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 Kölsch, and Mrs V impressing the barman straight off the bat by ordering said beer without even umming and ahhing. Kölsch 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.