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Exploring Beer City USA with Asheville Brewery Tours

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Beer City USA
Welcome to Wanderfulย Wednesday friends! Donโ€™t forget to link up a wanderful travel related post down below! ๐Ÿ˜€
Today Iโ€™m going to be talking a little bit about Asheville, North Carolina, aย city thatโ€™s been on my mind a lot lately.
I visited the city a while back, almost 6 months ago now and only for a short weekend trip, but lingering thoughts about this place still frequent my mind. Thereโ€™s just something really special about Ashevilleย that stays with you after spending time there!
I also realized that I never wrote about my experience visiting this magical little eclectic city. All of my ideas and plans for posts somehow got lost in the shuffle during the move to South America. Considering itโ€™s been popping into my mind a lot recently, I took it as a sign that itโ€™s time to share!
In one weekend trip to Asheville, I managed to pack a lot of activities into my short time, including a relaxing spa getaway, a trip to Americaโ€™s largest home, the Biltmore, a bunch of Southern Cuisine taste testing and one of my favorite activities of the lot, an Asheville Brewery Tour.
Asheville is often referred to as Beer City USA (itโ€™s won the title many times, fair and square) and with very good reason! With more breweries per capita than any other city in the country, itโ€™s pretty evident that these locals take their beer really seriously. In just the downtown area alone there are over 30 breweries to be visited and nearly 100 local brews to be tasted. Talk about overwhelming โ€ฆ In a city known for their prestigious brewery scene, I had no clueย where to start!
I also have to admit, Iโ€™m not a bigย beer drinker. Iโ€™m actually not a hugeย fan of anything carbonated. A bubbly belly is not my thing. But hey when in Rome โ€ฆ
So, as someone embarrassingly not knowing the first difference between a Pale Ale and IPA, I decided to seek the help of the experts. Iโ€™m talking, Asheville Brewery Tours. I was excited to take advantage of an Asheville locals knowledge aboutย the complex world of beer!
Iย decided on the Saturday Sunset Deluxe Van Tour figuring itโ€™d be nice to not worry about transportation and have someone to drive us around between tastings! Mid-afternoon we strolled downtown, grabbed a quick bite and prepared ourselves for 4 stops at some of Ashevilleโ€™s best and brightest breweries.
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Note: I apologize ahead of time for the low quality photos. I did not want to bring along my DSLR on account of, well all theย drinking and low lighting is not very conducive to iPhone photography!

Stop 1: Altamont Brewing Company

Our first stop of the tour was in West Asheville at Altamont Brewing Company, which coincidently I had already visited the night before. I was totally okay with that though, because the beer was AMAZING! Even after all of the other stops our tour made, Altamont remained my favorite of the lot.
Altamont
Our tour guide took us to a quieter section in the back to explain the brewing process and the story behind Ashevilleโ€™s breweries.
Altamontโ€™s own draft selection is constantly rotating and they also share the tap with beers from other breweries all over the world. The brewery itself is a no frills establishment with a beautiful classic wooden bar, a few scattered metal tables and a small stage for live music. There are ping-pong and foosball tables in the back for games and colorful hoola-hoops begging for a spin along the walls. If youโ€™re looking for a chill bar with a laid back alternative vibe and friendly knowledgeable staff- this place will be right up your alley!
On the tour we sampled 3 creative brews for which their menu descriptions were as follows:

  • Stacyโ€™s Mom Has Got It Goseโ€™n On (5%)- Brewed with an addition of Pink Himalayan sea salt and organic coriander seeds, expect citrusy aromas followed by a pleasant saltiness and a hint of subtle acidity in each sip.
  • Hefeweizen (5%)- Pale straw color. Hints of banana and clove from the weihenstephan yeast. Very low Traditional German Wheat Beer
  • D-Nice Stout (5.5%)- Dark Brown in color with a roasty, malty, dark chocolate creamy finish with a hint of coffee malt.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed each and every beer that I tried at Altamont including the โ€œCold Heartedโ€ IPA and the โ€œBlonde Aleโ€ which I tried on my own!

Stop 2: Urban Orchard Cider Company

When I heard that a cider bar was next up on the tour I was super excited! Iโ€™m a newbie to the world of hard ciders, but I was happy to give them a try and take a break from all the beer!
With 3 staple options on tap, rotating seasonal and experimental batch ciders, a selection of local beers, and even wine, the bar at Urban Orchard truly has something available to please every palette! Downstairs, under the bar, is where the magic happens and the fermentation process takes place. The Urban Orchard family experiments with some pretty wild flavors giving each of their ciders crazy character that somehow really works and leaves you with a taste to remember!
Urban Orchard 2
My favorite of the Urban Orchard tastings was the above Sidra del Diablo cider, brewed with smoked habanero peppers and infused with sweet vanilla! (I know what the heck, I was surprised too!) At first taste the cider seemed pretty sweet, but donโ€™t let that fool you, the heat builds in a few short seconds. It was pretty intense to be honest, but I like a little spice. It was also just such a unique and deliciously shocking mix that it left quite the impression!

Stop 3: Catawba Brewing Company

After ample time learning about and tasting ciders, we hopped back into the bus and head off to Catawba!
Catawba Brewing Company is located smack in the middle of Ashevilleโ€™s popular South Slope neighborhood, or Brewery District. It is one of Western North Carolinaโ€™s oldest breweries and was pretty large compared to the other two breweries we had visited.
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Catawba didnโ€™t necessarily blow me away with their beer, but their space was amazing! The ceilings were high, the rooms were well lit and there were many places to sit, sip and take in the scene. Theyโ€™ve got food trucks out back, big screen TVs playing the games and live local tunes up on stage. We entered to find Catawba filled to the brim with friendly, giddy patrons, chatting away with friends while throwing emโ€™ back.
Our tour guide somehow found a quiet, corner by the back bar and quickly divvied up the tastes. Some in our group were having such a great time that they went up and ordered themselves a pint to get more into the Catawba spirit!

Stop 4: Hi-Wire Brewing

Our fourth and final stop was at Hi-Wire Brewing, a small microbrewery also in South Slope. Hi-wire is one of Ashevilleโ€™s newer breweries, but has gained a favorable reputation quite quickly! In fact, not very long after opening they were named โ€œBest New Brewery in North Carolinaโ€ in 2013 by RateBeer.com!
Hi-Wire Brewing prides themselves on their offering of good, โ€œapproachableโ€ highly drinkable handcrafted beers. Their 4 โ€œmain attractionsโ€ have become popular among locals and visitors alike, consisting of their Prime Time Pale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown, and Hi-Wire Lager. They also feature more creative transitioning, โ€œSide Show Seasonalsโ€ in their tasting room!
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Although Hi-Wire was on the smaller, simpler side of the breweries we visited, and there wasnโ€™t a ton of seating, I really loved their alternative, industrial dรฉcor and laid back feel! The brewery had old-school roll up garage-style doors and plenty of games, including life-size Jenga, to pass the time while enjoying a brew.
The four stops on our van tour with Asheville Brewery Tours was an awesome introduction to the Asheville Brewery scene and actually left me wanting to learn more about the world of beer!ย Who wouldโ€™ve thought โ€ฆ.ย I canโ€™t wait to get back to Beer City USA soon and see what else they have to offer!
Have you ever been to Asheville? What was your favorite brewery?
Disclaimer: Asheville Brewery Tours graciously invited me on their tour for purposes of this post. As always all opinions are my own. I would only recommend something I truly felt would benefit my readers!
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Beer City USA


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This week on #WanderfulWednesday, Iโ€™m highlighting last weekโ€™s post โ€œCusco, Peru: A Guide to the Inca Capitalโ€ by Leahย at Gringa Journeys! I leave for Cusco a week from today and canโ€™t wait to use all of her amazing tips!ย If you havenโ€™t already, be sure to go check out her post and spread the love!
Happy Hopping my Friends! ๐Ÿ˜€