You Can’t Go Home Again: New Belgium Asheville

New Belgium in Asheville

With $4 Fat Tire and a riverside location, New Belgium Asheville is heaven for beer lovers.

I heard of Fat Tire long before I tasted it. A friend spoke of  the Colorado brew with a kind of reverence that I found unfathomable. It was just a beer, right? In the years before New Belgium brew came to Washington, DC, she asked for it constantly and was constantly disappointed.

Then, with a mad flourish, New Belgium arrived in a big way for Tour de Fat, a celebration of biking in the city that featured a group ride around Capitol Hill and a day’s worth of fun and games. Not only did I get to try to the amber Fat Tire but also lots of other lovely beers like the hoppy Ranger and the superdrinkable Shift.

I fell in love with New Belgium due to their tasty brews and support of cycling everywhere. It’s a brewery founded by bike lovers! Work there a year and you get a cruiser bike!

A Brewery in Asheville

When I heard that New Belgium was opening a brewery in Asheville, one of my favorite cities, I was drunk with excitement, eagerly counting down the days until I could visit.

And on a Friday afternoon recently, I rolled into the brewery along the French Broad River. Located in a former industrial district, it’s about a five-minute drive from downtown Asheville.

Parking is limited. I hear it gets quite crowded on the weekends. Bike parking is available out front but there didn’t seem to be many cyclists when I was there. (Asheville needs some work on their biking infrastructure. Not sure I’d feel comfortable biking around this Southern city.)

Walking through the front doors, you’re greeted with a beer hall that opens out to a riverview terrace. Drink inside or enjoy the views of the French Broad.

tasting room

lots of beer

outside deck at New Belgium

Beers are $4; samplers are $1.50. Tipping is optional – tips are donated to charity. On tap, you’ll find all your New Belgium favorites along with seasonal and specialty brews. I had a Fat Tire and tried the Heavy Melon, which was too sweet for my liking.

You can also get beer to go – six-packs, sampler packs, growlers and bottles of unusual brews. There’s a big selection of New Belgium swag to purchase; I got a t-shirt.

beer selections

New Belgium gear

What New Belgium needs is a dock along the French Broad. A couple days after my first visit, I went tubing down the river with friends. The brewery was achingly close but there was no way to get up the bank from the river to the brewery. I would’ve loved to restock my tube with New Belgium!

The whole riverfront area is being redeveloped, with trails and other amenities put in there. It’s come a long way from the blighted industrial zone that it used to be in the 1990s.

floating down the French Broad

Asheville is rapidly becoming Beer City USA. Directly across the river is Wedge Brewing, a very funky and cool spot for shirtless people of all ages. Probably my favorite brewery in Asheville – it has a Southern casual vibe that I really like, where hipsters, tourists, rednecks and oldsters all interact. You could picture Greg Allman drinking there.

Not to far away is Wicked Weed Brewing, a mainstay of the Asheville beer scene. And about a 20-minute drive outside of town is the Sierra Nevada Brewery, home to a huge party complex of beer and local food.

“You can’t go home again,” wrote Thomas Wolfe. But after drinking great local $4 beer, how can I go back to DC?

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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