Half the crew needed to empty their gerbil bladders (again...), so Chuck and I bee-lined for Asheville Brewing Company which we could easily see and grabbed some Shiva IPA's. Shiva IPA is one of the old Asheville standbys, and 2008 was no disappointment! Not double, or oaked, or any of that mess, just a straight up awesome IPA. I suck at descriptions, so suffice it to say, I liked it. They also had roasted peanuts which was a plus.
What we were really looking for was Highland Brewing...every year they double one of their regular offerings, sample it at the festival, and sell it as a limited release the day following the festival and no other day. Last year was their incredible Kashmir IPA which created a superlative double IPA, but alas, they didn't take credit cards at the brewery and I came away empty handed
This year I had cash in hand in case they hit on something else. Well, they doubled their Black Mocha Stout and it was indeed fantastic....but not fantastic enough to wait in line for an hour at the brewery with my wife and kid in the car. It was worth 3 samples of this 10.2% delectable beverage, however.
I then tried a King Don Pumpkin from Catawba Valley Brewing. Now, I like pumpkin ales. A lot (at least this time of year). This one, however, didn't really scratch my itch. Chuck and I both found it heavy on the nutmeg and thin on the body. Oh well. It was voted best of show last year, I'm not sure about this year.
Followed that up with an Old Ruffian barleywine from Great Divide that was good, if a little sweet. I wanted to ask some technical questions about this one, but alas, the pourer was only a pourer. You get that a lot with the out-of-state brewers that exhibit. Rogue was also around where I also had an Old Crustacean which I think I liked a little better. OTOH, that was much later in the day and all objectivity had been lost hours before!
Let's see, what else was notable in no particular order (actually, alphabetical order)...
Appalachian Brewing: Black Bear Stout and their IPA were both quite quaffable.
Azalea Coast Brewing: don't touch the stuff. The three times I tried it were not pleasant, and the brewers weren't interested in hearing it...pass.
Big Boss Brewing: this is my local, but I had to stop by and say hi and have a few! Their Harvest Time Pumpkin is a pumpkin I like. Sadly, they've laid off the hoppy beers until they're cost effective again.
Dogfish: Festina Peche(?) and 60 minute...I took a pass for less esoteric samples.
Duck Rabbit: One of my faves, their stout and amber ale always please. A dark beer specialist from the eastern part of the state. OTOH, apparently BOSTON went their for a tour or look around, and didn't even get a sample! I'd be pissed and probably boycott them.
Foothills Brewing: Hoppyum IPA, a great dry-hopped aromatic IPA. Not double or triple, just an IPA.
French Broad Brewing: 13 Rebels ESB. I love this beer and it has a super cool label, so I bought a t-shirt:
Their Ryehopper was also intriguing. Some thought the rye was a little too subtle, but I thought it was just right and really complimented the hop profile.
Green Man Brewing: I hadn't tried their beers before (that I remember), but their IPA was solid.
Lagunitas: skipped as I've had a bunch of it, although being from CA it was semi-exotic at this locale...
Old Hickory Brewery: the Table Rock Pale Ale is solid. Hickory Stick Stout ain't bad.
Pisgah Brewing: The Valdez stout was very nice, and on beer gas if I recall correctly. Their pale ale was also very drinkable.
Terrapin Brewing Co: One of my favorite, favorite beers is their Rye Pale Ale. I could drink that beer the rest of my life. So I obviously sampled it. They also had their Big Hoppy Monster which was a big hoppy monster and awesome!
Thomas Creek Brewing: saw they had a Doppelbock and had to try it...it was okay, but not as malty as I would have expected.
Victory Brewing: at some point I had a Prima Pilsner to cleanse my palate a bit, and of course followed up with a Hop Devil IPA.
There were many others we tried but I didn't note. Lots of high gravity beers this year, especially IIPA's and imperial stouts. I just can't keep track of them in my head and after 4 hours of drinking, well...
Oh, the weather was incredible...clear skies, 70-75F, light breeze, just ideal.