What's not to love about an artsy mountain town that's now the brew capitol of the Southeast? With more than 20 breweries, Asheville has become the place to drink fresh local beer in laid-back brewpubs, where it's natural to pair live bluegrass with spicy IPAs. The scene has even attracted two craft beer giants: New Belgium, which will open a location here in 2015, and Sierra Nevada, which will open a new brewery and taproom soon.
Best Brews, Breweries, and Bars
One of the town's original breweries, Highland Brewery's first beer was the Gaelic Ale, a reliable amber ale with Cascade and Willamette aroma hops. For thoughtfully brewed beers from a newer spot, head to LAB (Lexington Avenue Brew), where you'll want to sample all the beers but will come back for a pint of the spicy and dry Imperial Rye. Hops take center stage at Wicked Weed Brewing, another new downtown brewery with stellar beers that run the style spectrum. You can't go wrong with the Lucid Blonde, which is brewed with spelt, or anything from the barrel-aging program.
Break away from the breweries to drink at the Thirsty Monk, a beer bar with more than 50 taps and an impressive bottle collection on two levels at its downtown location.