Beer Trip Ideas★ ★ Take a trip to the taps. ★ ★

Asheville: Craft Beer Beacon

With dozens of neighboring breweries, Asheville is a North Carolina craft beer beacon. Craftsmanship and creativity abound in this western North Carolina hub, and the yin and yang of energy and a laid-back vibe tempt many visitors to stay for another round – just to see what comes next.

If you’re at a loss for where to begin, try a tour. BREW-ed, led by a Certified Cicerone (one of very few people in the world to achieve the advanced level of certification), connects downtown breweries – including Asheville Brewing, Hi-Wire, Green Man, Catawba Brewing Co., Bhramari and Twin Leaf – with city history on its walking tours. Asheville Brews Cruise mixes things up with a range of tours that include Highland, the oldest of the city’s craft breweries, and Pisgah in Black Mountain, as well as downtown stops. LaZoom, known for B.Y.O.B. irreverent comedy tours, offers a “Band & Beer Bus Tour” that plays host to a live band while stopping by breweries.

A DIY approach works well, too, with visits that take in neighborhoods as well as taps. The South Slope area has become the city’s unofficial beer district with Catawba Brewing Co., Hi-Wire Brewing, Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium and a handful of others. French Broad Brewing is on the edge of historic Biltmore Village, with Sweeten Creek Brewing and Hillman Beer also in the area. Stop by Wedge Brewing, which recently opened a second location in a street-art-covered former tannery, and explore the River Arts District. Take the Asheville Urban Trail through the heart of downtown and pass breweries and other beer-centric spots such as Pack’s Tavern, Barley’s Taproom and The Bier Garden, as well as Bruisin’ Ales, a world-class store full of beer and related merch. Or, head over to West Asheville to visit UpCountry Brewing or The Whale, a beer-and-bottle shop dedicated to old-world and obscure brews.

“Destination” breweries are also popping up on the outskirts of town with their own unique appeal. Recent additions include Turgua Brewing (farmstead brewery in Fairview), Ginger's Revenge (alcoholic ginger beer in the RAMP Studios), Zillicoah (sours and lagers in Woodfin) and Zebulon Artisan Ales (historical and forgotten beer styles in Weaverville).

Schedule a Hops/Crops tour at Echoview Farm in Weaverville, followed by a bite at Blue Mountain Pizza & BrewPub. And plan to spend quality time at Asheville Brewing’s North Asheville location, known for its food and in-house movie theater and game room, and The Bywater, where a $5 membership gives you access to an acre on the river, grills, taps and that only-in-Asheville vibe. Or, take in a riverside concert with a beer in hand at The Salvage Station.