The answer, of course, is: anywhere. Anywhere there’s beer. In the kitchen, the living room, even in the bathroom. Ashevilleans love their beer, and with good reason: it’s fresh and tasty and makes a persuasive case for moving here.
But you want to know where locals drink beer when they go out. OK, then, here’s an admittedly incomplete list of the best places to go to drink good beer with other locals. Most tourists don’t know about these places and rarely stumble upon them. Bottom’s up!
This one’s hidden in plain sight. Tourists might venture into it, but they never stay. To paraphrase a line from The Addams Family: “These Asheville men, where do you find them?” “It has to be damp.” I’m talking about the downstairs tasting room at Wicked Weed. It’s dark. It’s dank. It’s for locals and beer aficionados only. There’s always something on tap that you just can’t find anywhere else. Tourists eating upstairs might wander down, maybe even order from the bar, but they rarely linger. I think Wicked Weed planned it that way.
This place has been in Asheville longer than I have. I first learned about it as “Dirty Jack’s,” but its proper name is the Green Man Brewery tasting room. I call this place The Champion because it’s likely the most well established of the places listed here. There may be a soccer game on the large-screen TV. There may be 20 loud conversations going on at once. And there may be only one very busy pourer. But the place rocks, especially in the summertime, when the shaded patio attracts beer-drinking patrons like “Representative” Tim Moffitt attracts controversy.
The Buried Treasure
When it comes to hidden treasure, you have to look to find where it’s buried. And that’s an apt description for Burial Beer Company. Even locals have trouble finding this out-of-the-way tasting room, but it’s worth the effort. A nondescript building in the middle of a row of warehouses hides a mom-and-pop, one-barrel pilot system brewery that provides a great selection and friendly confines. The artwork on the walls alone is worth a stop-in, but you should definitely stay and enjoy the offerings. Because the Burial you miss today could be the burial you attend tomorrow.
The Very Best
OK, this is a subjective claim, but there are many Ashevilleans who’ll back me up. I’m not claiming they have the best beer in Asheville (although their double IPA is one of my personal favorites), but the ambiance of the digs, the camaraderie of the clientele, and the very location all point to this as the best place for locals to hang out and drink beer as early as four o’clock in the afternoon, because why the hell not? I’m speaking, reverently, of the Wedge Brewery. Why is it so cool? It’s right next to the railroad tracks in the River Arts District. It’s located in a building full of artist’s lofts. They show outdoor movies. Come on! If you’ve never been there, shame on you.
This is far from a complete list of cool, local drinking establishments for locals, but it’ll get you started. Whether you agree or want to share your own beer-drinking discovery, leave a comment.