Brews & Breweries
Asheville: "Beer City USA"
Drink in the flavors of a pint and a place.
Although Asheville today is known as “Beer City USA,” it didn’t appear on the beer scene until 1994. The city’s journey to earning this reputation started with humble roots in the basement of an Asheville pizza joint. This spot has since become Highland Brewing Company, the largest craft brewer in Western North Carolina.
Asheville has made a name for itself as Beer City USA
Asheville Brewing Company
This brewer actually has two places to sample its wares. The Brew and View on Merrimon Avenue features second-run movies and great pizza, while the Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue has a big patio and a full liquor bar. Popular brews are the Shiva IPA and the Ninja Porter.
French Broad Brewing Company
Named for a river that runs through Western North Carolina, the French Broad Brewery on the outskirts of Biltmore Village combines a working microbrewery with a tiny tasting room featuring live music. The beers here have a European edge, including the creamy Gateway Kolsch and the 13 Rebels Extra Special Bitter.
Green Man Brewing
Known by locals as “Dirty Jack’s,” Green Man is one of Asheville's oldest brewers, opening its taps in 1997. The brewery itself on Buxton Avenue has a small bar, a handful of tables, and a definite European vibe, right down to the soccer matches playing on the big screen TV.
Highland Brewing Company
Stop by this brewery for weekday tours at 4 p.m. and live music in its tasting room on Friday afternoons. Its flagship brew Gaelic Ale (a malty, amber beer) is more popular on Asheville taps than Budweiser. Besides the Gaelic, Highland is known for its robust Oatmeal Porter and its hoppy Kashmir IPA.
Lexington Avenue Brewery
The Lexington Avenue Brewery (nicknamed the Lab) features unfiltered additive-free beer, an extensive food menu and a live music venue. This affordable brewery even offers a hostel upstairs with cozy beds to sleep in.
OysterHouse Brewing Company
Just as Highland started its journey in the basement of a pizza joint, OysterHouse is tucked into the Lobster Trap restaurant on busy Patton Avenue. The flagship beer here is the Moonstone Stout, which is brewed with five pounds of oysters, shell and all. There’s no distinguishable oyster flavor, but the process does leave behind a slight taste of sea salt.
Pisgah Brewing Company
Located about 20 minutes outside of Asheville in Black Mountain, this certified organic brewery includes a tasting room, indoor and outdoor music venues, an art gallery, and a game room. Popular brews here include the Pisgah Pale Ale, Endless Summer Ale, and Pisgah Porter.
This pub and brewery is split into two levels, an upstairs that serves American craft beers and a downstairs that serves Belgian and other European rare beers. Altogether it serves 36 beers on tap and more than 150 bottles. There are two locations, South Asheville and downtown Asheville.
Wedge Brewing Company
The Wedge is based in an old warehouse in Asheville’s trendy River Arts District. The space is small, but people here make the most of it by putting a tasting room and small bar among the massive brewing tanks, and many customers make themselves at home on the old loading dock outside or at the patio. The Flagship beers here are Payne’s Pale Ale and the Golem.
Several new nationally recognized breweries are on their way to Asheville as well. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. is set to open in 2014 and New Belgium Brewing is set to open in 2015.
Be sure and designate a driver for your brewery visits, or book a ride on the Brews Cruise if you’d like to leave the driving to someone else. Consider planning your next trip to Beer City USA during one of Asheville’s annual brewing festivals: Winter Warmer, Oktoberfest, the Beer City Festival, or Brewgrass.
added: November 24, 2010
updated: December 6, 2012