There’s a theme that runs through beer culture where people who are adventurous, expressive and open to new experiences tend to come together in support of a creative community. These are the quirky cities we love to visit where good food/drink, funky art and home-grown music are abundant and accessible. It also doesn’t hurt if the city has a multitude of outdoor activities to make you feel like you earned that new bottle you found in the local beer store. Cities like Austin, San Diego and Portland experience a fair amount of beer tourism as new breweries open and established ones relocate which continuously expands the local beer scene. Such is the case with Asheville, NC, pop 85k. Here's a run down of Asheville Beer Week.
The Asheville breweries and craft beer bars had nearly 60 events during their craft beer week where you could partake in beer dinners, special releases, and beer festivals. One of the festivals to note is the ‘Beer City Festival’ held in downtown Asheville at Pack Square Park with 30 craft breweries mostly from the mountains. There’s pretty much a beer festival almost every day of the entire week. With tickets ranging from $15-$80 each, your liver may not be the only thing crying! But you can bypass the festivals and drink at the tasting rooms instead. Additional fun activities included Asheville Brewing Co. releasing a series of single hop beers and challenging customers to guess the hops, Oskar Blues held a ‘Can Film Festival’ of locally produced short films and there were various tournaments of games you could play with one hand as the other was occupied with a beer.
If you don’t want to wait a whole year to make it to their beer week, here’s a run-down of the Asheville breweries you can visit:
- Altamont Brewing (located in West Asheville, known for games and has a music venue)
- Asheville Brewing Co. (opened in 1998, located in the brewery district, has a movie theatre/bar);
- Blue Mountain Pizza and Brew Pub (small brewery, has a music venue);
- Burial Beer (in the brewing district near Green Man);
- French Broad Brewing (named after the French Broad River, has a music venue);
- Green Man Brewing (the second Asheville brewery to open, located in the brewery district);
- Highland Brewing (Scottish themed, first Asheville brewery which opened in 1994);
- Hi-wire Brewing (Circus themed; located in the brewery district);
- Lexington Avenue Brewery (aka: LAB, large restaurant and music venue);
- Lookout Brewing (Tasting room, homebrew supplies);
- Oysterhouse Brewing (located in West Asheville, famous for their oyster stout);
- Pisgah Brewing (tasting room, music venue);
- Thirsty Monk (the downtown location opened in 2008, three more locations in the city);
- Twin Leaf Brewery (located downtown, 10 barrel system);
- Wedge Brewing (in the River Arts District - most of their beer is only sold at the brewery);
- Wicked Weed (located downtown, popular by locals, restaurant, basement tasting room).
On deck: Sierra Nevada was slated to open Spring of 2014 and is a 20 minute drive from downtown Asheville. New Belgium is scheduled to open in the River Arts District in 2015 and they haven’t broke ground as of our visit.
You can’t talk about Asheville without pointing out that it’s on the edge of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park which is worth the hour drive to the West to experience the park. If you’re outdoorsy, you’ll be in heaven. If you’re not, the drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway is gorgeous! While we’re on the topic of excursions, I also hear there’s this snazzy house in Asheville that you can tour called ‘Biltmore Estate’. At $60 a pop and five hours on average to tour, we decided we would rather use our time drinking. Cheers!