Friday, July 11, 2008

Pink elephants in Asheville

In North Carolina for a few days, I stopped in last evening at the Thirsty Monk in Asheville.

The managing director of Brouwerij Huyghe was the bar's special guest.

, family-owned and independent, is best known for its strong Belgian golden ale, Delerium Tremens, and for the beer's label featuring pink elephants.

Standing on a chair to be heard over the din of the appreciative crowd, Alain De Laet delivered a simultaneously informative and gracious mini-lecture on the good fortune of Huyghe and the state of good beer itself.

Alain De Laet
Rather than damning international light lagers such as Stella or Bavik (as many of us often do), he pointed out that these beers can be gateways to better beer. Discovering a new, slightly fuller-flavored beer may lead an inquisitive drinker to look for another... and another.

And the world of full-flavored Belgian beers suddenly will become evident.

American craft brewers have long sought inspiration and instruction from Belgian brewers, he said. Now, De Lait added, many Belgian brewers are asking American craft brewers about the Americans' creative use of hops.

Among others, I met up with Julie and Jason Atallah, owners of Bruisin' Ales (where I had just finished an in-store tasting of Clipper City beers), and with James, aka Kilgore Trout, of the Asheville Beer Blog.

Thirsty Monk is itself only a few months old. It exclusively serves Belgian beers on draft and a mixture of Belgian bottles and Belgian-styled American beer bottles. A few days ago, the pub opened an upstairs room, named the Pintroom, pouring only American craft beers on draft.

Over a snifter of Delerium Tremens, I asked Alain how to pronounce "Huyghe". There were inflected gutturals --something like "Hu(rt) gh(ch)uh-- that I couldn't quite duplicate. Maybe a few more Deliriums would have helped.


Thirsty Monk's owner Barry Bialik has invited Clipper City Brewing to bring the first firkin ever to be served at the Pintroom. So, I return this evening to tap a cask of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, our India Pale Ale (I.P.A.), which I had hand-delivered on Monday. [UPDATE: Photos here.]


  1. Asheville is an awesome place for beer, check out the Brews Cruise.

    They'll drive you to Highland, French Broad and Asheville Brewing Company. A fun little ride; you might meet some interesting people on the trip (if you don't fill the van up with your own party).


  2. It was really nice meeting you Tom, and I hope you enjoyed your stay in Asheville. I'll be sure to swing by and say hello at the World Beer Fest in Durham this fall.


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