Barred in Asheville

Asheville

Asheville

Asheville, the western North Carolina city nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, lives up to the hype, Barred in DC can safely say after recently visiting it for the first time. The artsy, off-beat community of 80,000 is known for its incredible beer scene, excellent food, and surrounding beauty. Get your own cheap flight (or go on a road trip)  and find lodging in its walkable and charming downtown, and go. I’ve already booked another trip in November. Below are suggested activities to do and places to eat/drink that we were able to fit in the 36 hours we were there. If you’re at a loss for your next step, just chat with any of the friendly locals.

Amazing Pubcycle

Pubcycle

Pubcycle


Sure it’s cheesy, but the 90 minute Amazing Pubcycle tour was worth the $24 to get bearings downtown. Here’s how it works-about 10 people sit and cycle on bike seats around a U shaped contraption while the tour guide/DJ (get on Tyler’s tour) drives the pubcycle (which has a motor to assist) and generally hypes up the pubcyclers as well as passing pedestrians. Drinking BYOB cans of beer or Solo cups of wine is encouraged, and stops at a brewery and a brewpub are good places to fill up. A shorter, cheaper 40 minute ride (no stops) is available, and tours happen all afternoon and evening long.

Breweries

Lot of this being drank in Asheville

Lot of this being drank in Asheville

If you love beer, Asheville is awesome. 40+ breweries are in the area, including a ridiculous amount downtown. You may be tempted to stop by the New Belgium or Sierra Nevada breweries which both set up their east coast shops here, but I would suggest keeping it simple and just brewery hop on the South Slope a few blocks south of downtown. Every restaurant or bar will also have multiple local breweries on tap, often for less than $5/beer.

Catawba Brewing

Catawba Brewing

Visited:

  • Green Man – original brewery side-by-side to much larger space. Small bar downstairs in newer space and go upstairs to bar and great patio. Loved the Holly King, an American Strong Ale style.
  • Catawba – Pair with amazing Vortex Donuts next door.
  • Wicked Weed – Slickest, biggest place downtown.
  • Twin Leaf – Little more rustic, darker. Flagship beer is an IPA called Juicy Fruit
  • Wicked Weed Funkatorium – Sour beer mecca.
  • Asheville Brewing– closer to downtown, good pizza
  • Other Suggestions: Hi-Life, Lexington Avenue Brewery, Burial, One World, Highland, Pisgah

Restaurants

Curate

Curate

Asheville has a tremendous food scene-great values to be had downtown as well as in West Asheville (Haywood Road area) and in the River Arts District.

Tremendous food at Chani Pani

Tremendous food at Chani Pani

Visited:

  • Chai Pani – amazing Indian street food. Rotis are on point.
  • Curate – renowned Spanish tapas spot from former Jose Andres protégé and El Bulli alum. Get reservations or better yet sidle up to bar at 6-6:30 and grab an early dinner.
  • Bomba – cozy café right in epicenter of downtown. Huge, delicious arepas for lunch.
  • French Bread Chocolate Lounge – fantastic dessert, though with lines all day

Other Suggestions:

  • Downtown: Rhubarb, Table, Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge (burgers only), White Duck Taco, Buxton Hall, Salsas, Limones, Tupelo Honey Cafe
  • River Arts District: 12 Bones
  • West Asheville: The Admiral, Sunny Point Cafe

Bars

Asheville Yacht Club

Asheville Yacht Club

Asheville bars don’t generally get rowdy and are on the whole chill, even late. Folks day-drinking at breweries might have something to do with it. Still, there are a number of worthwhile spots.

Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar

Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar

Visited:

  • Sovereign Remedies – classy, low-key cocktail bar off the beaten path
  • Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar – a champagne bar in the middle of a vaguely European labyrinth used book store in the corner of the Grove Arcade
  • Asheville Yacht Club – wild, grungy pirate-themed tiki bar. Get the Painkiller drink.
  • Skybar – unique bar nearly encompassing three floors of glorified fire escape balconies, stairs, and landings. No actual bar, roving servers take orders. Live music from one of the landings. May encounter wait to take tiny elevator to top floor
  • Foggy Bottom Brew Pub – easygoing brewpub with nice patio on sort of back street
  • The Imperial Life – small, swanky 2nd floor cocktail bar
  • The Southern Kitchen and Bar – great patio, standard spot, late night food
  • Off the Wagon Dueling Piano Bar – get your dueling piano fix here.

Other Stuff to Do

Business has reportedly suffered drop off due to new NC law

Business has reportedly suffered drop off due to new NC law

Aside from eating and drinking, Asheville is known for the beautiful surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. There are plenty of outdoor activities to do, and there’s some charming places to purchase art, clothing, and other cool stuff. The sprawling Biltmore mansion and grounds are a few miles away, though the price is steep ($60).

Shop – Just wander from artisan to clothing shop to boutique, but some suggestions we visited are below:

  • Grove Arcade – historic commercial building with small shops on edge of downtown
  • Horse + Hero – indie art shop, open late
  • Southern Charm – affordable woman’s clothing boutique
  • Kress Emporium – sort of mini-mall with vendors

How to Get there from DC

Driving takes about 7.5 hours from DC. We flew direct on something called Allegiant; the $75 we paid for a roundtrip flight from BWI was about right considering carry-on bags were extra, we were delayed about 22 hours for mechanical issues, had to stay at a luxurious La Quinta overnight at BWI, and encountered a near riot. Otherwise, a connecting flight through Charlotte or Atlanta on an airline you have heard of can run $250-400.

Where to Stay

The new (opened in March 2016) comfortable Hyatt Place Asheville/Downtown is only a 10 minute walk to the very center of downtown and features free parking. Look for periodic deals or use 12,000 Hyatt points a night (easy to transfer if you have a Chase Sapphire card, which you should).

ABRA Tweaks New Bar Crawl Regulations – “Vomit” Cleanup Included

ABRA has announced revisions to the bar crawl regulations it issued on an emergency basis in January. The regulations,which many predicted would lead to the end of the bar crawl as we know it, were open for public comment this spring. After many hiccups and rejected bar crawls, organizers have figured out the system and bar crawls have not been completely eliminated, but there are certainly fewer than in years past.

ABRA issued revised regulations in response to comments from:

  • the bar Madhatter (a frequent bar crawl stop)
  • Lindy’s Promotions (longtime biggest player on the bar crawl scene)
  • ANCs representing U Street and Dupont
  • the Dupont Circle Citizens Association
  • the DC police, fire, and trash departments
  • the Golden Triangle BID
  • the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW),

Interestingly, although the ANCs, the Golden Triangle BID, and even Madhatter urged ABRA to create a rule prohibiting more than one bar crawl at a time in the same neighborhood, ABRA declined to include this in the revised regulations (although so far ABRA has generally only approved on bar crawl in each hood in practice). The revisions to the regulations include:

  • Detailing what must be included in the  litter management plan, including
    • “the cleaning of human waste (e.g. vomit);”
    • litter removal by 10a the next day;
    • removal of litter on both sides of street (including tree boxes/planters) on the route between bars on crawl;
    • Extend the deadline for pub crawl applications to 60 days (up from 45) before event);
  • Allowing crawls on St. Paddy’s Day and Cinco de Mayo (pub crawls on July 4th, Halloween, and NYE are still prohibited); and
  • Explicitly making it a secondary liquor license violation to participate in an unlicensed pub crawl.

These emergency regulations are still not permanent until approved by the DC Council.

Bardo Tries Again on the Anacostia Riverfront

Bardo’s planned spot on Anacostia (Credit: Bardo Brewpub Facebook page)

After losing its bid for a liquor license for Bardo Big River just south of Nationals Park (as first reported by Barred in DC), the folks behind Bardo are trying a different tack with ABRA. This time, instead of seeking for a bar (tavern) liquor license, the renamed Bardo River Brewery has applied for a Class B manufacturer’s license-a brewery license in other words.

Bardo will likely seek permission to sell and serve beer for on-premises consumption similar to most other breweries in DC. Manufacturer licenses, after a recent expansion in the law, allow beer to be served from 8a-midnight. It remains to be seen if Bardo will ask for the full hours as its closing time was a sticking point with the local ANC in its previous application. ABRA has requested a fact-finding hearing; undoubtedly the ANC will protest once again. Stay tuned whether Bill Stewart, Bardo’s charmingly don’t-give-a-damn owner, has figured out from the previous ABRA hearing and decision and is finally successful in bringing another cool drinking option to the Navy Yard/Capital Riverfront neighborhood.

Fundraiser for West Virginia Flood Victims – Thursday, June 30th at Smoke & Barrel

Barred in DC’s home state, West by God Virginia, has suffered horrendous widespread flooding over the past week, costing over numerous lives and millions of dollars in destruction. Two WV natives in the DC area, Elliotte McGraw and Cartney Renn McCracken, have quickly put together a fundraiser  downstairs at the great beer and bbq joint Smoke & Barrel (2471 18th St. NW) in Adams Morgan this Thursday, June 30th, from 6-9pm. 

The event will feature drink specials and prizes will be raffled off. Nick Rahall, who served nearly four decades in Congress representing WV, will be in attendance. Money raised will be donated to United Way of Central WV, while Smoke & Barrel will generously donate $1 for each of the featured beers & food items sold. If you can’t be in attendance, please consider donating on their website  (entering “DC” in the description): http://www.unitedwaycwv.org/

The Brig Beer Garden Opens on Barracks Row

The Brig DC Public Beergarden, website, FacebookTwitter, 1007 8th St. SE (at L St.) opens at 4p (weekdays) 11a (weekends), HH 4-7p weekdays, est. 2006.

The Brig

The Brig

The long-awaited beer garden The Brig finally opened its doors last Friday, June 17th. The open air spot in lower Barracks Row/Navy Yard (about 10 minutes walk from the Eastern Market and Navy Yard Metro stations) first got its liquor license in January 2011 and has been under construction since November 2014 (JDLand has all the background).

The bar area at the Brig

The bar area at the Brig

Barred in DC made an early visit midweek and found a quite relaxed, chill crowd. Sporting 40 taps (a mix of both German standbys and local drafts), the Brig seats up to 210 people and can fit up to 400 people. About 15 long communal tables are shaded from the sun under huge sturdy German beer-branded umbrellas, while 25 seats front the long bar in the service building.

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Prices are fair and uniform and posted on a flat screen in the middle of the bar – all drafts are priced at $8 (for half-liters for German beers, 16 oz. for the rest) and $15 or $16 for the liter. Happy hour specials include $5 select half-liters-not too shabby. As a plus, taxes are included, a departure from most new bars in the city. Food options are limited at this time, though $5 pretzels with beer cheese looked tempting (brats were on the grill to the side). Looking forward to stopping by happy hour and seeing how the crowd evolves as the night goes on or on weekends.

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These #FOIACakes Taste Funny

foiacakes

[Note: This Post Was Updated 5/25 Evening to Include Clarification about Use of Funds]
The famous Eastern Market bake sale held to pay for Capitol Hill ANC commissioner Denise Rucker Krepp’s FOIA request for data about prosecution rates in DC raised nearly $2,000 supposedly to cover fees to process her request. What Krepp or the numerous news articles covering the bake sale neglected to mention was that these FOIA fees never existed in the first place, according to a letter from the Department of Justice. The correspondence, sent to Krepp before December’s bake sale (which garnered its own social media hashtag #FOIAcakes), was attached to Krepp’s lawsuit filed against DOJ last week. Krepp, concerned about crime in her neighborhood, is challenging DOJ’s failure to find any responsive records; the agency said it didn’t have the records in the form requested.

Krepp has characterized DOJ’s letter as including an unwarranted assessment of FOIA processing fees, as well as a rejection of her request for a fee waiver. Media reports have similarly repeatedly referred to the government charging a $1000 FOIA processing fee for her request. None of which is true. Instead, DOJ simply explained (see excerpt below) that there “may be certain costs associated” with Krepp’s FOIA request, in addition to the standard fee schedule for all FOIA requests received by DOJ. The agency also generally suggested that a modification of the request could reduce potential fees and that it would “notify [Krepp] in writing at a later date” if it determines that fees will be more than $25. Although DOJ did not acknowledge Krepp’s fee waiver in the letter, her waiver request was not rejected.

DOJ letter

In other words, DOJ never said that Krepp’s request would incur any fees at all, let alone $1,000. In fact, the $1,000 figure was completely made up by her based on “her own experience managing FOIA requests in a former job,” according to one report. Krepp, who previously served as Chief Counsel for the U.S Maritime Administration, seems to have had what charitably may be referred to as an issue with reading comprehension.

Barred in DC privately reached out to Krepp after she went public with the $1000 FOIA fee and suggested that she partner with a local blog, which can get reduced or waived FOIA processing fees, and warned her that she might not get any information based on the wording of her request. That didn’t seem to make a difference, as we never received a response and the fundraising bake sale for the fictitious FOIA processing fees took place.

In the end, the $1,867 raised from #FOIAcakes, which includes money from a raffle for basketball tickets donated by Events DC and $350 from Dangerously Delicious Pies, never went to pay FOIA processing fees at all; which makes sense because DOJ never said there would be fees. Krepp said she would donate the excess money to either “a local organization that advocates for transparency in local government” or to “charity, such as groups that help crime victims.” None of the various articles in the local media have identified the organization or charity which received the funds raised from Krepp’s neighbors earmarked for the non-existent FOIA processing fees. [5/25 PM Update:] Apparently the funds are being retained for certain litigation costs and will be donated if funds remain.

Krepp filed her lawsuit despite the fact that DOJ even suggested to her when ruling on her appeal that although DOJ didn’t keep the records in the form she requested, she “might wish to make a new request to [DOJ] for prosecutions and convictions by crime and or by [police service area or] district” (see excerpt below). Instead of processing a new request, DOJ will need to divert resources to answer this litigation instead of processing requests by others. Barred in DC has made a FOIA request for the same data as Krepp is seeking following DOJ’s suggestion; we’ll see who gets it first (new hashtag: #FOIARace).

appeal part 2

Krepp is represented in her lawsuit by Jay Williams (a former Capitol Hill ANC Commissioner), along with a partner and other attorneys from the law firm BuckleySandler. Presumably this representation is pro bono; if not, will there be another bake sale? #FOIAcakestastefunny

In the interests of some disclosure, a significant part of Barred in DC’s job at the federal agency he works at involves processing FOIA requests, so the results of any litigation could theoretically affect the work he does. The views stated above are, of course, Barred in DC’s own personal views and do not constitute the views of the U.S. Government. 

Marble Alley, Trevor Frye’s Upcoming Bar, Slated for Bardia’s Old Space

Marble Alley, the upcoming laid-back spot from the beverage director of Jack Rose (and co-creator of Dram & Grain underneath), Trevor Frye, hopes to take over the space previously occupied by Bardia’s New Orleans Cafe, as well as the adjacent salon, Barred in DC has learned, although a lease may not been finalized yet. The ground level at 2412 18th St. NW is cozy-no more than 1500 square feet.

Bardia’s, a neighborhood favorite, shuttered in 2015 after more than two decades in that space and an ill-fated move to 9th and U. Marble Alley will move away from an emphasis on cocktails and aim to be a “comfortable” spot for neighborhood folks, according to the Washington Post Express, and ambitiously hopes to open by late fall. Frye will be stepping away from Jack Rose in early June to focus on this spot.