Help Me Asheville Beer Week
May 15, 2016 6:14 AM   Subscribe

I will be visiting Asheville during beer week! Looking for suggestions for your favorite breweries, your favorite bars, your favorite gay/queer bars, your favorite Asheville snacks (biscuits please!)...

This is a five year anniversary trip with my girlfriend, and we'll be in town over the first weekend in June. Staying near downtown. We are going to rent a car at least a few of the days (although suggestions on getting around after uh...enjoying the local beer scene are appreciated). Also, not sure when Asheville's Pride Parade is, but if there are any fun queer/gay bars or events you'd recommend send those too!

I'm also not a big fan of super ultra crowded bars/events. If something is really fun or must see, it can be worth it. But in general I usually prefer a more low-key scene.

Also looking for a place for our anniversary dinner. Doesn't have to be fancy (fancy is ok though), but has to be insanely delicious and have a great beer menu.

We're also interested in doing some hiking within an hour or two of downtown Asheville if there are any suggestions for sights/things to see outside of town (Dollywood?)
posted by forkisbetter to Travel & Transportation around Asheville, NC (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think the must-do's for beer would include Wicked Weed, the Wicked Weed Funkatorium, and Burial. Sierra Nevada has a really great facility a bit out of town and New Belgium has something that just opened and I haven't been to. I am also going to throw in a reco for Bhramari Brewhouse which had excellent and playful food and excellent house beers.

I think Buxton Hall is a must-do if you are a meat eater. It and the breweries are all in a very tight radius in downtown which is nice.

If you go a bit east, you can go to Linville Gorge for some of the prettiest views in the East if you're for some VERY strenuous hiking. This puts you in position to go to Fonta Flora brewing in Morganton. If you're for a more accessible hike, there are tons along the Blue Ridge Parkway like Shining Rock and Graveyard Fields and Black Balsam Knob.

This is all strictly a food/beer/hiking perspective from a straight guy. Also, I think most places are going to be pretty darn crowded, unfortunately, but crowded with friendly beer nerds. Enjoy your trip!
posted by ftm at 7:47 AM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Controversial opinions first: I think Wicked Weed is overrated, inconsistent, runs on a big PR budget and attracts packs of bros from Charlotte and Atlanta. I also think the new Green Man building is a bit sterile and designed specifically for large numbers of beer tourists, but the balcony's quite nice. Biscuit Head's biscuits aren't as good as they used to be, and I prefer King Daddy's or Homegrown.

I personally like Burial on the slope, Wedge by the river, Oyster House out west. I haven't yet been to the New Belgium tasting room, but it's meant to be lovely. I wasn't sure what to expect of Bhramari, but I was pleasantly surprised by both food and beer, and it's a great location: they've hit the ground running.

Buxton Hall BBQ isn't fancy, but is top-grade for meat-eaters, with a good beer menu and right next to the big Catawba tasting room and Vortex Doughnuts.

There are brewery tour buses and minibuses that will cart you around, though they may get fairly booked up during Beerpocalypse. There's also a free shuttle to Oskar Blues in Brevard, but again, that may get busy.

We are going to rent a car at least a few of the days

That makes Pisgah an easy trip, and it's a fun space. There's a tiny cidery in the same building. It also makes it a bit easier to get to Mills River for Sierra Nevada, which is a truly impressive facility with a very decent (if a little pricy) restaurant, and to Brevard for Oskar Blues, though again you may prefer to take the trolley down there.

If you're willing to go further, or heading along I-40 in or out of town, then Fonta Flora in Morganton is worth a stop, about an hour from Asheville.

On preview: you could definitely combine a trip to Brevard with some hiking, or Linville Gorge with Morganton.
posted by holgate at 8:01 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Once a week at Burial there's an amazing brunch by Salt & Smoke. Sundays 12-3. The highlight of my last Asheville trip. Get there early; there's lots of outdoor space but it does fill up/sell out.

I kind of agree with holgate about WW being full of bros, but this comes with them being downtown and having a great outdoor space. The Funkatorium is amazing though; don't skip it. One of the nice things about Asheville is the compactness of it, so if you're not feeling someplace or it's totally packed, it's pretty easy to head somewhere else nearby on foot.
posted by deludingmyself at 8:36 AM on May 15, 2016

Best answer: Definitely don't skip the Wedge, great beer, great space, totally unpretentious and full of locals and kids and dogsUsually a food truck is on site or go to the White Duck tacos down the street.
On the other hand Sierra Nevada is an amazing beer temple that also has a gorgeous outdoor space and pretty good upscale food. I just got back from my first visit to New Belgium, and it's a nice space but totally overrun because it's so new. They also don't have food yet, but again there might be a truck there. Highland has awesome beer but is a little out of the way and in kind of a weird warehouse space. They have concerts that are fun though.

In terms of food, my personal opinion is that 'fancy' restaurants in this town are not worth it- they all have very similar food that's decent but not amazing. The one exception to this is Curate the tapas/Spanish place, but you must have reservations and $$$ to go there. More downmarket places often have equally good food with much less fuss- i.e. King Daddy in west AVL or Early Girl downtown, Walk in West Asheville, Homegrown just north of downtown. KingDaddy/Early Girl and Homegrown have the best biscuits IMO. Biscuit Head's food is good but biscuits are kinda doughy- they do have an amazing jam/butter/syrup bar where you can go crazy with toppings though.

To get around, you can totally walk downtown/south slope where a lot of breweries are. further afield if you've been drinking I would just use Uber.
posted by genmonster at 10:56 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Don't miss Sunny Point cafe for brunch! They have amazing shrimp and grits.

FWIW, I really like Biscuit Head. I've been there several times, and I didn't think they had doughy biscuits. They are very soft though.

Also, Dobra Tea house is really nice, very chill atmosphere and great tea.

Skybar is a fun place to have a sunset beer or cocktail, it's a rooftop bar in the middle of downtown with great views.

New Belgium is building a brewery there, but I'm not sure it will be open yet.
posted by ananci at 12:52 PM on May 15, 2016

(I'm from Charlotte and I live in Atlanta now, but don't hold that against me.) I have lived in the Asheville area in the past and still spend a ton of time there.

I can't believe no one has mentioned Highland yet. They are the original and best of Asheville beer. My brother got a keg of Highland Gaelic for his wedding in 1996, and our whole family has been loyal to them ever since.

My favorite Asheville restaurant bar none is Salsas. Good Caribbean/Latin fusion stuff, with friendly people and a laid back atmosphere (like most restaurants in Asheville).

Another classic Asheville thing to do is tube the French Broad River. There are companies that do the river outside the city (peaceful and beautiful) and those that let you float right through the city (with the possibility of getting out and visiting bars on the way).
posted by hydropsyche at 2:28 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, check out the The Wedge!! Definitely.

If want to go more local for some something less of the "beer scene" in Asheville, check out some local favorites bars/hangs like The Double Crown (a little divey, a little New Orleans-y, an Asheville hang) The Walk (good beer and lots of food) The Admiral (hard to get in for dinner, but fun for a drink) or The Burger Bar.

Also Battle Cat Coffee.These places are all in West Asheville and little less touristy, and often low-key depending on the time of day/year/weekend.
posted by Rocket26 at 7:11 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Seconding Highland; Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company is not fancy, but the beer's good, the pizza's decent, and the movies are cheap! Sunny Point is amazing! I think Vortex is overrated and Hole makes a donut of the gods. Jack of the Wood is great for live music and good beers. The French Broad Chocolate Lounge and factory are very worth checking out.

Friday night is the drum circle, which is a whole scene itself. I find Biscuit Head's biscuits crumbly and I like mine flaky, but they've got tons of jams and gravies.
posted by rikschell at 8:50 AM on May 16, 2016

Best answer: Sunny Point has amazing food but also amazingly long waits for a table at breakfast/brunch. Quietest time is late lunch or early dinnertime.

A thing to know about 'liquor bars' in Asheville -- from the divier Double Crown and Odditorium to the gothy Crow & Quill and swanky Top of the Monk -- is that North Carolina requires bars that serve liquor but don't make a chunk of income from food to be private members' clubs. This means you have to fill out an application form, pay a nominal fee, and get a membership card before you'll get served. Because the booze copz of ALE have been making surprise visits, those kinds of bar are very strict about their membership policy right now.

Oh, speaking of private clubs, the Bywater gets crazy with parking at times, but is worth a trip up on a sunny late afternoon. Not far from downtown, but easier to reach by car or cab than walking.
posted by holgate at 4:26 PM on May 16, 2016

Response by poster: Had a great time in Asheville, and everyone's advice was spot on!

Here's a few of my favorite spots for beer from the trip: Wedge, Bhramari, Burial, Asheville Brewing, and Funkatorium. While the beers at Wicked Weed were really tasty, the atmosphere was definitely bro-y and incredibly busy. Tour of the Sierra Nevada facilities was also really cool.

Went kayaking one day and that was probably the highlight of the trip for me. Also had a great time driving out to Dupont State Forest to see some waterfalls on a 4ish mile hike.

Food things we really enjoyed were Chai Pani, Biscuit Head, Battle Cat Coffee, White Duck Tacos, and 12 Bones. Tupelo Honey and Early Girl were also really good at breakfast, but Biscuit Head was by far my favorite of our biscuit-y breakfasts.
posted by forkisbetter at 6:11 PM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

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