After a late night of drinking, an early rise, and a heck of a long drive the destination on our GPS finally seemed attainable. As we transitioned into the hills of Tennessee and headed across the border to North Carolina the last episode of S-Town came to an end (absolutely fantastic). I had done some scouting and knew that we’d be crossing the Appalachian Trail. We were running late so we only had a short window of time to jump out of the car, stretch our legs, take a short walk on the trail, and enjoy the amazing weather. We had planned to meet our friends Nicole and Eric in Asheville to share a hotel for the night as well as hit up a pair of breweries. So we jumped back into the car and made an incredibly windy path through the mountains to our first stop: Burial Beer Co.
We arrived and quickly spotted our friends posted up right out front. With my body stiff and aching I knew the only remedy was a cold beer. Something about thirteen hours on the road makes you thirsty. With greetings out of the way I got in line at the front door and after me eyes adjusted to the light inside I got my first true glimpse of their taproom. Rustic is the only word that comes to mind. A small bar was the only area to order, causing quite the backup. It was open to the air, with a smattering of lights making shadows fall in every nook and cranny. Old farm implements acted as taps, handwritten tags denoting the beer.
I couldn’t resist ordering The Dire and Ever Circling Wolves, one of the more creative in a host of interestingly named beers. After rejoining our friends and handing Samantha her mason jar of beer I took a long pull of the dark ale, well earned after the day we’d put behind us. It was flagged as an experimental rustic ale, and it’s tiny brown bubbles and dry bitter flavor hit the spot.
A short while later I got the itch to explore the rest of the taproom. I knew they had food on site so after asking my wife what she’d like I grabbed my camera and disappeared around the corner of the building. Greeting me: a fantastic mural of Tom Selleck and Sloth from The Goonies embraced like old friends. This piece seemed to capture the real heart of the attitude of Asheville that we’d grow to love in our short visit.
A crushed rock patio flanked the building, with a covered porch area housing a second bar (not open during our visit). It wrapped around the back where their in-house kitchen Salt & Smoke resides. While in line for food I noticed a second level to the patio where many of the people (and dogs) we’d seen walk by us in the front had taken a seat. I returned to our table out front with food in hand, and went back to the bar to order a flight of beer while the line was short.
With the soft sounds of pharmacy discussion happening between Samantha and our friends I attacked my meal. I had ordered a steak sandwich, topped with fried onions and hollandaise sauce. It could’ve been the fact that I hadn’t eaten a real meal all day, or it could’ve really been that great, but my meal was gone in a hurry. I’d eat that again any day.
The four beers in my flight were the Shadowclock Pilsner, S’mores Stout, The Root of our Addiction, and Ceremonial Session IPA. While all of the beers tasted pretty good, the S’mores Stout was about what I expected and the Root of our Addiction stood out from the crowd. Described as an Ancient Herbed Ale (loving these names), it had a truly unique flavor and a lactose milkiness that provided a nice sweetness to counteract the bitterness. Another term for this beer is a Gruit Stout. A Gruit is any beer that uses an herbal concoction in place of hops to provide the bitterness and flavor.
Burial Beer Co. was well worth the trip. I’d done extensive research on what breweries to try when we were in the area and I’m glad that I chose them as one of the two we visited. Their rustic vibe is really like none other, and their fantastic patio lets you enjoy the North Carolina air while drinking some imaginative brews. The food from Salt & Smoke was worth it on it’s own. I recommend checking their website to see what beers and food are available during your visit. Bring your dog too, they were everywhere!