Asheville, NC is definitely a beer town. It was even voted Beer City, USA several years in a row. With 16 breweries in Asheville-proper and tasting rooms & breweries all over the surrounding areas, you can’t live here and not fall in love beer. When I first visited Asheville, I was not a beer drinker… at all. However, after a couple of visits I became a huge fan, and by the time I moved there in June I found that I have a huge place in my heart for Asheville beer & its breweries!
Now comes the disclaimer « I am by no means a beer expert ». However, I had a mission to visit all sixteen of the breweries in Asheville and write about the breweries themselves. While I love beer, especially IPAs, I can’t pretend to know all the ends and outs of the craft. However, I can tell you, in order from least »» most favorite, what I love and/or dislike about each of the 16 breweries.
Lexington Avenue Brewery «» 39 North Lexington Avenue
«LAB was my least favorite brewery in Asheville. This is a popular brewery to visit because of it’s great location downtown. Asheville is cool and it doesn’t have to try to be, but to me, LAB feels like a place that’s so desperate to be cool that it misses the mark completely. It didn’t have a superb atmosphere, which is forgivable, but my negative experience was heightened I saw a man who worked there “handle” 2 customers who were over-served by them and highly intoxicated, but when they were falling over and needing help they didn’t even attempt to help them up off the ground or to their car. It made Stacey and me very uncomfortable to see the way they were treated and it left an awful taste in my mouth.
Hi-Wire Brewing «» 197 Hilliard Avenue
«Hi-Wire was a brewery that I was really looking forward to visiting because I loved their beer and the design of their labels, and figured it was a really cool place! I loved several aspects about this place, but I didn’t love the brewery as a whole. I love the design of the bar, the tables and their coasters. However, it wasn’t as put-together as I was expecting. The bar area was really amazing, but then everything else kind-of seemed thrown together at the last minute. They have free popcorn in a popcorn maker, but I think the popcorn was also the culprit of the unwelcoming smell we experienced when we walked in. I really appreciated the willingness of the bartender to let us taste different beers. I always hate when you feel like you have to twist people’s arms to get a sip of something, but he was more than willing, and gave great advice based on our preferences. I didn’t hate this brewery, and would go back, but it simply wasn’t one I fell in love with.
Catawba Brewing Co. «» 63 Brook Street #1
«Catawba has one of my absolute favorite pumpkin ales of all time. When Liz, Lina and I went we all three wanted just that. Unfortunately, there was only enough for a little less than one pint on tap. They were really awesome and gave us that 2/3-pint for free and Lina and I got cans of the pumpkin ale because we love it so much and it was fall. We were a little disappointed to not get it fresh on tap, but they were great to give us that bit for free. However, when we sat down Lina and I realized that our cans were room temperature… That’s no way to enjoy a pumpkin ale if you as us. So, while it was sweet of them to get us the remnants of the fresh pumpkin ale, we would have ordered a different beer had we known that the cans were warm. After finishing that off, though, I ordered an IPA, and it was fantastic. The tasting room is really basic, but one of those places that you can bring your own food and hang out, which I love.
Thirsty Monk «» 92 Patton Avenue
«Thirsty Monk is a pretty fun downtown bar, but I’m not even positive that it’s even still really considered a brewery. We went downstairs and each ordered Thirsty Monk sours. However, it was actually a bit difficult to pick a beer that was theirs because they had so many other breweries’ beers. I’ve had nothing but great experiences with the people who work here, and I always love getting myself a pint of bacon – yes, you read that right, a PINT OF BACON. Amazingness.
«Oyster House is in West Asheville, and you would never know, based on the outside, that this was a brewery as well as a restaurant. Stacey and I came here and experienced great service. I had their Mandarine Blonde, and it had a really great flavor. It was pretty cozy inside, and it seemed really laid-back The servers seemed like they weren’t concerned with getting you out the door, but with making sure people have a great time. It was all-in-all a good experience.
One World Brewing «» 10 Patton Avenue
«One World is a pretty new brewery, and I had heard mixed reviews about this place before visiting. I loved that visiting this bar felt a bit like stepping back into the 1920’s. This prohibition-feeling entrance gave it insta-points for me! You walk through an alley and downstairs into the brewery. The inside is a great place to get together and hang out – they had good-sized tables for groups of people, pool tables and the night we were there, they had a DJ, but he played a good mix of music from different genres that made it possible for anyone there to enjoy, and it wasn’t so loud that Emily and I couldn’t hear each other. I enjoyed it a lot.
Asheville Brewing Company «» 675 Merrimon Avenue
«ABC is one of my favorite restaurants in Asheville, but it took me the longest time to consider it a brewery because in my head it was always a place to eat. However, the more I started to enjoy beer, the more I liked going up here to grab a beer, and it’s perfect because if you get beer-munchies like I do, you can order an appetizer to munch on while enjoying your beer. Also, they have some great specials – Tuesday was my favorite day to go because they have certain cans for $2 -including my favorite, the Shiva IPA – and slices of one-topping pizzas for $2.50. It’s the perfect night to go up there and enjoy all this on a budget!
Wicked Week Brewing «» 91 Biltmore Avenue
«Wicked Weed will always hold a special place in my heart because this was the brewery that I truly, truly enjoyed a beer for the first time – their French Toast Stout. I love so many things about this brewery: their sleek tasting room design, their snacks, their ever-changing & dynamic menu, and I’ve had nothing but great service here.
Funkatorium «» 147 Coxe Avenue
«The Funkatorium is the newest Asheville brewery (well, I’ve heard conflicting things that it is or is not a brewery, but I’m featuring it regardless) and it’s located in the South Slope area. It’s connected with Wicked Weed and is really well known for their sours. It has the same modern, sleek feel as Wicked Weed. I know nothing about sours, but my first time there, the bartender was so good to me. She patiently listened to what beers & wines I typically like, which sours sounded most interesting to me, and then offered up different samples based on that. She even took the time to explain the differences in each sample, and I found myself enjoying my experience and choices so much based on her suggestions.
French Broad Brewery «» 101 Fairview Road
«French Broad Brewery is a super laid-back brewery – the perfect place to relax after work. I had been drinking their kolsch around town for months, but this lovely bartender was still great to let me try a few different beers. After landing on the IPA – I know, quelle surprise, I got to enjoy the amazing company of Liz and Lina in this small, but cozy, brewery. Also, a huge plus is that on Monday nights they have $2 pints. That’s right… any pint for $2. Head over and drink up!
Highland Brewing Company «» 12 Old Charlotte Highway
«Highland just barely missed my top-five favorites. It’s a brewery that I love to visit, especially in the summer! They have my favorite ale – Gaelic Ale – and are the oldest brewery in Asheville. It has an incredible laid-back atmosphere (which is clearly the Asheville way) and in the summer, on Friday nights they had live music out in the meadow behind the building. I loved being able to drink a beer or two, sit in the grass, bring my dog, eat from a food truck and dance all in one place! It’s a great brewery to bring your own food & your friends for a wonderful beer-filled evening!
Twin Leaf Brewery «» 144 Coxe Avenue
«Twin Leaf began winning my heart over at Oktoberfest with their “Juicy Fruit” IPA. So, this is a brewery I was quite excited to visit. At first, I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. It was so bright and shiny and well put together, I thought it was going to be a little over-the-top or was trying too hard to be cool, but to my delight, I loved it! It was actually very laid back, and they had a pile of board games over in the corner and Liz, Lina and I made a wonderful drinking game out of Taboo – so much fun! It was inviting, cool and it totally earned its way into my t o p f i v e favorite Asheville breweries.
Altamont Brewing Company «» 1042 Haywood Road
«Altamont was an instant-favorite for me. Stacey and I were really big fans of the amazing live music that turned out to simply be a Monday-night-jam-session that happens every week. How much do I love the amazing talent in Asheville?! They were truly incredible! Stacey and I each had a couple of different beers so we could try a variety. We were talking to the bartender, who turned out to be one of the owners, and he was so cool! After offering up several samples to us, I decided on the Rye Pale. After telling us a little more about how he got started in the beer business in Arizona, he told us more about the beer, the brewery and even gave us a pint of their Banana Stout! It’s a place that I could see myself being a regular at. I would love to go up every Monday and be inspired by the bluegrass jam session. There are games to play, tasty beers, great people to chat with and music to hear a few nights a week – all reasons this place earned my n u m b e r f o u r spot!
Green Man Brewing Co. «» 27 Buxton Avenue
«Dirty Jack’s, which is the local name for Green Man Brewery, is one of my t o p t h r e e favorite breweries for three simple reasons. 1 – It’s simple & laid-back. I love to come here, sip my beer and just relax. 2 – Everyone I’ve ever met here, the bartenders and the customers, is awesome! It’s this that makes Dirty Jack’s my favorite bar to come to alone because I don’t feel alone. 3 – The beer is phenomenal. I have yet to have a beer that I don’t like here. I love to just order something new, but they do also have one of my favorite IPAs. I love visiting this brewery!
Wedge Brewing Company «» 37 Paynes Way
«The Wedge is my s e c o n d f a v o r i t e brewery because it is just simply perfection. Its only flaw is a lack of indoor seating which means that I don’t get to enjoy it in the winter like I do in late-spring through the fall. Located in the River Arts District of Asheville, it’s a favorite hangout for a lot of local artists. It’s another brewery that welcomes you to bring your own food. However, there are wonderful food trucks parked out front all the time, including my absolute favorite: El Kimchi. I also love that you get a free bowl of all-you-can-eat peanuts because as I said before, I get the beer-munchies. On sunny days there is no place I would rather be than sitting at a picnic table, eating peanuts and drinking an Iron Rail IPA or a Julian Price pilsner until the sun goes down and the lights come on.
Burial Beer Co. «» 40 Collier Avenue
«Burial Beer was the last of the sixteen AVL breweries that I visited, but it became my n u m b e r o n e favorite very quickly. I ordered a flight here first, and each beer was absolutely amazing. Now, I know I said that I am no beer expert, but for the first time, I can say that I was truly able to taste each individual, unique flavor in the different beers. Each beer was complex, delicious and unique. Their Surf Wax West Coast IPA is my favorite Asheville beer yet! The inside was really cozy and well laid out. The service there was beyond compare- our amazing bartender was so kind and attentive and took such great care of the three of us!
There you have it: my guide to the 1 6 B R E W E R I E S in Asheville! These are obviously based solely on my personal experiences and upon just that my experiences. I have enjoyed IPAs, ales, pilsners, stouts, porters, sours & more at each of these breweries and learn more about beer with each visit. I’ve loved meeting new friends, sharing moments with old friends and personal time in these places, and consider these breweries as a big part of «home» in Asheville. Whether you live here or vacation here each is worth a visit.
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