Tucked away in the western North Carolina mountains is a city of remarkable blended cultures. Its roots are firmly planted in the Appalachian soil tilled by early Scots-Irish settlers. Clogging and bluegrass are still at home here in its lively music scene but so is jazz and rock n roll.
This mountain city is an interesting blend of cultures and traditions. Partly it’s streets seem like a refuge for the hippies of Haight-Ashbury but is also home to a number of stunning architectural gems as well as enchanting districts of winding streets, mixed in with shops, restaurants micro breweries, hip wine bars and galleries of mountain arts and crafts.
Welcome to Asheville, the mountain city, home to one of America’s greatest and largest privately owned houses, The Biltmore Estate. The house was built in the late 19th century by George Washington Vanderbilt II a member of the railroad and steamship dynasty. Asheville is also a major waypoint on America’s favorite national park, The Blue Ridge Parkway which features the North Carolina Arboretum and the Southern Highland Folk Art Center.
After visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, the mountain gardens, the Biltmore Estate what you realize is that walking around downtown Asheville is just fun. Shopping at the Mast General Store, visiting galleries like the converted old Woolworths store, sampling hand crafted chocolates and having happy hour at a local wine bar all adds up to a great day.
Beer, Hard Cider and Wine Oh My
Part of my families’ history is found in the North Carolina mountains and I remember visiting years ago and finding it almost impossible to find any alcohol to drink. They called them “dry counties”. Well things have really changed. Asheville and the surrounding counties are home to a remarkable number of breweries, hard cider mills, distilleries and wineries:
- Asheville Brewing Company – boasts a large list of craft brewed beer.
- Archetype Brewing – West Asheville’s newest.
- Asheville Distilling Company – located right next door to Highland Brewing.
- Ben’s Tune Up – is an interesting spot is downtown with house brewed beer and sake.
- Blue Ghost Brewing Company – just outside of Asheville offers a range of micro brews and barbeque.
- Blue Mountain Pizza and Brew Pub – in Weaverville offering homemade ice cream, food and small batch craft beer for over 20 years.
- Burial Beer – a micro brewery and a local favorite.
- Brother Joe’s Coffee Pub – serving coffee by day and beer at night is the brewing location for Thirsty Monk in South Asheville.
- Bhramari Brewhouse – located on the South Slope with good beer and good food.
- Catawba Brewing – South Slope with live music.
- Eluvium Brewing Company – a new Weaverville brewery.
- French Broad Brewing – specializing in European Ales, with music three nights a week.
- Green Man Brewing – known as the Green Mansion featuring Dirty Jacks, Green Man’s original tasting room.
- Ginger’s Revenge – Ginger’s Revenge located on the fringes of the Asheville River Arts District specializes in alcoholic Ginger Beer.
- Habitat Brewing Company – Habitat does small batch classic style craft ales.
- Highland Brewing Co. – Asheville’s first brewery, features entertainment, a rooftop bar, and a meadow for concerts.
- Hillman Beer – Located on Sweeten Creek Road in Biltmore Village, Hillman offers indoor and outdoor seating and entertainment.
- Hi-Wire Brewing – located half a mile from Biltmore Estate.
- Lexington Avenue Brewing – offers a variety of very good beers in downtown Asheville on Lexington Avenue.
- Mills River Brewery – offers a wide selection of craft beers.
- New Belgium – located in the Asheville River Arts District is the second location for a Colorado micro brewery.
- Noble Cider – Asheville’s first hard cider company, Noble Cider specializes in craft cider made from freshly pressed apples.
- One World Brewing – located down an alley in Downtown Asheville.
- OysterHouse Brewing Company – a micro brewery and restaurant in West Asheville
- Pour Taproom – Originally started in Asheville, Pour can now be found in Greenville, Charleston, Durham, Knoxville and Santa Cruz.
- Sierra Nevada Brewery – opened a brewery just outside of South Asheville in Mills River. Features an impressive tasting room and restaurant .
- Sweeten Creek Brewing – offering food and micro brew beer.
- Thirsty Monk Downtown – since 2008 on Patton Avenue has three floors each offering a different theme. Also a Thirsty Monk Biltmore Park location.
- Turgua Brewing Company – located in Fairview, has a focus on making beers featuring locally sourced ingredients.
- Twin Leaf Brewery – a family friendly brewery on Asheville’s South Slope features beer and board games.
- Urban Orchard – West Asheville’s first hard cidery offers cider and local craft beers, and light eats.
- UpCountry Brewing – includes a stage for music, a restaurant, arcade and indoor/outdoor seating.
- Wedge Brewery– in the River Arts District and Wedge at Foundation near Riverside Station is a favorite in Asheville.
- White Labs Kitchen & Lab
- Hop Brewing Company – in Buncombe County operates out of a train caboose.
- Wicked Weed – Asheville’s iconic downtown brewery is now owned by AB InBev.
- Zillicoah Beer Company – is one of Asheville’s newest breweries.
The region also offers a number of very good wineries including:
- South Creek Winery (2240 S Creek Rd, Nebo, NC)
- Belle Nicho Winery (525 Patton Valley Dr, Nebo, NC)
- Silver Fork Vineyard (5000 Patton Rd, Morganton, NC)
- Lake James Cellars (204 E Main St, Glen Alpine, NC)
- Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards (588 Chestnut Gap Rd, Hendersonville)
- Burntshirt Vineyards (2695 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville)