Recreational drinking can be overwhelming.
Well, not the actual drinking part, per se. Drinking = good. But what can cause hardship is deciding which craft brewery in Asheville, NC to hang out at. That’s because Asheville has more craft breweries per capita than any other U.S. city. It’s even won the coveted title of “Beer City USA.”
Ashevillians take their beer very seriously. The “craft” in craft beer is elevated here, and brewers take enormous pride in their dedication to producing some of the best beers in the U.S. And unlike “some” places (you can fill in the blank), drinking and craft brewing here is not just a passing fad.
The first craft brewery in Asheville dates back to 1994, when Highland Brewing Company opened its doors as the first legal brewery since Prohibition. In “beer years,” 1994 was eons ago, and since then many more breweries have popped onto the scene. And while each has its own unique style, one thing remains the same: the quality of these brews, as a whole, is unsurpassed. Whether it’s the fresh mountain water that’s said to have the perfect pH level for brewing, the high-quality ingredients (many sourced locally), or a combination of factors, Asheville’s suds are pure pleasure. Be sure to check out at least one, and hopefully more, while you’re there.
To help narrow down your selections, we’ve done some of the legwork for you. In all honesty, however, there are so many outstanding options that naming a favorite is just a question of personal preference.
Here are our favorites:
Highland Brewing Company– Opened in 1994, Highland is the brewery that started the city’s beer revolution. The name is an homage to the Scottish immigrants who settled in the area in the 18th century, and their signature Gaelic Ale does the group justice. Hang out in the spacious and relatively low-key taproom to sample any of the 93 unique brews they offer yearly. Or head to The Meadow, Highland’s outdoor concert venue, to enjoy some local bands. There’s even a rooftop bar for weddings and other special events if you’ll be in town for a celebration.
Highland also scores major bonus points for their environmental sustainability efforts. Plus, they are pillars of the community and partner with local non-profits such as animal shelters, food banks, and social justice organizations. And the beer’s so good, you’ll be happy to buy another round for charity.
Green Man- Another OG brewery, Green Man gives you two experiences in one. The original tasting room, Dirty Jack’s, has just the right amount of dive bar-iness to be a local favorite. Or try the newer Green Mansion–a huge 3-story establishment. The first floor is a “brewtique” shop (beer souvenirs!) with firepits, while the top floor has an open-air bar with mountain views. And the second floor, you ask? Well, there’s an employee-only production area… and the bathrooms. Ten bathrooms. Ladies: When have you ever been in a bar without ever having to wait in a line to pee? It’s legit heaven!
But we digress. Green Man also deserves kudos for their community and environmental efforts. Try one of their popular seasonal ales, like The Dweller or Bootsy for a special treat.
Asheville Brewing Company- The last (in no particular order) OG on our list. This eponymous brewery has three different locations, so check out the deets before you decide. If you’re looking for good pizza and a beer, this is your spot. There’s also a nice selection of pub fare that offers plenty of locally-sourced ingredients.
ABC also has a very cool dine-in movie theater and tickets are still just $3 a pop. This is good news, because it means you’ll have more beer money. Pro tip: Movies start at their scheduled times, on the dot. But if you get there early there’s a pre-show of fun stuff like silly things found on the inter-webs. People love it!
Try the World Beer Cup-winning Ninja Porter for a treat. If you’re there in the Fall, sip the seasonal Bold Rock Harvest Haze Cider.
Burial Beer Co.- Located in the South Slope brewery district, Burial’s where you’ll find the title holders America’s Best IPA and #1 Saison. Plus, lots of locals claim it’s Asheville’s best craft brewery, hands down. We’ll let you decide, however, as you sip some of the year-round classics. Or maybe something funkier suits you, like a seasonal brew with notes of whatever’s in season… like sweet potatoes. Or donuts.
If you grab a can, check out the interpretive piece of artwork and the story of how the beer was born. It’s a nice touch that makes an already great brew even better. Add to that what we’re calling a modern-agricultural-heavy metal-funky aesthetic and the vibe just hit a new level of cool.
Wedge Brewing Co.- With two locations in the city’s once gritty River Arts District–one of which used to be the largest leather tannery in the U.S.–Wedge can say it was a pioneer in this section of town long before it became a hip spot. The brick building location is a behemoth and is home to over 30 independent art and craft galleries, so grabbing a craft brew here is an extra artsy experience.
Try one of the best IPAs anywhere–Iron Rail. Or maybe the Saison.
Space can get a little tight inside if it’s busy. But that’s really just an excuse to head outside to the old loading dock or the patio. Plus, outside is where you’ll find a rotating selection of tasty Asheville-area food trucks. Dee-licious.
Bhramari Brewing Co.- Named after the Hindu goddess of bees, Bharmari popped onto the Asheville brew scene in 2016 and has been generating plenty of buzz since then. (So many bee puns here!)
Joining the ranks of other South Slope breweries, Bhramari stands out for its large offering of sours and barrel-aged beers. Try their flagship Lorelai IPA or The Good Fight, a year-round sour.
The food here is pretty phenomenal, too. No such thing as standard pub fare at Bhramari. Selections range from small plates to hearty sandwiches, so there’s something for you one-beer-and-go folks and for those who plan on staying longer. There are some exotic flavor combos on the menu, and they’re all good. Not a joke: try the pickled egg that comes with hot sauce, orange marmalade, herb aioli, machismo sauce, and a saltine. Dab the egg in the sauces, wash it down, and thank us.
Catawba Brewing Co.- Catawba’s got two Asheville locations. And with a new location in Charlotte and plans for even more expansion, Catawba is sure doing something right. That *something* includes their famous Hopness Monster IPA, White Zombie Ale, and Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale; all of which hit the spot on a hot Asheville afternoon. If you’re channeling your inner child, try Peanut Butter Jelly Time, which comes in different jelly flavors. (Heads up kids: Beer is for adults… go make a real PB&J!)
If you’re downtown, head to their South Slope location. Staying at any of the Biltmore properties, like the Inn on Biltmore Estate? Be sure to check out their location in Biltmore Village, a collection of shopping and dining spots near America’s Largest Home.
Pisgah Brewing- Ok, so technically Pisgah Brewing isn’t in Asheville, but it’s close enough and good enough to deserve a spot on this list. Located about 20 minutes east of downtown Asheville in the town of Black Mountain, NC, Pisgah has been “adopted” by Asheville locals as their own. Enjoy live music on either one of two on-site venues: inside the taproom, with a capacity of 160, and outdoors with space for over 2,000 revelers. Don’t forget your blanket or a camp chair if you’ll be outside.
Try the award-winning Pisgah Pale Ale, or the ever-popular Tripel and Nitro-Vanilla Porter. There’s also a rotating selection of food trucks on-site to keep your energy up for dancing.
Head’s up: Pisgah brewing is CASH ONLY, but there are two ATMs on site.
Of course, beer drinking is fun. But drinking some of the world’s best craft beers is absolutely delightful. However, please remember to drink responsibly. We want you back in Asheville for another round. Cheers!