Asheville is known as a city of breweries. It was, largely, the banding together of its many breweries that launched Asheville’s tourism scene years ago. Whether drinking by the French Broad River or among the beautiful Biltmore and historic Montford homes, a local brew or inventive hand-crafted cocktail are never far from reach. Do yourself a favor and begin your bar crawl on the outskirts of Asheville and work your way in. Many bars and breweries are within walking distance of each other as you reach downtown and the River Arts District — and some you can even paddle between.
Wicked Weed Brewing — Wicked Weed Brewing started out as a small company but has greatly expanded over the years after being purchased by AB InBev, the company that owns Budweiser. Now, it’s one of Asheville’s most recognizable craft breweries. Visitors will enjoy the warm atmosphere, from the exposed brick walls and high wood-beamed ceilings to the long tasting table in front of the bar flooded with natural light. For something different, try the Farmhouse Cider or the Appalachia Session IPA, and don’t miss the dog-friendly outdoor patio.
Hi-Wire Brewing — Hi-Wire is best known for its sour selections, which range from blueberry to rosemary with lemon. The brewery has plenty of lagers, IPAs, and seasonals, as well, along with some barrel-aged beers. Hi-Wire’s bar has Mario Kart and pinball, which will test just how much imbibing has taken place. As one of Asheville’s best-known breweries, this is one to visit at least once. Try the sour blonde.
Thirsty Monk — Another Asheville mainstay, Thirsty Monk is popular for its friendly, knowledgeable staff and its complex. From the cozy basement to the members-only rooftop cocktail lounge, Thirsty Monk has variety. Order a Belgian-style brew and talk for a while with the bartenders.
Little Jumbo — A thoughtful space, Little Jumbo is a neighborhood bar that hits the sweet spot in terms of price for quality drinks. Settle into the velvet couch with a signature house cocktail in hand for a night of jazz or other live music. For a well-balanced drink, order The Happy Moment.
Archetype Brewing — Those with an eye for clean, minimalist design will love Archetype Brewing. From the layout of the tasting room and its mural to the logo and the clear beer taps that show the hues of the brews, this is a highly functional space. It has a limited menu compared to larger Asheville breweries, but those offered are well done. Try the Devil’s Nest for a full-bodied, fruity pour.
One World Brewing West — Have a non-drinker in your group? One World Brewing West is your place. With several non-alcoholic options, this small and atmospheric brewery will please a crowd. There’s plenty of space for crowds and seating along the walls, as well as a circular bar in the center of the taproom. Go on a Monday for jazz and on a Thursday for funk. With plenty of parking in the rear, get comfortable and try Purple Rain, an herbal and light dessert-style Berliner Weisse.
New Belgium Brewing Company — New Belgium Brewing Company is an established brewery from Colorado with an East Coast location in Asheville. When the owner decided to sell, she held a company-wide retreat and gifted all of the stock to the employees so everyone could be a part-owner. Here, it’s known for incredible tours, which are far from run-of-the-mill. Choose from your favorites that you know and love like Fat Tire or Voodoo and drink on the deck while overlooking the French Broad River.
Desoto Lounge — Asheville loves its arcade games, as evidenced by the pinball museum and bars like Asheville Retrocade and Desoto Lounge. This quirky dive is filled with taxidermied animals hanging on the walls and games like ping pong and foosball lining the walls. Though wine and cocktails are available, this local-favorite bar is known for carrying hyper-local craft beer on tap.
South French Broad, River Arts District, and South Slope
Wedge Brewing Company — While many breweries serve bar bites or pub food, Wedge Brewing Company is popular for its food trucks parked outside. Set inside a 19th-century storehouse, Wedge maintains its industrial-chic vibe throughout its interior and tool-welded decor. Order a 13 Paces porter from the chalkboard and take a seat in a plastic middle-school chair on the patio.
Eurisko Beer Company — A clean and spacious interior, Eurisko Beer Company has plenty of room for large groups where everyone will actually be able to be heard while carrying on a conversation. With 26 beers to choose from, you won’t have any trouble finding enough beers to sample. Terms of Endearment, a saison, is particularly pleasing. Keep an eye on the calendar for special events.
District Wine Bar — District Wine Bar is a swanky and stunning spot with an industrial atmosphere. Exposed brick, accent lighting, and velvet and leather furnishings make it a comfortable place to sit back and relax with a glass of wine. The wine list is extensive with options from around the world, and there are small bites like olives and garlic cheese bread.
Catawba Brewing Co. — Set in a former garage, the Biltmore Village location of Catawba Brewing Co. is down to earth and simple. Featuring roll-up doors for nice-weather days, guests enjoy a quiet environment with a signature small batch brew in hand. No matter what the latest small-batch beer is, that’s the drink to order.
Hillman Beer — A clean and sleek space, Hillman Beer is a neighborhood hub complete with picnic tables, a patio, and long community tables indoors. With signature sandwiches and hearty, greasy bar food to boot, this spot is the full brewery package. Parking is free and easy to access, and visitors will be pleased with the 18 beers brewed in house. Pair the bière de garde with the knish or the Mommabeer Brown with a kale salad.
Casablanca Cigar Bar — An elegant lounge, Casablanca Cigar Bar offers an extensive range of cigars, a comprehensive bourbon list, and cocktails. From the leather furnishings to a beautiful humidor, this is a relaxing establishment to unwind in. It’s a members-only bar, but it only costs $5 to join or $2 for a day pass — and trust us, the drinks and atmosphere are well worth the small price of entry.
Montford Area Historic District
Ginger’s Revenge — Step aside from the typical beer breweries in Asheville with Ginger’s Revenge, a ginger beer brewery. Ginger’s Revenge makes flavors like Hawaiian and habanero pepper along with classic ginger beer, and all will surprise and delight. The simple warehouse location keeps a fun flair with a touch of Art Deco design elements and Edison bulbs with ribbons hanging from the ceiling near the production line. Try the pear rosemary or hibiscus lavender brews and visit on small batch Sundays for the latest creations.
Zillicoah Brewing Co. — Located on the banks of the French Broad River, Zillicoah Brewing Co. offers a limited number of beers with plenty of space for four- and two-legged babies to run and play. Don’t miss the food truck, which serves tacos on handmade tortillas, before taking a seat around the firepit or at a picnic table. Order a farmhouse ale from the splashy bar backed by white-tiled bricks and reclaimed wood.
Ole Shakey’s Getaway — A real local’s joint, Ole Shakey’s gets going much later in the evening. A dive bar on the river, this haunt is where travelers will find the true spirit and community of Asheville. This quirky hub even has a shuttle — a semi-restored ‘90s limo that regulars can track for a ride via Instagram. Check the calendar, order a mixed drink or beer, and start mulling over your karaoke song.
Highland Brewing Company — This is one of the OG Asheville breweries, having opened in 1994. After a free tour, order a pint or a flight of beer in Highland Brewing Company‘s simple tasting room. The spacious taproom has a stage, room for dancing, and plenty of tables for seating. It’s known for its stouts and IPAs, so try Black Watch.
Cursus Keme — Set in an industrial warehouse, Cursus Keme is beautifully designed. From church pew seats and long wooden community tables to greenery and the taps stemming from a suspended log, guests will be impressed with the trendy, relaxed atmosphere.
Tap Haus — A family-owned establishment with great food to boot, Tap Haus is actually located on the second floor above Whole Foods. It’s an unconventional choice but an ideal space within the neighborhood to order local beer and cocktails after getting some shopping done. Vegan and vegetarian food options are available, as well.