Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 46 - The Ale Asylum

The Asylum

I have never been to the Ale Asylum. As a long-time Madison resident, this is actually something I’m ashamed to admit. Given the Ale Asylum’s position as one of the premiere microbreweries in Madison, this has been something I have wanted to do for a long time, but I simply never made the time to visit the brewery. My procrastination to follow through on my visit has come despite consistently hearing about the company’s beautiful new facility, hearing rave reviews about their new offerings, and having enjoyed a few of their beers in the past. As a result, I made plans to visit the brewery as a part of my “I have never…” journey. After roping a few friends into tagging along, I made the short trip to the Ale Asylum tonight for a few beers, a few laughs, and some good conversation.


The Asylum
The evening began with some friends of mine, Patrick and Angelica, picking me up at my house. Given neither of them had visited the Ale Asylum either, we took some time on the drive over to talk about what to expect when we arrived at the brewery. Rehashing the comments we have heard about the Ale Asylum previously, we all spoke with an overtone of anticipation for what we were about to experience that night. Hopeful we could sneak in a brewery tour on our visit, we speculated about what the interior of the facility might look like when we arrived. Ultimately, those curiosities were short lived, as our drive to the brewery lasted little more than five minutes. As we pulled into the Ale Asylum parking lot we took in the sight of the brewery’s open, two story patio space and the building’s commercial, yet vibrant exterior. Looking forward to the Ale Asylum experience, the three of us were quick to enter the building and get to work on the beer menu.

Interior
As we passed through the building’s heavy wooden doors Patrick, Angelica, and I paused to take in the sight of the vocal crowd occupying the building. Walls painted in varieties of appealing orange colors and lined with Ale Asylum effects surrounded us as we looked around the building for the first time. We stood silent for a brief moment before I broke through the sound of many conversations filling the air around us. “...Grab some seats at the bar?” I said over the sound of the crowd. Signaling agreement, Patrick and Angelica walked with me toward the end of the bar. We grabbed three seats and sat down as we were greeted by a female bartender. Attempting to take in the wide selection of beers offered by the brewery as fast as possible, Patrick and I stumbled over our words as we attempted to make our selections.

Acknowledging our obvious uncertainty, the bartender indicated she would return a little later to see if we had made our decisions. With the bartender walking away, Patrick and I mulled over the offerings displayed on a menu of backlight signs sprawled across the wall behind the bar. After a few minutes, the two us settled on some selections that we thought appealed to our palettes the most. With a motion of my hand I signaled the bartender we were ready to order our drinks. A moment later, the Patrick, Angelica, and I cycled through our requests, prompting the bartender to go through a flurry of activity the serve us. Given the warm, humid day, I settled on the Overshadowed Hefe-Weisen, which surprised me with its opaque golden color. Without hesitation, I grabbed the beer as soon as it was placed in front of me and took a drink. Its smooth texture and semi-sweet flavor suited my tastes well enough and permitted me to start sinking into a state of relaxation after a long workday.

Overshadowed
Over the next 15 minutes, Patrick, Angelica, and I sipped on our drinks and caught up. We chatted about my recent “I have never…” events and the things I looked forward to trying the most. In casual conversation we let the minutes pass by unnoticed. We were just there in those moments without a concern in the world, which was a welcomed feeling to me. Eventually, Patrick reminded me to check into a tour of the brewery, which a quick inquiry to some nearby staff determined was only possible on Sundays. Although disappointed, I didn't let the inability to take the tour affect my mood. Some time later, another friend of ours, Massiel, walked through the Ale Asylum’s front doors and came over to our place at the bar. Expecting her arrival, we all greeted her with smiles and boisterous remarks before ensuring we had room for her to sit with our group. After shifting the positions of our seats slightly, Massiel sat down next to our group and got comfortable. I quickly caught up with her and discussed an upcoming interview she had for a new position with her company as she settled in. Moments later, Patrick leaned over to confirm the rest of the group intended to eat while we were at the brewery. Confirming our desire to do so, Patrick looked over our sole menu before passing it down to the rest of the group.

Our group carried on in conversation until our bartender offered to take our food orders and refill our drinks. In response to the offer of our orders, the bartender happily assisted us and followed through on our second round. Upon receiving our drinks, our group continued in our small discussions, finding it hard to speak as a group among the swelling sound of the crowd occupying the space around us. Eventually determining we were in an auditory battle we couldn’t win, the group decided we would spend some time on the patio once we finished our meals. With that conclusion our meals arrived, which prompted each of us to make quick work of the food before us. After a quick, simple meal the four of us made good on our agreement to head out to the patio. In turn, we grabbed our drinks and took the short walk through the building to the exterior doors.

Time on the patio...
The patio space provided an immediate refuge from the noisy condition of the Ale Asylum’s interior. Finding a table near the patio doors, our group settled into the cool evening air and reengaged in conversation. Over the next two hours we shared in plenty of stories and laughter as we prolonged the life of the drinks before us. It was hard not to feel in high spirits as I took stock of my surroundings and the company I had. With the sunlight fading, I noted the subtle aspects of my first experience at the Ale Asylum and simply let myself remain in the moment. I knew then my choice for the day’s “I have never...” event was a good one.

Eventually, our time at the Ale Asylum drew to a close like any other experience. That stated, tonight provided a new experience with great people at a venue of note in the Madison area. After Patrick and Angelica dropped me off at my house I took time to think through my first experience at the Ale Asylum. The beer was good, the building was warm and welcoming, and the company was great. With that in mind, I thought about how lucky I was to have such great people and memorable places in my life. Sure, today’s I have never...” was a simple experience, but it was damn near a perfect evening.

Day 46 IHN Bonus! I have never owned one of these before....

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