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Taps: 30 / Bottles: 150
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: Y
$$ - reasonable
[ Bar, Eatery ]
92 Patton Avenue
phone: (828) 254-5470
Now have an Upstairs American Pinthouse in Addition to the Downstairs Belgian Bar.
All together, they have 30 (constantly changing) draught lines and 150+ bottles.
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$$
The Thirsty Monk is a new addition to Asheville's already burgeoning beer scene. I shared my visit to the Belgian-style only beer bar and restaurant with my pregnant wife, my wife's family, and my 1.5 year old boy. This gave me a chance to get some input from some non-beer drinkers into the recently renovated place of respite. My sister-in-law told me that an Asheville newspaper review praised the Thirsty Monk for its authentic use of glassware. She said that the owner reportedly scours ebay to find authentic glasses to match the beers being served--more on that later.
Upon entering, we walked down the long ramp to the beer hall below, which means the Thirsty Monk is handicap-accessible. Apparently, the walls used to be painted dark purple and the space was lined entirely with couches. Thank goodness that was not the case any longer. White walls with minimal decorations gave a feeling of openness. The entire bar was immaculately clean. Even the restrooms were spotless. Comfortable bar stools lined the wide bar. Tables and chairs provided room for us to spread out while we perused the menu. There were even some comfy leather sofas for lounging. I'd have loved to have killed a few hours while hanging out on the couch and sipping a Westmalle, but this was not that type of visit.
We were given an up-to-date tap list (thank you) with roughly a dozen or more beers. The on-tap representatives covered nearly every distinct Belgian style (saison, lambic, wit, strong dark, tripel, etc.) and even some unique Belgian styles (Leute Bok & Houblen Chouffe IPA, e.g.). Even the "common" style beers weren't the usual suspects. For example, my sister-in-law ordered a Pauwel Kwak. My father-in-law ordered a Liefman's Kriekbier. My mother-in-law decided on a Leute Bok. All of these were on tap. The bottled beer list included a couple dozen "big bottles" and a few more dozen "small bottles." Each had its style, ABV, and price clearly identified. There was a little intro in the menu describing the various styles to further assist newbies. I could see how those inexperienced in Belgian beer would really like the descriptions. I settled on a Oud Beersel Oude Gueuze Vieille to go with the cheese plate that we ordered. My wife ordered an Orangina, which was a perfect non-alcoholic alternative. I applaud Thirsty Monk for being thoughtful enough to have Orangina to offer its non-beer drinkers. Prices ranged from $2 for the Orangina, to $6.50 for the Kwak, to $9 for the geuze.
The real talk of the evening was the stemware. The Kwak came with its unique "contraption" (do a google image search for Pauwel Kwak) and the Leute Bok came in an equally interesting glass that could only be set down in a wooden stand. I saw people drinking from all sorts of goblets at the bar. I also noticed that each and every tap handle was matched to the beer being poured. That would be no small feat in and of itself considering the relative rarity of the beers being served. Such attention to detail did not go unappreciated.
The cheese plate that we ordered was good. It came with five cheeses, bread, and a clear-your-sinuses mustard spread. I might have put a "smelly" cheese or something with a bit more kick to it on the plate, but then again, I was drinking a geuze. The soft goat cheese was excellent, as was the aged gouda. The smoked gouda seemed out of place, though. I thought I identified some "drunken goat" cheese as well.
As for the service, it was nice that a bartender came to our table even though there were signs at the tables instructing us to place our order at the bar. Everyone else at our table liked our server and thought she "really knew her beer." For me, however, I found her over-descriptive of the beer; it was like she wanted to give us a complete beer advocate review of each beer. I was also a bit annoyed that she couldn't answer the one basic question I asked, "Who makes the Bier de Miel saison served on tap?" She didn't even offer to find out.
Nevertheless, all in all, it was a fun experience. We went early, just after 4 p.m. on a friday, which when it opens, and there were already a few patrons at the bar. Hopefully the venture will succeed as tourists and Belgian beer aficionados find out about it. Undoubtedly there is much to appreciate in Thirsty Monk's wide selection of beer and great attention to detail.
05-06-2008 01:37:56 |
More by dnrobert24
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
I came in tonight and really liked this place - if the recommendation from others isn't enough. This is a pure beer bar, and the downstairs has a really great vibe. The upstairs is kind of an average quiet and friendly bar type atmostphere. The quality is the greatest really. All of the beers are nice, and the downstairs bar is really concerned with quality. Each beer has a specific glass, and there's a special almost every night, which is nice and exiting. When I came, I was offered a flight of 3 beers for $5. When the average 12oz pour is 5+, this is really a good deal. The service was good, the bartender upstairs was very friendly, and the bartender downstairs was very into beer I could tell. There's an interesting contrast, but it makes it more pleasant in here. The selection was pretty great - there were plenty of interesting beers to choose from, though there aren't like 40 taps. The worst option available was Stella. I didn't try the food, but it looked alright. And the beers aren't overpriced, not from what I would expect for these beers.
06-16-2009 01:08:44 |
More by taylorhamrick
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
This is definitely the best bar in Asheville. The upstairs has about 20 taps and one beer always on cask, all American craft which cover a huge diversity of styles and come from across the country. The downstairs is designed like a Belgian pub with around 12 taps of all Belgian or Belgian-style beers. There are coolers both upstairs and downstairs packed full of beers to either take with you or drink there. There is beer paraphernalia everywhere, whether it be signs, coasters, empty bottles, glassware, etc.
The beer selection is amazing and constantly changing. Every time one keg is kicked, a different one replaces it. You can go every week and find a completely different menu each time. When there, I usually wish my liver were larger or my time longer because I can rarely try everything I want to try. There are also tons of special events like tap takeovers, pint nights, discount nights, and even nights to bring your kids. Beer is always served in its proper glassware and often its branded glass. Orval comes in an Orval chalice, Delirium comes in the pink elephant tulip, etc. You can also get half pours or make your own flights of beers to sample more.
Service is usually good, though it's also been crappy a couple of times depending on who's running the bar and how busy it is. If they're not too busy, the bartenders will often stop to talk to you about beers, make recommendations, and let you sample any beer for free.
I've not gotten the food there often, but when I have it's been pretty good. Their cheese platters are good as well as their pretzels and different mustards. I don't often get them though since they're not cheap and normally cost more than I'm willing to pay for what amounts to little more than a snack. I know some like pairing cheeses with beers, but I want something a bit heartier while I'm drinking.
The main drawbacks of the bar are that it becomes a bit cramped at times, especially during their events. The prices can also be a bit steep, especially for the Belgian beers. Paying $4 for a 4 oz pour of a Belgian beer is a bit much, though to be fair some of these beers either aren't bottled or are >$10 per bottle, so it's a bit better than dishing out for an entire bottle if you don't like it. The prices on the American craft are usually better and the flights are normally pretty good deals as well.
02-13-2011 10:55:08 |
More by n2185
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3 | $$$
I love this place. Rotating domestic craft brews upstairs and an outstanding selection of Belgian bottles and drafts downstairs. There's always a great selection. The atmosphere is low key unless it is a big event like a tap take-over. The food is OK, some of the appetizer type foods are best - cheese boards and olives, etc. - but you didn't come here for food. I've been exposed to a lot of the best brews I've ever sampled at The Thirsty Monk, so every time I go it's always a bit suspenseful until I can see what is on tap.
03-14-2011 04:06:00 |
More by raszputini
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
A pretty cool place that I finally took the opportunity to check out. The upstairs had a big screen with the election day results and people were watching that. Narrow and long both up and downstairs. I remember when the downstairs was a record store called Almost Blue back in the day, then Hookah Joe's, and maybe something else in between or after. The downstairs had a better vibe in my book. Glasses were all appropriate according to style and the selection both up and down were solid, especially considering that they're somewhat limited. Good service and knowledgeable people when it comes to their beer. I wish I were there tonight, though, as Pisgah is having a tasting with a new beer. Stumblin Hobo or something along those lines...sounded interesting to say the least.
11-05-2008 20:45:44 |
More by ncvbc
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Have visited TM multiple times during my visits to Asheville.Seems like every time we are in town The Monk has something special going! This time around was BrewGrass eve and they had, a first east of the Mississippi cask of New Belgium, a keg of Founder's Canadian Breakfast Stout, Ballast Point Sculpin and Duck-Rabbit Brown ale barrel aged in Raylin Cabernet Sauvignon. NICE!
This place is great, a quality Belgian bar downstairs and a quality American craft bar upstairs. Wow...this place has it all.
Service has always been solid despite the place usually being crowded and busy!
This is not a place to come and eat a meal....but if you get the munchies they offer a nice line of snacks---darn good pomme frites, and an excellent cheese plate.
If you are visiting Asheville and are looking for a one stop shop beer bar look no further than The Monk. Without question my favorite watering hole in a city filled with good watering holes!
09-29-2009 11:40:02 |
More by Deuane
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5 | $$$
First of all, I have to give this place very high marks simply for the fact that it exists. In Asheville, no less. Very commendable, very impressive -- I'm overjoyed to have such a specialty place so close by in our little corner of the world.
The decor is great. The place is impossibly clean (hooray!) and minimalistically decorated the way I wish my basement looked. I like the ambiance a lot.
The selection is incredible. I thought this sort of place only existed in my wild fantasies. Or in Belgium. Apparently, there are enough other beer fetishists out there -- again, in Western NC -- to warrant the creation of such an establishment. 14 rotating taps of the finest Belgian and Belgian-style offerings. Hundreds of bottles, 750 mL and smaller sizes, to more than round out the discriminating palate. My slight disappointment was that a couple of the menu items listed (and tap heads that I saw right in front of me) were not available that particular night. Too bad! However, there was plenty else to choose from.
My larger disappointment was with the food selection -- talk about skimpy! True, they do not have an in-house kitchen that I could discern. But still! How can you have a Belgian-themed establishment with neither moules (mussels) nor frites (thick-cut French fries, served of course with mayonnaise!)? Four or five types of baguette sandwiches (cold), similar crepe sandwiches, one cheese platter and a tiny, skimpy little (overpriced) chocolate platter. You can do better than this. I know you can.
As it now stands, go for the beer -- definitely! Eat before you go. But try that cheese platter with some tripel. It will be fantastic.
05-10-2008 05:22:30 |
More by drperm
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This is one of the best beer bars I've visited. I love the fact that there are two separate bars in the same building.
Upstairs, you'll find a terrific selection of the American craft brews on tap and in bottle(they have Hopslam and Founder's Breakfast Stout in bottle.)
Downstairs, they specialize in Belgium style beers. Again, they have a really nice selection on tap and in the bottle.
Both areas lack TVs which appears to be common in Asheville area beer bars. It's a feature that's really nice as it doesn't distract from good conversation. Both bars will also sell you bottles to go which is great if you're short on time, but want to try the beer later without having to come back.
I recommend going upstairs one evening and trying the downstairs another if time allows. This will allow you to experience both at leisure. Out of all the beer bars in Asheville, this is one of finest and a must stop.
03-01-2010 20:49:59 |
More by titosupertramp
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3 | $$
this place is great. the atmosphere is nice. very laid back, and was easy to find a place to sit at the bar or at a table. beers are pretty much all served in the correct glassware from what i could tell, especially the belgian stuff down stairs. it was pint night when we went, so they give you a pint glass to keep when you order the beer that is on special at the time, for us it was boulder's mojo risin' double ipa on cask.
service was good also, our bartender kept a watchful eye on our glasses to make sure there was always something in 'em. the selection was great, in fact it was a shame that i was driving and couldn't try more of their brews. we ordered a couple soft pretzels that came with some local mustard, it was alright, not the greatest.
overall this is an awesome bar to come visit if you're in town and want to find some great craft beer on tap.
03-11-2010 15:21:33 |
More by Bartrob6
vibe: 4 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Wow. What a lovely place to have tucked into Asheville (an already lovely place!)
Both the upstairs and downstairs are very well done, with the decided "atmosphere" advantage going to the Belgian-inspired cellar, it's dark wood imparting a cozy setting in which to indulge in some of the Old Worlds finest beers.
The drought beer selection is quite impressive, and even among the domestic offering upstairs, I'd only ever seen one or two available on tap before coming to the Thirsty Monk. And they were all quality beers which I fully intend to experience.
The beers seem well kept and the place gives an overall impression of loving competency. They even have a nice little practice of freshly rinsing each glass before drawing your beer. Probably one of the most appreciated details was that they keep the kegs on the same level as the taps, which results in a pleasing and reasonable level of carbonation the glass (instead of the gas bombs that most bars create as a result of having to push their beers up 12-14 feet from the basement!)
My criticisms and suggestions are few. First, the serving temperatures of the three beers I sampled seemed a little too cold. This is a common failing of US bars, but I suspect here it was done more to accommodate the variety of styles that are all housed in limited refrigerator space. Secondly, I was really hoping for a better food selection on the Belgian side of things. While the food at the Thirsty is head an shoulders above most bar food, they could still do a lot in the way of exploring more traditional Belgian bar foods, such as croque-monsieur, carbonade, and steamed mussels. Finally, the place is too noisy. Both the up- and downstairs need some "soft" decorations to cut down on the din--if you're in the Thirsty Monk alone it's fine, but even a few groups of people can make conversation very difficult.
08-04-2008 17:43:11 |
More by ExMachina1
Thirsty Monk in Asheville, NC