How in the world have we not written a review of Asheville, NC yet?!? We have been going to Asheville for well over a decade for its breweries, cideries, wineries, and meaderies. We had mead from Asheville during our wedding almost ten years ago. We go to Asheville at least once a year. We will argue that it is the best alcohol tourism destination in the world, hands down.
First, Asheville is in a beautiful part of the country. Up in the mountains of western North Carolina, the region is sparsely populated with remarkably fair weather. The city itself is small- less than 100,000 people- and geographically not particularly sprawling. This means you can stay downtown and walk nearly everywhere you want to go.
Second, the Asheville Hostel is an absolute perfect place to stay. Reasonably affordable, welcoming host, and the location can NOT be beat. You could stay in the Hotel Indigo or a fancy hotel like that and be similarly close or closer to downtown, but the Asheville Hostel is by far and away our strong recommendation.
Third, you have it all (except distilleries). Like wine? Got it. Like beer? Woah buddy do you got it. Like cider or mead? Yep, those too.
Fourth, the beer is amazing. Asheville has one of the highest per-capita number of breweries in the world. They are not all good, as we will discuss below, but there are lots of options.
Fifth, Asheville is just an incredibly cool town. It’s not pretentious, it’s not crowded, it’s not expensive. It’s filled with hippies and easy-going outdoor-loving people. There are some fancy people, but they usually stay around the Biltmore and don’t bother us. There are interesting, cool stores, amazing restaurants, and great places to walk and hike around town.
Now let’s get into the weeds: the best and worst alcohol destination in Asheville.
Burial Beer Co – A relative newcomer (less than 5 years old), this has rapidly become one of our favorites. Only visit during the afternoon- it gets mobbed at night on the weekends. If the weather is nice, it’s great to sit outside.
Green Man – You can’t love Asheville and not love Green Man. They make excellent British Isles beers, with their ESB being the absolute best ESB we have ever had. They have their old, small, cozy location and a newer, shiny, gigantic location. If you want food, Jack of the Wood is an excellent English-style pub that serves Green Man beers, among others. Check them out on Sunday afternoon/evening for live Irish music.
Pisgah Brewing – Although it is outside of town a bit, they only take cash, and it can be randomly extremely busy even during the afternoon, all of this is worth is because it is SO GOOD. If you knew how much we hate not being able to pay by credit card, you would understand what amazingly high praise this is. Their tripel is the best tripel we have ever had.
Urban Orchard Cidery – They consistently make really great cider, not just well-crafted, but with interesting flavors along with the standards. A welcoming atmosphere and munchies make it a consistent go-to spot for us.
Wedge Brewing – A great Arts District destination. Consistently good beer, very cool metalwork, and they have peanuts!
Wicked Weed – I may get death threats over this one, but this place is terrible. We visited shortly after it was open and nothing was even drinkable. We revisited it later and confirmed this suspicion. They tried to confiscate a friend’s ID (she was late 20s- definitely legal), it’s always mobbed, and the service is terrible. But the beer. Undrinkable swill to us, obviously worth the drawbacks to others. We’d be interested to know if there’s something we’re missing (or just don’t enjoy, flavor-wise) or if it’s a case of others following the new, cool, trendy place.
Twin Leaf Brewing – Mediocre and average, which in any other town would get you just a ‘meh’ rating but, in Asheville, this puts it near the bottom.
Bhramari Brewing – We want to like this place- they do yoga on the weekends. Unfortunately, we’ve been a few times and it’s just not good.
One World Brewing – Located in a basement near the center of downtown, we have had to wait in a line to get in before. More importantly, the beer is highly forgettable. Only worth visiting if it is super late at night and you need somewhere to kill time right in the middle of town.
There are about a dozen other breweries and cideries we have visited which fall somewhere in the middle. They are all fine, and we will often hit them, but The Best list are our absolute go-tos in Asheville.