Craft Culture: Essential Guide to Asheville Breweries
With more than 25 breweries in the area, Asheville has solidly established itself among the leading destinations in America for craft beer and brewing. It consistently ranks in the top three U.S. cities for breweries per capita, while landing on several national lists of the best places to visit for vacations and getaways – brewery recommendations are almost always included.
Interestingly, Asheville really didn’t appear on the beer scene until 1994. The city’s journey to earning its now formidable reputation started with humble roots in the basement of an Asheville pizza joint. From this underground beginning came Highland Brewing Company, one of the largest craft brewers in North Carolina. Highland’s success influenced a wave of craft brewing creativity in the western part of the state, and there are now plenty of breweries and brewpubs for beer aficionados to explore, including these selections.
1 Green Man Brewery
1 Green Man BreweryBuxton Avenue, South SlopeSee on map
Green Man is one of Asheville's oldest breweries, opening its taps in 1997. The brewery on Buxton Avenue – known to the locals as “Dirty Jack’s” – features a small bar alongside a handful of tables with a definite European vibe, right down to the soccer matches playing on the big screen TV. The brewery opened the 3-story “Green Mansion,” a stone’s throw away from the original Green Man, complete with a packaging area and two tasting rooms, one of which resides on the top floor where you can enjoy an ESB or Wayfarer IPA with a 360-degree mountainous view.
2 Bhramari Brewing Company
2 Bhramari Brewing CompanySouth SlopeSee on map
Named after the Hindu goddess of bees, there has certainly been a lot of buzz about Bhramari since it opened in 2016. The brewery features year-round, seasonal and small batch beers, highlighted by its Lorelai IPA. You won’t find the average pub fare at Bhramari, which boasts eclectic selections such as pickled eggs, patatas machismo and sloppy joes stuffed in a plantain.
3 Burial Beer Co.
3 Burial Beer Co.South SlopeSee on map
Located in Asheville’s South Slope brewing district, Burial has drawn raves from craft beer drinkers for its wide array of styles, from saisons to stouts. Patrons can enjoy a Hawkbill IPA or Bolo coconut brown ale in the taproom or outside on the brewery’s wraparound beer garden and patio – which features a large and amusing mural of Tom Selleck and Sloth from The Goonies.
4 Asheville Brewing Company
4 Asheville Brewing CompanyNorth Asheville, Coxe Avenue, South SideSee on map
With an eponymous name, this brewery has three area locations for you to sample its wares. The north Asheville site on Merrimon Avenue features a theater that shows new and classic movies for only $3 and great pizza, while the Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue has a big patio and full liquor bar. The location on the city’s south side further showcases popular brews such as the Shiva IPA, Ninja Porter and Fire Escape Pale Ale.
5 Catawba Brewing Co.
5 Catawba Brewing Co.South Slope, Biltmore VillageSee on map
While the original brewery resides in Morganton, Catawba now has two locations in Asheville – in the South Slope district and in Biltmore Village. Its famed beers include White Zombie ale, Farmer Ted’s cream ale and the as-good-as-it-sounds Peanut Butter Jelly Time brown ale. Catawba also has a brewery in Charlotte, if you find yourself in the Queen City.
6 Wedge Brewing Company
6 Wedge Brewing CompanyRiver Arts DistrictSee on map
The original Wedge location is based in an old warehouse that once was home to the largest leather tannery in the U.S. While somewhat small in size, the brewery makes the most of the space with a tasting room and small bar among the massive brewing tanks. Many customers happily drink on the old loading dock outside or on the patio. The brewery’s flagship beers include Iron Rail IPA and the Saison. In 2017, Wedge expanded to a second location, this one also located in Asheville’s trendy River Arts District.
7 Highland Brewing Company
7 Highland Brewing CompanyJust outside downtownSee on map
Stop by this brewery for tours seven days a week and live music in the tasting room from nationally renowned acts. Highland’s flagship brew, Gaelic Ale (a malty, amber beer), remains one of the most popular taps in Asheville’s bars and restaurants. The brewery is also known for its robust Oatmeal Porter and hoppy IPA.
8 Wicked Weed Brewing
8 Wicked Weed BrewingDowntown, South SlopeSee on map
Wicked Weed has grown to be one of the most recognizable Southeast breweries thanks to its unique sour and barrel-aged beers, along with a host of other satisfying brews. You can enjoy the popular Pernicious IPA at the brewpub, while the Funkatorium on the South Slope offers tangier treats for your palate.
9 Thirsty Monk
9 Thirsty MonkDowntown, Biltmore ParkSee on map
This brewpub in downtown Asheville is split into two levels. Upstairs you’ll find American craft beers from local and regional breweries, while the downstairs bar serves Belgian and other European rare beers. Altogether, Thirsty Monk features more than 30 beers on tap and more than 100 bottles. There's also a location at Biltmore Park to further the Monk experience.
10 Pisgah Brewing Company
The Beer Keeps Flowing
Several nationally recognized breweries have opened facilities in the Asheville area in recent years as well. Oskar Blues opened a brewery and restaurant in Brevard; Sierra Nevada Brewing built a location in the tiny town of Mills River with a taproom and restaurant; and New Belgium Brewing launched its brewery and Liquid Center tasting room in Asheville.
With so many breweries and beers to choose from, it’s always a good idea to designate a driver or book a rideshare. Or you can take a guided tour with Brews Cruise, BREW-ed or Asheville Brewery Tours if you’d like to get behind-the-scenes views along with some beer history and education.
An ideal time for beer aficionados to visit Asheville is during one of the city’s popular beer festivals – just be sure to get tickets early. And there’s always April, which is designated statewide as North Carolina Beer Month, while the official Asheville Beer Week usually takes place in late May.