On our way to Four Saints Brewing in downtown Asheboro on this rainy new year’s day, my husband told me, “It’s Beer & Hymns Night,” reading from the brewery’s Facebook page. We’d managed to avoid attending church on Christmas Eve since we aren’t believers, so all I could think in the car was, What are we getting ourselves into?
But beer is beer, and a Barstool column had to be written, so we hesitantly approached the back of the facility. Having seen images of the brewery’s omnipresent red, wax seal, and having read about their inspiration in the four saints of beer, I’d imagined a heavy oak door, one that takes some effort to open. The actual door — a lighter wood — didn’t, but what lay inside was more church-like than I’d predicted.
Since we’d entered through the back, where there was more parking than the street, we’d stumbled into the brewery itself — the silent, metallic vats like organ pipes that play in the congregation’s absence. We trod the path and opened the next door, a cloud of sound enveloping us like an embrace. Twenty or so bar patrons crooned a Christmas tune, making it feel like an old-school beer hall. I appreciated the relative diversity of the crowd: young, old, dogs, different races (though predominantly white), beards, no beards. Most were singing the lyrics on the projector screen, and two young women led the group with their voices and a guitar. It was the seventh day of Christmas, they reminded us, and future singalongs on the first Sunday of the month would also be appropriate to the season.
The bartender graciously obliged my request for samples before I settled on the Impending Grace imperial stout, coming in at 10 percent ABV and served as a $5 half pour. The brown foam reminded me of a cupcake with icing, flavor decidedly cocoa. This dark brew comes in second for me this season — after a bourbon barrel-aged imperial porter from Charlotte’s Unknown Brewing, which I discovered at the Beer Growler in Winston-Salem before Christmas.[pullquote]Visit Four Saints Brewing at 218 S. Fayetteville St. in downtown Asheboro. Find it on Facebook, Twitter @FourSaintsBrew or Instagram @foursaintbrewing.[/pullquote]
I have written before about my disappointment in Four Saints’ Genesis Belgian dubbel; I would love for them to make a Belgian tripel, which tends to have a twist reminiscent of wine.
All the other year-rounds are solid, like the Potter’s Clay amber and the hefeweizen (though it ain’t got nothin’ on the Hefe Vice at Small Batch in Winston-Salem). Everything is surprisingly inexpensive; most half pours are $3 and full pours $5, more than making up for the gas money to get here.
These selections, however, are particularly worthy of the pilgrimage south: the Pumpkin Belgian dubbel (which is October in a glass), the aforementioned imperial stout and the chardonnay barrel-aged Omie blonde ale. That’s right: beer aged in a wine cask. This particular combination is incredible and will be an even better drink when warmer weather comes in.
Depending on where you live, Asheboro may be a hike. I get it. And Four Saints can be found on draft throughout the region. But difficult pilgrimages are important, and the best of them leave followers undeniably changed. That is certainly true for my husband and me.