Archive for February, 2013

Keep Asheville Droneless

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Let’s be real with each other: this world is effed up, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less effed. Very powerful people seem to have a stake in making sure things stay effed, and indeed appear at times to actively pursue effing stuff up for everyone else. Small collectives of effers bent on effing over those pretty much already thoroughly effed go to work every day to see to it that the effing continues unobstructed. There’s money in it, I suppose.

So whenever it gets to be a little more than you can handle, and you’d rather ride out the last fumes of an overheated engine with a cold beer than a newspaper: friends, retreat here. Like all good watering holes, the Tasting Room exists in a latitude apart from the hustle-bustle. It’s a lazy latitude. No one tries to eff you here. We just smile and say welcome and how are you. Then, if you want to vent? Go ahead. It’s kind of a free country.

At least until the drones get here.

Cupid Porter

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I just did a Wiki cram on St. Valentine. (In a morning stupor, I was confusing him for some reason with St. Patrick, and thinking to myself: why do we celebrate amorous love in the name of a missionary famed for casting serpents from Ireland?) Here are some neat things I learned:

Valentinus may actually have been two different saints of the same name. According to hagiography, one saint of that name was a third century renegade officiant, marrying Christian couples on the sly at a time when that was absolutely NOT done. (In other words, the Romans were defending marriage from the infidels.) One of those emperors named Claudius had the fellow arrested, grew rather fond of him, then had him beaten with clubs and stones and chopped off his head.

In another version, Valentinus was a Christian Bishop who miraculously restored a blind girl’s sight, refused to deny Christ and was arrested by operatives of an emperor named Claudius, who grew rather fond of him, then had him beaten with clubs and stones and chopped off his head. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. (…or can you…?)

It is appropriate that Love’s marquee idol be a two-faced creature, cloaked in mystery and given to hot moods. It is proper that scholars be stymied by its origin and true nature. We must turn to the bard, who through the character Rosalind in As You Like It opined on love at first sight: “There was never anything so sudden but the fight of two rams…for your brother and my sister no sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage…they are in the very wrath of love, and they will together; clubs cannot part them.”

Clubs cannot part them!

Shannon and team over here at the Brewery have prepared a special cask for the day of the Saints Valentinus. The last time we got crazy with Anvil Porter it was vis a vis a pair of donuts. Today it’s chocolate, vanilla agave, and freakin’ rose petals.  Come hence, lovers, and gather them while ye may.

photo (6)

the Local

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

This morning while setting one bare 22-ounce bottle after another onto our mom-and-pop-jam-shop labeler, identifying each as a future vessel by way of which carefully crafted Gateway Kolsch will populate the tidy but growing radii of our reach, I listened to Morning Edition on NPR and heard David Green interview Rosie Schaap. Schaap writes the “Drinks” column for the New York Times and recently came out with a memoir entitled “Drinking With Men”. Here’s an excerpt:

“…although loyalty is upheld as a virtue, bar regularhood–the practice of drinking in a particular establishment so often that you become known by, and bond with, both the bartenders and your fellow patrons–is often looked down upon in a culture obsessed with health and work. But despite what we are often told,  being a regular isn’t synonymous with being a drunk; regularhood is much more about the camaraderie than the alcohol. Sharing the joys of drink and conversation with friends old and new, in a comfortable and familiar setting, is one of life’s most unheralded pleasures.”

How simple and right that is! It has long been evident, even from the partial outsider’s perspective I’ve enjoyed as one not directly involved in Tasting Room operations, that the scene there is typified not by raucousness and cacophony but by languorousness and ease. This of course is less true on some nights than others. But after the weekend crowds have dispersed who remain are the regulars, whose identities graft over time with that of the Tasting Room. They are the DNA of our barn by the stream in the same way that our DNA is bagged up on pallets of malted barley in the warehouse and pools in frothy collections on the brewery floor and is written into the movements of our arms as we mill and churn and lift and as we hand over pints. Here’s another excerpt:

“Knowing how to read a bar helps. My favorites have never been big, rowdy sports bars teeming with testosterone or trendy spots featuring cutting-edge cocktails, but intimate, friendly neighborhood places where relationships with other regulars–and bartenders–have the right conditions to take hold, and where my instincts tell me it’s a safe place to be a woman in a bar. At its best, bar culture is both civilized and civilizing, and at the end of a long, stressful day, I know I can head to my local and the bartender will know exactly what I want…and will set it down before me, ask me about my day, listen to me vent. And instantly, I relax. I remember to exhale.”

I don’t think anyone ever consciously set out to create the conditions Rosie Schaap favors in a local in our funny, hand-me-downed Tasting Room, nevertheless here they are, in spades. Maybe this speaks to something native in us, some built-in craving for a drink shared in low light, a need for structureless and unhurried commune with company and libation. Left alone, a bar like ours is shaped by the people who attend it.

Rosie, you’ll feel safe here. First one’s on us.

Now here’s a picture that will make some of you think about Indiana Jones.

photo (5)  D.W.