Lexington Avenue Brewery (LAB)
39 N Lexington Ave
Asheville, North Carolina
Visited on July 4, 2013
The third stop on our short July 4th brewpub tour of downtown Asheville was the LAB. It was the spot I was most looking forward to that day, mainly because the food sounded delicious and the reviews made it sound like it had the best beer downtown. This is by far the trendiest brewpub we came across during our time in the former Beer City USA. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant or unwelcome. While the place is lit up with colorful lights and everything looks brand new and a bit on the posh side, it still managed to seem inviting.
Not a complete dousch-hole is what I’m getting at here.
We bellied up to the bar after setting our soaked umbrellas on the floor and ordered the usual flight with some waters. The samples came back with a varying array of brews, including a pilsner, brown porter, IPA, pale, ESB, and blonde. Right off the bat I wasn’t impressed. The flight comes with tiny little glasses of beer, each barely enough for two people to get a tiny mouthful each. There’s nowhere near enough to get a proper smelling or tasting of the wares.
After trying a couple of the lighter options, I continued to be unimpressed but felt like the menu might make up for it. Plus I was getting pretty damn hungry. The menu is quite gastropubby and reads like mana from heaven. Truffle fries, Cuban pulled pork nachos, blue cheese burgers, lobster ravioli. The list goes on of mouthwatering options.
Eventually my fiancé and I settled on the drunken chicken sandwich – a grilled free-range chicken with whisky glazed bacon, arugula, carmelized peppers and onions, all sitting on a house-made hoagie. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? The sandwich that came back was a bit of a disappointment.
The hoagie roll was tiny, making it nigh impossible to actually get any of the ingredients between two pieces of bread to eat it like an actual sandwich. While my fiancé knife and forked her half, I basically ate mine like a messy flatbread sandwich. There was no other option. None of this would really be a problem if the taste delivered, but the chicken was rather dry, the bacon didn’t really have much flavor, and every now and then one of my bites would be extremely spicy and hot. I’m not sure if something made it on there that shouldn’t have, but I didn’t love it by any means.
After that heat that shouldn’t have been there, my taste buds were sort of shot for a while. So the remaining few tiny flight glasses we got to might have been better than I could detect, but in my state they all tasted flat and bland. I know that’s probably my own fault, but you’d think a good IPA could still cut through some of that.
And theirs didn’t.
Before leaving, we decided to give the nitro raspberry stout a go, since I’d read about how good it was and the assholes in the place don’t include it on their samplers. (What a dick move.) And either my taste buds had recovered by that time or this beer is the only one worth drinking here, but either way, it was absolutely fantastic and lived up to any and all of the hype.
If it wasn’t the best single beer I had my entire stay in Asheville, it was damn close.