Beers in Review: Asheville-Best of Highland and Frog Level, plus Pour Taproom

Today will conclude the Asheville series with some of the highlights from Highland Brewing Company and Frog Level Brewing.

But before that, there was one other location I wanted to mention again, and that's Pour Taproom. Pour has two locations in the Carolinas and one in California, and they have a concept that I absolutely love. You are given a pint glass and an radio frequency tracker. You touch the tracker to the beer label above any of 30-40 accessable taps, then fill your pint glass with as much or as little beer as you like--the RF tracker tallies how many ounces you pulled. Once you're done drinking, you turn in the tracker which has kept track of ounces pulled of each beer AND the price PER OUNCE per beer, and you pay your bill. It's a fantastic concept, because you can just try a couple of ounces of beer for a dollar or less, or just pour a half of something high gravity/high alcohol without wasting beer. They had a good mix of beers too: locals, domestic crafts, import crafts, Belgians, ciders.

Now, onto Highland Brewing Company.


One highlight of this visit was their Warrior Series Mosiac Rye IPL, about which I did a video review already. We had an additional beer from the Warrior Series, the Tasgall II Scotch Ale, which was sweet and mildly boozy (checking in at 8% ABV). There were cherry and dark fruit notes and a slight boozy aftertaste. We also checked out their summer seasonal, the Early's Hoppy Ale, which had a slight graininess followed by nice tropical hop notes, along with some pine and maybe a hint of citrus. This was a really nice summer beer. I had also noticed that Highland was starting to join the wave of breweries that are canning instead of bottling beer. I don't know if that will be for certain releases, or if they are doing a wholesale transition.

Finally, on Monday, before heading home, I stopped at Frog Level. After grabbing a sampler of beers I had never had before (we only tend to get their top core beers here in Columbia), I took my tray outside and treated myself to this view:

A porch in the woods overlooking a stream. Absolutely beautiful.

Some notables from Frog Level included their summer seasonal, a Raspberry Shandy with mild berry and some grainy notes. I found it to be very smooth to drink and mild overall (to the point that I could have used a little more raspberry fruitiness, and I tend to not be a fruit beer guy). It's a very solid summer beer, though.

They also had a unique brown ale called Smokin' Joe Brown. I had had their Nutty Brunette, which I believe is also supposed to be a brown. Smokin' Joe sets itself apart with its cherry wood-smoked hops. A smoky and roasty note comes through in this beer, along a hint of cocoa and some nice malty sweetness.

Another beer I had never had before was their Shell Back IPA. It was a hazy orange color, with tons of citrusy notes, including orange and assorted citrus rinds. I found it to have a pretty juicy mouthfeel with a mild hop kick at the very end and in the aftertaste. With so much juicy citrus and so little hoppiness, it almost played like a wheat beer.

Some other beers I tried there included a chile beer called Cinco Ranas Picante made with local peppers, including Carolina reapers. I just can't get in to chile beers. I also had their Catcher In The Rye Red, which was fairly light with a nice malt-hop balance, and the Tadpole Porter, which was solid and tasty, but I didn't drink much of, for assorted reasons.

So, this concludes my "brief" rundown of my trip to Asheville, NC. To be honest, it probably could have been another couple of installments, but we'll move on to some non-Asheville beers later this week. Also, coming tomorrow (Monday) will be a video review from Paulaner Brauhaus, who have been making beer for roughly 500 years!