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I Have Never Met A Stranger…at the bar.

Recently, I was out with some friends and we went to a great little bar in Decatur Georgia called the Thinking Man Tavern. I was there with people I know and love and we enjoyed conversation and beer and food and it was a great time. Of course, that kind of bar experience is always fun. But I got to thinking about what happens when you don’t have your social network on hand.



Occasionally, I find myself at the bar alone or maybe just myself and Matt.  I treasure those experiences just as much as a great night out with great friends. The reason for that is that beer helps you make friends. Not in an “I’m really drunk so I’m going to fall all over you, stranger” kind of way, but more in appreciation of the art of craft brewing.
Just last night, I found myself on my own for dinner so I went to the Taco Mac closest to my work. It was Thursday, so it was Pint Night and I wanted to get my beer glass.  I sat down at an empty chair at the bar and ordered my requisite Beer of the Month and settled in. I pulled out my iPod and connected to the Internet, perfectly content to amuse myself. But then, the two people to my left started talking about being from Michigan so I politely smiled and told them I was from Michigan as well. I didn’t want to interrupt the rest of their conversation, but occasionally they would draw me back in. We talked about sports teams and colleges and a few other things. But then I started to talk with two guys on my right – a Father/Son drinking team. They were both kind of new to the Beer Club so we started talking about what kind of beers they liked. They were surprised by how much I knew about beer, but that was because I reached the next benchmark of the beer club – I get a tee-shirt and glass mailed to me now. I enjoyed the conversation, truthfully more than I enjoyed the beer…but that is a slightly different topic.
But I got to thinking about how the art of beer seems to bring people together. My last post was about getting to know some other guy at the bar when they sat down at our table because we were leaving. We didn’t end up leaving because the discussion of beer and music was so engaging. You always have at least one thing to talk about – Beer. When you go to places the specialize in craft brewed beers, you tend to meet other people who also like craft brewed beers. Sometimes if you dig deeper you’ll find other things in common with these strangers. And truth is, you will probably never see them again but just that hour or two of great conversation can really make your day.
Now in regards to the beer. I’ve recently tried two local breweries newest additions and one I loved and one…not so much.
At the Thinking Man’s Tavern I was able to try Wild Heaven’snew quadruple called Eschaton. It was absolutely delicious. I try really hard to be able to describe the flavors of beer, but this one was really complex. It was a dark beer, but not overly heavy. It was a sweet beer, but not cloyingly so. It tasted of brown sugar and molasses and some mild fruitiness. Since it is a high gravity beer, it is served as an 8 ounce poor. This is good; I might have kept drinking it because it was so delicious. It is funny – I don’t often find myself describing beer as “Delicious.” Usually I use adjectives like “good” or “tasty”. But for some reason those didn’t adequately describe Eschaton. Wild Heaven is only one of several new breweries taking over the Atlanta market. If you find yourself in our fair southern town, make sure you try the local beer.
But not this one...
I’ll admit, I am a gigantic fan of local Red Brick Brewery. Their Brown is one of my go-to beers. So at the bar last night when I saw they had the brand new Vanilla Gorilla Porter, I wanted to give it a try. I didn’t want just a sample, though she would have given me a taste. I wanted to try a whole one, and get the additional points on my beer club card (which is what put me over the edge to getting to the next level). The bartender described it better than I ever could. It tasted like Bacon and Ice Cream. And not in a good way. There is a trend now to brew Smoked beers, and I have to admit that the flavor is not among my favorites. Vanilla Gorilla, as you might imagine, is a Vanilla Smoked Porter. I think it might have been a fantastic vanilla porter. It might have even been a good smoked porter if you’re into that sort of thing. But the combination of the meaty smokiness and the sweet vanilla was not good for me. Thanks, Red Brick, for trying something new. And the next time you try something new I will give it a go as well. But for now, I’ll just be over here with my Red Brick Brown.



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Great Beer Night

It has been a while since I've paid much attention to this blog. With my other projects, sometimes this one gets a little neglected.  Making beer is very much a repetitive process, so sometimes I don't feel the motivation to write about it after I...

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Damn, I make good beer!

Okay, I don't want to jinx myself and I am sure the first bad batch of beer is coming eventually, but my most recent batch is awesome.  The Austin Home Brew modified brown recipe is delicious.  A little bit nutty, a little bit chocolaty. ...

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Chocolatey and Roasty

Chocolatey and roatsy are two of my favorite words when it comes to beer. If a beer is either chocolatey or roasty they are typically beers that I like.Yesterday, Matt and I bottled the latest beer that I had brewed about a month earlier along with som...

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Not my usual, but nice

Beer brewing is an interesting hobby.  There is a lot of chemistry as well as some baking and cooking skill, which I suppose is also chemistry.  Back on March 5th I brewed what the recipe told me was an ESB.  Now, certainly I am not faul...

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  • SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s Now Open Inside Historic Rabbit’s Motel

    A three year revitalization project taking place inside of Asheville, North Carolina’s historic Southside neighborhood has come to fruition with the opening of SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s, the city’s first public access music rehearsal facility. The studio space, which will soon include a soul food eatery and mixed medium artist amenities has taken residence inside the now-defunct Rabbit’s Motel, a Green Book site for African-American travelers which operated from the late 1940s until the turn of the 21st century. Repurposing the building to accommodate the influx of creatives who call Asheville home, co-founders Claude Coleman, Jr. (of the rock outfit Ween) and Brett Spivey hope to carry the legacy of the historic construction by providing functional practice quarters and an accessible gathering place for artists of all mediums. 

    Established in 1948 by Fred “Rabbit” Simpson, Rabbit’s Motel was considered a crown jewel of Black-owned tourist courts in the segregation-era South. The inn provided lodging and dining for Black visitors, including such prominent figures as Chitlin Circuit entertainers, soul singer and performer Jackie Wilson, comedian Richard Pryor, race car driver Wendell Scott and baseball star Willie “Pops” Stargell. At the heart of Rabbit’s Motel was Lou Ella Byrd’s beloved soul food kitchen, a town favorite dining establishment which was famously known for its “pork chops the size of bibles.” Mrs. Byrd’s café operated for over half a century and was cherished by a cross-section of Asheville’s communities up to 2003. In late 2021, local chef Clarence Robinson (also known as The Flavor King) will bring his culinary chops and signature “Cooking With Comedy” flair to the SoundSpace facility. A lifelong Asheville resident and relative of Rabbit Motel’s original owner, Robinson is set to recharge the vacated kitchen space with a new soul food café that will pay homage to the accomplishments of Mrs. Byrd while informing a new vision for Western North Carolina’s rich food scene.  

    In addition to providing a vital service to Asheville’s rapidly expanding music sector, SoundSpace will soon boast a series of workshops, events, and programs to foster the arts in underserved communities. Future plans include a livestream series called SoundSpace @ Rabbit’s Live which will feature Afro-centric performances broadcast directly from inside the facility, and a multi-artist mural project that will reinvigorate the building’s exterior. With equity and collaboration at the forefront, co-founders Claude Coleman, Jr. and Brett Spivey — both lifelong musicians and passionate community stakeholders — hope to establish SoundSpace as a longstanding resource that embraces a model of diversity through music, art, food, and collaboration.

    For more information about SoundSpace, visit www.soundpaceavl.com. For a brief history of Asheville’s historic Southside district, see below.

    For media inquiries and interview requests, contact Danielle Dror (danielle@teamvictorylap.com) at Victory Lap Publicity.

    Southside: Lost Communities of Black Exceptionalism in Asheville
    Rabbit’s Motel sat in the heart of Southside, a flourishing African-American neighborhood that was one of many Black communities burgeoning in Asheville, North Carolina. Southside contained a vital business district for the African-American community as much as The Block in the center of downtown, which was a nexus of Black commercialism and one of the largest Black-owned business districts in the South. The Block was adjacent to East End, home of Stephens-Lee High School, the only public African-American school in North Carolina.

    Southside was a mixed district of businesses ranging from funeral homes and drive-in diners, and was an entertainment hub of hotels and bar-clubs frequented by Chitlin’ Circuit groups as well as supporting a robust local music scene of Black bands.

    Municipal neglect to these communities allowed widespread blight. The practices of Urban Renewal upended these historic communities over a period of 30 years. Entire neighborhoods were dispossessed, roads were redrawn, and communities and their sense of belonging and connection were dismantled. In just the East Riverside area alone, “we lost more than 1,100 homes, six beauty parlors, five barber shops, five filling stations, fourteen grocery stores, three laundromats, eight apartment houses, seven churches, three shoe shops, two cabinet shops, two auto body shops, one hotel, five funeral homes, one hospital, and three doctor’s offices.” (Reverend Wesley Grant) During the East Riverside Redevelopment Project, an urban renewal effort targeting 425 across was completely demolished.

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