Over the past few decades, Asheville, North Caroline, has helped pioneer the craft beer movement on the East Coast. In 1994, retired engineer, Oscar Wong, moved from Charlotte to Asheville to open Highland Brewing Company in the basement below Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. His one-time hobby became Asheville’s first successful brewery, in turn inspiring dozens of others. Today, anyone with a taste for beer can find a a libation to enjoy, from hoppy to sour to seasonal flavors. Here are five breweries to visit to get a well-rounded taste of Asheville’s beer scene.
Highland Brewing Company
As the first legal brewer in Asheville since Prohibition, Highland Brewery Company is the perfect spot to kick off your beer trail. The name of the brewery honors the Scots Irish who settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the 18th and 19th centuries — you can also see this influence through such offerings as Gaelic ale, an amber-colored American ale with a rich, malty body. Highland offers free brewery tours multiple times a day, as well as the chance to sample small-batch brews, such as the Saphir Blanc Saison, a citrusy and slightly spicy pale ale.
Wicked Weed Brewing
Wicked Weed Brewing produces some of Asheville’s most distinctive craft beers. In the Funkatorium, a tasting room dedicated exclusively to sour and funky beers, you can sample unique beers like the Medora, an American sour ale fermented with blackberries and raspberries, or the Freak of Nature Double IPA, brewed with “an abnormally large quantity of hops.” In the pub, you can choose among a list of American, Belgian and German ales, and pair them wiht menu of small plates, burgers and other fare.
Thirsty Monk Brewery & Pub
Open since 2008, Thirsty Monk Brewery & Pub operates locations in downtown Asheville, Biltmore Park and South Asheville, featuring a constantly rotating tap of Belgian-style modern ales. At the South Asheville coffee shop-meets-brew pub, Brother Joe’s Coffee Pub, the focus is on small batch beer-coffee combos, such as Brother Noah Belgian Stout, which is aged with smoky coffee beans. For something on the lighter side, visit the downtown location for an Abby Blonde, a classic Belgian style beer with flavors of banana and cloves.
Green Man Brewery
Open since 1997, Green Man Brewery has remained loyal to traditional English styles of beer, like the Green Man ESB, a malty and caramel amber ale made with a blend of authentic British malts and hops, and the Green Man India Pale Ale, a hoppy English-style IPA. If English ales aren’t your fancy, try an offering from the “High Gravity Series” menu, like the The Rainmaker, Green Man’s most sought after beer — a double IPA with four different hops. Thursday through Sunday, you can visit the brewery for a 75-minute tour, tasting of four flagship and specialty beers and a complimentary etched Green Man glass and sticker.
One World Brewing
Although it’s one of the newest players on the brewing scene, One World Brewing has made a name for itself by celebrating home-brewed beer. As a former home-brewer himself, owner Jay Schutz invites fellow amateurs to bring their favorite ales and lagers to the brewery to be considered as a featured beer on a designated tap. If you’d rather try One World’s original brews, start with the Patcha Mama Coconut, a dark-roasted porter with a hint of toasted coconut.