Is everyone out there having a great (Labor Day, USA) weekend?! It’s the unofficial official ending of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and I think I’m actually ok with that. But, you know, summer evenings, friends, and beer are some of the best things I know. Can I get an amen from all you beer lovers out there? So to celebrate the change of the seasons and the fantastic, busy summer I had, I thought I’d share all of my favorite beer hangs + memories that I made during my vacation to Asheville, North Carolina in July.

As you know, my wife + I used to live in Asheville. My parents still live in the area, and my brother just moved back. Needless to say, I have tons of “musts” whenever I return. Some of those musts are all about beer + people. Luckily, those two things go great together. Therefore, I am able to check tons of stuff off of my “must do” list. You know, all the visits to my favorite places and visits with my favorite people.

This summer was no different. I went to the places I love and saw the people I adore and drank the beer that I have so missed. What was different this year was that I dared to explore + try new places as well. Well, they weren’t actually “new”, but they were not on my list of places I just had to go.

However, those new-ish places have now become new favorites. Cheers for exploring + stepping outside the box!

Asheville is Beer City, USA

What follows are the places that my love + I had multiple beer hangs with friends, alone, or with family. So, if you just so happen to be in the Asheville area anytime soon, you just gotta go check these breweries out. There are 26 local breweries IN Asheville + 60 within an hour’s drive. The mountains of North Carolina are saturated with delicious, local, craft beer breweries where you can slow down, relax, hang, meet people, and enjoy kick ass beer.

For more about local breweries visit The Asheville Beer Guide that Lina and I created!

First things first

First stop. Literally. As in, right after we landed. Asheville Brewing Company right smack in the middle of downtown. A cold beer crafted right there paired with pizza, chicken fingers, and fries. It was the perfect “welcome home” moment!

Beer down by the creek

Since my parents live outside of Asheville, we had the chance to hang out in Waynesville and visit some of the breweries that have popped up there. There are two really great ones, but this first one is the one that became my “Now I am on vacation moment:” Ahhhh.

Frog Level Brewing has been around for a few years, and we’ve been there almost every time we’ve been home. But this year, it felt different. They have come into their own. The beer is great + the setting – that backyard tho! – is just the perfect place to find peace.

And we did!

U-Joint. Where I find all my favorites.

This place isn’t really a brewery at all, but it has local brews on tap – for cheap. And amazing, yummy, American food. Sitting outside is always the best – and having one of my fave brews, French Broad Kolsch, for the first time in a year made the meal all the better. Cheers!

Oh, the Wedge. THE Wedge.

It is one freaking fantastic place. And the absolute best place to meet friends and hang out for hours. We always, always end up staying here until dark – no matter what time we arrive. And this visit was no different.

Located in the funky, once sketchy River Arts District, it’s a brewery with only outdoor seating (ok a few stools inside where you order beer straight from the barrels) and a rotating list of food trucks.

Alright. Just take a peek at our time at the Wedge this summer. I got no more words for it’s amazingness.

Looking for where the locals go?

Well, this is it. It’s a neighborhood joint that serves local beer and amazing ribs/bbq. Ok. The burgers and everything else is good too. But the atmosphere is my favorite part of visiting Creekside Taphouse.

There is, as it’s name suggests, a creek running by. Kids and dogs play in it while grown-ups eat and drink. The outdoor space is big and open, with covered + uncovered spots. And, the inside is perfect during those cold, winter months.

When we lived in Asheville, this was about a 5 minute from from our home, so there were many nights with my brother spent here. Laughing, talking about life, making important decisions, just being. Too bad I didn’t capture many pics this trip… I was busy drinking beer, chatting with my family, and soaking up the atmostphere. Hehe.

Gimme a deck + some beer

Back in Waynesville, the other brewery that we love is Boojum Brewing. It’s also been around for a few years, and we’ve visited a few times, but this year we really fell in love.

You see, they’ve opened this back deck and it is AWESOME. Like, so awesome, we went there 4 or 5 times in 2 weeks. Luckily, it’s about 5 minutes from my parents home. The food is good, the beer is good, the view is good, and there’s even live music sometimes. What’s not to freaking love?!

Music + beer for a good cause

Alright. I’m gonna share a spot that is not a brewery, but is a fantastic gathering place for drinking local beer + hanging with people. And, it just so happens that the night that we were there this summer, it was a benefit night.

We bought tickets for the food + music, and then bought beer at the bar. The benefit was to raise money for Our Voice, a community organization that works for women’s rights. The music was provided by local artists, one of which is a super dear friend, Chris Wilhelm.

Before our evening at the Asheville Guitar Bar, though, we met up with two of our favorite lesbians. They drove up from Atlanta to hang with us, drink beer, and catch up after way too long of not seeing each other. And, amazingly, they had bought us our favorite winter beer LAST WINTER and saved it until we saw each other. Needless to say, we popped open a bunch of beer at their Airbnb in Asheville + celebrated being together again!

After chatting and laughing and loving being together, we headed to the concert/benefit to meet up with more friends. It was literally a crazy gathering of different, very important people in our life. The night was blazing hot, the sweat dripping off of us, but I didn’t care one bit. I had so many fantastic people all around me (plus beer + music + it was all for a good cause), so my soul was full.

Did someone say beer day?!

There was this one day that turned into a beer day. It wasn’t planned at all, but we met a friend for doughnuts in the morning (another amazing story for another post!), and spontaneously decided that now that we had finished our morning coffee + doughnuts, it was beer time. Of course! Yolo, right?

God, am I old now? Do people still say that?

Having already had our fantastic night at the Wedge (see above photos), we decided it was time to explore the graffiti (see it wan’t ALL about the beer) art all around the NEW Wedge.

That’s right. The Wedge had opened a second location called Wedge at Foundation just a 1 minute drive from the original Wedge. Are you following me? Hehe.

This new Wedge is also sharing a building with 12 Bones, a super popular (as in President Obama’s favorite BBQ place!) little local smokehouse. It’s located on the other side of the railroad tracks in a place where only industrial warehouses abound. Equal… it’s a funky vibe lovers heaven. Equal… my kinda place.

So, we headed over for a photo shoot of all of the graffiti – and beer, of course!

Old favorites + soaking up the moment

After our lunchtime beer, we decided to grab another one. At another brewery. This one is one of Lina’s favorites, I think. Burial Brewing is in the new, hip South Slope area of downtown Asheville. And, boy had this brewery grown since we’d last been there.

There was tons of ourdoor space, a little food truck, and, of course, the same delicious, high alcohol content beer as always. We took some photos (see the one below) before ordering beer, and then as we sat + sipped, we got so wrapped up in chatting and people watching/interacting, that I didn’t snap any more photos. That’s called living life, y’all. Mmmm…

The mother of all breweries. Literally.

To close out this epic, unexpected beer day, we gathered a few more friends + headed to my absolute favorite brewery in Asheville… Highland Brewing Company.

Highland started this whole craft brewery thing in Asheville back in 1994, in the basement of a restaurant. Since then, all of those other breweries have used Highland’s inspiration and Highland, itself, has moved to a warehouse location for brewing purposes. Of course they have a tasting room, with a stage, another tasting room + stage, the Meadow (an outside space for festivals and music), and a rooftop.

Even with all of this growth and expansion, it still feels so authentic. More so than any of the other breweries, in my opinion. This is the original place. And it is the place where I have so many incredible memories of simply drinking beer with my brother + my wife. It was 2 minutes from our home, so we met my bro there all the time in the evenings.

Lina and I also had the freaking amazing experience of filming part of our HGTV House Hunters International episode here. Sooooo cool.

Highland was one of the last places we visited before we headed back to Sweden, and it was absolutely appropriate to save the best for last. (Again not many photos because… living life + soaking up the moment).

Yes, we drank a lot of beer this summer. But, as always, we do it as responsibly as possible. No drunken shenanigans, just social moments shared with friends + family. And, not that I have to give a reason for my love of beer, but I just want to express my belief in the importance of being safe and balanced.

Throughout the rest of the year, in Sweden, we do not drink as much beer. (It’s waaaaay expensive here). Also, the craft beer scene is slowly growing here, so it’s not quite the same. But we have some favorite places already and are looking forward to the craft culture really catching on.

In the meantime, Lina + I continue to live as craft beer lovers. It’s an art, a science, and a way to gather for moments of authenticity + to make memories with other. We have brewed beer ourselves a couple of times… and that’s something we’d like to do again someday.

For now, though, it’s time to toast to this summer of amazing beer hang opportunities. Farewell, summer! And cheers to the coming autumn!

xoxo. liz.