The Bottle Shop

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HV Bottle Shop doesn’t look like much and the name doesn’t really make sense (as in Hope Valley), but further investigation reveals a much needed spot for more casual wine drinking and two very helpful owners.  Thomas and Drew have been around the block for a while (having worked at Nana’s and Foursquare(?) or the like) before opening their welcoming bottleshop in Woodcroft Plaza.

All of the Carpe Durham squad has been there by now and the results are officially tallied: it’s a great place.  They have a handy-dandy wine dispenser for tastes and up to full glasses.  There are frequent tastings as well.  Every Saturday from 4:30 to 7pm they pour free tastings, usually three whites and three reds and a smattering of crackers and cheeses.  I’ve found some fantastic stuff during these tastings and they usually mark down the featured wines significantly.  And tastings aren’t just for Saturdays.  It has seemed like every week now there has been an odd-ball tasting on a weeknight (a Monday, Tuesday, and the more common Friday).  Tonight was a so-called 90+ tasting, meaning all the wines scored ninety or above in the wino magazines.  Delicious.

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The wines are nearly all neatly lined up against the wall in a readily recognized fashion.  There is also the beer corner, full of great stuff, lots of it in big bottles.  And there are nice couches to hang out on and try some juice from the dispenser.  But even more than that, the place excites me because of their promotion of alternative packaging.  They are constantly looking for more tetra packs (the carton looking thing) and boxed up wine.  No not that box wine.  Please.  There is nothing bad that can come from storing wine in a box or carton.  Maybe aging is up in the air, but who’s really sitting on bottles and bottles instead of drinking and drinking.  Which is what you can do when you get three liters of wine for a whole lot less.

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They also have a few of these liter bottles.  They have a bottle cap.  I bought one, it was tasty.  Crisp and apple like as I remember it.  If it is ready to drink, why risk the cork?  The organic treatment of the grapes keeps the cost up more than I’d like.  But at about $10.50 or so for the liter it was still worth the try. 

Keep an eye out for their Irregular Bin of random single beers and their Fire Sale wines.  I got a box of Pinot Evil for real cheap a little while back.  I might remember the cost if I didn’t enjoy my three liters so much.

Tomorrow’s tasting is all North West wines.  I’m excited about the pinot gris and noirs from Oregon.  There’ll also be a cab blend that should be serious business.

Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 8:03 pm  Comments (8)  

Moe’s Tavern: Durham County’s northernmost watering hole

Although folks in northern Durham County (Bahama) still need to drive 15+ minutes to get bread or Windex, at least they can now get a cheap ice-cold Bud right down the street.  We’ve done some checking, and as of its opening two months ago, Moe’s Tavern (12911 Roxboro Road) in Rougemont holds the county’s northernmost beer license.

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Looking for a quiet place to do some afternoon drinking because we are out of school study for the bar exam, we drove by Moe’s and stopped in for a couple of beers.  It’s a great little bar with $2 beers and really friendly people.  Within a minute the (very adorable) bartender had introduced herself to us, gotten our names, and offered up the dart board and pool table for our use.

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They have a couple of TVs, probably permanently tuned to ESPN2.  They were playing good music when we arrived, but our opinions on what to listen to were quickly solicited.

We will be back frequently.

Moe’s Tavern
M-Th: noon-9pm
F-Sa: noon-midnight
Su: noon-“whenever the race ends”

Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm  Comments (2)  

Fullsteam Brewery

At Full Frame this weekend, RPP and I had the chance to sample a couple of the beers from the hopefully-coming-soon Fullsteam Brewery.  The brewery is still in the pilot phase and in search of a building somewhere near downtown Durham, but they are churning out some interesting beers already (and so far just serving them for free at events).

We tried one of each of the beers on tap (where by “tap” I mean this steampunk-looking contraption that fits the brewery’s mad scientist attitude very well):

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We started off with the Sweet Potato Amber, which didn’t taste nearly as much like sweet potato as I had feared it might (no “Pumpkin Spice Holiday Ale” here).  It was extremely drinkable, only a little bit sweet and reminded me of one of my all-time faves, the Lagunitas Kronik (Censored) Rich Copper Ale.

We also really enjoyed the Rhubarb Wheat, which I hope to be able to drink on my porch shortly and all summer long.  I am not always a fan of white beers, but the rhubarb in this one added some great depth without too much sweetness.

The other two we tried were the Rocket Science IPA and a porter (I don’t remember the name).  Both were good but pretty standard.

The list of their beers (“Control” and “Experiment“) makes me hope they find that building ASAP.  I really appreciate their try-everything approach, and anyone affiliated with the successful effort to bring >6% abv beers to North Carolina has my 110% support.

Published in: on April 5, 2009 at 11:22 pm  Comments (4)  

World Beer Festival (Durham) Tickets: Now On Sale

World Beer Festival is fast approaching (Oct. 4th).

Tickets ($40) go on sale today at Alivia’s, James Joyce, and Carolina Ale House.  Online sales start Wed. 

There are very few legitimate excuses to miss this event.

Published in: on August 25, 2008 at 10:02 am  Comments (12)  

The (or, Ye Old) Tavern

The Tavern (map) is a kind of dive-y bar in a hidden pocket between New Hope Commons and 15-501. Although there is, technically, a view of Office Max from the bar’s patio, it feels strangely isolated (and is strangely hard to find) for being adjacent to a giant strip mall.

It seemed like the kind of bar with a lot of regulars and where it would probably be easy to become a regular yourself–everyone was extremely friendly to us newcomers.  There are two floors, pool tables, a patio, a dance floor (not in use when we were there), karaoke on Thursdays, several TVs, a 5-foot-tall inflatable bottle of Jagermeister, and good drink specials every night.  The highlight for me was the opportunity to relive my glory days via the delightful mid-nineties XM radio station that was playing all night (everyone loves Dookie, right? But if Seven Mary Three is not your thing, there is also apparently a big jukebox downstairs).

I did not get a good look at the full beer selection but there were about 12 taps upstairs.  I stopped looking when I saw what I wanted: the Triangle Brewery Pale Ale.  This would probably be a good place to hang out if for some reason you really want to avoid seeing any Duke students.

Published in: on August 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Comments (2)  

Broad Street Cafe is back, and better

I had read that Broad Street Cafe (1116 Broad St) was getting an overhaul, so I decided to check out the results. I will totally be going there more often now, mainly for the beer selection. They’ve got a few North Carolina beers on tap, my favorite being the Triangle Brewery Pale Ale (which I think is SO MUCH better than the Triangle Golden, but which seems much less commonly found on tap around here. Unless things have changed since I got back to town. I’ve only been back a day so I haven’t yet been back to all the Durham bars. I guess my point is, if you’ve only had the Golden, try the other Triangle options–they are awesome(r). Sorry for that ramble).

The food that I tried at Broad Street, kind of like the new decor, was nice but not striking. I had a Greek Salad that was better than average.  The addition of some delicious sun gold cherry tomatoes brought it up a notch (I’m assuming they are the same local ones I bought later at Whole Foods).

We also got a cheese pizza (one of the biggest changes at BSC is the addition of an oven for wood-firing pizzas) that wasn’t bad, but lacked much of a kick. I’ll give some of their more interesting-sounding options (like the Turkish Pie with lamb and olives) a shot. Full menu is here.


Published in: on August 13, 2008 at 7:26 pm  Comments (8)  

In better news: the beer scene (Fullsteam!)

After that depressing news about Orellana’s closing, I was cheered up to read at Eat at Joe’s about something to look forward to: a new brewery (and tavern) in Durham.  This could be good!  I know things move slowly but I will probably be checking Fullsteam’s site daily for possible news about location and dates.

Published in: on July 16, 2008 at 11:28 am  Comments Off on In better news: the beer scene (Fullsteam!)  

Triangle Brewery Anniversary Pub Crawl!

The guys at Triangle Brewery are organizing a pub crawl through downtown Durham this Saturday to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Here are the details, straight from Rick and Andy:

“The Crawl will begin at 2:30 at the Down Under. We have arranged $3.00 beer specials at the Down Under, Fishmonger’s and Satisfactions. We are still working on the prices with James Joyce and Alivia’s. We do ask that you plan to pay with cash at the Down Under, Fishmonger’s, Satisfaction, and James Joyce. It will be very hard to get everyone served and paid if the bartender has to run a 100 credit cards. You will be able to run tab’s on credit cards at Alivia’s (our final destination). Sorry if that sounds like an inconvience, but you’ll appreciate it on Saturday as we are trying to leave for the next bar.

There will be appetizers available once we arrive at Alivia’s and the live music will start shortly after our arrival. We hope that people will plan to stay and hang out with us and hopefully kill the 3 casks that we have filled. The casks are the Xtra Pale Ale, unfiltered and dry hopped with East Kent Golding Hops and Columbus Hops, the Belgian Golden unfiltered and dry hopped with Willamettes, and the Belgian White that has been specially spiced. We will also have the Imperial Amber on draft at Alivia’s for the first time ever.”

Check out the website for more info!

Published in: on July 9, 2008 at 9:49 am  Comments (6)  

Brewery Tours This Saturday!

Big Boss brewery in Raleigh is having a tour at 2 pm on Saturday, June 14th.  Check out the website for more info.  No reservations needed – just show up and drink free beer.

Triangle Brewing Company is also doing a tour on Saturday at 1 pm here in Durham – according to their website, they have a new Belgian-style white ale, and they’re also selling growlers, cash-only. (Thanks to awesome commenter Melanie for the info!)

Published in: on June 12, 2008 at 8:00 pm  Comments (2)  

Beers that live up to the hype: Westvleteren

If you ever have the chance to get a bottle of any beer from the abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren in Belgium, you should absolutely do so (at any cost). A friend in Belgium was nice enough to send me a bottle of the blonde, #8, and #12.Today I tried the #8, which is ranked the 8th best beer in the world by Beer Advocate and the 20th best beer in the world by RateBeer. This trappist ale is perfect in almost every way — fruity aroma, with a bitter-sweet aftertaste. It is somewhat similar to Rochefort 8, except the Westvleteren hides the alcohol better.

The #12, ranked the best beer in the world by both sites, is anxiously awaiting the completion (or possibly beginning?) of my last final exam.

Westvleteren #8

Published in: on April 4, 2008 at 5:05 pm  Comments (1)