Asheville: Beer City USA
Emily Chaplin Krug shares why North Carolina’s funky city of Asheville is the go-to place for great beers.
In Provence it’s pastis, in Morocco mint tea, and in Asheville, North Carolina the inevitable answer to the question “What would you like to drink?” is beer. A hoppy pale ale perhaps, or a chocolate porter, but preferably something on draft that has been handcrafted and brewed locally.
In this artsy, laid-back mountain town of 75,000 people, beer has become an integral part of the culture, not to mention a leisure activity in its own right. And with nine breweries (plus more in the vicinity), Asheville has firmly established itself as a mecca for beer enthusiasts.
This Saturday, June 5th, the city will host the Beer City Festival from noon to 6pm with live music and some of the best local craft brews (buy tickets here before they’re all gone). The event is aptly named – Asheville recently edged out Portland, Oregon to lay claim to the title “Beer City USA 2010,” in an online poll conducted by beer authority Charlie Papazian. (In 2009 the town tied for the honor with its West Coast competitor).
A visit to Asheville is not complete without a stop at one (and preferably several) of the local breweries, many of which operate tasting rooms if not full-scale bars. You can find them on the Asheville Microbreweries site.
Since opening its doors in 2008, Wedge Brewing Company has become a favorite destination of locals for an after-work (or afternoon) pint.
Located in nearby Black Mountain, Pisgah Brewing packs in the crowds at its open-air taproom on most Thursday and Friday evenings, when the brewery offers live music and an bonfire to accompany its certified organic suds.
Have kids in tow? Not a problem. Asheville Pizza & Brewing provides plenty to entertain your underage companions while you sip a pint of house brewed Shiva I.P.A. or Boogie Down Brown.
When visiting with a group, a tour with Brews Cruise is an excellent way to explore the brewery scene without having to designate a driver or fiddle with your GPS (though Android users should check out the Asheville Breweries app, which pinpoints the locations of all area breweries).
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Whichever of our beloved breweries and pubs you decide to patronize, we Ashevillians will welcome you to join us at the tap… with one congenial qualification. As you quaff your way around town please take precautions to keep yourself and your Southern hosts safe. Asheville teems with dogs, bicyclists and brutally narrow streets. The downtown is also highly walkable – an excellent opportunity, might I add, to burn off some of those beer calories.
Emily Chaplin Krug is a freelance writer, photographer and graphic designer based in Asheville. Emily travels as far and often as her budget will allow, but she always looks forward to coming home to a pint of her favorite locally brewed I.P.A.
Photos: Emily Chaplin Krug