Archive for the ‘Beer Places’ Category

Feature: Beer City, North Carolina by Stephen Beaumont

Posted Oct 30, 2015 in Beer, Beer Places, Breweries, Brewpubs, Coolness, History, In the news, People, Travel

Way back in late Spring, we had the honor to host award-winning beer writer and author, Stephen Beaumont, for Asheville Beer Week. His feature on the experience in our fair city didn’t make it into the US media, but being a Canadian, the story appeared in TAPS Magazine, Canada’s only national beer magazine. We’d like to thank Managing Editor, Kristina Santone, for the permission to reprint this story.

Read on, friends!


Tom Peters of Monk’s Cafe in Philadelphia, Julie and Jason Atallah, and author Stephen Beaumont during Asheville Beer Week.

Beer City, North Carolina
Stephen Beaumont

If you so desire, you can be at a brewery within mere minutes of your flight landing at the Asheville Regional Airport. And not just any brewery either, but Sierra Nevada’s gleaming new shrine to the brewing arts, which the company spent tens of millions of dollars building. It’s so near to the diminutive airport that you can practically signal your first beer order from the plane’s right side windows during descent.

There are other cities where this sort of plane-to-beer manoeuvre is equally possible, of course, sometimes with even greater ease. (I don’t think I’ve ever made it from Munich’s airport to the S-Bahn without first stopping at Airbräu for a half-litre or two.) But that it now exists in Asheville seems somehow symbolic for a city well on its way to becoming the heart and soul of the modern American craft beer renaissance.

And if the idea of a moderately-sized, western North Carolina city being at the core of a 3,500+ brewery movement strikes you as more than a little odd, well, then you’ve obviously never been to Asheville.

The Birth of a Beer Giant

This modest metropolis at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains hasn’t always been a very important beer place. In fact, its oldest brewery, Highland Brewing, only opened its doors in 1994, well before craft brewing became the unstoppable juggernaut it is today, but still late relative to such veteran operations as Pennsylvania’s Stoudts, Oregon’s Full Sail or Ontario’s Wellington. The city’s second brewery, Green Man, didn’t appear until three years after that.

During the first decade of this century, however, Asheville suddenly began to crop up among the finalists in the “Best American Beer City” polls that have since become a scourge of the Internet. With only 85,000 or so inhabitants, the city was appearing alongside such craft brewing powerhouses as San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, signalling either a massive and concerted effort by the local chamber of commerce or a sure-fire indication that something quite significant really was underway. Turns out it was the latter.

Exactly how significant became clear in 2012 when, mere months apart, Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium Brewing all announced plans to build second breweries in or near Asheville. (Oskar Blues is actually in Brevard, about a 45 minute drive from the city.) This was followed in turn by a host of rumours that had any number of breweries, from Stone to Cigar City, apparently planning on setting up shop in Asheville. None proved true – although Deschutes has to-date neither confirmed nor denied their intentions – but the mere fact that there was basis for such speculation proved how important Asheville had become.

Welcome to Beer Town

A walk through Asheville’s compact downtown does little to suggest that the streets being traversed are those of a craft brewing Mecca. Sure, beer bars like the Thirsty Monk and the Bier Garden are scattered here and there and it’s hard to miss the storefront of one of the east’s great beer vendors, Bruisin’ Ales, but these days that’s true of almost any North American city. What breweries that do exist downtown, like the Lexington Avenue Brewery, are hardly the stuff of legend.

Stroll a short distance to what locals call the South Slope, however, and things change quickly.

The first stop you’ll likely hit, since it’s on the main drag of Biltmore Avenue, is Wicked Weed, a brewery that in a scant two and a half years of existence has built such a reputation that they have been able to expand, open a second outlet, the nearby and self-defining Funkatorium, and commence work on a new production brewery. Oh, and also brew over 250 distinct recipes, of which Freak of Nature, an oily but sturdy double IPA, is the lone constant.

You’ll want to stay, since the beer menu is so vast it almost defies completion, the food is casual but excellent and the atmosphere more than conducive to hanging out for an afternoon or a day, but other breweries await. Like Asheville Brewing, located all of four streets away and a comparative veteran at nine years of age. (The original and still operating north Asheville location dates back to 1997.) More neighbourhood bar than swank taproom, its main draws are the expansive and covered patio – handy in a place where the weather can shift from sun to rain and back again within a half-hour – and beers like the roast and raisin Ninja Porter.

Continuing onward, Hi-Wire Brewing’s tasting room is just around the corner, boasting an impressive but, to my experience, somewhat variable Hi-Wire Lager (I’m hoping that it will become more dialed-in once their new production facility comes online – hey, they’re already two years old, of course they’re building a new brewery!)  and one of the better brown ales I’ve had in the States, the slightly chocolate brownie-ish but dry-finishing Bed of Nails Brown. Just a bit further down the road is the aforementioned Funkatorium, home of tart delights like the tropical fruity Genesis.

For those keeping track, that’s four breweries within about a ten minute walk, and that’s after passing on Ben’s Tune-Up, a beer bar and, frankly, not terribly good sake brewery. And we’re nowhere close to being finished.

The Tour Continues

Across the street from the Funkatorium is the Twin Leaf Brewery, so that’s another 20 seconds of travel before you get to sample the spicy-herbal Sumachi Pale Ale, a springtime seasonal, or the more regular and curiously brown ale-esque Uproot ESB. From there, it will take all of two minutes to walk to the third and newest location of Catawba Brewing, which began life in Glen Alpine, about an hour outside of Asheville, back in 1999. Their session IPA, The Nose, might threaten to hold you in your seat with its soft orange and lemon flavours, or you could be otherwise tempted by the stronger and orange marmalade-y Firewater IPA, but by now it should come as no surprise that more breweries still remain.

You’ll need to round two corners, veering dangerously close to exercise, before you come to the Green Man Brewery, founded as a brewpub and expanded since into a full production brewery with a tasting room – the original pub – off to one side. While it maintains a very British and somewhat slapdash vibe, it is not without its charms, not the least of which are the leafy and roasty ESB and resinous Rainmaker Double IPA, plus the pair of dartboards that complement the cask-conditioned ales the brewery keeps available on a regular basis.

The final South Slope stop, and eighth brewery within a one mile walk, is Burial Brewing, two years old and, yes, already looking for a new site on which to build a second production facility. Aside from a curious obsession with Tom Selleck – I’m still trying to make sense of the mural in the beer garden – Burial is home to the rather resiny yet still gulpable Surf Wax IPA, and what the brewery describes as a ‘Belgian export stout,’ the baked fruit and espresso Rosary.

Will Drive for Beer

Having finished with the city’s most concentrated selection of breweries, the committed beer traveller could simply return to the quaint and highly walkable downtown to try out some of the less heralded breweries therein, or head westward to the developing River Arts District and Wedge Brewing, where the tropical fruitiness of Payne’s Pale Ale and the softly spicy Iron Rail IPA represent the best of a limited selection.

Or you could get in a car and explore some of the more outlying operations, such as: Highland Brewing with their easily overlooked but delightful, apple and gingerbread Gaelic Ale; Waynesville’s Boojum Brewing, brewers of a Raspberry Saison so finely nuanced that even a saison purist like myself had to admit to enjoying it; Oskar Blues, in a town so sleepy that they were warned they needed to increase the lighting in their parking lot lest the locals gather to, “have the sex there”, or any of more than a dozen other nearby breweries.

Regardless of your selection, however, there are two things about being a tourist in Asheville on which you can be certain: You’ll never lack for choice, and there is very little risk that you’ll wind up going thirsty!


Expanded hours for peak season and the holidays!

Posted Sep 25, 2015 in Beer, Beer Places, Coming Soon, Coolness, Goings on, In the news, Miscellany, The Beerlanthropy® Project

new-hoursThis is a first! Starting October 1st, we’re expanding our operational hours for the peak busy season and the holidays. We’re pleased to offer extended hours as a convenience for you loyal customers. We’ll be open longer on Sundays and open Mondays for the first time ever. More time to buy beer!

The new Fall/Holiday hours will be as follows:

Monday 12-6pm
Tuesday-Thursday 12-8pm
Friday-Saturday 12-9pm
Sunday 12-6pm

Asheville Grit: Be the #MayorOfBrewgrass

Posted Aug 28, 2015 in Beer, Beer Awards, Beer Places, Coolness, Events, Goings on, In the news, Miscellany, People, Tech, The Beerlanthropy® Project

mayor-of-brewgrassVia Asheville Grit today. This seems like fun!

Do you want to be the #MayorOfBrewgrass?

Do you love all things about craft brews? Do you know the difference between Pale Ale and IPA? Are you ready for the beer adventure of a lifetime? Then you just might have what it takes to be the Mayor Of Brewgrass!
Brewgrass Festival along with Asheville Grit and iHeart Media are searching for the perfect person to be the Mayor of Brewgrass Festival 2015 by taking and posting a kick-ass pic. This lucky individual will claim this year’s amazing prizes and bragging rights for a year. The winner and their photo will be selected via a panel of judges and peers on You can also check out the stream of #MayorOfBrewgrass pics and start picking your favorites.

How to Enter:

First of all, you MUST be 21+ to enter and have a public Instagram account so that we can see your pics!
Between August 28th – September 4th, take a photo of yourself showing why you deserve to be the Mayor of Brewgrass Festival on Instagram using the #MayorOfBrewgrass hashtag.
Our panel of esteemed judges will select their favorite 5 photos to participate in an online voting poll. The finalists will be announced on September 7th.
Voting will be open to all from September 7th until September 9th at midnight.
The winner will be announced on September 10th.
More information can be found at

As Mayor Of Brewgrass 2015 you will receive:

  • A one of a kind mayoral sash and tasting cup worthy of your title
  • Two (2) VIP Passes to Brewgrass Festival 2015 on September 19th at Memorial Stadium
  • Two (2) Invites to the Brewer’s Only Dinner on September 18th
  • A Gift Basket of Brewgrass Festival goodies from our participating breweries and sponsors
  • Two (2) Tickets to Brewgrass Festival 2016

#MayorOfBrewgrass Photo Judges Include:

Ayana Dusenberry > Asheville Grit
Jason Sandford > Ashvegas
Danny McClinton > Brewgrass Festival Organizer
Tom Best > iHeart Media
Crissa Requate > Mason Jar Media

New This Week 8/8/15

Posted Aug 08, 2015 in Beer, Beer Places, Breweries, Cider, Coolness, Limited Release, New this week, Rarerities, Seasonals

blackberryfarmA particularly fantastic week for beer! Cheers!

Against the Frain Sho’ Nuff
Against the Grain Macfanny Baw
Against the Grain There Gose the Neighborhood
Allagash Fluxus
Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA
Bell’s Neptune
Bells Oracle Double IPA
Blackberry Farms Classic Saison
Blackberry Farms Summer Saison

Catawba Valley Astral Booty Beer
Catawba Valley King Don’s Pumpkin Ale
Catawba Valley Mother Trucker Pale Ale
Citizen Cider B-Cider
Citizen Cider Dirty Mayor Ginger Cider
Citizen Cider Northern Spy
Cottonwood Pumpkin Ale
D9 Brewing Viking Fraoch Scottish Sour Ale
De Troch Kriek
Foothills IPA of the Month – August
Gizmo Deep Blue Blueberry Saison
Gizmo Trojan Horse Imperial Rye IPA
Grand Teton American Sour
Green Flash Citra Session IPA
Green Flash Natura Morta Ale aged in Red Wine Barrels with Plums
Green Flash Soul Style IPA
Highland Clawhammer Oktoberfest
Left Hand Oktoberfest
Mystery Evangeline Saison
Mystery Papa Bois Foreign Extra Stout
Nantahala Trail Magic #09 Cognac Barrel Aged Barleywine
Nantahala Trail Magic #10 Tropical Abbey Ale with Plums
Nantahala Trail Magic #11 Summer sour with Coriander and Lime Zest
Prairie Funky Gold Mosaic
Prairie Hop Saison
Prairie Pirate Noir Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
Sierra Nevada Harvest Newly Developed Hops
Southern Tier Warlock
Sweetwater The Pit & The Pendulum
The Unknown Hospitalitea Amber with Tea
Tilquin Geuze
Victory Festbier
Weihenstephan Festbier
Wicked Weed Montmaretto
Wicked Weed Serenity

Thursday Tasting, March 7, 5-7pm: Blue Mountain Brewery (VA)

Posted Mar 05, 2014 in Beer, Beer Places, Breweries, Brewpubs, Events, Goings on, People



This Thursday, we welcome David Wrenn of Blue Mountain Brewery into the wee Tasting Room. Enjoy a four-beer sampling, including specialties from their Blue Mountain Barrel project, too. All ratings in the high 90s!

Steel Wheels ESB: The music of The Steel Wheels and the beer from Blue Mountain are both original and handcrafted, with inspired Americana flavors from the heart of Virginia. Our collaboration E.S.B. draws from the past with British crystal malts and Scottish yeast, but uses American hops to put our own stamp on the creation. Like this beer, The Steel Wheels draw you in from the first sip…not because their music is loud or in your face, but because it’s surprising and original, and because its inspirations – a story, a character, a memory – have been brewed with just the right ingredients. Take time to drink slowly and listen truly. Wherever you are, get ready to sing along, to harmonize. Maybe even get up and dance. [6.5% abv]

Local Species Belgian-style Golden: A hybrid beer unlike any other. Belgian fermentation, American hops, Virginia foothills deep-well water and Kentucky bourbon barrels. Bizarrely delicious. [6.6% abv]

Evil 8° Belgian-style Dubbel: A truly spiritual ale, Evil 8° will blur the lines of what you think you know about American beer.  Brewed in the Belgian Abbey style using caramelized Biscuit malt, Goldings hops and a unique strain of brewers’ yeast. Available January-April. [7.7% abv]

Dark Hollow: Dark Hollow blends the miracle of two crafts–brewing and distillation–to create a work greater than the sum of its parts. An Imperial Stout has been aged in charred American oak bourbon barrels still dripping with uncut whiskey. For 100 days the young beer patiently breathes in and out of the wood, gaining complexity, character, and serious attitude. This ale is always bottle conditioned and can be enjoyed immediately upon its release from the brewery…or five years later, when you dust off the last vintage bottle from your cellar to share with good company. [10.0% abv]