Once Upon a Tap: Asheville By the Beers
A Tale of the City Behind the Famous Craft Brews
It could be the water, the welcoming community or a little bit of mountain magic. But for some reason, Asheville has become a craft brewing mecca in the Southeast.
And as the story of local beer continues to be written, hop enthusiasts may be interested to know the story of Asheville that can be read on our local labels.
And this is only the first chapter--just a sample from among 22 area breweries.
- The Hills Are Alive | Highland Gaelic Ale: The flagship beer of Asheville’s oldest brewery pays homage to the early Scots-Irish settlers of the Blue Ridge Mountains, who were drawn to the geography that reminded them of home. We also have these early residents to thank for the area’s musical heritage—Western North Carolina’s traditional sounds have given rise to bluegrass and old-time genres that continue to influence popular music.
- America’s Largest Homes | Sierra Nevada Pale Ale: Once upon a time, a well-known visitor named George Vanderbilt chose to build his BIG house in Asheville. In fact, the 250-room Biltmore is the largest privately-owned home in America. More recently, one of the nation’s BIGGEST craft brewers, Sierra Nevada, also chose the area for a new brewhouse. Sierra Nevada’s flagship beer and Biltmore both have a devoted fanbase—more than 1 million people plan a visit to Biltmore each year to enjoy a taste of life in the Gilded Age.
- From Flights to Flying High | Hi-Wire Lager: Talk about a high wire! Asheville’s zipline tours boast some of the highest, longest and fastest ziplines in the Southeast. And nothing works up an appetite for a cold beer like flying through the trees amid stunning mountain views. If water is more your scene, feel the adrenaline rush on whitewater rapids.
- South Slope on the Rise | Green Man ESB: The legendary Green Man symbolizes rebirth and renaissance, and Green Man Brewery’s 1997 opening has certainly brought all that and more to Asheville’s nascent “brewing district,” the South Slope. This neighborhood is now home to nine breweries plus bottle shops and taprooms.
- Take a Hike | Highland Brewing Company’s Seasonal Beers: The Asheville area boasts more than 2,000 miles of trails for hiking and biking. But there’s (almost) no need to consult a map—just grab one of Highland’s seasonal brews, each of which is named for a nearby wilderness area protected by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy. The newest addition, Lost Cove American Pale Ale, is named for a moonshiners’ ghost town in Pisgah National Forest.
- Arts and Craft Beer | Wedge Iron Rail IPA: Being named the favorite local IPA in hop-heavy Asheville is a big deal, and so is everything that’s happening in the River Arts District neighborhood that Wedge Brewing Company calls home. The Iron Rail takes its name from the industrial buildings and train tracks that line the French Broad River. But like the Wedge’s popular outdoor patio, the district has blossomed into a vibrant-yet-edgy mix of galleries, restaurants and 180+ artist studios.
- Expect the Unexpected | Asheville Brewing Company Ninja Porter: Whether this is your first or tenth visit to Asheville, it’s safe to say they are some things you just won’t see coming. Whether it’s a male nun riding a 10-foot bicycle, or world-class food served at a cinder block dive bar, it’s best to just expect the unexpected.
- Drinking Buddies | Pisgah Brewing’s Greybeard IPA: Look east toward the nearby town of Black Mountain, and you’ll find Pisgah’s tucked away taproom and notable concert venue, this year hosting the likes of Jason Isbell and JJ Grey & Mofro. Like Asheville, the brewery’s year-round IPA brings a touch of West Coast sensibility and a whole lot of refreshment. And beer is not the only hidden treasure in Black Mountain—stick around post-pint to discover unique shopping and artisans, and tasty small-town dining.
- Breakfast + Beer | Burial Beer Co. Skillet Donut Stout: What goes together better than donuts and coffee? It’s no question that Burial has found a great pairing inspired by South Slope neighbor Vortex Doughnuts. This breakfast-themed stout is a sweet reminder of how much this "Foodtopian Society" loves its local eateries, and any opportunity for collaboration.
- Sweet & Sassy | Thirsty Monk/Open Brewing Honey Badger Brown: Brewed with copious amounts of local honey harvested right here in Bee City USA, this brown ale is a little bit sweet and a lot bad-ass—fitting for a city that was named one of the “friendliest cities in the U.S.” and is also home to five James Beard semi-finalists, the record-breaking hiker who took on the Appalachian Trail in 46 days, and one of the top 5 rock clubs in the country.