Keeping up with all of the wonderful craft beer in Asheville – I’m not gonna lie – it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it! Clients always ask what my favorite breweries are and I find that to be a difficult question (because I still haven’t tried them all – but I’m working really hard to!) With 2 small kids, my favorite places end up being the kid-friendliest ones, the places I can sip on a pint after a long day and they can run like wild animals (safely!) Therefore, I frequently visit: The Wedge and Highland Brewing because there is space for the children to roam. I also love taking people on our food tour to our partners over at the Lexington Avenue Brewery (or, the LAB) to sample their small batch craft beer and to Ben’s Tune Up to sample craft beer and Japanese sake. I loved seeing that USA Today had similar love for these places – and many other great ones – when they visited to report on Asheville’s “standout brewing scene.” –Jean
Asheville, N.C. beer trail: The south’s standout brewing scene
By: Anne Roderique-Jones for The USA Today
Before visiting Asheville, N.C., I’d never tried — nor heard of — an APA brewed with fresh, fiery roasted jalapeño peppers. Sounds strange, sure, but it is one of the best I sample on a self-guided tour of 12 breweries in just five days. It’s no secret that Asheville is doing some progressive and impressive work in the beer department and gaining steam in the national scene, and that’s just one example.
“When I moved here in 1997, Highland Brewing was the only game in town, and a very small one at that,” says Anne Fitten Glenn, brewery communications consultant and author of Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing. “So I’ve seen (and written about) Asheville’s explosion from a sleepy one-brewery town to a nationally renowned beer mecca.”
Today, she counts 21 breweries; 26 in Buncombe County and five more on the way. With a local population of less than 100,000, the numbers are impressive.
So what makes Asheville such a great city for drinking beer? Fitten Glenn explains that drinking local harkens back to the founding of Asheville in 1798. “Back then, it was nearly impossible to get beer from the lowlands up here in the mountains,” she says. “So if settlers wanted a fermented beverage, they had to make it themselves. That spirit of self-sufficiency and support for small local businesses makes Asheville a great place to open a brewery.”
And this city certainly takes the whole locavore movement seriously. You can’t toss a rock without hitting a chalkboard displaying the day’s farm fresh cheese or the season’s it ingredient (hint: whatever’s local). Chefs are adorned with vegetable tattoos and residents fully support each of the 13 farmers markets. Naturally, this translates to the beer scene. While touring Asheville Brewing Company, tubs of fragrant vanilla bean, ginger root and cinnamon are sorted, ready to be brewed into beer. Here, hikers pack seasonal sours come summer, and relax with a stout in the cooler mountain months. For the beer lover, it’s paradise and for those looking to immerse themselves into the scene, Asheville’s a great place to start.
View the slideshow here.
Original article appeared in USA Today on January 11, 2017.