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Craft Breweries make Asheville, NC Beer City USA

Updated on December 28, 2012

Latest News In Asheville Brewing

  • Oskar Blues is building a new brewery in Brevard, NC.
  • Craggie Brewing is shutting its doors. A pair of new brewers is expected to take over the brewery.
  • Oyster House Brewing Company is moving to West Asheville. Brewer Billy Klingel and his brother Jim will be opening the new brew pub in the near future with expanded brewing capacity.
  • Altamount Brewing Company in West Asheville is slated to begin selling its own beers, Oct 2012.
  • New Belgium Brewery has begun building on it's new site in the River Arts District. Scheduled to open in 2015.

Beer City, USA

Asheville has been elected Beer City USA three years in a row! The fun, albeit un-official poll, accepts online votes for the best Beer City in the USA. The first year Asheville tied with Portland, OR. The following year Portland was beaten out right and last year, in the third voting, Portland slid to third behind San Diego and the reining champ, Asheville, NC.

The poll is put on by home-brew guru Charlie Papazian. The voting is meant to measure the level of support micro-brewing has in each area. Asheville has taken the ranking to heart. The mountain town boasts near a dozen breweries, two micro-brew suppliers, one of the worlds top ranked beer stores and a traveling brewery tour! Asheville literally has something for every beer lover.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Asheville is a popular vacation destination for many reasons. There is access to every kind of out door activity and high quality facilities for each. Hiking, biking, kayaking/rafting, skiing, shopping, art and dining are only the tip of the iceberg. The eclectic residents take pride and joy in the unique atmosphere and promote it through numerous grass roots campaigns. Keep Asheville Weird and Love Asheville:Buy Local are only two.

Micro brew in America

Micro brewing is firmly established in America. Our forefathers, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington brought brewing with them from the old world and establised traditions that are being honored in towns across the country. Micro brewing has been around for decades but rose to popularity in the 1980's and 1990's. Fritz Maytag started the Anchor Brewing Company in 1965 but it was not until the 80's that the iconic brands that we know today started to appear. Sierra Nevada was founded in 1980 followed by Samuel Adams in 1985 and a host of other great American breweries.

Now it is not uncommon to find a brewery in any town. Often making just enough for their own sales. Home brewing is also rising in popularity. The complexity of the task mixed with the end result make it a rewarding hobby.

The beer that started it all


Asheville Micro Brew

Micro brewing in Asheville has old roots and new branches. The modern history of brew in Asheville lies with Highland Brewing Company and Green Man Ales. Highland produced their first beer for the public in 1994. Since then they have grown to produce more than 30,000 kegs annually. Green Man started in 1997 as part of Jack of the Woods pub. The brewery soon outgrew the space and moved to a new location. The brewery was sold in 2010 and has since expanded its line.

There are now twelve breweries in the Asheville and surrounding areas. The Asheville Brewers Alliance works hard to make sure that local craft beer is promoted and appreciated. The alliance has partnered with the Brew Grass Festival to put together the Beer City Festival. This is a spring celebration of all that is Asheville and craft beer.

The Asheville brew scene is spread throughout the town. Several breweries and beer stores are downtown, not to mention a diverse selection of night life locations all serving one or more of the local drafts. There are a few brew pubs in the mix. Oyster House, LAB and Asheville Brewing Companay all include or are a part of a greater restaurant atmosphere. Oyster House is the smallest brewery of the bunch. Operating with a Brew Magic 2000 and producing a half barrel at a time, brew master Billy Klingel makes one of the best stouts I've ever tasted. Called Moonstone Oyster Stout, the beer is based on a old style and includes oysters in the recipe.

Other great breweries are located a little farther away. The Wedge is right outside the down town area along the banks of the French Broad River. The French Broad Brewery, maker of Gateway Kolsch, is located along the railroad tracks in historic Biltmore Village. A little further out you will find Pisgah Brewing Company. It is located in Black Mountain, about 20 minutes outside Asheville. They have an awesome venue and have good shows on a regular basis. A visit to each brewery is a fun way to experience Asheville's beer culture, however I recommend a designated driver. Better yet though is the Brews Cruise. This is a guided tour of a few of the local brewery. It is really nice to have a driver take a busload of your friends on a tour of 3-4 micro breweries.

Sierra Nevada's flagship beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale


The best beer in Asheville

It is really hard to say which beer is the best one made in Asheville. For one thing, there are a lot of great beers. For another, the brewers here are a crafty bunch, always coming up with something new or brewing one of the fantastic seasonals. Mark Lyons, owner of the Brews Cruise, has told me more than once that the Oyster House IPA is the best in town. I tend to agree, the blend of hops is fruity, bitter and compliments the malt perfectly.

These are some of my favorite beers on the long and growing list of Asheville beer.

  • The Gateway Kolsch- This is a light German ale based on the original style found in Cologne. I love it because it is light, crisp and fully flavored. The grassy hops bites you back with each drink, the malt is very light and not at all over powering. I could drink this beer all day.
  • Oyster Stout- By far the most unusual and delicious stout I have ever had. The body is thick and the head is creamy smooth. It has a slightly smoky flavor, enhanced with a blend of chocolate malt and roasted barley. This beer is excellent with food, especially seafood and oysters.
  • Wedge Iron Rail Ipa- A surprising strong Ipa with tons of cascade hops. The balance of malt and hops is perfect in this beer. The flavor and body, which are robust, are also deceptively light for a beer boasting 7.3% ABV. I like to move up to this one after a Kolsch or too.

Why Asheville

Sierra Nevada brewing company chose Asheville for their east coast operation. The brewery will be in the Mills River area. Sierra Nevada is planning to open a restaurant and music venue along with brewing operations. Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada, had this to say about the decision, "the beer culture, water quality and quality of life are excellent. We feel lucky to be a part of this community." Ken, we feel lucky to have you too! Welcome to North Carolina.

The new operation will add about 300,000 barrels a year to production and allow for more production of seasonal beers.


Asheville Brewers Alliance

  1. Highland Brewing Comapany
  2. French Broad Brewing Company
  3. Oyster House Brewing Company
  4. The Wedge Brewery
  5. Pisgah Brewing Comapay
  6. Asheville Brewing Company
  7. Craggie Brewing
  8. Green Man Brewing Comapany
  9. Catawba Valley Brewing Company
  10. Nantahala Brewing Company
  11. Heinzelmannchen Brewing Company
  12. Southern Appalachian Brewery

Welcome to Asheville's Newest Brewery, Altamont Brewing Company

The brewery is located in West Asheville, known by locals as Westville, and is run by former brewer for Flagstaff Brewing Company. He and partner Ben Wiggins opened the brewery and pub in 2011. The property boasts several game tables and frisbee golf, which go perfectly with a cool pint of a local draft. The brewery operation is not running as of yet but the pub is open features live shows weekly.


Bruisin Ales, world class beer store

Asheville's boutique beer shop has a selection of over 1000 beers. They stock the shelves with brews from around the world. Run by husband and wife partners Julie and Jason Atallah, the store has been in operation since 2006. They specialize in Belgian, Belgian styles and American craft brews. The little shop is highly regarded in the beer world, garnering recognition from Beer Advocate, Southeastern Brew News and Ale Street News. Bruisin' Ales is ranked the #4 beer retailer in the world by RateBeer.


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