With a dynamic brewery cultural and world-famous fall foliage, Asheville is a perfect autumn getaway.
For many visitors, the crown jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Asheville, perhaps best known for the Biltmore Estate and funky arts and music scenes.
It seems there is an endless list of reasons to love the place originally nicknamed “The Land of the Sky.” In his 2008 book, The Geography of Bliss, author Eric Weiner cited Asheville as one of the happiest places in the United States, and many surveys have given it accolades for everything from its food to yoga-friendliness.
Now Asheville—“The Paris of the South”—has another claim to fame: Beer City, USA. It has has more micro-breweries per capita than any city in the nation (roughly one brewery per 8,000 people). In the “greater Asheville area” there are 31 micro-breweries.
The brew scene boasts five annual beer festivals, brewery tours and unusual products made from beer like shampoo, ice cream and mustard. On any given day, about 50 local beers can be enjoyed in Asheville, each with its own unique personality.
October and November’s annual leaf season is the perfect time to visit Asheville—”Santa Fe of the East.” To see it during leaf season, you must hurry and make reservations. I’m not kidding. The Blue Ridge Mountains draw visitors from around the globe for what’s called “leaf peeping” by the locals, and Asheville is always bustling.
The closest KOAs are Asheville East KOA and Asheville West KOA. Also in the area is the Cherokee / Great Smokies KOA, close to the Oconoluftee Visitor Center for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, about an hour and a half south of Asheville.
This handy site will help you plan your Asheville Beercation. Here’s what’s new on the Asheville brew scene.
Bizarre Beer City Tours:
- Bend and Brew: Yoga tour followed by a tasting at a local brewery OR a salt cave
- Brew-ed Tour: Brewery and history walking tour of Asheville—led by a CERTIFIED beer expert (a cicerone – the equivalent to sommeliers of the wine world)
- Asheville Pubcycle: A 13-person powered BYOB trolley on wheels
- Beer Soak: Asheville has long been known as a destination for relaxation and rejuvenation so now you can get a foot soak in a beer-based body wash at Wake Foot Sanctuary
- NEW: The Brew District: Asheville’s South Slope is quickly becoming the city’s unofficial beer district. Vacant buildings and warehouses just south of Asheville’s downtown are being snatched up by new breweries and those already established looking to expand their production. Recently opened is the $4 Million expansion of operations for Green Man Brewery.
- Rotating Tap Doughnuts: Vortex Doughnuts opened shop in October 2014 with their Rotating Tap Doughnut featuring a different local beer each day.
- World’s Largest Self-Pour Bar: Opened last summer, Pour Taproom is a pour-your-own tasting room in West Asheville with beer offered by the ounce.
- Hop Infusion Bar: At Asheville Brewing Company you can dry-hop your own pints to create your own special blend.
- Brew Enthusiast Paradise: Local retail shop Bruisin’ Ales offers over 1,000 beers, from local to hard to find brews. Tasty Beverage, located in the South Slope area, offers beers, food and great events like beer bike rides and the upcoming Black Friday Bourbon Release.
- Hop-tail Hour: One of Asheville’s newest brewpubs, Wicked Weed Brewing, offers a menu of beer cocktails. The Pale Mary mixes house-brewed ale with vodka and bloody mary mix.
- Farm-to-Glass: The secrets behind Asheville’s tasty brew can be found in the fresh mountain water plus locally sourced ingredients like NC malts and fresh hops from mountain-based farms. Schedule a tour with Hop’N Blueberry or River Bend Malt House to learn more about the beer making process.
- Outdoor pursuits with a fresh pint: Laid back beer lovers will dig the chummy backyard vibe at the Wedge in the River Arts District or a float to the waterside pub, the Bywater, on the French Broad River.
- Go Nano: Small nano-brew batches allow more flexibility to create unique concoctions like Coconut Porter, Cherry Chocolate Stout or Scotland TrainWreck IPA at the Thirsty Monk.
- Beer Culture Compound: Highland Brewing—Asheville’s oldest brewery—celebrated 20 years in 2014 and is a destination in itself offering tours, concerts and a sprawling backyard bar (not to mention an artisanal moonshine distillery next door). They opened a new rooftop bar in the last few months.
- Beer Run: Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium hosts a running club every Thursday consisting of a three mile run, a 30 minute ab class in the barrel house and a beer special for runners. The Funkatorium opened in October 2014, stores 1,000 wine & bourbon barrels, and has 10-15 taps of sour and wild beers for visitors. This is the first and only sour and wild dedicated tasting room in the southeast and one of just a handful in the country.
There is obviously more to see and do in Asheville than what’s listed in this blog post. The attached calendar of events is pulled from the official “Explore Asheville Travel Guide.” Be sure to download the digital edition here.
And if you didn’t catch my strong admonition earlier, BOOK YOUR STAY NOW!
“American Road Trip Expert” Tamela Rich is an award-winning author, storyteller and adventurer. She began her love affair with the open road as a child, traveling with her family in the Vista Cruiser station wagon from Ohio to California every other summer. During her monthly TV appearances, Tamela shares family-oriented travel tips and itineraries for local, regional and national road trips. Visit her website: www.TamelaRich.com