I awake to total silence. Well, other than the air conditioning.
I finish off yesterday’s chicken sandwich from Gabe for breakfast. It still tastes pretty good. Probably much healthier than my usual bacon-heavy hole filling.
Stomach about as full as it’s been the last few days, I stroll down the hill, saying hello to the goats on the way again, to the house.
Inside, Kaycee offers me a cup of coffee, which I eagerly accept. While I’m getting my caffeine fix, we chat a little. I ask if they get coyotes around here, remembering the concern at Jester King about their goats. No, they don’t. But they do sometimes see a red wolf. And there are hawks nesting up by the cabin who sometimes attack their chickens. A black beer stole the goat’s food, too. Having animals like that around would really freak Dolores out.
John drives us to Appalachian Vintner, picking up Chris Whaley on the way. Noticing a tractor parked in his drive, I assume that it belongs to his wife Jessica, as she’s a farmer. It isn’t. Chris acquired it from his uncle.
Because it's a holiday, Appalachian Vintners is the only place open before 2 PM. A wine and beer shop, it also has a bar section where you can drink on premises.
Once we’re settled at the bar, John asks: “What do you think about hazy IPAs, Ron?”
I just roll my eyes despairingly, which gets a laugh. John can’t really talk. He’s drinking a mango guava vanilla lactose Berliner Weisse. I’m not joking. Someone really brews that abomination.
I peruse the tap list a couple of times, hunting something that isn’t sludgy or full of all kinds of shit. I settle on an Edmund’s Oast Bound by Time. A little hazy, but without lumps. A fairly straightforward IPA.
Fonta Flora Hulihe’e is my next choice. A bit hazy again, but pretty normal. Phew! Ordering beer in the US is getting to be a nightmare, if you want something that isn’t weird.
We have a few beers and chat. Can’t stay too long, though. I’m giving the Porter talk again a 4 PM. I don’t need to be there quite so early today as everything was left from yesterday. I only need to plug in my computer and away we go.
Though there is some more gear to arrange as Art Whitaker, of Milk the Funk, is recording my talk.
Spotting someone wearing a Bierpallieters t-shirt, I ask if he’s been to their festival. “Oh, yes,” he says, “it’s wonderful.” He’s not wrong there.
Gabe has made me a sandwich again. She really spoils me. This time I manage to chomp down the lot. I’m obviously getting back to normal. Or somewhere close.
Since I’ve been over, I’ve been engaging in an email conversation with Doug Piper about a webinar he wants to do with me. For his BJCP study group. Once I would have baulked at the idea, but age has mellowed me. As has getting to know quite a few people at the top end of its hierarchy. We make arrangements to meet tomorrow.
I notice that the barman who served us in Appalachian Vintner is in the audience. What a small world.
It’s a smaller crowd today. Around 20. Things run much the same as yesterday. Except there’s a group that keeps speaking amongst themselves. I’m tempted to tell them to shut the fuck up. I’m supposed to have a monopoly on talking. But I’m far too polite.
Talking done, we go to Zillicoah, which is sort of a half brewery. A fermenting house, really, as their wort is produced elsewhere. I’ve nothing against that. Whatever financial model works. They clearly have a great deal of control over the finished beer.
As is proved by the beer I get: Helles. One of the trickiest styles to do well. As a lover of Augustiner Helles, my standards are high. Only handful over here have been up to it. But this one is. Light, without being bland. And drinkable as fuck.
Giant corrugated iron shed is how I would describe the building. Sitting between railway tracks and the river. No great beauty. That’s all compensated by the large beer garden outside. Running down to the aforementioned river. Lovely.
We sit outside and drink a couple of Helles. This is fun.
“What about some tacos?” Mike asks, “There’s a food truck.”
I can cope with that. Not too heavy. We amble down to the truck.
Peering through the window, I’m impressed. They’re doing it the proper way. Cooking everything to order. Even the bread component.
The tacos are dead good. Really dead good. Tempting a stomach-challenged me to stuff my face.
We don’t make it a late one. Mike has me back at the cabin by 9:30. He has work and shit tomorrow.
I watch some TV while the fireflies flash neon green distractions outside.
And sip a somnambulant whiskey to hasten me to my dreams.
745 Biltmore Ave #121,
Tel: +1 828-505-7500
Zebulon Artisan Ales
8 Merchants Alley,
Zillicoah Beer Co.
870 Riverside Dr,
Tel: +1 828-424-7929
1438 Patton Ave,
Tel: +1 828-412-3331
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