UnChain AVL: Keep Asheville Weird

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North Carolina/ Image via the author

At a mom-and-pop bbq joint some 75 miles east of Atlanta we charted our course.

We had just arrived from Savannah, a nearly four-hour drive from the southeast.

We parked ourselves at two lunch counter stools in front of a window facing an Athens, GA sidewalk. The restaurant was small enough that, on busy days, a line forms out the door and stretches halfway to the University of Georgia.

The interior walls were plastered with autographed photos of past UGA athletes and upcoming team schedules.

At the rear of the place, which can be more accurately described as a cafeteria, was a display case full of homemade southern comfort food. The walls of the tin serving trays buckled under the weight of overflowing mac and cheese, collard greens, potato salad, mashed potatoes, wild rice, cole slaw, and baked beans.

In the back, a middle-aged couple tended to a stable of smoked, slow-cooked, dry-rubbed, and sauced-up meats; tender, juicy, and artfully charred. Wanna-be vegetarians, we willingly tossed aside our herbivorous morals into a pile of sustenance-stripped pork bones and drumsticks.

It was a no-brainer for us to order the sampler plate — in its own right a great smoky mountain of beans, mac and cheese, grilled chicken breast, pulled pork, ribs, and kielbasa. As we razed the mountain, we pulled up and pored over a map displayed on my mobile phone.

“We can either take this route straight north through the Smokies, this one that goes right along the foothills, or this one which is the most direct but skirts pretty much all of the range,” I said pointing to various points on the screen with a saucy finger.

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Portland, ME: Beer, Industrial Parks & the Sharing Economy

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Foundation Brewing Company

On the outskirts of Portland, Maine lies a quaint industrial facility comprised of 12 garage bays fit for one medium-sized vehicle each. The bays are coupled off and interspersed between each pair are office spaces that make prison cells look like penthouses.

With six garage spaces per each oblong facade, the building has become a haven for the more craft-minded of Portland’s citizenry. In fact, it’s occupancy has become predominantly small-scale breweries and tasting rooms, the likes of which would make misanthrope Frank Gallagher of Showtime’s Shameless salivate.

“Small-scale” as a description for these scrappy upstarts perhaps lends an exaggerated  perspective to the size of these breweries. They rarely have more than three or four beers on tap, can fit just a handful of picnic tables or waist-high casks for sitting and standing, and are barely able to reserve a corner or two for peddling brand merchandise.

This particular park is anchored by three tastebud-tickling tenants: Foundation Brewing Company, Austin Street Brewery, and Bissell Brothers Brewing Company.

Separately each brewery operates in a distinguishing manner that echoes their own respective product and culture, but together they’ve established a cooperative that mutually benefits their business and beer enthusiasts alike.

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