Jill: In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re continuing our Asheville Brewery Tour series with Green Man Brewery. (Get it? GREEN?) Located in town, but with an industrial feel (including a garage door that opened to allow the late afternoon light to brighten the bar), Green Man was the brewery that felt the most like a pub, complete with regulars saddled up the bar and a bartender who seemed to know everyone. Timing, of course, was on our side. At this point in our trip, we’d moved to our urban bed and breakfast, allowing us to actually enjoy time in a brewery without having to worry about the long drive home.
Jill: With a warm and comfortable atmosphere, Green Man was definitely the most difficult of the breweries to leave. There’s no question about it; if this place was in my neighborhood, I’d be a regular. If they’re exceptionally good at keeping butts in seats, it’s because they’ve been at it a long time. Green Man first started gracing Asheville with their beers in 1997. (They were the third brewery to open there, preceded only by Highland Brewing Company and Asheville Pizza and Brewing.)
Ben: A nice change of pace, Green Man’s bar served free large pretzels with a local spicy mustard sauce to all, making for an ideal palette cleanser. In Green Man’s ESB, lightly toasted malts are the main feature. This was probably the least hoppy of any ESB in Asheville, and was the most pleasant and quaffable of the bunch. (In my opinion, hops are great, but not in the context of an ESB.) The malt flavor also possessed nutty features,and was a nice start to the tasting. Their IPA was probably the most bitter of any IPA in Asheville — perhaps too bitter — with the astringency overshadowing the typical floral and citrus characteristics of most IPAs. Their Porter, however, fared a bit better, with a rich and chocolaty essence.
Ben: The final three beers on tap were all Imperial Stouts or Porters. The first, their Cask Porter (a beer served from an old fashioned cask, utilizing only the carbonation produced in the brewing process, contrasting with the more popular draft system, in which kegs are pressurized with added CO2 to add extra carbonation and head), was a less carbonated, much boozier (9%), and less flavorful version of their conventional porter. While its texture was a little smoother, I preferred their traditional porter.
Next, we tried the Kill Devil Stout, a 9.3% ABV Imperial Stout, aged in rum barrels. This was a highly enjoyable beverage for those of us who enjoy the taste of rum (myself included), but the rum flavor and high alcohol overwhelmed this specific beer.
Saving the best for last, we were able to sample the Dweller Imperial Stout, which was produced as a small batch by the brewer. This beer featured a strong molasses flavor, complemented by a strong hop nose and an even stronger hop flavor. Often dark malts and citrusy hops do not mesh well, but somehow this beer pulled it off spectacularly, with an overall flavor similar to a high ABV Black/Cascadian India Pale Ale. Unfortunately, due to it being a small batch release, this beer was not available for us to take home in growler-form.
Ben’s Favorite Beer: Dweller Imperial Stout
Green Man Brewery
23 Buxton Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina