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Home Beer Your perfect beer day in: Asheville, North Carolina

Your perfect beer day in: Asheville, North Carolina

You finally made it to Beer City, USA, but you’re only in town for a day. How do you budget your time in a place that boasts more breweries per capita than nearly every city in the country? Here’s your itinerary for the perfect beer day.
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Asheville Brewing Co.

ashevillebrewing.com

9 a.m.
Start your day off with what the locals calls Southern hospitality (and the rest of us call delicious, sugar-stuffed, fried food) at the Tupelo Honey Cafe. The NC staple now has 14 locations across six states, but the best of them is still the original in downtown Asheville. You’re going to be doing some major-league drinking later on, so grab something filling and absorbent like the Shoo Mercy Sweet Potato Pancake, a hubcap-sized flapjack served with fried chicken, apple cider bacon, pecans, two fried eggs, apples, blueberries and a golf ball of butter. Don’t get coffee yet, though; that’s coming up next.

10:30 a.m.
Coffee at Vortex Doughnuts will help you fight off the nap that pancake wants you to take. Get the Nola, a chicory-infused cold brew sweetened with cream, and, if you still have room, try one of the Rotating Tap Donuts featuring icing made with local beer.

Vortex Doughnuts Rotating Tap

The Rotating Tap doughnut made with Catawba Brewing Co.’s Irish Stout.

11 a.m.
Time to start drinking. Asheville Brewing Co. opens at 11 a.m. every day except Sunday, so it’s your best bet for a pre-afternoon pint downtown. The brewery’s grapefruity flagship Shiva IPA is always a solid choice, but also look out for newer releases like the Nitro Ninja Latte, a caffeinated version of ABC’s World Beer Cup gold-winning Ninja Porter. Take your pint out to the huge covered patio and catch a game on the giant projector screen, if one’s on.

Noon
It’s a quick walk over to New Belgium’s production facility. Grab a glass or a flight in the Liquid Center tasting room and head outside to the wood deck overlooking the French Broad River. If the weather’s warm, you’re in for some solid people-watching: the river fills with tubers floating lazily (and drunkenly) each summer. Sign up for a tour of the massive facility if you’re up for it; they’re offered every half-hour.

Wedge Brewing Co.

1:30 p.m.
New Belgium helped develop a lovely little walking path along the French Broad; use it to head south and across the river toward Asheville’s River Arts District. Here you’ll find art studios and graffiti galore, but the masterpiece you’re looking for is The Hogzilla, a beastly sandwich combining candied bacon, kielbasa and pulled pork only available at 12 Bones Smokehouse. Try it with some of the housemade blueberry chipotle barbecue sauce (which local ice cream cafe The Hop has used to make an ice cream that is simply unreal) and wash it down with an Iron Rail IPA, a floral and malt-sweet British IPA from Wedge Brewing Co., located right next door.

3:30 p.m.
A one-mile walk northeast will take you to a cluster of breweries: Burial Beer Co., Catawba Brewing Co., Green Man Brewery, Twin Leaf Brewery and Wicked Weed Brewing’s sour-focused facility, The Funkatorium. Have at them.

Wicked Weed Funkatorium

One of many, many barrels at Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium.

7 p.m.
Time for dinner. The upscale food and funky aesthetic at one-year-old Bhramari Brewhouse is the perfect exclamation point for the day’s eating. Start with a pickled egg—sunflower-yellow and beautifully plated with colorful swirls of hot sauce, herb aioli and orange marmelade—and pair it with The Good Fight, a sour pale ale that’s much more pale ale than sour (just the way we like it). The garlicky, melony Lorelei IPA will also prove a worthy match for the brewpub’s Crispy Duck Breast, glazed with an orange-ham sauce and dusted with mushroom powder.

Bhramari Brewhouse pickled egg

The pickled egg at Bhramari Brewhouse.

9 p.m.
The urban beer garden/Asian fusion restaurant/convenience store/beer and sake brewery Ben’s Tune-Up is mere blocks away; saunter over for a glass of the nama genshu—aka Heavy—a sweet, 17% ABV sake that tastes like bruised pear with a finish of white rice and banana peel. It’s often carbonated and served on draft with several fruit/spice treatments, including pineapple-jalapeño, lemon-ginger, strawberry-cucumber and Creamsicle—get one of those if you see it.

10 p.m.
Hi-Wire Brewing is right next door to Ben’s. It closes at 11 p.m. most weekdays, so drop in for a quick draft pour of the classic Lager and check if any bottles from the Single Barrel Series of wild ales pulled from a single oak barrel are available; grab some if they are.

11 p.m.
Close out the night scene at One World Brewing. Located under a burger restaurant, this basement brewery is decorated with hanging terrariums (terraria?) and lit with Edison bulbs and Christmas lights. It’s a cool, dark, woody, funky space with the feel of a dive bar in your buddy’s basement. Hoppy brews dominate the 10 taps; the best of them is the Citra-Bomb IPA, bittered solely with the eponymous hop variety. A fridge full of pre-filled crowlers is there if you want to take some home and keep this thing going, but you probably want to sleep. It’s been a long day.

12 Comments

  • Michaela says:

    My perfect day would never in a million years involve five IPAs. One in the morning, maybe.

    • Lori Brooks says:

      Putting this on my bucket list! Thanks for all the great suggestions, sounds like an awesome day for sure.

  • Cory OBrien says:

    Good agenda! Though the walk from Asheville Brewing Co to New Belgium is almost a mile and a half, so you may have a different definition of “quick walk” than most.

  • Andrew says:

    At least 8 beers and nearly 7 miles. That’s one heck of a trek. I’d say a bike and some end of day river watching at the Bywater are needed in this synopsis!

  • Dobo says:

    I’d make slightly different choices, but this is a nice route! However, the amount of walking required to do this suggested itinerary is a bit further than the article suggests. (Example: it’s only “one mile northeast” from Wedge to South Slope “as the crow flies, but it’s not a direct route to walk it.

    Just to set some expectations, walking the three major segments from Asheville Brewing to New Belgium; New Belgium to Wedge and Wedge to South Slope (I used Funkatorium) is 4.3 miles IF you take the most direct routes provided by Google Maps. Figure about 6 miles total if you were to follow this article step by step.

    Uber/taxi is an alternative, of course, but I really like the suggestion of walking the city! I myself regularly walk 4+ miles from home in West Asheville to get to various Downtown/South Slope locations. And then there’s the return walk home!

  • Betty Moderno says:

    Not sure which breweries they visit, but there is always the Pubcycle to get around to the different breweries.

  • Fred says:

    Get out of here with Tupelo Honey for breakfast. You want King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffle, good base for drinking. Make a stop at Hole Donuts on the way to Wedge. THEN hit the cluster Twin Leaf, Catawba, and Burial.. Also, just a cursory mention of Burial, arguably the best brewer in town? Freaking criminal.. Grab some cans to go too, you can even stop at Tasty Beverage for a good selection of the area’s beers, then work your way up Coxe avenue, stop at asheville brewing for lunch, their pizza is pretty good, or Barley’s Taproom if you prefer. Then finish your climb up to Patton Rd, going to places like Jack of the Wood, Thirsty Monk, One World Brewing, Lexington Avenue Brewing, then you can’t forget about French Broad Brewing, and then Highland Brewing south of there, but you can save that for the next day.

  • Jack says:

    I am trying to plan a visit to the smoky mountains at the end of the month or beginning of next month, and staying at least 2 nights in Asheville at the start/end of the trip. As a craft beer lover, I’d love to attempt this day (at least the beer parts). Is there a particular “best” hotel/location to stay within walking distance, and aside from Sunday (just because of the later start) is there a worst/best day to do this? Thanks!!!

    • Zach Fowle says:

      I stayed at the Aloft in downtown Asheville, which is located steps from Wicked Weed’s brewpub and One World and would be a perfect base of operations for this trip. (Plus, the hotel has an adoptable Corgi who lives on the second floor.)

      As for the best days/times to attempt this, if you follow the schedule above you’ll never hit a spot before it opens or after it closes no matter which day you visit. If you want to mix things up, though, weekends are generally better—the breweries tend to open earlier and close later.

  • Chuck says:

    A newcomer on the Asheville beer scene is Hillman Beer.

    http://www.hillmanbeer.com/

    They just opened their taproom at 25 Sweeten Creek Road and are doing great things. They are run by a couple of amazing people who are very dedicated to their beer!

  • Lauran says:

    Wow, this looks like a phenomenal day!!!! Love all this walking to help burn a few calories. And we love Aloft hotels, thanks for the tips!

  • James townsend says:

    Went to Asheville several years ago. Went to several breweries. Wicked Weed,Altamont,French broads and thirsty monk…….almost forgot “sierra Nevada brewery in Mills river. About 40 minutes outside Asheville. It is awesome . Take the tour. Finnish up in tasting room. They make some awesome beers. We didn’t get a chance to hit them all. Asheville is a wonderful place to visit

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