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 Brewery

Buxton Avenue, South SlopeSee on mapSee 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 Company

South SlopeSee on mapSee 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 and Carolina Common, a sweet and creamy brew that pairs well with a number of menu items. You won’t find the average pub fare at Bhramari, which boasts such eclectic selections as pickled egg, crispy pork boudin and tofu chilaquiles.

3 Burial Beer Co.

3 Burial Beer Co.

South Slope

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. You can also order small plates and delicious snacks from the brewery’s onsite kitchen, Salt & Smoke. In 2018, Burial is expected to open its second location, Burial Forestry Camp, on the outskirts of Biltmore Village.

4 Asheville Brewing Company

4 Asheville Brewing Company

North Asheville, Coxe Avenue, South SideSee on mapSee 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 such popular brews as the Shiva IPA, Ninja Porter and Fire Escape Pale Ale.

5 Catawba Brewing Co.

5 Catawba Brewing Co.

South Slope, Biltmore VillageSee on mapSee 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 now has a brewery in Charlotte, if you find yourself in the Queen City.

6 Wedge Brewing Company

6 Wedge Brewing Company

River Arts DistrictSee on mapSee 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 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 Company

Just outside downtownSee on mapSee 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, along with the sensational Cold Mountain winter ale.

8 Lexington Avenue Brewery

8 Lexington Avenue Brewery

DowntownSee on mapSee on map

The Lexington Avenue Brewery (nicknamed the LAB) features unfiltered additive-free beer, an extensive food menu and a live music venue. This affordable brewery uses locally sourced ingredients for many of its beers and there’s even a hostel upstairs from the brewery with cozy beds to sleep in and a kitchen as well.

9 Wicked Weed Brewing

9 Wicked Weed Brewing

Downtown, South SlopeSee on mapSee 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.

10 Thirsty Monk

10 Thirsty Monk

Downtown, Woodfin, Biltmore ParkSee on mapSee 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 36 beers on tap and more than 150 bottles. There are also two other locations, in Woodfin and Biltmore Park, to further the Monk experience.

11 Pisgah Brewing Company

11 Pisgah Brewing Company

Black MountainSee on mapSee on map

Located about 20 minutes outside of Asheville in Black Mountain, this certified organic brewery boasts a tasting room, indoor and outdoor music venues and an art gallery. Popular brews include Pisgah’s Pale Ale, Tripel and Porter.

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.

Updated March 25, 2018
About the Author
Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie

Matt McKenzie is a craft beer writer based in Charlotte and has written for Charlotte Magazine and Charlotte Visitors Guide. He enjoys the fact he can get to either the North Carolina beaches and mountains in 3 hours’ time.

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