Showing posts with label greenville south carolina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label greenville south carolina. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Greenville Odds and Ends

Last Thursday, sorry for the poor chronology, I got to do something I had not done in nearly 2 years. I ordered a pint of draft Budvar, Czechvar, whatever you want to call it. Mrs V and I had been in Greenville a matter of hours and already we had enjoyed several beer experiences.

It started off with our friends telling us that we were going to the Greenville Beer Exchange so that I could get some beer. I love friends like that, they don't ask if I want to go get beer, they assume that I do and plan to take to the place with a good selection. The Greenville Beer Exchange has one of the best beer selections I have ever seen in the US. The basic premise of the shop is what we in Blighty call an "off-licence", however, they also do growler fills, having 11 taps I think. They also doing tasting sessions. On Thursday they were showcasing some beers from New Zealand, all of which were excellent, but my favourite was a rye porter which apparently had a lacto infection and was all the better for it.

While we were tasting, I popped the bottles I had already chosen on the desk. On noticing the gueuze, the guy running the tasting pointed me in the direction of a Berliner Weisse made with brettanomyces by the Bayerische Bahnhof in Leipzig. I also picked up bottles of Hook Norton's Hooky Gold and a 1996 Gale's Prize Old Ale.

The Budvar came a couple of pubs on in the evening, at the Carolina Ale House, and it was good. Though I have a minor gripe, (don't I always?), whoever is training barstaff to pour a beer with no head whatsoever needs taken out back and shot. I know I bang on about this ad nauseum but come on people, beer must have head, if it means oversized glasses then so be it, stop making my beer look like a fizzy soft drink. On ordering my second pint the keg blew and the barman told me he was going to put a new one on, only to come back and tell me we had enjoyed the last 3 pints. Being a good barman, he asked me what beers I like - you should know the answers to that question by now. He came back with a concoction of Highland Oatmeal Porter, something else that was dark, and proceeded to pour a shot of Jameson's into it. It was delicious.

The other bar of note that we visited over the weekend was Hans and Franz, a German themed bar and beer garden. We were there on a quiet Saturday afternoon in the blazing heat - so blazing we gave up and went inside eventually. Apparently the building was once a bakery, and before that made uniforms for Confederate soldiers, so if you like old brick buildings with character, you're on to a winner. Did I mention that I like old brick buildings with character? All the beers are European, mostly German, and we had the pleasure of introducing our friend to Gaffel K?lsch, and Mrs V impressing the barman straight off the bat by ordering said beer without even umming and ahhing. K?lsch is becoming something of a favourite beer style in the world of Mrs V, and as such a brewing project for me. Most of the beers are bottled, but they had Weihenstephan Weissbier on tap, and thankfully it came with a head, and no silly sod slice of something citrusy - hurray for barmen who know their craft.

So that was Greenville, and on Sunday afternoon, when the hangover had withered somewhat, we headed back up the road to Charlottesville and a week of penitential healthy living.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Pubs of Downtown Greenville

Mrs Velkyal and I spent the weekend in Greenville, South Carolina. It was Mrs V's best friend's 30th birthday and so naturally we jumped in the car and drove 6 hours to hang out with her and her husband for a few days. It had been planned for Mrs V and friend to have a girl's night out on Saturday, and so I arranged to meet up with a chap called Dan who follows Fuggled and shares many of the same passions as myself, unrepentant Germanophilia and a love of lager to start with. It would also be an opportunity to see some a sample of Greenville's pub life, and so a pub crawl of sorts was planned.

We started off at a place called The Velo Fellow, which advertises itself as a "Publick House" and claims on their website that they aim to "pay homage to the ongoing British publick house tradition". Given my experience of "British" pubs on this side of the Atlantic I was a little wary - the usual approach is to put fish n'chips on the menu, give yourself a pseudo-British pub name, often involving dogs and horses and hey presto, you have a bog standard American bar posing as British. We walked in and it was almost love at first sight. A ramshackle collection of wooden tables and chairs, a leather sofa with unmatching high backed armchairs and a bare wooden floor, we took a table right in the middle. The five beers they had on tap spanned a range of styles (side cynical note, it isn't impressive to have dozens of taps all flowing with variations of pale ale), including the Coney Island Mermaid Pilsner. A sample was tried and a pint soon followed, in an American sized pint nonic glass. I was enjoying myself, and several more pints followed. If we hadn't had a plan, I would have happily not moved all night.

We had a plan however, and so we wandered off to pub number 2, . When we arrived in Greenville on Thursday we had gone to Barley's for dinner, and their 18" pizzas are delicious. Very much a beer bar with a good selection of brews, we found a perch at the bar and got a couple of Sierra Nevada Summerfest in, and took in the busy vibe. The two trips to Barley's has by and large convinced me that American lagers are better on draft than in the can or the bottle. While I like bottled Summerfest, on draft it really steps up a notch. My one gripe though was that it was one of only a handful of lagers on the menu. A couple of pints downed, and conversation ranging from political theory, football and why proper German bratwurst is wonderful, we moved next door.

Owned by the same people as Barley's, I believe, is
The Trappe Door, a basement bar that focuses on Belgian beer, was the name a give away? Again taking a couple of seats at the bar, I decided to change the tack on the beer a little bit. Now, I know I am a heretic when I say this, but I have never been a fan of Belgian beer, or at least the sweet, funky, fruity weirdness that passes for Belgian beer. What I do like though is sour beers. Ever since Evan Rail introduced me to gueuze back in Prague, I have loved the tart sharp tang of sour beer. On the menu was Petrus Oud Bruin, and so I introduced Dan to the delights of sour beer. I should point out that when I go to the pub I rarely bother with tasting notes any more, a pub is for socialising, not using your smart phone to ponce about on anti-social media. In some ways Trappe Door reminded me of the basement at Pivovarsky klub, I liked it muchly.

Moving on, we headed up to the Blue Ridge Brewing Company, a brewpub that I have written about before, and which I think does a decent job. We paid the fleetest of flying visits, downing a pint of Curli Blonde before heading to last pub on the list, Nose Dive - a clean, modern bar with decent beer and a young clientele. After a short while at Nose Dive, word came that we should meet up with Mrs V and friends at a wine bar down the street called On The Roxx, where a collective decision was taken to head back to the rough comforts of The Velo Fellow for more laughter, pilsner and good times.

We had an excellent night out, drank inordinate amounts of beer, and discovered at least one very serious contender for the Fuggled Best Pub in America 2011. If there were more pubs like The Velo Fellow in the States, it would be a very good thing. We will be back for more!

Beyond January

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