Charleston is a great beer town, but for the fourth year running, our neighbor to the northwest has been crowned Beer City USA. Asheville, North Carolina, can’t seem to stop winning and that only means good things for those of us living within driving distance of this beer mecca.
Asheville shares the title with Grand Rapids, Michigan, this year, which is pretty cool considering that nearly 56,000 people voted for 31 cities. The two Beer Cities USA statistically tied! That’s nutty.
Today we’re going to cover some of the reasons that Asheville made the cut and why you, being only a four-hour drive away, should visit.
A Few Asheville Breweries
Asheville is home to more than 20 breweries, ranging in size from pizza pub to East Coast operations for some of the biggest names in craft beer. Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and New Belgium are each setting up shop in Asheville over the next few years, bringing some serious street cred to an already recognized town.
Highland Brewing Company has been around since 1994 and has been growing like mad ever since. You can tour the brewery Monday through Saturday at 4 and 4:45 p.m., or you can visit the Tap Room Thursday through Saturday, 4-8 p.m.
The Green Man Brewery, maker of “legendary ales” since 1997, is open for tasting seven days a week from 4-9 p.m. weekdays and 3-10 p.m. on weekends. Green Man produces a variety of beers. You’ll find a line-up of IPA, ESB, Pales, and a Porter as standard fare. According to their site, you may also get to try one of their intriguingly named beers like “The Dweller” or the “The Rainmaker” if you’re lucky.
Into oyster beers? Oyster House Beers, a small operation that runs out of the Lobster Trap restaurant, is Asheville’s smallest brewery. They make a variety of beers, but the top of their charts has to be the Moonstone Stout. Brewed with real oysters it has to be good. Oyster House is on tap at the Lobster Trap and is open in the evenings for dinner and drinks.
Because great beer and great pizza go hand in hand (Seriously: One hand pizza. One hand beer. It’s magic) we have to cover some of the pizza pubs in town.
The Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company is a dog-friendly, acclaimed-menu-having, beer-and-pizza joint worth the visit. They also own a dine-in theatre where you can snarf down some ‘za and catch a flick while snuggling up to that special ale you’ve been longing for.
If you’re in the mood for a live show, Barley’s Taproom & Pizzeria has live music three to four nights a week featuring bluegrass and jazz. No cover charge makes that an easy call. Add in 24 taps of American craft brews and you’ve got yourself a rockin’ good time.
Don’t forget to check out the Biltmore Estate while you’re there, too. It’s an amazing place with views you can really settle into. They do live shows from time to time and it’s totally worth stopping by.
I don’t think any South Carolina towns got a mention in the 2012 Beer City poll. I think Charleston should make a push for 2013. It’s an exciting time for beer all over the country and Chucktown is really holding its own. What do you think? Will you sign on to vote for your local brews in 2013?