If you are a lover of wine, than you have likely dreamt of exploring California’s Napa Valley region. However if you are into craft beer, then Asheville, North Carolina should definitely be on your list! As we enjoy a wet weekend in Asheville, the skies finally clear up and the sun comes out beckoning to us “come out and drink beer.”
Pick up Asheville’s Craft Beer Guide
Before heading out we make at stop at “Early Girl” for one of the best brunches of our lives (and well worth the 45 minute wait)! With our bellies full, we are off on our Asheville Brewery Tour. Be sure to pick up Asheville’s Craft Beer Guide, available at most hotels or tourist information areas. This helpful guide gives an overview of all the breweries, as well as a map so that you can plan your day.
We decided to go on an independent journey; however, you may choose to join an official Asheville Brewery Tour. This way you can just sit back and relax, while having someone else drive you around (useful if you’ve had a bit to drink!).
French Broad Brewing Company
The first stop on our list was to meet a friend at French Broad Brewery, Aaron Wilson, who happens to be their Head Brewer. While there are now over 20 breweries in the greater Asheville area, French Broad was one of the original 3 breweries in town and has been around since 2001 (goes to show how fast the explosion has been since then).
It is an intimate atmosphere, and the tasting room is right next to the brew tanks. The vibe of French Broad brewery is casual and funky, and there is even a disco ball in the center of the room. The tables are communal, making it easy to meet other beer lovers and strike up a conversation.
We decided to order a flight so that we could taste all of their different brews. After getting the low down from Aaron on the different flavors, both Liz and I discover our favorite beer at French Broad, Wee Heavy-eer Scotch Ale. One of their original beers, we enjoyed the rich toasted grain flavor because it reminded us of Guinness, only a much lighter version. It was incredibly smooth and refreshing, even with it’s robust taste.
Wicked Weed Brewery
The next stop on our list was to head up the road and to Wicked Weed Brewery. This modern brew house is also a gastropub, serving some pretty awesome food! Located in a renovated old gas station, it’s decor is contemporary with rustic accents; the design felt high end, yet comfortable.
The tasting room of the Wicked Weed was located downstairs of the main eating area. A giant chalkboard listed all the beers that they had available on this day, and you could choose to sit inside or outside on the covered patio, complete with a cornhole game set.
Liz decided to try the Lucid Blonde, a smooth, fruity and crisp summer ale. I decided to try something unique that I had heard people raving about for days, Watermelon Saison. This amazingly smooth beer quickly skyrocketed to the very top of my beers of the world list. The drink was incredibly smooth, crisp, yet rich with watermelon flavor; a perfect beer to drink outside in the summer sun!
Highland Brewing Company
Being a former resident of Asheville, I knew we had to visit another original, the Highland Brewing Company. The last time I took a tour of Highland, they were located in a small garage in downtown Asheville. That’s when there were only 2-3 main breweries, now there are more than 20! Times have changed and you can tell the difference once you arrive at the Highland Brewing Company property. It is now located in an old film production lot, and is a bit outside of town.
The tasting room is a large open space that resembles a music hall, in fact, there was a stage in the corner and a band was setting up for the evening. Along with the outdoor patio to soak up the sun, this is another great location to enjoy some of Asheville’s finest brew. Since there was no “Cold Mountain” (my favorite Highland beer) in sight, we went with the original and my old favorite brew, Galic Ale.
Asheville Brewery Links
- French Broad Brewery
- Wicked Weed Brewery
- Highland Brewing Company
- Green Man Brewing Company
- Frog Level Brewing Company
- Altamont Brewing Company
- Asheville Brewing Company
- Burial Beer Company
- Hi-Wire Brewing
- Lexington Avenue Brewery
- One World Brewing
- OysterHouse Brewing Company
- Thirsty Monk Pub
- Wedge Brewing Company