A small Appalachian mountain town containing three craft breweries within walking distance might be considered a rare thing, but this is North Carolina. Sylva’s Innovation Brewing (414 W. Main St., 828-586-9678, www.innovation-brewing.com) puts out an astounding number of beers for such a small establishment. At any given time, there are over 30 beers on tap. Also in town, Sneak E Squirrel (1315 W. Main St., 828-586-6440, www.sneakesquirrel.com) prides itself on being a family-friendly brewery. Balsam Falls Brewing (506 W. Main St., 828-631-1987) is slated to open this month utilizing homegrown fruits, herbs, hops and even vegetables in keeping with the locally sourced, community-oriented vibe that is pervasive in Sylva.
Annual travel guides have a hard time keeping up with Asheville’s ever-evolving brewing scene. If you were reading an Asheville guide a decade or so ago, it would have said the city and its surrounding area had seven or eight breweries. These days, it’s more like 30. It may be reaching critical mass, but Asheville has become nirvana for beer lovers. Big Western breweries have opened second locations in the area to much fanfare. If all you do is visit the larger breweries, you’ll be missing one of the best aspects of the scene: hyperlocal operations that don’t distribute beer on a grand scale, places like Wedge Brewing Co. (37 Paynes Way, 828-505-2792, www.wedgebrewing.com) in the River Arts District, but you’ll find plenty more in town as well. Check out tours and locations at ashevillealetrail.com.
Winston-Salem’s history may be tied up in tobacco, but beer has made a foothold of late. You’ll find four breweries downtown and one nearby. Foothills Brewing (638 W. Fourth St., 336-777-3348, www.foothillsbrewing.com) is the pioneer in town. Small Batch Brewery (241 W. Fifth St., 336-893-6395, www.smallbatchws.com) specializes in true microbrewing (one tank at a time). Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Co. (772 Trade St. NW, 336-999-8945, www.fiddlinfish.com) produces traditional styles and an ever-changing cast of seasonals. Wise Man Brewing (826 Angelo Bros. Ave., 336-725-0008, www.wisemanbrewing.com) still has that new brewery smell. In the West End neighborhood near Wake Forest University, there’s Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co. (840 Mill Works St., www.hootspublic.com).
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