Asheville beer. Two words that belong together. It’s a destination worthy of at least a 3-day weekend, or even better, a whole week. However, if you have other things on your agenda or prefer to not be in a sudsy haze your entire stay, here’s how you can cover Asheville beer scene in a day or two. You’ll hit every brewery in the city center that will have you contemplating moving to Asheville permanently if you’re a beer geek. Keep in mind that many of Asheville’s breweries don’t open until after lunch and don’t offer traditional tours; instead, they advise you to join one of the many official beer tours. But, you can sit in the tasting rooms at each of these and pretty much see the whole production thanks to their industrious interior designs.
Prep your stomach by layering it with some tasty dough from Asheville Brewing Company—named best pizza in 2012 with creations like the Shear Delight, with pesto, Portobello mushrooms, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese atop a sesame seed crust. But the real draw for us was the infuse-your-own-beer option. They have five varieties of dry hops that you can drop in using a tea-like strainer so that the beer you drink is essentially your own personal brew. Order a flight served on a paddle while you take on your companion in a game of cornhole or giant Connect Four, both set up in the big patio at the Coxe Avenue location.
Although you might feel it’s a tad early to start happy hour, when you’re in Asheville, it’s beer time, any time. Plus, the city is extremely walkable, and you’ll always be only steps away from your next location—sometimes literally, since Hi-Wire Brewing sits in Asheville Brewing’s backyard. Hi-Wire recently released the Strongman Coffee Stout (with a brunch event, no less), and this shot of adrenaline will surely help you beat your travel partner in a game of foosball. Share a beer flight to taste their other recipes during your game before heading to Burial Beer Co. Here, you’ll find a tiny shed-like brewery dedicated to experimentation. With only a one-barrel pilot system in place, the folks at Burial want feedback on all the small batch special releases they dole out every weekend. Read more about this new brewery here.
Right down the street awaits Green Man, a funky place that likes to keep things simple by focusing on four main brews: an IPA, Pale, ESB and Porter, with at least one other seasonal or occasional on hand. They’re considered a grizzled beer authority with nearly 20 years under their belt. Plus, you can tamp down your buzz with their free pretzels paired with their Lusty Monk mustard while you squeeze in a game of darts between sipping from your beer flight of every style.
Wicked Weed Brewing is the most stunning brewery I have ever visited. With one glance, there’s no doubt that the founders took great care in all decisions—from every ingredient that goes into their food and beer to each piece of material that make up the design. Three distinct areas have their own vibe. Inside, an open-air, open-kitchen restaurant faces the large, main dining room. Adjacent to that sits the huge patio with proportionate firepits. Downstairs, an underground bar spills out into another smaller patio area and is where you’ll want to post up to talk shop with the bartender and get some free samples if it’s not too crowded. But take your time savoring your farm-to-table dinner before heading down to be mesmerized by the wall-sized chalkboard that indicates the 17 or so beers available that fall into one of three categories: Hops are Heresy, Beautiful and Belgian, or Wicked Wood Aged Beers.
If you want to make one more beer run, head up to Lexington Avenue Brewery aka LAB. They have the standing as the nightlife brewery, with a large stage in the back that sometimes attracts talent that warrants $5 to $20 covers (such as a solo show with Band of Horses lead singer Ben Bridwell). Typically, they serve seven LAB brews and have a special late-night menu should you need a little more sustenance after the beer-swilling day you’ve just had.
Asheville’s Beer Scene Author: Shawndra Russell
Featured Image Credit: Eric Doksa