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Olde Mecklenberg Brewery

So the Beer Guy’s not doing so well with the posts …. Those of you who are my friends on FB are probably already used to that.

In lieu of a proper mea culpa, I’ll just tell you a story instead. Perhaps one about beer. Maybe with a few pictures thrown in …

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A week in Beer

The more patient readers will note that, a few weeks back, I announced the new weekly series Beer 101. True to form as a “back to schooler”, I promptly wrote up none of my homework, but drank beer instead 🙂

Seriously, I have been reading my textbooks, and during the last 7 days I’ve tried every new beer that someone would leave within arms reach.

So here is the barley retrospective:

Tuesday night, after a flight to Cincinnati for work, my bearded cohort and I stopped at the local Claddagh Irish Pub for drinks and dinner. First a Strongbow hard cider (always on the lookout for a cider to replace Scrumpy Jacks), and after the fruity fermentation failed to satisfy, I moved on to Smithwicks. This Irish red ale was so good, it even made up for the barman’s surprisingly foul sense of humor (of which, gentle reader, I shall spare thee). I’ll have to find a local source for Smithwicks and continue my education. (Note: the iPhone photo doesn’t do it justice)

Smithwicks in Cincinnati

Then, a few days of work to earn my wage, and we were awaiting sister and new brother (whom we’ll call G and P), from the land of Elvis. Flights were delayed, so we went straight from the airport to our favorite new sushi place — Cyros Sushi, just north of SouthPark Mall. Cyros deserves its very own post, and since WineGirl referred to their Avante Garde Roll as “a bit of heaven in the mouth, that melts into deliciousness”, I’ll let her take up that task.

For drinking at Cyros, I started with another new-to-me brew, Weihenstephan Kristall Weissbier. No, my lips can’t pronounce the name, but they drink the beer just the same. Weihenstephan Brewery, which claims to be the world’s oldest operating brewery (licensed since 1040), started in the Benedictine Abbey of the same name in Bavaria. As the multilingual reader can already tell, it’s named for Saint Stephen. I found it to be quite tasty, and as I must have bought the last half-litre in the bar, this filtered wheat beer will require additional study. I then joined P in quaffing Kirin Ichiban, a solid if conventional sushi sauce.

For a tasty dessert at home, WineGirl had made brownies with goat cheese. Oddly delicious, but again, I’ll defer to her for the write up. Alas, our dessert needed a dessert beer, so I reached into the refrigerated recesses and pulled out a winner. P & G, WG & me … we first split a Chocolate Stout from the Fort Collins Brewery. This brew was a 2010 U.S. Open Beer Championship Gold Medal Winner, and also quite a match for the choco-cheese brownies.

Next, in keeping with the dessert flavor category, I popped a Thomas Creek Stillwater Vanilla Cream Ale. Yum! But now what? hmm … the natives are getting restless, especially with 4oz pours, so out comes a Blackthorn Cider … and New Belgium’s 1554 Enlightened Black Ale … finishing with New Belgium’s Mothership Wit.

And that was all just Friday night. Saturday, we visited the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which will be written up in a future post, along with Frank the terror of the Brew Tour. We traded pints of the Mecklenburger lager and OMB Copper, and I can’t wait for their upcoming Mecktoberfest on October 2nd. Come support your local brewery!

I picked up a few more offerings to pair with WineGirl’s Korean Short Ribs for Saturday night: Shiner’s Smokehaus and Bad Penny Brown Ale from Big Boss Brewing Company of Raleigh, NC. The Smokehaus is brewed with mesquite-smoked malt, which was brought out even more by the barbecue ribs.

Sunday saw us at Big Daddy’s for lunch with fresh brews, and as P & G flew from CLT, I retired for the evening with Blowing Rock’s High Country Ale.

Here’s a line-up of this weekend’s brews:
Beer Gallery

After this brief “survey course”, I’ll be taking these one at a time to sample and report.

Beer Guy

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Back to School — or Beer 101

So for years, I’ve fancied myself as an experienced beer drinker. Not a connoisseur, perhaps, but at least well seasoned. It appears that I need a refresher course on this most noble of refreshments.

For my birthday, Wine Girl bought me (among other items) two books on beer: The Naked Pint and Tasting Beer. (The Naked Pint is written by a duo who’s other writings can be found at the blog Beer for Chicks)

I’ve taken several sips from The Naked Pint, and I’m finding it to have the right balance of facts and fun, with plenty of recommendations of new beers to try. And so, try I shall. Armed with my new books and blogs like, I will be starting a new series called Tuesdays on Tap, wherein I shall pour my new-found knowledge into the beer blog. And for any helpful readers, I will try all suggestions.

So, grab a mug and pull a pint from the tap.

Beer Guy

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Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe

On Sunday, Wine Girl and I were looking for a casual yet yummy breakfast. Usually at this hour, WG is making herself (somehow) even more beautiful, and I struggling vainly to look presentable, so that we can go to services. But on this morning, not so. We were out late Saturday night, showing out-of-town friends around town, and where else to show but bars and restaurants? More on that in a later post.

A good friend had introduced us to Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe (site may be offline), so our mouths were salivating even as we looked for a parking spot. Nope, none available in the lot. Not on the first block. or second. or third. Finally we park, and I test WG’s patience as I take pictures of some lovely trees. I especially enjoy light-dappled tree leaves, and while I was becoming more absorbed in my deciduous delight, other diners were passing us towards the restaurant.

Zada Jane's Corner Cafe

We walked toward the entrance, first hoping that there would be an open table in the outdoor patio area, then hoping that the wait wouldn’t be too long. In the event of a long wait, coupled with a fit of energy on our part, we could play shuffleboard or cornhole outside.

Cornhole at Zada Jane's

Happily there’s a spot for two at the bar, and we’re seated immediately. The surroundings take several moments to sink in. First, it’s the funky and eclectic decor (and staff), replete with albums ranging from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass to Hendrix to Southern Culture on the Skids. Oh, and a big chicken, too. The columns are covered with art from local artists, and Wine Girl delights over the mismatched coffee cups.

I’m feeling conventional, and I sampled the biscuit with bacon, egg, and cheese. That sounds like something fast food, but instead, I’m greeted with actual food!

Man-sized Biscuit

After our food comes, we break out the D90 and begin the ritual. Our server (who I think is also the owner) stops and asks:

(He) Taking pictures of your food?
(Us) We take pictures of all our food.
(He) That’s cool. Do you write or blog?
(Us) We blog.

Even now, I’m struck by the casual pretension — we blog — this is the first we’ve outed ourselves as bloggers in “real time”. An amiable chat ensued, and he recommended a few food blogs, including That’s right, gentle reader, ours is not the first food blog on the Internet. For a more established set of reviews, you should follow the Charlotte Food Snob.

Wine Girl orders the Amaretto French Toast with bacon and orange butter on the side. She declares madly: “French toast made on any other bread besides challah is just wrong!”
Challah French Toast
Now that’s breakfast!

Beer Guy

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Palmetto Lager

We’re hot and sweaty at the Quarterdeck in Harbortown, Hilton Head. WineGirl and I have been riding bikes around the resort for the last 3 hours.
HarborTown, Hilton Head

We rolled up to the cafe, racked the cycles, and the first bottle was gone before I had a chance to review.
So, round 2!

The lager is pale in the bottle (no glass for pouring). No distinct flavor … Not smooth, not bitter, and a little nutty, says the WineGirl. A little bite at the end, says I.

I’ll give it 3 kegs.
3 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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Rock Bottom Brewery, Charlotte

“I shall have yours next …” she says, after tasting my Maibock.

It’s the seasonal offering from Rock Bottom that she’s eying now. Her first round was the Randolph’s Ride Red Ale (American Amber Ale). A safe choice, but her curiosity was piqued.
Maibock in the glass
This beer is most appropriate for WineGirl on her birthday. Maibock (or literally “May bock”) is pronounced like “My Bock”, as in “I’ll have one of those Maibocks for myself!” A quick Sunday lunch has spilled into a lush afternoon of sipping and watching the crowds.

Bockbier is traditionally high gravity, and while it may have sustained medieval monks during their fasting, our behavior is anything but abstemious.

I smell hints of fresh bread in the glass. In the mouth, I get notes of crispness on top and a smooth, rolling undertone.
My Bock
On cross-examination, WG says it’s a little like cola. Hrmph.

The Maibock — 4 of 5 kegs
4 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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Ed’s Tavern, Elizabeth

“Warm and I want to lay in it …”

That’s the mac’n’cheese, of course. WineGirl has a weakness for starches, so I’m not surprised. If she ever leaves me, it will be for a pot of mashed potatoes.

It’s just hot enough to be sticky. Late afternoon, early evening — perfect for cold beer!
We’re trying a new location for long-time bar, Ed’s Tavern in Elizabeth. We can see the competition from our porch table. It’s Sunday night at Philosophers Stone, with a band, crowds, and the requisite cornhole set. Ballsy move by Ed’s to locate across the street from a long-established bar.

I’m pleased to find the OMB Copper on the menu. 1 pint down, the next glistening seductively.
OMB = Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. We were introduced to OMB by friends during last year’s Mecktoberfest. Good set of beers from OMB, even if they’re not very “olde”.

Service is friendly and knowledgeable, though stretched a bit too thin tonight. I want to try one of their specialties. Our server recommended wings, which I can’t handle (weak stomach, but that’s for another blog). Then the burger, which WG is finishing. 3rd times the charm, and I opt for the suggested Philly Cheese Steak. I’m having a hard time describing it. The sandwich is good, with all the requisite flavors … Then it hits me — it’s not greasy enough, at least compared to the cheese steaks that I’ve had closer to Philly.

The ambience is comfortable. Conversations overheard indicate that this is a place where friends get together. Old neighborhood bar feel, but with the tag still on it.

New Brew Review
Good beer selection. It’s unusual to see more domestics that I want to try, vs imports. I picked Tommyknocker’s Maple Nut Brown Ale for my dessert. WG laughed as she read the label — always a good sign.

The ale has a thick pour. Looks like cola in the frosted glass. Hints of maple on the nose. Flavor of maple lolls on the tongue before slipping down the hatch. Not thick, but full.

Good dessert beer, or likely a kick-ass pairing with pancakes, and I’ll give it 4 of 5 kegs.
4 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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A New Brew at Alexander Michael’s

Nestled in the leafy, quiet streets of 4th Ward Charlotte, Alexander Michael’s has been delighting patrons for nearly three decades.
Outside Alexander Michael's
After an afternoon of clicking the new camera, we found relief from the afternoon sun in the dark wood interior. Gazing around, I took in the comfortable bar, polished by many a busy night. For more on the composition of the bar and the history of the building, check out the “About Al Mike’s” section of their website.
Inside Alexander Michael's
I had the Reuben, AM style, and I found that the bite of horseradish was well balanced by the playful apple of Woodchuck draft. Woodchuck has long been a family favorite, and it’s a refreshing drink for a hot afternoon.

New Brew Review
For my dessert, I opted for a new (to me) brew, the Lammsbrau Organic Dunkel.
Pouring the Lammsbrau Dunkel
My slow pour was rewarded with very little head. At first sniff, the dunkel offered hints of nut and coffee. Upon sipping, the Lammsbrau had a quick bite and clean finish. It had a good bit of carbonation in my mouth — it was effervescent, tickling my nose slightly as I rolled it on my tongue.

I’d say this is a good sipping beer, and I’ll give it 4 of 5 kegs.

4 of 5 Kegs

Beer Guy

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The Original Idea (He Said)

Who Are We? People who like to eat, drink, and be married. And for your reading pleasure, we’ll share our thoughts on food, drink, and travel, as well as photos from along the way. We’ve moved a bit over our first decade together, and now Charlotte is home.

As for the “Kitchen Doesn’t Travel” bit — WG (WineGirl) loves her some Spain Show. She’s written up the origin of the phrase, replete with paella, in her introduction.

With a nom de plume of BeerGuy, you’ll be expecting me to be something of a beer connoisseur. While I may not be an expert, it’s not for a lack of trying. I was drinking beer before my first coffee. My first sip of the barley beverage was as a youngster, as my brother and I fought over who would deliver a cold one to the old man. He who retrieves also opens, and in my case, sneaks a tipple. I recall the taste of Pabst Blue Ribbon to be both foreign and a little bitter, not unlike a child’s view of becoming a man.

As middle school gave way to high school, I’d sneak more than a sip, and when the nest was emptying (I was the baby), I somehow got in the habit of drinking my own beer with Dad. He didn’t complain, so neither did I, and it certainly goes better with Greek pizza than Coke. At that time, we were quaffing Olympia, or “Oly” as my elder uncle called it. Uncle is an accomplished beerman in his own right, though tending towards the lower-priced lagers.

College came and went, lubricated by Miller Lite and paced with futile attempts at chasing girls. At that age, differences in beer were between Bud and Miller, though I had the decency to avoid Natural Light (where were you when I needed you, Beer Advocate?).

After college, a drinking tour of Europe with big brother (does that make him Br’er Beer?), and my tastes widened with the horizon. More travel and tasting, and now I look for micro-brews on draft. I’ll always try something new or local. Happily, WineGirl no longer impugns the malted medicine by comparing it to “horse piss”, and she’ll try anything as long as it’s not too hoppy.

I don’t know when it first happened, that I started pairing beer and food in the fashion that many do with wine. I tapped into this deeper knowledge of draft, when I recognized the traits of a good breakfast beer.

So What’s This All About? WineGirl and I like to try new foods and drink, and she’s helping re-focus my interest in travel and landscape photography to a subject that’s tasty. Besides, why should you drink a skunky beer if you can be forewarned here first?

Join us as we sample from near and far …


Beer Guy

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