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Let’s jump straight to the facts: Asheville, North Carolina — a city with only 91,000 people — has over 30 breweries and is consistently ranked as the #1 Beer City in America. It rubs elbows with industry giants like Portland, Seattle, Denver, and San Diego, and it currently has the most breweries per capita of anywhere in the country. In other words, the fine people of Asheville really like beer. If you’re looking to sample a wild seasonal flight or are just interested in sipping a humble pint, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best breweries in Asheville.
Hi-Wire pays homage to the traditional model of a brewery: delicious beer and good company located in a renovated industrial warehouse. Park yourself on a high stool along one of the steel and worn wood bars, and dive into a delicious ale. In 2015, Hi-Wire became so successful that it opened a new location just two miles down the road. The original location now focuses on approachable, balanced beers, while the new place gets a bit more ambitious with their flavors. It’s also located next to an amazing pizza spot, so be prepared to spend more than a few hours here.
Best Beer: Order the Gose. It’s tart with some lemon sourness without being too overpowering.
New Belgium Brewing Company
As one of the most famous breweries in the country — proud creators of household staples like Fat Tire, Voodoo Ranger, and Abbey — New Belgium has a facility to match. Its headquarters in Asheville is located on a large swath of land along the French Broad River. Customers can grab a beer and watch kayakers, tubers, runners, and bikers cruise by. The brewery offers daily public tours that last an hour and a half, and are free if you book in advance. For a more intimate and involved experience, go for the private group brewery tour or the behind-the-scenes brewery tour. Aside from the delicious beer and fun tours, New Belgium is known for being one of the industry leaders in sustainability. From seed to sip, they’ve optimized the processes of water, waste, emissions, and energy to be as sustainable as possible.
Best Beer: The Le Terroir is a favorite among New Belgium devotees. It’s a sour beer that’s been barrel-aged for two years and then dry-hopped for eight days. What we’re saying here is that it tastes good.
Green Man Brewery
Green Man is one of Asheville’s oldest breweries with over two decades under its belt — a lifetime in the world of breweries. It started out as a humble company brewing English-style staples, but since the ownership changed in 2010, they’ve taken on more adventurous endeavors. Now, you can try the Snozzberry Wild American Ale which is aged with fruit in oak barrels or the Dweller Imperial Stout which also has a pretty intensive brewing process. The taproom itself is a very funky space with tons of character and also a homey outdoor porch. Green Man is definitely one of the best places to have a beer in Asheville.
Best Beer: The Snozzberry is a local favorite, so if you had to choose one, this would be it.
Wedge Brewing Company
After a day of exploring Asheville’s River Arts District, mozy over to Wedge and grab one of their delicious pints. Wedge is an industrial railyard turned microbrew that’s known for its IPA, outdoor seating, movie nights, and food trucks. They also have a sprawling front yard that offers ample room for lawn games, dog parties (it’s pet-friendly), and picnics (guard your food).
Best Beer: Easily the Iron Rail IPA. They definitely have more wild flavors, but if you’re looking for a delicious, no-B.S. IPA that gets the job done, this is your best bet.
If you have one day in Asheville and are determined to make it beer-oriented, you should probably pay a visit to Sierra Nevada. Along with its co-headquarters in California, the Asheville location is a force to be reckoned with — on par with the facilities of Colorado’s Coors and the Netherland’s Heineken (check out the Five Beer Festivals You Can’t Miss). It’s actually about 20 minutes outside of downtown, but it’s worth the visit. Arrive early on the weekends (it opens at 11:00 am) and snag a table on the outdoor patio. Order from the delicious Back Porch menu and be sure to sample the full 23 brews on tap. Whether you consider yourself a knowledgeable connoisseur or just fond of any frothy cold one, Sierra Nevada is a great option. Tours fill up quickly so be sure to call ahead to schedule yours.
Best Beer: You cannot go wrong with the Torpedo Extra IPA. It’s light on the IPA spectrum at 7% ABV, so it won’t feel like you’re eating a meal. For something heavier, go with the Narwhal Imperial Stout at 10.2% ABV.
Highland is akin to the wise old sage in the Asheville brewery scene. They opened in 1994 as the city’s first brewery since prohibition, and they haven’t looked back since. It’s independent, family-owned, and honors the Appalachian heritage of the region. Highland is one of the most well-respected breweries in not only Asheville but also North Carolina and the region as a whole. Highland has some year-round staples, but it’s the seasonal beers that really cause a commotion in the industry.
Best Beer: Cold Mountain. Their perennial holiday favorite that punches with flavors of vanilla, hazelnut, dark fruit, and cinnamon, is always a winter classic. Speaking of cold mountains, and if you’re doing winter in the Tar Heel State, check out the 5 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts.
Like many of the breweries on this list, Burial came from humble beginnings. The owners were the bartenders, the dishwasher was the pregnant wife, beers were brewed in only a handful of barrels. Today it’s exploded in popularity, but they’re staying true to their roots. Burial focuses on reinventing old European-style beers while also tossing in some inventive seasonal beers. If nothing else, Burial definitely has the most creative artwork and banding. It’s also located right on the South Slope which is a hip area with lots of food options. For a fun place to stay nearby, check out Glamping North Carolina: the Top Picks.
Best Beer: A Paranormal Vibe. Let the name spark your imagination.