My dear friends (and future friends), you all know that we love to travel, and that we love to sample craft beer, so needless to say, we felt as if we landed in hops paradise when we visited Asheville, NC.
I mean, it's a shame that we hadn't been there before! Asheville is just a couple of hours drive up from our homes in Charlotte. Now we know. Get ready breweries! We will conquer you all!
We have sampled brews many times before in our hometown. One of our favorite places, Flying Saucer is literally a beer emporium (here's that review), also, our friends at Salud recently opened a new brewery and we were there for the grand opening of Salud Cerveceria, which was amazing. And of course, there's the beer festivals that we try to attend often, and don't forget about Oktoberfest in Helen, GA. PROST!
You've got to understand that it's not about the drinking, don't judge us before you hear this: It's about the hops, the aroma, the pleasure to taste the carefully crafted flavors in these beers. It's like tasting wines, or coffees, or cheeses...our thing is craft beer....and food, and yeah what the heck, wine, and coffee, and cheese, but you're making me miss my point.
So moving forward with my point, Asheville, NC is famous nationwide for the dozens of fabulous breweries you can find.
OUR FIRST STOP:
SIERRA NEVADA BREWERY. If there was any instance in this trip that I had to say OMG out loud, it was when we arrived at this place.
Located about twenty minutes south of Asheville (in Fletcher, NC), Sierra Nevada Brewery, originally from California, opened a second brewery which sits atop of a mountain. No joke. We felt as if we were entering an extravagant country club, as the rod-iron gates adorn the entryway along with the Sierra Nevada emblem, and the gorgeous natural views of the mountain. Once at the top, we were greeted by a massive building home to the brewing facilities, taproom, gift shop, and indoor/outdoor entertainment. They even have a stage for outdoor concerts! They offer tours of their facility (we didn't take one because we forgot to make reservations), and it's fascinating how they are totally committed to be environmentally friendly (there's no smoking allowed anywhere, and solar panels provide energy)- kudos Sierra Nevada!
And their beer... as always, their commercial beers are great, and offered there, but we couldn't leave without trying their small batch selection which is only sold in the taproom. We enjoyed their Hop and Sour, and sampled Hopporium (triple IPA) and their ginger beer, Oktoberfest, and the Southern Gothic Session Pilsner. The food was great too. We had the Moroccan Skewers, and duck fat fries... amazingly tasty!
STOP 2. BURIAL BREWERY.
After being overwhelmed by the massiveness of Sierra Nevada, we stopped at Burial (checked in our hotel in between and walked there). Burial was small, but their beer taste was big. We sampled their Keeper's Veil Honey Seisson, and ordered rabbit wings (rabbit legs), and the gigantic hushpuppies from Salt&Smoke. This place was packed to the roof...we all know why...their beer is pretty awesome.
STOP 3. GREEN MAN BREWERY: DIRTY JACK'S
Curious little place this was. Dirty Jacks is Green Mans original tasting room, before they expanded to the brewing facility (next door). This rustic establishment is decorated with the spirit of the green man for sure. You can find green man everywhere you look. On the walls, on the windows, wherever you look you will see something relevant to the culture of this brewery. The outdoor space was comfortable as well, and you can enjoy your beer and pet some puppies. There was this little dog, Citra, that kept bringing me a toy to throw. If I ignored her for a second (while taking a sip of my beer) she would look for the next person willing to play. Adorable!
STOP 4. BEN'S TUNE UP. (BEER GARDEN).
Not a brewery, but this place is worth mentioning because of their food. I would call it Asian fusion maybe? Either way, I have to say that I had the best egg rolls I've ever had, as well as a the Thai Basil Chicken...awesomeness in a plate. Accompany your food with a draft of your favorite local beer and you are set for a good start.
STOP 5. THIRSTY MONK BREWERY AND PUB
This was a cool place. They have a constantly rotating beer menu, so I guess you will find different beers every time you visit. I tried the Monk Easy Gose...it was good and sour. They divide this between upstairs and downstairs with a different selection of beers, which was pretty cool.
STOP 6. SKYBAR ROOFTOP BAR
Also, not a brewery, but we wanted to check it out. Located inside the Historic Flatiron Building, they will check your ID at the very entrance, and you wait in the atrium for a very antique neoclassic elevator that will take you all the way to the top floor (7th I think). You get out of the elevator and into the Skybar...but, where is the bar? Well, there's no "bar"...there are many waiters eager to take your drink order...by the way, before you get in the elevator, they tell you that you MUST have at least one drink to go up or they won't let you in. So we did. I had a cucumber vodka drink that was quite yummy. Although there are cool views from the top, this place seemed to me like a glorified outdoor staircase...because you stand in a staircase, literally. There are only a few bar stools around, but that's it. Nothing too impressive...Not a place you would hang out all night. Just cool for a picture or two.
STOP 7. BARLEY'S
We ended the night at this cool taproom. Downstairs you can enjoy amazing pizza, and upstairs you can order a beer from their large selection (29 taps), play some pool, or darts, or foosball, or simply hang out in their spacious venue. It was the perfect way to end our craft beer journey.
Then we walked back to our hotel, which was just a few blocks away. Drank plenty of water, and woke up to an amazing breakfast buffet.
There are so many more amazing breweries that we missed and/or didn't have time (or liver) left to visit. We will definitely organize another trip to Asheville soon and hit a few more!
What is your favorite brewery in Asheville? Let us know! Please share or comment below!