Beer City USA
(Also Info on Cideries, Wineries, Beer Tours and Distilleries)
“Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”
With around 50 microbreweries and brewpubs in the Asheville and WNC area, and with two large national craft breweries (Sierra Nevada and New Belgium), plus a large regional brewer, Oskar Blues, having their East Coast headquarters here, Asheville has won four national online polls as “Beer City USA.” Asheville claims to have more craft breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S.
Many breweries in the Asheville area remain open during the Covid-19 pandemic, although some have moved to delivery or contactless delivery. Check locally on the status of breweries you want to visit.
As of late March 2021, maximum brewery occupancy is 75% and late night restrictions on alcohol sales have been lifted. Bars are allowed to serve customers outdoors and indoors, (50% occupancy limits indoors).
New Belgium Brewing (21 Craven St., West Asheville, 828-333-6900, www.newbelgium.com/brewery/asheville) broke ground in April 2014 on its $175 million East Coast headquarters along the French Broad River in West Asheville and the River Arts District. It began producing Fat Tire and some other brews at its Asheville location in April 2016. Free tours of New Belgium are available daily, and USA Today named New Belgium’s tours the best in the country. While the brewery does not have a restaurant, it hosts a rotating selection of food trucks. In late 2019, it was announced New Belgium was being acquired by Lion Little World Beverages of Australia, itself owned by Japan’s Kirin. The impact on Asheville’s site is unknown.
The new Sierra Nevada (100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, South Asheville, 828-708-6176, www.sierranevada.com) brewery is on a beautifully landscaped 190-acre site in Mills River about 20 minutes south of Asheville, near the Asheville Regional Airport. The California-based craft brewery is turning out a number of beers at its North Carolina site. Sierra Nevada has a restaurant and tasting room and also offers brewery tours. The tours often are booked far in advance. Sierra Nevada has life music weekly. Check the website for details.
Cider is also a growing industry here, with around 10 local cideries. Ditto, distilleries.
Especially notable spots are highlighted in RED.
Most brewpubs are open daily, often just for the afternoon and early evening. In most cases, we've noted days when craft brewery taprooms are closed, but because hours change frequently we are not able to post those. Check with the breweries for current hours.
Local Craft Breweries
Andrews Brewing Company (565 Aquone Rd., Andrews, 828-321-2006, www.andrewsbrewing.com). Andrews Brewing produces amber ale, IPAs, a blonde (summer only) and other beers. There's live music on weekends.
Archetype Brewing (265 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-505-4177, www.archetypebrerwing.com). New in 2017, Archetype brews about a dozen Belgian- and American-style beers and ales. Among its offerings are a coffee porter using Last Dance cold brew. It doesn't serve food, but you can bring in food to Archetype's indoor and outdoor spaces from nearby restaurants including Gan Shan Station West, Pizza Mind, Billy's Tacos and OWL Bakery.
Asheville Brewing Co. (77 Coxe Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-255-4077; www.ashevillebrewing.com) makes beer at its downtown microbrewery, pub and music club. It also sells its suds in a converted movie theater in North Asheville, Asheville Pizza & Brewing (675 Merrimon Ave., 828-254-1281). Here you can enjoy a second-run movie ($3, and often sold out), a pizza or burger and a freshly brewed beer, seated on sofas and reclining chairs. At the 2014 Craft Brewers Conference and World Beer Cup in Denver, Asheville Brewing Co. won a gold medal in the brown porter category with its Ninja Porter. An expansion in 2014 increased the brewery’s capacity to 13,000 barrels a year.
Balsam Falls Brewing Co. (506 W. Main St., Sylva, 828-631-1987, www.balsamfallsbrewing.com) is a small brewer in downtown Sylva that opened in 2017.
Bearwaters Brewery (101 Park St., Canton, 828-237-4200, www.bearwatersbrewing.com), formerly Headwaters Brewing in Waynesville, has several of its own craft beers including sour ales in rotation on tap in its tasting room, plus beers from other breweries. It also serves a few wines.
Ben's Tune Up (195 Hilliard Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-424-7580, www.benstuneup.com) began as a moderately priced Asian fusion restaurant but has evolved into more of a bar with food. It has its own line of craft beers. It also makes sake.
Bhramari Brewing Co. (101 S. Lexington Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-214-7981, www.bhramaribrewing.com). Chill brewery and creative gastropub with friendly staff and excellent, if somewhat different, burgers. It's behind the Orange Peel.
Biltmore Brewing Company (1 Antler Bill Rd., Biltmore Estate, South Asheville, 828-225-1333, www.biltmore.com) sells a small line of Biltmore Estate beers called Cedric, supposedly named after one of the Vanderbilt family dogs.
Black Mountain Brewing (131 Broadway Ave., Black Mountain, 828-357-5010, www.blackmountainbrewing.com), opened in 2017, has six of its brews on tap. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Blue Ghost Brewing Company (125 Underwood Rd., Fletcher, 828-376-0159, www.blueghostbrewing.com). Located in a 4,000 sq. ft. building in Henderson County near the Asheville Regional Airport, Blue Ghost Brewing has indoor and newly expanded outdoor seating. Open daily, and there's a food truck Wednesday-Sunday.
Blue Mountain Pizza and Brewpub (55 N. Main St., Weaverville, 828-658-8778, www.bluemountainpizza.com), a Weaverville bar and pizza place that added brewing, specializes in Belgian and American ales. The bar has live music many nights.
Boojum Brewing (50 N. Main St., Waynesville, 828-246-0350, www.boojumbrewing.com). A downtown Waynesville brewpub with burgers and other bar food. Closed Tuesdays.
Brevard Brewing Company (63 East Main St., Brevard, 828-885-2101, www.brevard-brewing.com) says it is the only brewery in the area to specialize in producing lagers. It does German-style lagers but also brews some American ales.
Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē (155 Thompson St, South Asheville, 828-412-5193, www.cursuskeme.com) is a brewery tucked away at the end of a side street off Swannanoa River Road. Opened in mid-2018, it's in a former truck repair shop, but once inside it has attractive refinished woodwork and a number of interesting beers. The name comes from a variety of sources: “Brouwerïj” is Flemish for brewery, “Cursus” is Latin for “courses” and “Kĕmē” alludes to the historical mysteries related to brewing. The tasting room currently is open only afternoons on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Burial Beer Co. (40 Collier Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville,828-475-2739, www.burialbeer.com), owned by folks who moved here from Seattle, opened a small one-barrel system in Asheville in mid-2013, starting with about a half dozen regular brews. By mid-2014, Burial had expanded to a 10-barrel system, with the ability to produce some canned beer. The Tap Room has about 15 Burial draft beers, plus nearly as many beers in bottles and cans to go. Burial has a full-service kitchen serving "Asheville food" Wednesday-Sunday for lunch and dinner, plus a jazz brunch on Sunday. It has a good double-patty cheeseburger.
Burning Bush Brewery (4891 Boylston Highway, Mills River) is opening in late 2019. It is an ambitious project, with six 15-barrel fermenters and two bright tanks, on about 2 acres. It expects to brew up to 1,000 barrels a year initially. The bar in the tap room is a 1930s-era bar from Chicago.
Catawba Brewing Company (63 Brook St., Biltmore Village, South Asheville, 828-424-7290, and on the South Slope at 32 Banks Ave. next to Vortex Doughnuts and Buxton Hall BBQ, 828-552-3934, www.catawbabrewing.com), originally from Glen Alpine and then Morganton, where it still has a location at 212 S. Green Street with 30 bbl brewhouse. In Asheville, it has a 7 bbl brewhouse. Catwaba brews seven ales and stouts , such as Farmer Ted and White Zombie, year-round, along with more than a dozen seasonal beers. Its brews are sold on tap in its tastings rooms, in kegs and in cans. It also has a location in Charlotte.
Collaboratory by CANarchy Craft Brewing Collective (39 N. Lexington Ave., 828-348-1622, www.collaboratoryavl.com), in the former location of Lexington Avenue Brewery or LAB, which was a lot easier name to remember, is a part of a group of seven breweries around the country called CANarchy. Collaboratory serves burgers and bar food and beers from other members of the Collective, including Cigar City in Tampa, Oskar Blues and Deep Ellum.
Currahee Brewing Company (100 Lakeside Dr., Franklin, 828-634-0078, www.curraheebrew.com) opened in Franklin in 2016 with a German-inspired biergarten and then opened in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta in 2018. Currahee has just three year-round brews but does a number of seasonal and special release beers. There is a food truck at the Franklin site. Currahee is a Cherokee word that means "stand alone."
DSSOLVR (63 N. Lexington Ave., Downtown Asheville, www.dssolvr.com) is expected to open in Downtown Asheville in late 2019.
Eucusta Brewing Co. (49 Pisgah Hwy. #3,Pisgah Forest, 828-966-2337, www.eucustabrewingco.com) is a small brewery near an entrance to Pisgah National Forest in the Brevard area.
Eurisko Beer Co. (255 Short Coxe Ave., South Slope, 828-774-5055, www.euriskobeer.com) opened in early 2018. The brewhouse has a tap room upstairs and an outdoor beer garden. It brews about two dozen interesting beers.
Fahrenheit 828 (17 Lee St., Skyland, South Asheville, behind Skyland Fire Department, 828-676-1800, www.fahrenheitpizzabrew.com) serves New York-style crispy pizza, chicken wings and basic brews. Closed Mondays.
Fonta Flora Brewery (317 N. Green St., Morganton, 828-475-0153, and 6751 NC-126, Nebo, www.fontaflora.com) has a small brewery and taproom in downtown Morganton and a farmhouse brewery on a former dairy farm in Nebo. Fonta Flora brews a sizable selection of fruit beers, ales, porters and others.
French Broad River Brewing Company (101-D Fairview Rd., near Biltmore Village, 828-277-0222 www.frenchbroadbrewery.com), established in 2001, was one of the pioneers of craft brewing in Asheville. It brews lagers and specialty ales in the European tradition, but it has expanded to add IPAs and specialty Pale Ales, along with seasonal brews. Wee-Heavy-Er, a Scottish ale, is a best seller. New owners Paul and Sarah Casey took over in 2017.
Frog Level Brewing Company (56 Commerce St., Waynesville, 828-254-5664, www.froglevelbrewing.com) is a brewer in the up-and-coming Frog Level section below downtown Waynesville. Its flagship beers including Bouncing Betty (the owner is a vet) and Catcher in the Rye. Frog Level, which has live music on some evenings and serves food, was the first craft brewer in Haywood County.
Ginger’s Revenge (829 Riverside Dr., Suite 100, North Asheville, 828-505-2462, www.gingersrevenge.com). New in 2017, Ginger’s Revenge specializes in ginger beers. Live music on most Fridays. You can usually get a bite at a food truck parked nearby.
Green Man Brewery (27 Buxton Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-252-5502, www.greenmanbrewery.com) is one of North Carolina’s oldest microbreweries, having opened in 1997 as a brewpub, part of Jack of the Wood bar. In 2010 new owners turned Green Man into an independent brewer specializing in ales. Green Man expanded in 2012 with a 30-barrel system and in 2013 began bottling its beers in 12-ounce bottles. The company expanded again in March 2015 to the tune of $5 million, with tasting rooms on top and bottom floors of its new three-story South Slope building. The top-floor tasting room has 18 taps. There's a packaging area in between, and Green Man also has a faster bottling system. Green Man's best-known product is the very hoppy Green Man IPA. It and other brews are sold regionally. The Green Man image historically is a representation of a man’s face made of leaves and vines, often seen in churches in Europe. It is a popular name for pubs in England; there’s a Green Man Pub in the basement of Harrods in London.
Guidon Brewing (15 8th Ave., East Hendersonville, www.guidonbrewing.com) is a new craft brewery run by a German-American family.
Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery (461 Main St.,Chimney Rock, 828-436-7047, www.hickorynutbrewery.com) was established by a Lake Lure family originally from England. The brewpub is on the banks of the Rocky Broad River in Chimney Rock. There's a limited menu of bar food.
Highland Brewing Company (12 Old Charlotte Hwy., Suite H, South Asheville, 828-299-3370, www.highlandbrewing.com) is Asheville’s first (1994) and largest local craft brewer. Highland’s year-round brews including Oatmeal Porter, Gaelic Ale and Black Mocha Stout. Its seasonal and small-batch beers are available in many restaurants and in supermarkets around the Southeast. A 2014 expansion boosted capacity by about 50% to some 60,000 barrels a year. Brewery tours are offered daily (hours vary). There’s no charge for tours. The taproom also is open daily, with varying hours. A rooftop bar can accommodate 300. An outdoor entertainment area features live music shows, usually with no cover charge. In-season there's music indoors or outdoors several days a week.
Hillman Beer (25 Sweeten Creek Rd., Biltmore Village, 828-505-1312, www.hillmanbeer.com) is a family-owned brewery and deli in Biltmore Village. It offers up to 18 house-brewed beers and ales to go with your Reuben.
Hi-Wire Brewery (197 Hilliard Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, and at 2 Huntsman Place in Biltmore Village, 828-738-2448, www.hiwirebrewing.com) in mid-2013 took over the site of Craggie Brewing. Hi-Wire has taken off and in mid-2015 opened a new, larger, 27,000 sq. ft. facility it calls the Biltmore Big Top. The brewry also has opened a location in Durham.
Hoppy Trout Brewing Company (911 Main St., Andrews, 828-835-2111, www.hoppytroutbrewing.com) is a small-batch nano brewer that is willing to experiment with different ingredients and flavors. The brewpub has brick-oven pizza and is open daily.
Innovation Brewing (414 W. Main St., Sylva, and 40 Depot St., Dillsboro, 828-586-9678, www.innovation-brewing.com) is a brewpub based in Sylva. It brews around 30 beers, with 12 usually on tap. Opened in 2013, Innovation is in a former filling station on Scott Creek in Sylva (where Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was filmed). Innovation has an outpost in Dillsboro.
Lazy Hiker Brewing (188 W. Main St., Franklin, 828-349-2337, www.lazyhikerbrewing.com.) Lazy Hiker has a 15-barrel system and produces traditional and black malt IPAs, a golden ale, a stout, several porters and other brews. There's live music on weekends.
Lost Province (130 N. Depot St., Boone, 828-265-3506, www.lostprovince.com) is a downtown brewpub that serves its beers with good wood-fired pizza.
Mad Co. Brew House (45 N. Main St., Marshall, 828-649-8600, www.madisoncountybrewing.com), opened in 2016, was Madison County's first craft brewery. In downtown Marshall, it's set on the French Broad River, serving small-batch brews with bratwurst and other snacks.
Mica Town Brewing (25 Brown Dr., Marion, 828-559-8300, www.micatownbrewing.com) is a pleasant microbrewery with about 10 regular brews, including a blackberry cider.
Mills River Brewery (330 Rockwood Rd. #103, Arden, 828-585-2396, www.millsriverbrewery.net). Currently located in a strip mall, but don’t let that put you off if you’re in the area. The IPAs and other beers are good, and there’s a selection of bar food. Mills River Brewery is building a new location in Mills River, expected to open later in 2019.
Mountain Layers Brewing (90 Everett St. Bryson City, 828-538-0115, www.mountainlayersbrewing.com). We were in Bryson City for the 2018 eclipse -- perfect spot for it, as we found a parking place in the heart of downtown, and the skies were blue and clear -- and decided to have a cold one at a new brewery. The upstairs patio was closed for a private eclipse party, and the main tasting room upstairs, while pretty large was crowded, so we snagged a standing spot near the copper vats and had beers ($5 for pints) and a flight ($7). All good. Pleasant atmosphere. Varied selection of craft beers. Friendly staff. And a great location just off the river on Everett Street in the middle of town.
Nantahala Brewing Company (61 Depot St., Bryson City, 828-488-2337 and 747 Haywood Rd., West Asheville,, http://nantahalabrewing.wordpress.com) opened in 2010 near Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot in Bryson City. Its inaugural and flagship beer is Noon Day IPA, and it also offers the easy-drinking Bryson City Brown. Its tasting room is open daily (hours vary) March-October, with reduced hours the rest of the year. In 2018, Nantahala opened an outpost on Haywood Road in West Asheville.
One World Brewing (10 Patton Ave. #002, Downtown Asheville, 828-785-5580, and 520 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-575-9992, www.oneworldbrewing.com) has been open in a small, low-profile site near Farm Burger in Downtown Asheville since 2014, and in 2018 it opened a larger location across from Zia Tacqueria in West Asheville. The Downtown location has live music most nights, and the West Asheville location has free parking in back with food trucks for snacks.
Oskar Blues Brewery (342 Mountain Industrial Dr., Brevard, www.oskarblues.com) is a Longmont, Colo., craft brewer that in late 2012 opened a new 30,000 sq. ft. brewery and a separate restaurant in Brevard. Oskar Blues founder Dale Katechis chose Brevard in part because he has long mountain biked in the area. The Tasty Weasel taproom is open daily with free tours of the brewery. Oskar Blues is the third largest national craft brewery in the Asheville area after New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.
Bee City USA Asheville is Beer City USA, yes. But it’s also officially Bee City USA. In June 2012, the Asheville City Council voted unanimously to become the inaugural Bee City USA. Bee Cities follow a set of standards for sustainable pollinators. It is legal to keep bees within the Asheville city limits as long as the beehive is 100 feet or more from the home of anyone except the beekeeper, and the beekeeper must get a permit ($25). No permits are required for Buncombe County residents. Among the beekeeping organizations in the area are the Buncombe County Beekeepers Chapter (www.wncbees.org) and Henderson County Beekeepers Association (www.hcbeekeepers.com).
Oyster House Brewing Company (625 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-575-9370, www.oysterhousebeers.com) is across from Sunny Point restaurant. Its Moonstone Stout, among other beers, is brewed with oyster shells. (The oyster beers don't taste like oysters.)
The food menu here is primarily based on New Orleans dishes such as gumbo, red beans and rice and fried shrimp and fried oyster po boys.
Pisgah Brewing Company (150 Eastside Dr., Black Mountain, 828-669-0190, www.pisgahbrewing.com) just east of Black Mountain is a certified organic brewer that puts out around a half dozen year-round beers, ales and stouts, plus seasonal brews. Its best-known product is probably Pisgah Pale Ale. Free brewery tours are offered at 3:30 pm on Saturdays.
Riverbend Malt House (12 Gerber Rd., Suite C, South Asheville, 828-450-1081, www.riverbendmalt.com) doesn't brew beer. Instead, it provides local and regional craft breweries with locally sourced grains for their brewing. It produces 12-16 tons of hand-crafted malt every month.
Sanctuary Brewing Company (147 1st Avenue East, Hendersonville, 828-595-9956, www.sanctuarybrewco.com) is located in a 4,000 sq. ft. space in downtown Hendersonville. Sanctuary brews small-batch ales and beers in light, hoppy and dark malt styles. Its taproom has a limited food menu of pizzas and other dishes from West First Pizza.
Sideways Farm & Brewery (62 Eade Rd., Etowah, 828-595-3445, www.sidewaysfarm.com) specializes in small-batch artisan beers from ingredients grown on the 10-acre farm in Transylvania County. The tasting room is only open on Friday and Saturday afternoons.
Southern Appalachian Craft Brewery (822 Locust St., Hendersonville, 828-684-1235, www.sabrewery.com), formerly Appalachian Brewery in Fletcher, has a dog-friendly tasting room in downtown Hendersonville serving pilsner, blonde and amber ales, IPA and stout beers on draft, along with pretzels.
Sweeten Creek Brewing (1127 Sweeten Creek Rd., South Asheville, 828-575-2785, www.sweetencreekbrewing.com), Opened in December 2015, Sweeten Creek is a micro that only sells its pales and pilsner from a tasting room and sandwich shop. Closed on Mondays.
Thirsty Monk (2Town Square Blvd., Biltmore Town Square Park, South Asheville, 828-687-3873, www.monkpub.com) has a brewing system at its Biltmore Town Square pub, with 28 taps. Thirsty Monk Pub in Downtown Asheville at 92 Patton Avenue has two levels of beersm with a rotating list of draft beers. This also has a cocktail lounge upstairs, Top of the Monk. Thirsty Monk also has a pub in Reynolds Village at 51 North Merrimon Avenue, Woodfin, in the North Asheville area. Thirsty Monk also has locations in Denver and Portland.
Turgua Brewing Co. (27 Firefly Hollow Dr., Fairview, 828-222-0984, www.turguabrewing.com). Another new brewery in 2017, this one opened on a small farm in Fairview. The focus here is Their focus is on unusual beers made using local ingredients and seasonal crops like beets, yams and carrots. The meaning of Turgua (pronounced Turg’wah) is “valley of the birds,” the area in Venezuela where the owner was born. Tasting room open Thurs.-Sun.
Twin Leaf Brewery (144 Coxe Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-774-5000, www.twinleafbrewery.com) is a brewpub that opened in 2013. It specializes in its own Belgian ales and other beers on about 15 taps.
UpCountry Brewing, formerly Altamont Brewing Company (1042 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-575-2400) was started in 2016 by the founder of the successful Athens, Ga.-based brewery, Terrapin Beer. It also operates UpCountry Eatery next door.
Wedge Brewing Co. (125B Roberts St., and 5 Foundy St., River Arts District, 828-279-6393; www.wedgebrewing.com) brews artisan beers in the River Arts District. In good weather, you can join the crowds in a picnic area outside, where there are also food trucks. Movies are sometimes shown outside under the stars. In 2017, Wedge opened a second location in the RAD next to the new location of 12 Bones.
White Labs (172 S. Charlotte St., Downtown Asheville, 828-974-3868, www.whitelabs.com)
has about 28 beers on draft, and when you order you realize that all but three are White Labs beers, identified not by name but by the kind of yeast used. White Labs, headquartered in San Diego, is primarily a national provider of brewers yeasts to home and craft brewers. The Asheville restaurant and tap room has good wood-fired pizzas.
Whistle Hop Brewing Co. (1288 Charlotte Hwy., Fairview, South Asheville, 828-338-9447, www.whistlehop.com) is designed around old railroad cars. It brews a large variety of styles of beers and ales, some with usual flavors such as green tea mint lager and maple smoked sweet potato amber ale. The pet-friendly spot has disc golf and music some nights. Eats are usually from a food truck. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Whiteside Brewing Co. (128 NC-107, Cashiers, 828-743-6000, www.whitesidebrewing.com), located in Cashiers next to the Laurel Inn, with which it is associated, brews about a dozen beers in a variety of styles. It has a bar menu of wings, burgers and sandwiches. Closed Wednesdays.
Wicked Weed Brewing (91 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-575-9599; www.wickedweedbrewing.com) won the “Peoples Choice” award at the Brewgrass Festival in September 2012 even though the brewery wasn’t yet open at its location next to the Orange Peel. After opening in late 2012 it instantly became one of Asheville’s most popular brewpubs. There’s a good restaurant upstairs, serving pub food and a little more, including steaks and trout and a bison burger, in a nicely built out space with raw brick and a glassed-in open kitchen. Prices are a good value. The tasting room and brewery are downstairs. In October 2013, Wicked Week took home a gold medal for one of its wild yeast brews, the first for an Asheville brewery, at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival in Denver. Wicked Weed also operates the "Funkatorium," a 12,000 sq. ft. sour beer barrel storage center with a small tasting room at 147 Coxe Avenue Downtown. Next door is a restaurant owned by Wicked Weed called Cultura. It also has a production/shipping facility and a tap room called Wicked Weed West in Enka. In 2017, Wicked Weed sold out to AnBEV, making some local angry and others envious, but its focus is still local. Definitely try the Pernicious Ale!
Zebulon Artisan Ales (8 Merchants Alley, Weaverville, www.zebulonbrewing.com) opened in February 2016. It is a limited production microbrewery focusing on Belgian and French farmhouse styles. Currently it is open only on Fridays and Saturdays.
Zillicoah Beer Co. (870 Riverside Dr., Woodfin, North Asheville, 828-424-7929, www.zillicoahbeer.com) specializes in open-fermented farmhouse ales and lagers. It has a cool location on the French Broad River.
Asheville offers a number of beer tour options. Besides the tours noted below, you can also do it yourself by following the Asheville Ale Trail (www.ashevillealetrail.com). There are maps online plus paper maps distributed at around 150 locations.
Asheville Brews Cruise (828-545-5181; www.brewscruise.com) takes beer fans on tours of three or four local breweries for $60 per person. Van tours, daily except Monday (less frequently in winter), last about three hours and include samples of around a dozen beers and ales. This company was established in Asheville and now operates in more than a dozen cities nationwide.
The Amazing Pubcycle (828-214-5010, www.amazingpubcycle.com) is a bicycle made for 14 that peddles its way (10 of the 13 riders have to help peddle) through Downtown, past various pubs and other sights. Regular guided tours, which should be booked in advance, last about 1½ hours, make two pub stops and cost $25 per person. A shorter “nomad tour” is also available. The 40-minute tour with no pub stops costs $15. Tours, which leave from the Aloft or Renaissance hotels, are BYOB, but glass containers aren’t permitted. The Pubcycle usually doesn't operate in winter.
Asheville Brewery Tours (2 Wall St., Suite 110, Downtown Asheville, 828-233-5006, www.ashevillebrewerytours.com) offers walking and van beer and food tours. Tours last about three hours, include sample beer tastings. Costs range from $49 to $59 per person.
Brew-Ed Asheville Brewery and History Walking Tours (828-278-9255, www.brew-ed.com) has walking tours of several Downtown. Tours usually start at Catawba Brewing on Hilliard Avenue or Asheville Brewing Co. on Coxe Avenue. Tickets cost $50 for a three-hour, three-stop tour. Walking tours with stops at two breweries are $37.
The city has several beer festivals. Here are some of them:
Beer City Fest (www.ashevillebeerweek.com) is a part of Asheville Beer Week, sponsored by the Asheville Brewers Alliance (www.avlbrewers.com) and held in late May and early June at Roger McGuire Green at Pack Square Park in Downtown Asheville. About 30 to 40 brewers participate.
Asheville’s own little Oktoberfest (www.ashevilledowntown.org) is a one-day happening in mid-October on cobblestoned Wall Street downtown. Winter Warmer Beer Festival (www.ashevillebeerfest.com) is held in late January in the US Cellular Center in Downtown Asheville, with around two dozen local and regional brewers participating.
CiderFest (www.ciderfestnc,com) is held annually in mid-October at Salvage Station on the French Broad River on Riverside Drive. About 1,600 people attended the 2018 edition to try cider from about two dozen vendors.
Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders (749 Chestnut Gap Rd., Hendersonville, 828-699-7507) opened in the summer of 2018 in a converted barn surrounded by French apple trees, so naturally they specialize in Normandy-style cider. The owners also have a winery nearby.
Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery (104 Eastside Dr. #307, Black Mountain, 828-419-0089, www.blackmountainciderworks.com) crafts ciders and mead from local apples and honey. The cider is based on the dry ciders of Kent, England, and the meads are fermented with a high water content. Closed Mondays.
Bold Rock Hard Cider (72 School House Rd., Mills River, 828-595-9940, www.boldrock.com) in late 2015 opened its 22,500 sq. ft. cidery off I-26 not far from Sierra Nevada. An expansion of a Virginia-based cidery, Bold Rock uses apples exclusively sourced from Henderson County. It ships bottled, canned and draft cider to customers in both Carolinas and in Tennessee. Its tasting room is open daily.
Daidala Ciders (122 Riverside Dr., Unit G, River Arts District, 828-407-3538, www.daidalaciders.com) is a "nomadic" cider maker. It has a small taproom on the second floor of the Historic Cotton Mill Studios. Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Flat Rock Cider Company (305 North Main St., Hendersonville, 828-692-2001, www.flatrockcidercompany.com) makes apple and blackberry cider at their orchard in Henderson County. You can try some of the ciders at their bar and grill in downtown Hendersonville.
Noble Cider (356 New Leicester Hwy., West Asheville, 828-575-9622, www.noblecider.com) uses Western North Carolina apples to create a variety of gluten free, dry to semi-dry hard ciders, made with no artificial ingredients. Noble Cider is sold on tap throughout the area.
TreeRock Social Cider House (760 Biltmore Ave., Upper Biltmore Village, 828-505-0130, www.treerocksocial.com) is a new cider taproom that also has meads and a few beers. It has a coffeehouse vibe. No food is sold, but you can bring your own or order a pizza from Standard Pizza nearby.
Urban Orchard Cidery Co. - West (210 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-774-5151, and 24 Buxton Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-505-7243, www.urbanorchardcider.com) offers three flagship hard apple ciders on tap with a rotating selection of seasonal batches. All Urban Orchard Ciders are naturally gluten-free. Urban Orchard has opened a second location in Asheville on the South Slope at 24 Buxton Ave. However, only the West Asheville location serves food.
Asheville is known as for its beer microbreweries, but the area is also home to a number of thriving wineries, including the most visited winery in the country, Biltmore.
North Carolina has more than 400 vineyards and 100 wineries. About 20 of the wineries are in Western North Carolina.
The Piedmont of North Carolina, immediately east of the mountains, with its milder winters and longer growing season, has the most vineyards and wineries in the state. The biggest cluster of wineries and vineyards is in the Yadkin Valley northwest and southwest of Winston-Salem, home to some three dozen wine operations.
The Carolina mountains, with winter temperatures sometimes dropping below ze-ro, and killing frosts possible in some mountains areas from October to May, are not easy places to grow wine grapes. However, some enterprising mountain vintners have succeeded in creating very drinkable chardonnay, riesling, sauvignon blanc, merlot, syrah and cabernet sauvignon wines.
Here are some selected winery operations in the mountains. Hours for vineyards and wineries vary seasonally. Call or email in advance to see if the places you want to visit are open and accepting visitors. Most tours and wine-tastings are free, except where noted otherwise, though you likely will be encouraged to buy a bottle or two of wine.
Don’t expect the Napa Valley.
Note that you must be at least 21 to participate in a wine, beer or distilled liquor tasting.
See NC Wine (www.ncwine.org) for information on wine trails in North Carolina.
Addison Farms Vineyards (4005 New Leicester Hwy., Leicester, 828-581-9463, www.addisonfarms.net), a 55-acre family farm, has around 6 acres in mostly French-American hybrid wine grapes, with plans to expand to around 10 acres. It produces cab-ernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, sangiovese, montepulciano, petit verdot and petit man-seng. The shop and tasting room in at 4005 New Leicester Highway, Leicester.
Banner Elk Winery & Villa (60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk, 828-898-9090, www.bannerelkwinery.com) produces about eight or 10 wines from its own French-American hybrid grapes and from grapes from other local producers. Its cabernet sauvi-gnon, seyval blanc, blueberry, marechal foch and other wines have won medals at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh and at other wine competitions. Tastings and tours are scheduled year-round, with varying hours. Call for information. The winery also offers a villa for overnight stays and serves as an event and wedding venue.
Biltmore Winery (Antler Hill Village, Asheville, 800-411-3812 or 828-225-1333, www.biltmore.com) is America’s most-visited winery, mostly because a visit to the winery (the modern fermentation room and a rather unimpressive wine cellar) and tasting room are included in estate admission, and the estate gets more than a million visitors a year. There’s often a long line for the tasting, especially in the late afternoon.
Tasting of Biltmore’s standard reds, whites and rosés, a total of about 20 kinds, is complimentary, but there’s an up charge for each premium wine. Biltmore first planted wine grapes in 1971, and now there are more than 94 acres in vineyard, producing some 250 tons of grapes.
Biltmore makes chardonnay, riesling, viognier, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, some from grapes grown on the estate but most, about 80%, from grapes purchased from other vineyards, mainly in California and Washington State.
The North Carolina mountain climate is not always friendly for growing French and hybrid French-American wine grapes; in the winter of 1995 the estate lost 100 acres of vines to three days of extreme cold.
The first Biltmore wines, especially the reds, were barely drinkable, but thanks to Biltmore winemasters Philippe Jourdain and later Bernard Delille and winemaker Sha-ron Fenchak the reputation of the winery has greatly improved in recent years, and the estate’s wines have won many awards in national and international competitions. The wine is bottled under several labels: Biltmore, Century and Biltmore Estate. The Bilt-more Estate labeled wines are made only from North Carolina grapes. Biltmore wines are sold at the winery shop and in stores in more than 20 states. The winery is open 365 days a year.
Burnshirt Vineyards (2695 Sugarloaf Rd., Hendersonville, 828-685-2402, www.burntshirtvineyards.com) has more than 21 acres of grapes in production in Hen-derson County. It has a 10,000 square feet wine production center with a 1,700 square feet barrel room. Some of its wines, including gruner veltliner and merlot wines, have won awards. Tours are offered at 2 pm daily, or by reservation. The vineyard is available for weddings and events. Burnshirt also has a tasting room and bistro in Chimney Rock.
Calaboose Cellars (565 Aquona Rd., Andrews, 828-321-2006, www.calaboosecellars.com) claims to be the smallest freestanding complete winemaking operation in the country. The 300 square foot winery is located in the former jail in the little town of Andrews. Calaboose grows some of its grapes on its own and leased land near Andrews. It has seyval, chambourcin, chancellor and catawba grapes.
Grandfather Vineyard & Winery (225 Vineyard Lane, Banner Elk, 828-963-2400, www.grandfathervineyard.com) produces a dozen or so wines, mostly from purchased grapes, but there are about 5 acres of planted grapes. Wine tasting adaily re $6 to $10, mid-May to November, closed rest of year.
Lake James Cellars Winery (204 East Main St./Hwy. 70, Glen Alpine, 828-584-4551, www.lakejamescellars.com) produces about 20 varieties of red, white and sweet wines from North Carolina fruits in a winery in an old textile mill. Tastings are $7.
plēb urban winery (289 Lyman St., River Arts District, 828-774-5062, www.pleburbanwinery.com) buys grapes from local vineyards and makes the wine in its winery. In a graffiti art filled taproom space in the RAD, opening to the outdoors through garage doors, it serves a limited selection of its own and other local wines, along with some local craft beers and ciders.
Overmountain Vineyards (2012 Sandy Plains Rd., Tryon, 828-863-0523, www.overmountainvineyards.com) has five varieties of grapes planted -- cabernet sauvi-gnon, cabernet franc, merlot, petit merdot and petit mansing – on 17 acres. The tasting room is open afternoon year-round Wednesday-Sunday; hours vary. There are about 18 vineyards in the Tryon area in the foothills of the mountains. Before Prohibition, Tryon was one of the major grape growing areas of North Carolina. Overmountain also offers overnight lodging in two villas, listed on Airbnb.
Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards (588 Chestnut Gap Rd., Hendersonville, 828-685-4002, www.saintpaulfarms.com) is Henderson County’s newest vineyard and tasting room. The vineyard, on a 10-acre tract of land off U.S. Highway 64 northeast of Hendersonville, with another 10 acres in nearby Ednyville, produces nearly 30 varieties of wine grapes. It also has a cidery. Tastings are offered. Call ahead to confirm times and places.
South Creek Vineyards & Winery (2240 South Creek Rd., off MM 246 of Blue Ridge Parkway, Nebo, 828-652-5729, www.southcreekwinery.com) produces mostly Bor-deaux-style wines in a farmhouse in Nebo near Lake James. The winery’s cabs, merlots and chardonnay have won several awards. Hours vary, but the winery is usually open Wednesday to Saturday, April through November. Call for specific information.
Thistle Meadow Winery (102 Thistle Meadow, Laurel Springs, 336-359-2995, www.thistlemeadowwinery.com), a small winery and tasting room off Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 246, is open afternoons is open to visitors but check in advance for times and dates. It produces around 2,000 cases of red, white, blush and sweet wines a year.
Valley River Vineyards (4689 Martins Creek Rd., Murphy, 828-837-0691, www.valleyrivervineyards.com) currently produces about eight wines, including two reds, two whites and four sweet. You can pick your own grapes for winemaking, and the company sells winemaking supplies. There are tastings on Friday and Saturday after-noons from 1-6 and tours by reservation.
In the last decade, distilleries once again became legal in North Carolina, and due to a recent change in state law you can now buy up to five bottles per adult at most distilleries. Previously, they could only be purchased in ABC or other liquor stores.
Asheville Distilling Company (12 Old Charlotte Hwy., East Asheville, 828-575-2000, www.ashevilledistilling.com). Established in 2010, and formerly known as Troy & Sons, Asheville Distilling specializes in "legal moonshine" ... and it's all rather upscale stuff. Ms. Troy Ball and family now make five "American whiskies." Free tours of the distillery are available.
Blue Ridge Distilling (228 Redbud Lane, Bostic, 828-245-2041, www.defiantwhisky.com) in Rutherford County currently produces a Scotch-style single malt American whisky called Defiant Single Malt and also a 100% rye, Defiant Rye. Operated by a marine salvage expert, the distillery is open weekdays 9 to 4, with free tours from 9 to 3.
The Chemist (151 Coxe Ave., South Slope, Downtown Asheville, 828-525-6260, www.chemistspirits.com), a part of Apothecary Beverage Co., focuses on distilling floral gins and also an apple brandy, which you can sample in the tasting room. Apothecary also operates Antidote cocktail bar. In 2019, The Chemist won “Distillery of the Year,” and its mixologist, Jonny Burritt, won “Mixologist of the Year” at the North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association’s Chef Showdown in Durham.
Cultivated Cocktails (29 Page Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-338-9779, www.cultivated-cocktails.com) Formerly H&H Distillery, the company moved Downtown and upped its game. It distills gin, rum, vodka, whiskey and coffee liqueur. It also offers three cocktail boxes.
Dalton Distillery (251 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-785-1499, www.dalton-distillery.com) makes rums and vodkas, most exotically flavored such as a coffee rum and a vodka distilled from blue agave.
Eda Rhyne Distillery (101 Fairview Rd., Suite A, South Asheville, 828-412-5441, www.edrhyne.com) uses the flavors of indigenous medicinal plants to make herbal liquors and other spirits in small batches. Free tours offered. Closed Sundays-Tuesdays.
Elevated Mountain Distilling Co. (3732 Soco Rd., Maggie Valley, 828-944-0766, www.elevatedmountain.com) in Haywood County makes small-batch moonshine, aged and unaged corn whisky and corn-based vodka. Elevated Mountain is open 10-7 Monday-Saturday, and free tours are offered, but you should book ahead online or by phone.
Howling Moon Distillery (42 Old Elk Mountain Rd., North Asheville, 828-208-1469, www.howlingmoonshine.com) makes a variety of moonshine including, if you can believe it, peach, strawberry and apple pie moonshine.
Oak and Grist Distilling Co. (1556 Grovestone Rd., Black Mountain, 828-357-5750, www.oakandgrist.com) distills a gin and a malt whisky. A 100 proof single malt and a rye are coming soon. The tasting room is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 1 to 6 pm. Tours are available.
Liquor and Wine Stores
ABC Stores (828-251-6192, www.ashevilleabcboard.com, all stores open 9-9 Mon.-Sat.) In North Carolina, liquor by the bottle (as opposed to wine and beer, or liquor by the drink) is sold only in state-owned Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) stores and, since 2019, at distilleries that can sell an unlimited number of bottles of their own product to visitors.
After Prohibition ended in 1933, ABC stores were established in the state beginning in 1937, and the first ABC store in Asheville opened in 1947.
A few other municipalities in Buncombe County, including Woodfin and Black Mountain, have since voted for ABC stores. Only three counties in the state do not have ABC stores: Madison, Graham (both in Western North Carolina) and Yadkin. Although ABC stores carry many of the same brands, some stores are larger than others and have a wider selection. The stores in North Asheville (807 Merrimon Ave.) and East Asheville (145 Tunnel Rd.) are the largest in Asheville. Henderson County’s Fletcher ABC store (37 Rockwood Road) near the Asheville Regional Airport is one of the friendliest and best-stocked stores in the region.
The NC Legislature has been looking into privatizing liquor sales in the state.
Until about 40 years ago, to get a drink here in a restaurant you had to “brown bag” your bottle, and the restaurant sold set-ups. In 1979, local citizens voted to permit liquor by the drink in restaurants and private clubs within the Asheville city limits. There are about 250 establishments in Asheville and some other municipalities in Buncombe County that have permits to sell liquor by the drink. Beer and wine are sold in grocery supermarkets, convenience stores and package stores.
Appalachian Vintner (745 Biltmore Ave., Upper Biltmore Village, 828-505-7500, www.appalachianvitner.com) is a well-respected store with an interesting selection of wines, including organics, craft beers, ciders, mead and sake. A lounge serves draft beer and wines. AV has regular wine tastings.
Asheville Wine Market (65 Biltmore Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-253-0060, www.ashevillewine.com) is one of the area’s larger wine stores, with a knowledgeable staff. It teams up with local chefs to stage wine dinners.
Earth Fare (66 Westgate Parkway, 828-253-7656, West Asheville, and 1856 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-210-0100, www.earthfare.com) has a reasonable selection of wines at both Asheville locations. Earth Fare’s house brand of wines, Ambler’s, was created by the Biltmore Estate winery.
Fresh Market (944 Merrimon Ave., North Asheville, 828-252-9098, and 1378 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-277-7023, www.thefreshmarket.com), Asheville outposts of this upscale grocery chain, has a decent selection of reds and whites but a terrible selection of champagnes. Don’t expect a lot of wine help from employees.
Table Wine (1550 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-505-8588, www.tablewineasheville.com) carries some 500 wines, most from small artisanal wineries, and many are organics. Closed Sunday.
Weinhaus (86 Patton Ave., Downtown Asheville, 828-254-6453, www.weinhaus.com) is Asheville’s oldest operating wine store. It has a good selection of beers, too.
Whole Foods (70 Merrimon Ave., North Asheville, 828-254-5440, and 4 S. Tunnel Rd., East Asheville, 828-239-9604, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/asheville) has a decent selection of wines, including organic wines, and attentive staffers.
All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.
We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.