It's closing in on eight in the evening, and the Bier Garden is bustling. In some ways, this long-established Haywood Street joint seems like three places in one: There are the game rooms off to the side, with people clustered around the foosball and pool tables; the high hall in the middle, with diners and smokers enjoying their evening fare; and there's the bar, almost an intimate world unto itself.
Bell's Oberon, a pleasant wheat ale perfect for summer, is on special, and true to its name, the Bier Garden has a considerable selection of everyone's favorite hops-juices, both bottled and on draft. Given Asheville's recently garnered status as Beer City USA, it's important to appreciate the role places like this have played by keeping local beers close at hand.
While much thanks is owed to the many micro-breweries that have sprung up around this fine city, the bars and restaurants that serve to introduce many a patron to the best local brews have also done their part.
Down the bar a bit, an older man talks about how he started as a dish washer in a local restaurant and worked his way up to become a manager before he and one of the employees turn their attention to the Arizona State vs. UNC baseball game on one of the two screens above them.
“Go UNC!” the man says as another player hits home base. “I hope they play baseball like they do basketball.”
“Nah, they've always been good in baseball, they're just good in basketball occasionally,” the employee says with a laugh.
The bartender is friendly, quick to dish out drinks or food and seemingly unfazed by the fairly large crowd occasionally clamoring for her attention.
There are multiple steins decorating the place, along with a sign that reads “Beer: more than a breakfast food” just above packs of cigarettes (smoking's allowed in the central “hall” area). The dim lighting helps the overall cozy, social feel of the place. The beer is reasonably priced, though they've got rarer, pricier fare too, with a fairly comprehensive range of brews both extremely local and from across the oceans (and liquor, too). They've made some interesting combinations, like the Framboise Float (using the Belgian raspberry beer and ice cream) that are worth a try.
A plate of the Bier Garden's legendary heaping nachos (a favorite midnight bar-hopping snack for some years) makes the perfect compliment to a cold pint glass in hand.