A Run-In With a Twin Leaf Monster on the Big Butt Trail

I refer to South Slope’s Twin Leaf Brewery as the forgotten brewery. That’s no real shade towards this establishment, which I’ve been to a handful of times that have never resulted in a bad time or a bad beer. Still, despite its prominent location on the corner of Coxe and Banks Ave (directly across from the Funkatorium and kitty-corner from Catawba, two of south slope’s most popular offerings), I always forget it exists. I don’t seem alone here, either. I’ve spoken to several Ashevillians who’ve been here far longer than I, who have only walked in once or twice or have never crossed the threshold. 

Last spring, my friend Eric and I—who’s lived here for eight years—were leaving Catawba after a Thursday-night food truck dinner (the buffalo-chicken fry-quesadilla combo from the Deli Llama is highly recommended) when we heard what could only be described as somebody screeching “Dead or Alive” beckoning us from Twin Leaf. As an aficionado of bad karaoke and Jon Bon Jovi, I was intrigued and asked Eric if he wanted to check it out. He was pretty noncommittal, and I asked him if he’d ever been to Twin Leaf. He thought for a moment and then admitted that, no, after eight years, he’d never gone, which propelled us inside. 

Twin Leaf might be overlooked by myself and the people I socialized with because, judging by that night, we’re the wrong demographic. The karaoke crowd was decidedly of a certain age—borderline geriatric (and I say that respectfully…my parents are 65 and thus, people of a certain age, but this crowd had a much more Greatest Generation than Baby Boomer Energy)—which meant their retired status wasn’t holding them back from going wild on a Thursday. We ended up staying out way past my weekday bedtime, watching these folks rage out, including my favorite, a white-bearded gentleman who sang “The Gambler” three times. As fun as it was, I haven’t been back since (my preferred Asheville Karaoke is The Burger Bar). 

The gentleman I ran into on the Big Butt Trail last fall was probably close to my father’s age. And when I say ran-in, I mean literally—this man had stopped directly on the trail to take a photo right where the trail curved, and I almost ran him over. I’m assuming his wife was the same age, albeit much more well-preserved—tight, gym-honed (yoga-honed is probably more accurate) body, well-coifed, bleach-blonde hair, lips that may or may not have had some help from Juvaderm, and extra-small Lululemon leggings poured on. I know they were extra-small, too, because right after I passed them, I heard her tell her husband, “these leggings feel like they’re too big, but I swear they’re an extra-small!” is a faux-exasperated tone. My first impression was that she was awful, and twenty minutes later, my instinct was confirmed. 

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite part of the Big Butt hike is the overlook at the turnaround point where I like to read, write, or sun if it’s not too crowded, which it wasn’t that day. Other than me, there was a young couple visiting from Charlotte, who I chatted with a bit on and off. It’s important to say here that this couple was very attractive. They obviously spent a good chunk of their time at the gym, and both looked strong versus svelte—which isn’t a bad thing, but bears mentioning for the point of this story—and the girl particularly had the sort of striking face that you remember. 

After fifteen minutes or so, the older couple from earlier joined us on the ledge. The older woman ignored me and asked the younger couple where they were from. “From Charlotte, but–” the girl began to say before the woman cut her off and started rattling off suggestions of places she should visit. She was, she told them during her ramblings, “always out and about and knows all the hippest spots.”

“Burial Brewing is a must-see,” she said, “and somewhere most tourists miss because it’s locals only.” (Patently untrue). “Green Man is also someplace we love. So is Pleb Urban Winery. If you’re eating dinner, the only place you need to check out is Chai Pani before it blows up and you can’t get in” (I’ve never been to Chai Pani, but feel safe saying it’s already blown up).

 If the older woman had let the young woman get in a word edgewise, she would’ve allowed her to say what she’d told me earlier, that they were from Charlotte, but her family had a mountain house in Fairview, so she grew visiting once a month and thus was exceedingly familiar with Asheville. 

“What’s your favorite beer from Burial?”  the boyfriend asked the older woman. “I haven’t been there yet.” 

“Oh,” she said, “I don’t drink beer, only prosecco.” Naturally, this admission made her laugh uproariously. At this point, I drifted back to my book, and out of this grating conversation, until the older woman, who the younger couple had asked to take a picture of them, literally stepped over me (no “excuse me,” no, “can you please move?”) to get the angle she wanted. She snapped a couple of pictures before saying to the younger woman. “You should always angle your body sideways in a picture, not front-facing like you are now—you look heavy facing the camera head-on.” She laughed hard at herself again. “And if you tilt your head up instead of down, you look prettier too.” She giggled again, then used “I’ve learned plenty of ways not to take a picture over the years” to excuse her passive-aggressive rudeness. 

The younger couple hightailed it out as soon as they got their camera back from this Botoxed monster, but not before she yelled one last bit of unsolicited advice at them. “Oh, I forgot, if you only go to one brewery, it has to be Twin Leaf. It’s the most happening brewery in Asheville!” Only the hippest spots for Cheryl (Karen would be too on the nose…I really feel in my heart or hearts we were dealing with a Cheryl…or maybe a Kathleen).

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