A great thing about touring prospective colleges with my daughter Anne is that she is already well-heeled on the pleasures of a good beer scene. I had wanted to visit Dennis Thies’ Green Man Brewery for quite some time. Apparently we picked the perfect day. After a four-hour drive, we pulled up to the building as the temperatures plummeted. We hustled in pushed by a cold front and found the bar at the brewery to be just short of perfect.

Located in the shell of a former garage, it was filled to the brim with customers watching a soccer match. Age and gender defied marketers’ expectations: I was not the oldest nor was Anne the youngest and women made up half of the crowd. We settled in next to a couple who were there for the beer. Period.

I had a cask porter, served from a beer engine, which couldn’t have been more perfect. As I scanned the brewery and watched some soccer, I couldn’t help think that this was as good as local gets. Packed and noisy yet without being obnoxious and surrounded by strangers who were easy to talk to. Of course, the porter was fantastic. Had another.

On the way to the hotel I pulled over and stopped at Bill Drew’s Craggie Brewing Co., a favorite beer joint of mine. Whenever in Asheville, I relish grabbing a pint of Antebellum ale with the unusual ingredients of molasses, ginger and spruce tips. Very dry and very complicated.

Our table mates at Green Man gave us a restaurant recommendation for tapas at Zambra; two thumbs up. After a quick change at the hotel, my daughter and I we took some food suggestions by the bartender and paired them with beer from Pisgah Brewing. The masa crusted Gulf shrimp and prosciutto wrapped dates were unbelievable. Made even better paired with the pale ale and porter. Great food in small servings paired with excellent beers to work back and forth between dishes? Their couldn’t have been a better situation at that moment.

After a day rambling around bohemia, Anne and I dressed for dinner and went to the Hector Diaz’s Modesto. This restaurant is highly-touted and considers Highland Brewery‘s owner Oscar Wong as one of it’s fans. Once again we experienced some excellent pairings – I loved putting the Gaelic Ale next to the muscles diavolo with the hops a hit competing for the finish. I also matched the Oatmeal Porter with the mushroom gnocchi with a truffle sauce. The porter seemed to unite the two dominant flavors unbelievably.

The press of college took over the rest of our trip. I’m hoping my daughter ops for UNC-Asheville because the school is wonderful and the location breathtaking… and there’s plenty of food and beer for me!

Now’s your chance to vote Asheville BeerCity USA again. Vote here.