Walk This Way: A Beer Lover’s Guide to the Asheville South Slope
Not too long ago, the area of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, now known as the South Slope, was little more than a nondescript neighborhood where vagabonds, drug dealers and empty buildings far outnumbered pilsners, porters and pale ales.
Oh, have things changed.
In a scene reminiscent of so many communities across America, craft breweries have spearheaded a complete revitalization of the once-depressing neighborhood, making it the unofficial brewing district in a city renowned for its craft beer. Rather than shady characters roaming dark, deserted streets, the South Slope – named for the long grade that drops from near the center of town south along Coxe Avenue – is now filled with families, couples and groups of friends trekking on foot from brewery to brewery, with no less than seven to choose from within just a few blocks.
Joining them has been a gourmet donut shop and chocolate-making factory, an upscale barbecue restaurant, a beer bottle shop and a hotel is now under construction just yards away from all the action.
All of this makes Asheville’s South Slope a wonderfully walkable neighborhood for craft beer lovers. Here’s how to make the best of it.
Catawba Brewing Co. | 32 Banks Ave.
Literally sandwiched between bustling Vortex Doughnuts and Buxton Hall Barbecue on Banks Avenue, this is Catawba Brewing Co.’s third location, and no doubt its showcase facility. Opened in April 2015, “Banks,” as it’s referred to, features five distinct zones within the open 5,600 square-foot space: an airy patio and roll-up garage door in the front; an outdoor courtyard in the back complete with picnic tables; a music stage and killer views of distant Mount Pisgah; the Great Hall, with upwards of 25 Catawba beers on draft; the Concourse, which is adjacent to the 7-barrel brewhouse that came online this spring to produce the Banks Avenue line of specialty brews; and the Rickhouse, a more upscale space that houses a second bar, and serves as a barrel-aging room and special-events venue for weddings and other occasions.
Green Man Brewing Co. | 27 Buxton Ave.
A smidge east and one block south of Catawba you’ll find the newest home of 19-year-old Green Man Brewing Co. In spring 2016 the company unveiled its Green Mansion, a three-story, 20,000 square-foot building, highlighted by a packaging hall, a “brewtique” retail shop and a top-floor tasting room with an open-air patio that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains and production floor.
Grab a pint of Green Man ESB, an iconic Asheville brew, or one of many other specialty offerings at the new tasting room, or duck next door into what’s now called Dirty Jack’s, Green Man’s original, more low-key tasting room. Dirty Jack’s is where small-batch specialties like the wildly popular Snozzberry are still being produced.
Burial Beer Co. | 40 Collier Ave.
Burial Beer Co. will be closed today (5/16) in order to spring clean, work on projects, educate ourselves, and enjoy the most important thing about this place: our staff. Days like today are a treasure as we continue to grow and we appreciate your understanding as we take a moment to re-invest in our little building and rejuvenate and restore the amazing people who make it what it is. We invite you to do the same with your people today. Cheers to our community. #community #burialbeer
About a block southwest of Green Man, you’ll find Burial Beer Co. It’s a brewery that’s no doubt become one of the darlings of the Asheville beer scene – a favorite among serious locals, with a reputation that in just three years has grown far beyond the city, and state, limits. Burial opened its doors at 40 Collier Ave. in 2013 with a one-barrel brewing system, testing the market with an ever-revolving lineup of beers.
The beers, as well as the low-key vibe of the venue itself, became such a hit that Burial quickly upgraded to a 10-barrel brew house and continues to crank out a host of insanely popular saisons and other offerings that bring out the masses during bottle releases. The Skillet Donut Stout, which earns high marks on beer rating sites, is an Asheville favorite.
Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium | 147 Coxe Ave.
Just a few blocks uphill from Burial on Coxe Avenue you’ll find Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. While Wicked Weed’s original brewpub and tasting room is located on Biltmore Avenue, the Funkatorium on Coxe Ave. is a separate location here on the South Slope. The barrel house and sour beer tasting room is a must-stop for fans of all things wild, funky and sour. The brewery’s barrel-aging program is now nationally renowned, with weekend bottle releases drawing fans from across the Carolinas and surrounding Southern states to line up and down Coxe Ave. for a chance to purchase one of Wicked Weed’s complex brews.
Inside the Funkatorium, visitors can choose from more than a dozen funky and sour offerings. A food menu designed to complement the beers includes various small bites and artisanal sandwiches and flatbreads, and tours inside the rustic maze of oak barrels are available Thursday to Sunday.
Twin Leaf Brewery | 144 Coxe Ave.
Directly across the street from the Funkatorium you’ll hit Twin Leaf Brewery. Twin Leaf was a much-anticipated addition to the South Slope brewing community when it opened in 2014 at 144 Coxe Avenue, especially when passers-by first caught a glimpse of the 10-barrel brewing tanks glistening in the window along the Banks Avenue side of the building. The open tasting room with both high-top and community tables is a bustling place, positioned between the Funkatorium and Catawba.
Year-round house beers such as White Noise witbier and Luminosity tripel have become local favorites, while the 1st-anniversary debut of MDXXI Imperial Mexican Chocolate Stout launched a special release bottle program featuring some serious, sought-after brews.
Hi-Wire Brewing | 197 Hilliard Ave.
Our newest Single Barrel Series release is on draught this week at the South Slope Specialty Brewery with a few bottles available for purchase ($14) at both locations. Batch #5 is an Oak Fermented Imperial IPA with Brettanomyces (9.5% ABV). This single malt, single hop Imperial IPA was brewed & aged in a white wine barrel with brett for 8 months. Dank tropical fruit & bright citrus notes from Citra hops blend perfectly with earthy brett funk & oak in this big complex beer with a smooth, warming finish. #singlebarrelseries #limited #handmade #barrelaged #imperialipa #ipa #doubleipa #brettanomyces #avlbeer #craftbeer #southslope #specialty #brewery #wildale #hiwirebrewing
Two blocks up the hill from Twin Leaf you’ll find Hi-Wire Brewing along Hilliard Ave. Despite its fun, circus image, it didn’t take long for Asheville beer fans to discover that Hi-Wire was dead serious about putting out quality, creative brews when it took over the space from a previously shuttered brewery. Hi-Wire worked hard, and quickly succeeded. Year-round products such as the crisp, refreshing Hi-Wire Lager – ahead of its time before the recent resurgence of craft lagers – made Hi-Wire an instant hit and a nod by Ratebeer as best New North Carolina Brewery of 2013.
With the opening last year of Hi-Wire’s Biltmore Big Top production brewery and tasting room a couple miles away, the smaller South Slope venue is now dedicated specifically to sour and wild beer production, though the tasting room still features Hi-Wire’s wide variety of craft lagers and other brews.
Asheville Brewing Co. | 77 Coxe Avenue
Just a few steps to the east you’ll find Asheville Brewing Company’s Coxe Avenue location. ABC represents another longtime Asheville brewery bookend with Green Man on the upper part of the South Slope. This location has certainly replicated the success it was enjoying at the sister Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. venue in north Asheville. Rather than a movie theater, which highlights the company’s other location, the South Slope facility is defined by a huge covered patio that is almost always packed with thirsty, hungry patrons and is among the city’s favorite dog-friendly hangout spots.
ABC is a brewpub, with pizzas the signature menu item, making it a popular late-night stop once the food trucks shut down at the other South Slope breweries. Classic staples like Shiva IPA have been joined by an ever-expanding lineup of new offerings on the beer list.