and her customers’ tastes but she can also steer you in the right direction for whiskeys and bourbons as well

Alex the manager is also good at learning the customers and recommending beers. There have been some other folks who have worked there as well who have been helpful but I will use the “older person” disclaimer to explain my not remembering their names, probably because they were guys, this a personal flaw of mine and should not reflect on them.

Gainesville HOB has 40 rotating taps as well as bottled beer and wine. It is centrally located in downtown Gainesville and is in walking distance of many restaurants. And you can bring food in with you if you like. I will admit that I am looking at this place through “beer” colored glasses while typing this, but I will also admit to liking this place from the get-go when I first walked in the door a couple years ago.

I would recommend experiencing it for yourself. Ask about the rail cards while you are there. I am on my fifth one and looking forward to the free beers or merchandise after filling it.


The search for Happy Hour begins!!

Way back when (before some of you were old enough to drink)  a bar owner in Somewhere, U.S.A. decided that he needed to find a way to get more patrons into his establishment. A variety of beers, liquors and wines wasn’t enough so he (or maybe she) added chips, pretzels, nuts and in some cases popcorn.

But while salty snacks were tasty (and certainly didn’t hurt sales) they eventually became boring for some folks. So another bar owner thought about adding other foods, like sandwiches, fried vegetables and.. (thank the Beer gods!!) wings. For a low price you could stop by a local watering hole after work, fill up on food and drink yourself silly and while you’re at it buy more drinks for your friends. Which brought about the need for pitchers, but I digress.

And thus was born Happy Hour. It has undergone some changes over the years but the idea has essentially remained the same; good food (and I mean bar food not fine dining), good drinks and good company.

The hard part is finding a place nowadays that has all three of those basic elements in the same place. A lot of places are specializing so much that you can’t find the combination that pleases the way it should.

Join my friends and I as we visit places around the town we live in (Gainesville, FL – GO GATORS!!) and other places in Florida and Elsewhere U.S.A.. We will share our thoughts on the venues, the different craft beers and breweries and the food. And you can join in the conversations we’ll have on whatever tickles our fancy (thus the Philosofiers in the title – Phiosofiers intentionally spelled wrong…discuss).

Writing again soon,