Ashland, for those who didn't know, is a great city to visit any time of year. However, they're most well known for their summertime Shakespeare Festival, which brings tourists from around the world. Today was a blustery day, a bit wet and windy, but not cold, so it was quite nice walking around the old downtown area and stopping in shops along the way.
Before leaving we stopped at Ashland's Standing Stone Brewery for a beer and snack. I've stopped in here several times before and every time I'm there I seem to walk away with a new appreciation for the beer and service overall. While their I ordered a pint of their Harvest Ale, made with 200 pounds of wet hops from the Willamette Valley (just a few hours north on the I-5), while my step-dad ordered their Octoberfest. Each beer was wonderful, easy to drink and displaying great aromas. The most noteworthy beer, however, was a beer I only sampled while finishing up my Harvest Ale - their Chocolate Stout. Now, you've likely had a chocolate stout or two in your beer travels, but I doubt you've run across one made with superior chocolate like this, featuring Dagoba chocolate. This is the write-up they have for this beer:
Xocolatl Oatmeal Stout: Dagoba Organic Xocolatl Chocolate, with hints of cayenne and cinnamon, was added to the kettle. This stout has a rich smoothness and velvelty texture with a spicy finish.Brilliant.
Ashland also is home to a wonderful place to buy bottled beer, Market of Choice, where I was happy to stop in for a quick look. I bought a few beers you won't find most places and was generally impressed with their selection - as I had been many times before. However, the find of the stop was cheese made by the monks of Chimay. I've had their cheese twice before, the last time at the Toronado 20th, and have not been disappointed in any way with their product. If you've never tried their cheese, know that you can buy it online for a pretty reasonable price.
A good day, overall. I guess I'm not entirely sure why I don't make it up here more often, except that life just seems to get in the way.