Scott’s fresh off his “Beercation” to Asheville, NC, a place he’s now calling “Beer City USA”. He’s typed up a few highlights from his trip to share what makes Asheville a “beer geeks dream”. Enjoy!
Beer Trippin’ In Asheville
A City Deserving Its Designation As Beer City USA
The first two days were a whirlwind of beer debauchery, proving Asheville to be a beer lovers utopia. Click HERE if you missed Part 1. In Part 2, we’ll conclude with more shenanigans, including a stop at the new Sierra Nevada Mills River location and Beer Camp.
The third day was all about the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp taking place at the new Sierra Nevada River Mills location. It’s absolutely amazing how well run this event was. No one was allowed to drive up to the brewery, so they provided shuttles to and from 2 locations; downtown Asheville and a nearby parking lot. The shuttles (buses, really) were not lacking either. There were many lined up waiting to take the revelers to the event.
Driving through the brewery grounds, one can tell that it was no small feat to build this beautiful brewery. Heavily forested, twisting roads lead up to the brewery; a massive, absolutely eye-catching structure. The grounds themselves are well manicured with pavers instead of cement and shrubbery lining the lots.
Entering the festival was a bit overwhelming. Dozens of beer tents lined the grounds and about a dozen food trucks lined the gardens towards the back of the festival. A stage with a lively band was at the ready. All the beers being poured were from the Southeast U.S. region, many of which I had never even heard of before. A few breweries hadn’t even opened yet and this was their very first event.
The highlight of the festival was definitely the organization, with the camaraderie following closely behind. My third “It doesn’t get better than this” moment happened all throughout the festival.
After the festival, we hopped the shuttle back to Asheville, which was a short 20 minute ride. We walked a few blocks to Lexington Avenue Brewery (commonly known as LAB) for some dinner and brews. The food was fantastic, the beer was fine. I had the 1st Gear Cream Ale, a light, malty Silver medal winning beer.
We walked a couple blocks to One World Brewing. One World was definitely a unique experience. First, you need to find it down a small alleyway next to Farm Burger (a popular local burger joint). One World is in the basement below Farm Burger. It’s dark and sort of odd place, but the brews were solid. The Killer Whale Pale Ale was very good and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
The last day in Asheville was a day to wind down. We started by heading over to 12 Bones Smokehouse at their Riverside Drive location. This was my first time having “real” North Carolina BBQ, and all I can say is it’s amazing. A half rack of blackberry chipotle rubbed ribs with jalapeno grits, collard greens, corn bread and, of course, local beer hit the spot.
While driving around after lunch, we spied The Brew Pump. The Brew Pump is basically a gas station. Oh, and it has a small bar with about 5 taps and an outdoor patio. What?!?! Even the coolers in the gas station had craft beer that would rival many smaller stores in Denver.
We drove over to the Biltmore and took a quick drive around the grounds. The Biltmore is an estate and [extremely] large home owned by the Vanderbilt family, complete with a winery. This is a perfect place to visit if you’re interested in history or have wineofiles with you (there is a winery on site).
Hey, but there’s beer nearby, so we first sought out Catawba Brewing. Unfortunately, they were not open until later in the day, so we headed a couple blocks over to French Broad Brewery. The tiny, rustic taproom was pretty bare bones. French Broad’s Rye Hopper and Wee-Heavy-er Scotch both hit the spot while we lounged on their single park bench patio.
After French Broad, we took a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and stopped at a couple of overlooks for some great views. The mountains of North Carolina are heavily tree-lined, green and rolling in contrast to Colorado’s hard-edged, rocky mountains. It’s worth the drive and is absolutely beautiful.
Eventually, it was time for me to fly out from Greenville-Spartanburg airport. Luckily, there is a Thomas Creek Brewery outlet, a South Carolina brewery, located right in the terminal. Their walloping 12.5% ABV Up The Creek Extreme IPA has got to be the strongest beer I’ve ever had in an airport. What a way to end the trip!
In less than 4 days, I visited 11 new breweries and tried countless new beers. I got to visit some world-class breweries during my time in Asheville. And I missed out on several local breweries and beer bars due to time constraints (Catawba, Highland, Atamont, Oyster House, and Barley’s Taproom to name a few). This place is insane.
For me, Asheville is the quintessential beer geek experience. Between being able to walk to most of the breweries, the variety of beers, having drinks in the liquor store while you shop, world-class food served in craft beer settings, the weather, a gas station with great craft beer…everything really, Asheville is a beer geeks dream. This place deserves the title of “Beer City USA”.