Asheville bed & breakfast photos

Tour de New Belgium Brewery Tour in Asheville

November 16th, 2016

In a town known for beer, the new big kid on the block is New Belgium Brewery, located at 21 Craven Street, just a little over 2 miles from Pinecrest.  If you are looking for a brewery tour in Asheville, this is not to be missed.

We had the pleasure of visiting their Liquid Center in May and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, sampling a pint or two while sitting on their patio that looks over the French Broad River.  When we saw the tours gearing up in September, we made our reservations online at Tour Calendar and waited with much anticipation for our spot on their brewery tour in Asheville at New Belgium.

Brewery Tours in Asheville

Tour guide de Jour

Things you need to know about the tours:

1) limited to twenty people

2) last between 60 and 90 minutes

3) must be 21 because…..

4)FREE samples!

Really there is not much more to say except it is worth your time.  Our tour guy’s knowledge and enthusiasm were contagious as he guided us throughout the facility.

First Stop on the Tour

After a brief introduction to New Belgium outside, the tour group ventured into the facility to see lots of shiny stainless steel tanks and a bar.  With taps and plenty of glasses for the first sampling. 

Brewery tour in Asheville

First sample stop

Brewery tour in Asheville

No steps needed!

We learned a lot about the company and it’s culture:  like the employees ARE the owners,  every employee receives a Fat Tire cruiser bike on their first anniversary, a one week trip to Belgium on their fifth anniversary, and their workers get a free 12-pack of beer every week.   The list goes on and on and you probably will want to apply for a job for no other reason than they have a slide at work!  It’s part of the tour and you really should skip the steps and go down it. But be warned, you can get up a head of steam and fly out of it.  As for applying for a job:  the only open positions were Process Automation Engineer or Production Process Analyst.  Guess taste tester was already filled?

Making Beer

We learned a lot about making beer too:  the short version being convert a grain, primarily barley (or wheat) into wort then ferment it with yeast.  That version is intentionally short so you will have to go hear the whole story at the best brewery tour in Asheville.  Our guide was thorough and used verbs like mashing, sparging, fermenting, and lautering though you can forget more than you remember after the 3 free samples.

Brewery Tour in Asheville

Magic happens in these tanks

Bottling Beer

Brewery tour in Asheville

Let’s bottle some beer!

If possible, schedule your tour during the week so there will be a greater chance the bottling floor will be operational.  It brought back memories of my job at Colgate, putting toothpaste in tubes.  It would be both fascinating and mesmerizing to watch the action and we will be scheduling another tour in the near future for certain.

The latest news from the New Belgium blog is they are teaming up with their neighbor Wedge Brewing Co. for a collaboration to benefit greenways.   How cool is it that New Belgium will be  delivering Dulkelweizen beer for the launch party at Wedge by bike?  And for every pint sold, $1 will be donated to greenways in Buncombe County. 

Brewery tour in Asheville

Yes those are happy smiles.  We tried La Folie sour brown ale, Ranger IPS but our favorite is their flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. We love New Belgium Brewery!

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Let’s eat!

August 11th, 2016

Asheville is renowned for its local food scene and we have enjoyed our share of tasty dishes at more than one restaurant in our first six months.  As innkeepers, we are often asked for recommendations which are too numerous for one blog, but when discussing restaurants in Asheville, why not start with one in our neighborhood of historic Montford?  Sometimes the real estate adage of  “location, location, location” applies to restaurants as well so let’s start just one block from Pinecrest.

One Block:  Nine Mile

It doesn’t get any closer than Nine Mile.  The definitive authority, Google maps, says it’s a mere 0.2 miles or a 4 minute walk.  Frankly we would walk farther in our kitchen if we stayed home and made dinner but why would we when we can take a trip to the islands without ever boarding a plane?  The cuisine here consists of Caribbean inspired dishes, most served over your choice of pasta or rice with plenty of options leaning toward fish or chicken and many of the dishes can be adapted to be vegetarian friendly.    Most entrees include a side of Natty bread and a salad.  The choices of salad dressing alone indicates where their flavor profile is headed:  Mango Vinaigrette, Jalapeno Lime Cilantro (personal favorite!) Orange Balsamic, and Sesame Garlic Tahini.

Restaurants in Asheville nachos

Nine Mile Nachos Big It Up!

We can not help ourselves but to start with Reggae Mylitis aka black bean nachos with smokey chipotle queso and while we are at it–“big it up” with bell peppers, jalapenos, tomato and green onions.

 

Restaurants in Asheville fish

Negril Nights…we started without you

The portions here, like many restaurants in Asheville,  are beyond generous so we often share an entree….but not always because it’s hard to choose from the myriad choices and even harder to agree on just one.  One such choice is Negril Nights described on the menu as grilled salt & pepper wild-caught tuna with garden vegetables and fire-roasted tomatoes, sauteed with white wine and a velvety diary-free coconut jerk sauce.  It’s a mouthful for sure!  As you can see on the left, sometimes we can’t resist taking a bite before we snap a photo.  It’s that good.

Nine Mile always has a daily special too  so be sure to check out the black board over the bar for their yummy description.  The staff here are constantly pushing the envelope to use fresh ingredients in inventive ways that will challenge your preconceived flavor profiles.

Nine Mile serves beer which pair nicely with the nachos!  They have a nice selection of bottled beer or ask about their rotating taps which feature some of the fine craft brews made here in Asheville.  Wine is also available by the glass or bottle.  The bar is a great place to grab a first come, first serve seat or sip a beverage while waiting for a table because this place is small…and popular…and doesn’t take reservations but it’s worth the wait.

Appalachian Trail for One Day

July 25th, 2016

Let’s face it, aren’t we all a little enamored with the Appalachian Trail?  This romantic notion of walking from Georgia to Maine holds some mystical power over us all.  And if you are lucky enough to live nearby the trail in Asheville, you can put down the Jon Krakauer book, lace up your boots, and give it a whirl, if only for a day.  We locked the door behind us at Pinecrest B&B and headed out for an adventure.

A good place to start would be 36 miles north of Asheville in Hot Springs, NC where the trail runs right through the center of town.  We choose the 1.6 mile loop Lover’s Leap Hike with directions quickly handwritten from the our favorite blog, Romantic Asheville. Even us novices knew there would be no GPS where we were headed.

Appalachian Trail thru Hot Springs NC

It would seem the day was off to a good start with the marker in the sidewalk.  We stopped in Bluff Mountain Outfitters which would be a godsend for supplies for those hearty souls who are thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail. They have earned our utmost respect.  Perhaps the hiking gene skips a generation as my parents hike and our daughter has even backpacked in Alaska but our main exercise these days is carrying laundry up and down two flights of steps.  Onward and upward!

Over the bridge, down some steps, a street led us to a well worn trail right beside the French Broad River.  There is something mesmerizing about the sound of water and particularly the rush over any waterfall, albeit so small.  With the intensity of the heat, a trip down the river over Surprise Falls might have been a better choice on this hot summer day?  Maybe our next outing will be at French Broad Rafting.

Surprise Falls on the French Broad River

Surprise Falls on the French Broad River

Everyone knows the white blaze of the Appalachian Trail keeps hikers on the right path but we somehow veered off quite quickly to the left.  Looking for a series of switchbacks, we attempted a near vertical climb, using ropes someone had secured to traverse this particularly challenging terrain.

This is NOT the AT

This is NOT the AT

AT White Blaze

White blaze marks the AT

After 50 feet straight up, we abandoned this spur and retraced our steps, nearly rappelling back down and headed along the river again, this time in the right direction!  And soon there were the familiar white blazes every 100 feet, bringing comfort to the uninitiated.

 

We continued along the river path awhile then came upon the promised switchbacks that started our ascent to 3 rock outcroppings.  The forest was still and quiet, save for our footfalls but we knew others had traversed this same path by the “cairns”

Cairns

Cairns

they left behind, which brings comfort to some but considered a scourge by others. It was nice to be reminded that there are places, not so far away if we seek them, where we can find quiet, peace and solace from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  No cell phones, no GPS, no email but be sure to take plenty of water as hiking the Appalachian Trail can leave you winded and thirsty.

 

The hike up was certainly worth it for the peak-a-boo views of the river below and ridges towering above.  We were happy to stop and rest at the top before taking the Silvermine Loop Trail back down the mountain.

Stunning views from the Appalachian Trail

Stunning views from the Appalachian Trail

These mountains call to us to climb them, some higher than others but all of us have the desire to search for views such as these.  All that is left to be said is “breathtaking.”

View from Lover's Leap Trail on the AT

View from Lover’s Leap Trail on the AT

 

 

 

All Things Ale Trail

May 25th, 2016

In the brief time that we have been innkeepers here in Asheville, we’ve had the opportunity to frequent any number of local breweries and to experience the city’s reputation as the “Denver of the East.”  With over 20 breweries in Buncombe County alone, it’s hard to even know where to start.  One of the great tools we used to navigate was the Asheville Ale Trail, available in several formats.  Booklets can be found around town in kiosks or breweries.  Their website can be found here and for those beer connoisseurs that need to know the closest brewery right around the corner, there’s an app for smartphones.

Although Asheville Beer Week is in its 5th year, we get to see it through all new eyes starting May 27th  thru June 4th, 2016.  More information about this event is available here.

Here’s the Ale Trail we took:

Lexington Ave Brewery Ale TrailLexington Ave Brewery (LAB)

Naturally, we started at the brewery closest to our inn, a mere mile away but still far enough to work up a thirst!  Open and inviting, we chose a seat at the bar and paired our beer selection with a choice from their full menu.  Since this brewery has restaurant service too, this is a great place to have lunch or dinner.

 

 

Green Man Ale TrailGreen Man Brewery

Although Green Man has updated and upgraded its presence on the corner of Buxton and Church streets, if you’re more comfortable having a beer in someone’s garage, head to the back to 27 Buxton Ave where they do beer and only beer.  The atmosphere is unpretentious as tables are located mere feet away from the tanks.  It doesn’t get much closer than this!

 

Asheville Brewing Ale TrailAsheville Pizza and Brewing

With multiple locations in the city, our favorite is on Coxe Ave.  The ever helpful wait staff are quick to bring a sample to the curious consumer, which led us to discover the Ninja Latte, which is a delicious combination of the best worlds of both coffee and beer!  Is there a more perfect food to pair with beer than pizza?  Our favorite was the Funky Chicken, a bbq sauce based pizza with chicken, cheese and bacon.  And before you knock it, we dare you to try the Sweet Pea’s Spinach Burger, guaranteed to be the best no meat “burger” known to man!

Bhramari Brewhouse Ale TrailBhramari Brewhouse

Don’t let the name confuse you!  Named after the Hindu Goddess of Bees, this newcomer to the scene brings an eclectic mix of food and beer to the Asheville scene.  From small plates to entrees, the food was spot on.  We highly recommend a flight to get the best sample of all the beers they have to offer.  In nice weather, head to the back patio where they often offer live music too.

 

Burial Ale TrailBurial Beer Company

Our last stop on the South Slope tour was Burial Beer Co.  Off the beaten path and seemingly a favorite of locals, this was the place recommended by multiple bartenders, so you know it’s good!  This place is best visited on a sunny day because there is no better spot to enjoy a flight than on one of their several patio spaces.  All we can say is we will be back!

 

 

New Belgium Brewing Company

Worth the drive to the River Arts District, don’t miss New Belgium’s brand new brewery that will eventually provide this brand’s beer distributed east of the Mississippi.  To get a taste of your favorites on tap, head to their Liquid Center.  This place was hopping even on a Monday afternoon, so anticipate large crowds if you plan to head there on the weekend.  Perched on the banks of the French Broad River, their patio had great views to have a sip and you can even bring your dog along.  If you get hungry, a different food truck is on site each day.  We were lucky to score with Appalachian Chic and their not to be missed tater tots.  Trust us, they’re not Ore Ida!  We are looking forward to the day tours of the facility are also offered.  Uber is convenient, safe, and worth it so keep it as an option if everyone in your group wants to taste a beer, cause after all, it is Beer Week!

New Belgium Ale Trail Dogs Welcome On Ale Trail

Seasons of Change

April 8th, 2016

We arrived as new innkeepers at Pinecrest in the dead cold of early February, greeted by guests and frozen drain pipes but such is life in a house solidly built in 1905.  Spring has definitely arrived at the bed & breakfast, bringing the beauty of the redbuds blooming outside the sleeping porch, our most favorite room to sit with a cup of coffee or wine and just take a moment to breath deep and relax.  Each afternoon, we entice our guests to sample the homemade desserts on the sideboard in the dining room.Cookies are good in all seasons  But my favorite part of the day is the early morning, when the house starts to come alive for another day, when we all wake up renewed from a restful night of sleep: the footfalls on the staircase,  the quiet voices as guests greet each other on the sun porch, the birds chirping as they find haven in the yard.  Even through all of this change, as I start the preparations for breakfast, the sun peeks through the kitchen window and I am reminded that “today is a good day for a good day!”

Seasons of the leaves in full effect

“Redbuds blooming beside the sleeping porch”

Spring Brings New Faces

March 27th, 2016

Spring brings Ginger barkingThere are new faces at Pinecrest Bed & Breakfast and one of them is named Ginger, guardian of the backyard and all around lovable dog.  She arrived with her owners, Dan & Diane Rogers, when they purchased the inn in February.  All are adjusting nicely to their new surroundings, especially Ginger as she explores the 1.3 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.  Ginger has always and will continue to be an outdoor dog so the “No Pets” policy remains in place.

Spring brings dan and dianeDan and Diane are equally thrilled to be the new innkeepers at such a bed & breakfast as Pinecrest and will greet you warmly upon arrival and strive to meet your expectations for luxurious accommodations, delicious breakfasts, and delightful afternoon treats.  As a small family run inn with just five rooms, they can provide you with that extra special ambiance and personal service.

If you would like to meet Ginger, book your stay at Pinecrest then take a short walk to the rear of the inn and you will be greeted by our dog, who will bark crazily until you reach down and she lets you pet her tummy at which point, you have met a new friend for life!

The terrace in spring   Terraced seating in the backyard

Asheville’s South Slope Beer and BBQ

September 28th, 2015

Buxton Hall Elliott Moss Buxton HallMore and more we find ourselves, along with a growing number of other locals and tourists, heading just a little south of downtown these days.  Gone are the days when this faded automotive and industrial part of the city, with its long idled warehouses, empty buildings and fenced off lots sat idle – now giving way to breweries, restaurants, shops, living spaces and even a donut shop.

Those looking for a multi-stop walking brew tour will find, tucked in between a four block area south of downtown, a cluster of six breweries (with more being planned).  This area, known as the South Slope, is establishing itself with in the region’s (perhaps the nation’s) craft beer capital as Asheville’s “Brewery District.”

Leading the charge for this transition,  was Green Man Brewery which opened over a decade ago at 27 Buxton Avenue.  The brewery — one of the oldest in Asheville — opened in 1997 and moved from the popular Jack of the Wood downtown pub to the South Slope in 2003.

Other breweries have now found their way to the neighborhood, including Asheville Brewing Company, which expanded and took over an old Cadillac dealership at the top of Coxe Avenue; Hi-Wire Brewing next door; and then Burial Beer, Twin Leaf, Wicked Weed Brewing’s Funkatorium Tasting Room, and Thirsty Monk craft beer bar at the top of the slope.

If you want to get an early start, Vortex Doughnuts has opened a delicious spot with very unique twists on the sugary delight. They hand-make yeast and cake doughnuts throughout the morning with fresh, high-quality ingredients and top them with creative glazes, toppings and fillings.

Buxton Hall Barbecue restaurant is now open on Banks Avenue nestled between Catawba Brewery and Vortex  — in a former skating rink — created by Chef Elliott Moss, former chef of The Admiral in West Asheville.   This whole hog experience was our reason for sliding down to the slope on this Saturday night.  Word of mouth was that this was the real deal and we could not wait to check out Moss’s new venture.

True to form, we found Elliott in the middle of the bustling kitchen – working the fires and tending the hogs.  You can easily see that this is truly a labor of love for him and honors his upbringing in the south.  Moss not only brings to Buxton his honest-to-goodness southern cooking, but his experience as chef at the Admiral and two other widely-regarded pop-ups at MG Road: Punk Wok and the Thunderbird.

Walking into Buxton, the smell of, well…cooked pig is thick in the air and the recent results of fire and sow coming close together are featured center stage – splayed out on the main table in the kitchen.   There is also very little separation between diners and those putting your meal together.  The open kitchen allows you to see where your meal is coming from – fully exposing patrons to the hustle and bustle, the smoke and the fire.  The sounds and smells of cooking are an important part of this dining experience.

The breaking down of the barrier between kitchen and dining space may seem like a recent trend made famous by “in the field” dinners.  As is the case in most homes; however, the desire to be close to the action – the sounds, the smells, the process of cooking, has always drawn people into the kitchen.  That tradition is what drives the open-kitchen concept at Buxton Hall.

Besides the whole-hog barbecue, Buxton features dishes like chicken bog, a “humble, working-class, stick-to-your-bones” rice and chicken dish.  An homage to being raised in rural South Carolina, Moss’ cuisine centers on the simple, slow-cooked comfort foods of both the roadside barbecue stands and the country buffets.  It’s a testament to a time when down-home Southern food was made with fresh, local ingredients rather than boxed or corporately sourced components.

Our dining experience at Buxton Hall was unbelievable. The family made a wholehearted attempt to sample almost everything on the menu.  Highlights were the buttermilk-breaded fried chicken sandwich and the pulled pork sandwich – which were reasonably priced and neither created for light eaters.  The ribs were perfectly done and will give the other famous Asheville rib joint a run for their money.  Our entire table strongly recommends the Farm and Sparrow hushpuppies.  They were simply amazing – especially when smeared with the house made pimento spread.  To slake your thirst, top notch cocktails, good wine and local brews are available from the bar.

Yes Asheville, the South Slope has an anchor restaurant to sustain you on your walking brew tour.

In between the restaurant and the donut shop, and very convenient if you need to whet your whistle while waiting for a table at Buxton, is Catawba Brewing.  This recently opened brewery has a great open space with two bars and a courtyard. They have 24 taps at the front bar and another six at the back bar.

Another sweet spot that should not be ignored is the French Broad Chocolate Lounge Factory which has operated in the South Slope area since 2010.

Put on some comfortable shoes and do some urban exploring of your own.  Keep an eye out for even more breweries and restaurants.  As quickly as this section of part of Asheville is changing, several more establishments have probably opened up in the time it took us to write and post this blog. For more information call the Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast at 828-281-4275.

Zen Tubing an Asheville Outdoor Adventure

July 21st, 2015

 

lynnezip

We have been operating this Asheville Bed and Breakfast for almost 13 very lucky years and one of the biggest changes we’ve observed in the last several years is the duration of days our guests stay. It used to be folks would come in for a couple days to “get-away” and “recharge” – usually coming from not too distant towns and cities. More recently the average stay has    gone from just a few days to longer visits with a good number of folks even staying for a week.  Guests are coming from everywhere including a lot of international destinations.

While everyone almost certainly ventures to the Biltmore Estate for a day, or even 2, most people are looking for other adventures in and around Asheville.  We are increasingly assisting incoming guests with planning their vacation and extended stays.

Of course there is any number of outdoor activities to keep you entertained, but one of the newest and definitely most fun activity to hit the Asheville area of late is Zen Tubing.  It is the most leisurely way to enjoy an afternoon along the French Broad River.

I know what you’re thinking…..black tubes that you lug up the stream and float down and lug back up the stream and down again.  Not exactly..this is tubing in a Cadillac, or perhaps being Asheville – a fully loaded Prius, and there is no lugging involved.  The tube provides a soft and cushiony ride, has a back rest, a bottom (to protect your own) and can be hooked together with other floaters.

Zen Tubing has 2 locations that you can drop in from – the Southern route which drops in near Bent Creek, just a short ride south of Asheville and a Mid-town location that cruises through the River Arts District past a few Breweries ending just short of the Bywater, a great outdoor/indoor drinking and eating venue.  They even have a free shuttle to the Bywater parking lot.

The process is so easy- just park at one of the end destinations, get checked-in and take the shuttle to the put in.  The average time on the river is between 2 and 3 hours ending where your car is parked. They are open 7 days a week from 10:00 to 4:00. You just have to be out of the water by 7:00. The cost per person for adults is $20.00 and kids $15.00.

We took our kids out the last weekend of summer last year and had an absolute ball.  We decided on the Southern route and couldn’t have had a sweeter family outing.  We floated along with the current of the French Broad River, swam, swung from a rope, had a picnic on one of the many islands and relaxed.  Thinking of everything for a fun-filled trip, they even provided a tube for our cooler.

Please don’t hesitate to ask Pinecrest B & B to help you plan your trip. We’ve got some great ideas.  Contact  Pinecrest Inn at 828-281-4275 or visit our website at www.pinecrestbb.com.

 

Orange Ricotta Yogurt Sauce

June 10th, 2015

We can’t make this sauce at the Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast without someone asking for the recipe.  It’s so easy yet so elegant.  It’s delicious on just about any fruit! I especially enjoy  a dollop on a bowl of fresh berries. –like the unbelievably sweet strawberries we have been getting from Full Sun Farm.

ricottablog

In a food processor mix:

1/2 cup Ricotta cheese

1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (not Greek)

1 Tbsp sugar

1Tbsp vanilla extract

zest of half an orange

I recommend tasting to make sure it meets with your approval, if not, add a little more of whatever you think it needs. I prefer the sauce thick, but you can thin it by adding more yogurt. I’ve tried different Ricotta chesses but have had the most success with Breakstone whole milk. This recipe serves 8.

Enjoy !

 

 

Asheville Fall Farm and Artisan Package

May 25th, 2015

Yes, everyone wants to experience the fall foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway but wouldn’t it be grand to take a drive slightly less-traveled and just as beautiful. There is another equally enjoyable  way to experience Asheville’s Fall Season -wandering the beautiful mountains and winding roads locals, farmers and crafts people know so well.  This fall from September  1 to November 15, 2015  this  Asheville Inn will be offering a Fall Farm and Artisan Tour Package.  The package is centered around  a self-guided driving tour through the beautiful Sandy Mush community of Leicester, NC. The valley is a step back in time and breathtakingly picturesque with rolling hills that lead up to mountains that surround the valley in every direction. The landscape is dotted with horses, cattle, big red barns and working farms. The tour takes you to Addison Vineyards where you will enjoy a picnic and wine tasting, local farms and artisan studios and shops.

Image result for sandy mush nc

Image result for sandy mush nc

 

The package requires  a 2 night booking and includes:

A picnic lunch to eat a Addison Vineyards. After your picnic enjoy a tasting and complimentary glass of wine. You will receive 10% off wine purchases.

A touring map/guide of Sandy Mush Community of Artisans and Farms. The map will include specific hours and contact information for each farm and artist.  It is recommended that you contact the farm/artist ahead of time because some of them operate by appointment only.

Next explore the farm store at Sandy Hollar Farms. Shop for hone, beeswax candles and pick- your -own blackberries. You will receive 10% discount on store purchase. Although you won’t be in the market for a Christmas tree, Sandy Hollar Farms is one of the biggest local tree farms in the area.

Meet the pigs raised on the whiskey mash from Troy & Son (an Asheville whiskey distiller) at Whiskey Pigs.  A 10% discount will apply to meat and eggs purchases.

Explore the Long Branch Environmental Education Center, a farm designed for research, education and conservation.  In addition to seeing solar farm buildings and a tobacco barn, pick up conservation tips and buy apples and cider.

Tour, shop and meet the following fine artisans:

Jones Pottery, the studio of nationally recognized potter Matt Jones

The studio of quilter Laurie W. Brown

Painter Christine Hield at Sky Dance Art

Fiber artist June Hawkins at Sandy Hollar

The workshop of broom maker Marlow Gates and photographer Diana Gates

It’s not too early to be planning your fall trip to Asheville. Please call Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast  828-281-4275 for pricing details. We look forward to helping you plan your visit.

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