Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One brewers Island, One motorcyclists dream.

The conversation was preceded by two rings.

"Dieter here." I quickly thought of what to say to this mildly intimidating German accented voice. "Hi Dieter, it's Ray Dobens from road to fermentation. Uhhhh....I'm not sure if you remember who I am." I rattled off in a coffee induced staccato. "I am inTellico plains and I was wondering if I might be able to come by on Monday or Tuesday to work alongside you in your brewery." "Oh the motorcycling brewer!" he said with enthusiasm. "Yeah, I'm that guy. I am going to spend Saturday and Sunday satisfying myself on these amazing roads and then I would like to work with you. Would that be ok? You were one of the only people who I didn't already know who showed enthusiasm for my project after all. I am pretty excited to see what you are up to. Is it still going to work?" The answer was a succinct "Of course it will. Please come by Monday at 9am and we will make some beer. It's all about the beer, of course. Well...that and every thing else." My only response was "Nice! I can't wait. See you then. Goodbye."

I spent Saturday riding the eastern TN and northwestern NC roads at a spirited pace. I have been here before and the only thing left in my wake was a regret at not having the time to enjoy more of these roads. 

If you ride motorcycles on the east coast and you haven't been here you are missing out. This is the place to be. Between here and West Virginia you could turn yourself into a quivering puddle of dopamine. The roads are ultra kinky and virtually unharmed by large trucks and bad weather. One local responded to my inquiry to why the roads are so nice with this gem. "North Carolina. We spend next to nothing on education and everything else on our roads! I hope you enjoy them." I do. I would pay extra to ride here. I guess I shouldn't say that too loud or the 36 educated people on the TN/NC border will find a way to charge the rest of us to use these roads. Of course, the 40-45 mph speed limit is a little silly for this kind of road - but who follows the speed limit anyway?

The fall colors were probably the best they would be in this part of the country during my visit. I guess that makes me a leaf peeper? After a day of absorbing as much failing chlorophyll as my adrenaline riddled mind could absorb I made my way back to Tellico Plains, TN via the Cherohala. This road was constructed in the mid 1960's to join Tellico Plains, TN and Robbinsville, NC. Year round it is host to an average 20 cars and over 100 motorcyclists a day. The Cherohala is a must for any east coast traveler. Traversing peaks over 5000 feet and offering stunning views of surrounding valleys, the Cherohala offers everything from hiking and camping to mountain bike trails and some great hunting and fishing. And, if you're only here to use the pavement (like me), you will be impressed. If this one road isn't enough for you, even if you're not map or GPS savvy, you can't go wrong on any of the other surrounding roads. This area is truly a motorists dream. Check out  http://www.cherohala.com/ for more info.

Hunt's Lodge -

This place is a motorcycle travelers wet dream, They have 5 cabins with 3 bed's per cabin at a fair rate. They also offer the best rate for those who prefer a tent over a cabin. Their clean showers and bathroom facilities are a welcome relief from the sometimes foul facilities the competition offers. Lori and Jack are genuine motorcycle enthusiasts with a feel for what all riders want, offering the best service for the motorcycling public year after year. Coffee and laundry are available on site, along with many other amenities that make Hunt's Lodge the best option for absolutely any person traveling through this beautiful area. This place is run by good people looking to serve budget minded travelers with comfort in mind. The cabins are impeccable. If you paid a rate like theirs at any hotel you would be assured to walk away with a rash; with Hunt's Lodge you will walk away with a renewed faith in your fellow man. The added bonus for motorcyclists will be a conversation on local routes with Jack and Lori. They are better than any map you can buy.

The BBQ -

Since I did not grow up in the BBQ belt of America I would not be considered the best BBQ judge. I have been eating a ton of BBQ on this trip to polish my skills. I've come to a conclusion. No one really knows what good BBQ is; what is good is what you either grew up with or what is available nearby. As far as I know the best roast pig available to mankind is what my uncles slow roast in an old converted oil tank. Next to that option comes a little place in Somerville, MA that goes by the name of Redbones. Like I said I have tried other things over the course of my trip. I have been trying to disprove some people who say Redbones is not all it's cracked up to be. I'm here to tell you that it is. They hold their own against any other comer in the game. having said that, I would like to give some honorable mention to Krambonz BBQ in Tellico Plains,TN. They do a "loaded baked potato" that could cause worldwide turmoil. If only the world knew about it.

Check this bastard creation -

 I ordered mine to go and carried it safely for about 3 miles between my fat gut and my gas tank. When I arrived at Hunt's Lodge I lost focus and dropped it in the driveway. I was only about 200 yards from my picnic table at this point. I guess that 12 pack of Yuengling in my top case was weighing a little too heavily on my mind. When my loaded baked fell my first reaction was a loud curse, followed by relief that the Styrofoam container didn't break. Unfortunately I did spill the beans. No matter, I ate them from the outside of the container and inside of the bag before opening my potato carrier.

Loaded potato meet soon to be loaded brewer. That potato has about 1 oz of butter, 2.5 oz of shredded cheese, and that mess is covered with scallions,  BBQ pork, and then covered in sauce. The loaded potato is paired with some fresh slaw and, to my limitless dismay, no pickles. No Pickles! At a BBQ place? I give them a hearty middle finger for that misstep. For the flavor of the rest of the dish Krambonz gets two thumbs up. This thing was a mind bender. My suggested beer pairing is Yuengling. Not only is it the perfect beer for every situation, it is the only drinkable beer on sale in this area. Hooray for me. If that's not the food of kings I'm not sure what is.

Next stop is food coma and meat sweats.

After that comes Heinzelmannchen brewery.

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