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.
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.
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.
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?