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Tour de New Belgium Brewery Tour in Asheville

November 16th, 2016 by Diane Rogers

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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Seasons of Change

April 8th, 2016 by Diane Rogers

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”

Asheville’s South Slope Beer and BBQ

September 28th, 2015 by Diane Rogers

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 by Diane Rogers

 

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 by Diane Rogers

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 by Diane Rogers

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.

WNC Chef’s Challenge

May 29th, 2012 by Diane Rogers

The WNC Chefs Challenge competitions are underway  Tuesday nights at Pack’s Tavern  in downtown Asheville. The Asheville area’s coolest culinary competition is back going strong.  Fourteen of the areas top chefs square off in weekly match-ups that determine who triumphs as  Best Chef in WNC.

At each challenge,  the two chef teams prepare  six dishes – three from each team.  Earlier in the day the chefs are given a   “secret ingredient” that has to be featured in each culinary creation.  The diners are not told which team prepared each dish and score the dishes using the same guidelines as a professional food critic. At the end of the evening the scores are tallied and the winning team moves on to the next round.

The last two teams standing  will face off during the finale at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting on August 23, 2012.

Want to judge for yourself ?  Call Pack’s Tavern at 225-6944 to reserve your space. Tickets are $49 per person and do not include beverages, tax or gratuity. For additional information speak with Stacy at Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast.

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