Asheville, NC is beertopia. At least that’s what their local tourism website says — and it is also what this year’s Beer City USA poll says. For the third year in a row, Asheville has garnered the top honors as a beer city to be reckoned with.
A small town of only 80,000 residents, Asheville has been making waves in the craft beer world for a while now. But, though the town may be small, it has big things going for it. Think the Biltmore, Blue Ridge Parkway, beautiful scenery, mountain backdrops, and a thriving craft brew scene.
The Asheville beer you are most familiar with here in Jacksonville is probably Highland. A few months ago I ran an article about this brewery and its founder (Love and Hops with Marc Wisdom: Highland Edition). Well, they started the craft brew trend in Asheville and it really took off!
About 15 years ago Oscar Wong, a retired engineer who lived in Charlotte, moved to the Asheville area to help an award winning brewer get his brewery off the ground. They started in a small basement that was quickly outgrown. Last year Highland Brewing Company brewed over 18,000 barrels of beer.
As other entreprenours entered the craft brew market and began opening breweries in Asheville, the city’s brewing tradition began to take form.
Breweries like Green Man, known as Dirty Jack’s to the locals, opened to the thirsty denizens of Asheville in 1997. This tiny bar, dominated by its big screen television showing soccer matches, specializes in beers with a British bent such as its generously hopped yet balanced IPA.
French Broad Brewery opened its doors in 2001 with a focus on European style beers such as Gateway Kölsch. Kölsch is a German style ale, a departure from the most well-known German style of lager. French Broad’s is faithful to the great German ales found in Köln. Another great brew to be had at Green Man include their 13 Rebels, and interpretation of the United Kingdom’s Extra Special Bitters (ESB) style of brewing with complex malts and British hops.
In all the Asheville area now sports eleven craft breweries and over 50 local brews to choose from. As beer destinations go, you would be hard-pressed to find a better place to enjoy a few cold ones.
Beers I Am Drinking This Week
Magic Hat Circus Boy
Sitting on the back patio on Mother’s Day as my brother perpared a low-country boil of shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn was the perfect ambiance for this summery hefeweizen. The bottle claims that this beer is brewed with lemongrass and upon smelling it I certainly concur. The color is coudy, straw yellow with a decent head. The taste is refreshing, lemony, but nicely balanced with malts with a lingering bitterness. As a cit-around-and-shoot-the-bull beer, this one is a winner in my book.
Eku German Pilsner
This one was a surprise, while it was good, I am not sure it was the beer for me. The brew pours a bright, clear yellow with good carbonation and head. The smell is sweet and grainy. On my first sip I immediately wondered if I was drinking wort — it was that grainy and sweet. Not that that is bad, its just not for me.
Swamp Head Brewery Midnight Oil
This is a heavy beer! Pours a deep, dark brown almost black with a thin layer of foam at the top. The smell is of darkly roasted malts, smoke, coffee, and earthyness. The flavor is, as the aroma alludes, rich, dark coffe and roasted grains with a hint of earthy hops. A very good beer from a very good brewery.
Until next time,
Long Live the Brewers!