With nothing planned today, I have a lie in.
I eventually roll myself out of bed around 10:30, putting on the TV and cracking open an 1804 Barclay Perkins TT. It’s great to have the chance to drink some at my leisure. All a bit rushed while I was presenting. Plus I had other things to concentrate on. Like what the hell I was going to say next.
I’m still enjoying some of Mike's Porter when I get a message from Stuart: do I fancy some lunch? Hell yes. He’ll be around to pick me up in about 30 minutes. Which should give me time to polish off another bottle of Porter.
We toodle on down to Flying Saucer, which is just over the road from my hotel. Because of parking difficulties, we end up having to walk as far from the car as we would have from my hotel.
Inside it looks very much like the Flying Saucer in Houston. Which I guess is the point of pub chains. It’s not very full – more staff than punters.
“What can you recommend that’s local and isn’t full of weird shit or sludgy?” I ask Stuart, who makes a few suggestions. I plump for a Duck Rabbit Oyster Stout, which in the wacky world of modern beer passes for staid and boring.
Not having had any breakfast, I’m ready to eat. I get a Reuben sandwich. Not I imagine, that that will be of much interest to you.
I’ve only had two beers, when Stuart asks if I’d like to go somewhere else. As it’s past two, some of the other breweries will be open. Raleigh’s too small a city for there to be much of a lunchtime trade.
Raleigh Brewing is our next stop. A fair-sized production brewery with an attached tap. Thankfully, it’s air-conditioned. Outside the pavement is melting. Or at least that’s what it feels like. Maybe it’s just my feet. So hot it’s painful to be outside.
“What would you like to drink,” Stuart asks, “the Porter is fairly normal.”
I’ve drunk a lot of Porter so far this trip. Not complaining. IPA can get so fucking boring. The only reason I ever drink it in the US is because it’s relatively novel to me. I rarely touch the stuff back home.
Stuart spots a clutch of brewers at another table and wanders over for a chat. It turns out that we’ve just missed the governor, who was here to celebrate the raising the self-distribution cap from 25,000 to 50,000 barrels.
I get chatting with Todd Ford from Noda Brewing in Charlotte. A very pleasant chap, who seems genuinely interested in the beer history I spout at him. Interested enough to buy a couple of books. Yippee! He's off to the UK soon and I recommend some good cask ale spots in London.
My next beer is a Session IPA. A perfectly respectable – and quite normal – beer. It has to be my last. Stuart has a meeting and needs to shoot off.
I’m on my own this evening, which will give me some time to wander a little in downtown Raleigh. Only after getting stuck into some more of Mike’s Porter. I’m really starting to get a taste for the 1804 TT.
When I venture outside a 6 PM, it’s still hot. Way too effing hot. How do people stand a whole summer of this? Just as well I don’t have far to walk. There’s a beer spot even closer than Flying Saucer: State of Beer. Which is a bottle shop with a bar and a few seats outside for on-premises boozing.
Despite my hotel being downtown, the street has some pretty small two-storey houses on it. This is no metropolis. It goes from downtown high-rise to suburban housing in half a block. Nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to get to smaller places sometimes. Most of my time in the US is spent in larger cities.
I get myself a beer inside and wander out to find a seat. Oh no. It’s a sludge beer. Damn. I knew I’d slip up eventually. Differentiating sludge and non-sludge beers can be tricky using the name alone.
It doesn’t taste that bad. Sure, there’s an orange-juice thing going on, but it could be worse. At least it’s full of boozy goodness.
I’ve got a sandwich, too. Well, a wrap. I suppose that’s a sort of sandwich. With a little jar of chick peas as a side. Little being the operative word. There can’t be more than 30 chick peas. They do taste nice, mind.
I can’t finish my sarnie, nice as it is. I wrap the remainder and stick it in my bag. I’ll finish that back in my room.
The sun has now set. It’s warm, but not crazy hot. I can cope with this.
There’s a weird mix of runners – all toned muscles and trainers – and fat bastards like me. So I sort of fit. Oh, I get it. There’s a running shop next door. All the fit-looking people must come from there. Munching salads every one of them
There’s a bus stopped at the traffic lights. Like most I’ve seen in North Carolina it holds a single passenger. Not big on public transport down this way.
The trip is winding down. Tomorrow I’m flying to Atlanta, the day after, back home. Other than the stomach problems in Asheville, it’s been pretty good.
It’s very white here. Other than the black guy making the sandwiches. But that’s just generally true of the beer scene over here. In Europe, too, I guess.
Time for another beer.
Zillicoah Maple Baltic Porter
Can’t really smell the abomination of the maple. OK, I suppose. I’m surprised how many Asheville beers are on the tap list. I wouldn’t have named my brewery Zillicoah. Too difficult to remember.
I only have the two beers. But . . . With my hotel whisky all drunk, I decide to drop by Flying Saucer for a quick double bourbon. Purely for medicinal purposes.
Back in my room, the bed soon swallows me up.
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
328 W Morgan St,
Tel: +1 919-821-7401
Raleigh Brewing Company
3709 Neil St,
Tel: +1 919-400-9086
State of Beer
401 Hillsborough St,
Tel: +1 919-546-9116
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