Society says that fall started on September 22nd, but down here in South Carolina it was still in the triple digits that day – so, I’m calling bull on that one. Luckily for us though, Mother Nature turned off the heat (or at least turned it down) to head into October – aka perfect outdoor brewery weather.
It tends to be a little cooler in the mountains than it is down here in the Upstate, which made it the ideal place to celebrate moving in together on Saturday night!
I still had a little clean-up left to do, and officially turning my apartment keys over, on Saturday morning, so we didn’t get up the mountain until later in the afternoon. Because we couldn’t make it a full day affair, we decided on two breweries we hadn’t been to together yet – New Belgium and Sierra Nevada.
Side note: Asheville is seriously overflowing with AWESOME things to do and see – not to mention drink. Some of our other tried-and-true favorites include Thirsty Monk (I prefer the Downtown location to the Biltmore Park, but both have great atmosphere), The Bier Garden, and of course – Wicked Weed!
Anyway, we meant to get started at Sierra Nevada but sooomeone missed the exit (plot twist: he never lets me drive, so not me). It worked out perfectly though, as we were able to hit New Belgium for some day-time fun, then head to Sierra Nevada for dinner.
Pro-tip for New Belgium: There’s very limited parking.
Asheville is known for being a very environmentally-conscious city, so if you’re staying in the area, I’d definitely encourage biking there. But if you’re like us, and just there for a visit, be prepared for a bit of a hike to find parking. Don’t worry, not a literal hike (there’s a TON of those in and around Asheville!) – but definitely a little longer walk.
The whole atmosphere at New Belgium is very unique, and – strangely – a lot more family friendly than I expected. We didn’t take the tour, so we spent our time hanging out (and people watching) in the quasi-outdoor bar. The assortment of small and community style tables, indoor bar and outdoor Adirondack chairs made picking a seat fairly easy – and we slid into the end of a community table that we ended up sharing with a handful of groups. My favorite human bean that we shared space with was about a year old and loved my purse, go figure.
There is also a large lawn “park” out in front that boasts cornhole, additional seating, and (my favorite) FOOD TRUCKS! They feature a different food truck every day, everything from gourmet grilled cheese to Korean BBQ. What a win for small business!
Truth in advertising, we LOVE New Belgium. We drink it at home, at bars, and (obviously) at the brewery. They’ve got a huge selection, there’s definitely something for every palate. I won’t even try to pretend like I know a whole hill of beans about beer – but I’ll do my best!
I started off with a Fat Tire – which seems to be one of their most popular brews from my experience. It’s a Belgian Style Ale, with a bit of a sweet, almost fruity taste and a solid dose of hop bitterness. It’s light, clean, and balanced, so if you’re unsure how to feel about trying something new – this one is 10/10 a safe bet.
The other pour I had while we were there was the Citradelic Tangerine IPA. Before meeting LJ, I was an immediate hard-pass on IPA’s, and I’m so glad I warmed up to trying them! That being said, I’m a fan of fruity beers – if you’re not, you may want to steer clear on this one. Citradelic has a medium body, but a tart citrus flavor. It wouldn’t be the ideal winter beer, but it’s great from spring to that fall transition.
Two beers later, it was dinner time, and I was STARVING. So, off to Sierra Nevada we went. Making our way up the drive, if it weren’t for the arches and people directing traffic out front – I would have been convinced we were lost. The brewery is set back up away from the main road, unlike New Belgium which is right on the road (albeit not a “main” road). We got there just as the sun was going down, and man oh man did the view take my breath away when we rounded the last turn.
We managed to miss a tour at Sierra Nevada as well (leave it to us to finally make it up on their Oktoberfest celebration), and – let me tell ya – it was packed y’all. We weren’t terribly thrilled to wait 35 minutes for a table, so we again slid in at the end of a community style table in the open bar seating area.
Another side note: I LOVE community tables. It’s a very common practice in Germany, but we rarely see it here in the States outside of restaurants with a German influence. There’s just something so special about sharing space with strangers, breaking bread and barriers. We sat with a sweet couple from Huntsville, AL who were in town for the Quilting Show – I loved hearing their stories, and sharing laughs with them!
The menu consists of small-plates and shareables – perfect for a date night meal. We shared a plate of duck fries (I’m drooling just at the thought), and he went for the green chile pork with Carolina gold rice while I had the coppinger burger. The food was delicious – and was fittingly washed down with an Oktoberfest.
The Back Porch menu is a little different – so I’m anxious to get back up to take a tour, wander through the Mills River Estate, and try the bratwurst!
I may not be the beer
snob connoisseur this photo would have you believe – but I can always be tempted with a good time. With fall just beginning to kick in down here, there’s plenty of time left for dates to pumpkin patches and apple orchards – but we couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off my favorite season.
After all, our love language IS ‘drinking beer.’ Prost!