The beer scene in Asheville, North Carolina is booming. It all started in 1994 when Highland Brewing Co. was the first brewery to open its doors in the city. Wedge Brewing and Green Man Brewery, among others, soon followed and all have been churning out fantastic beers for over 10 years. With Oskar Blues setting up shop in nearby Brevard, and Sierra Nevada and New Belgium moving in soon, Asheville is poised to become even more of a beer lover's destination in the future.
Located in the River Arts District of Asheville, 12 Bones Smokehouse gave us our fill of North Carolina BBQ. Stand out favorites were the sliced brisket, blueberry chipotle ribs and the Cheerwine glazed ribs. We tried nearly every side dish they had, and each one was more delicious than the last.
Named after the shape of the building that also houses Wedge Studios in the River Arts District, Wedge Brewing was one of the most compact breweries we have ever seen. But that doesn't stop brewmaster Carl Melissas from churning out some fantastic beers. The brewery is positioned right next to train tracks, inspiring the likes of Derailed Hemp Ale and The 3rd Rail Imperial IPA.
At night, the fermenters at Green Man glow green, adding to the eclectic decor in the front tasting room: Yoda covered in medals sits atop the bar, a baby wearing sunglasses is suspended from the ceiling, and a mannequin in '50s garb oversees the brew kettles. Those green kettles are churning out some awesome brews and have been since 1997.
With its incredible tap list and upstairs game room, we can imagine ourselves spending a lot of time at this bar if we lived in Asheville. Barleys is known for its pizza, but we can only attest to its awesome beer list. Thanks to Barleys we were able to sample some fantastic brews from a few local breweries that we didn't get to visit like Catawba and Foothills.
So. Much. Ham. Serving up authentic tapas like patatas bravas, bocadillos and plates of ham and cheese, Cúrate was a delicious find. It also offered a break from a day's worth of beer with some refreshing cava sangria.
Home to one of the most delicious biscuits we've ever tasted (and also one of the best breakfast sandwiches we've ever had, thanks to those biscuits), City Bakery hosted our working breakfasts. The bagels could even hold their own against an authentic NYC bagel. A must stop breakfast spot in Asheville.
Named in response to the King Henry VIII quote, "Hops are a wicked and pernicious weed," Wicked Weed produces hop-forward, unconventional beers which are boastfully served under the watchful eye of a much larger than life image of King Henry VIII in their restaurant. Despite having only been open for a few months, Wicked Weed is already defying conventions with some delicious barrel aged brews and sour blends.
Highland was the first brewery to call Asheville home. From there, the rest is history. Their flagship Gaelic Ale is readily available throughout the city, which is a great nod to the brewery that started it all in Asheville almost 20 years ago.
With its extensive bottle list and adorable mini snifter pours, the Thirsty Monk is the place to go if you are in the mood for sampling tons of beers, but still want to walk out the door without falling over at the end of the night. Upstairs features American taps and downstairs features even more taps of delicious Belgian brews.
With local art on the wall and an LED light show reflecting off the fermenters, when we walked into the LAB, we weren't sure if we were in a local coffee shop or a European disco. But the beer was great, so we were happy. Looking up to a wall filled with t-shirts featuring their super fun logo shaped like a beer mug also helped.
Okay, so Pisgah isn't actually in Asheville, but the short drive to Black Mountain is definitely worth it for the bacon beer alone. Bacon Snout is made with local bacon from Benton's Smokehouse Farms and it is oh so smoky and delicious. Keeping the local theme going, their Blueberry Wheat is made with local, fresh blueberries and it was so light and refreshing that it renewed our faith in blueberry beers. There wasn't a bad beer in the bunch of the over 15 we sampled from the taps.
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