Sep 1 2008 6:09 pm
As we motored slowly over the ridge and into Cataloochee last Saturday afternoon the sun was high and the road quite dusty. We enjoyed the views, had dinner, drinks, and talked of the day to come on the Caldwell Fork trail. By early Sunday morning the broken arms of tropical storm Fay had smothered the region in an air mass so laden with oceanic moisture that it would rain for nearly three days straight.
After two days we called it quits and made our break to Asheville early. I didn't get much fishing in, missed a couple takes but never got it into gear. Such is life.
Though Asheville was pleasant. Got to see Dr. O'Connell. Eat at Salsa's and Barley's. Spend some not insignificant time supping fine ales and lagers at the Thirsty Monk, a rather new establishment located on Patton very near to Jack of the Wood. They have an excellent beer selection. Particularly Belgian bottles in the downstairs "cellar." Nice addition to an already excellent beer scene in town. I particularly enjoyed Terrapin's Rye Squared Pale Ale aged on oak from Athens Georgia. A strong IPA at 8.5% abv, in "double IPA" territory I suppose, this beer showed a stiff citric bitterness with a very sturdy sweet malt backbone and a subtle hint of vanilla in the finish. The hops and malt are very well assimilated and the subtle vanilla adds something unique to the beer. I had to have two 8oz pours of this one. They also had Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot on tap which didn't help my sobriety much.
While I enjoyed the Thirsty Monk, it was a bit too nice. A bit too well planned. The beer "cellar" was a too perfectly stylized and manicured shell for the Beer Advocate/Rate Beer -Best of Belgium- bottle list. That's a hard thing to complain about, but I'm just that kind of guy, sort of an asshole.
So it was nice to walk a couple blocks down to Barley's. Barley's features local and regional brews and that's a good look in Asheville what with their 7, count 'em 7, local breweries (and number 8 is close to opening, considering the quality of the fishing in Western North Carolina Asheville would defintely be in the running for best fish/beer town in the country...let's hear it people from out west, let's hear your dissent). I forget what I had there because I was kind of drunk. They also have good pizza.