Asheville-area breweries strive to set themselves apart through distinctive beers, taprooms and business models, but they inevitably overlap with a few industry peers in certain areas. Here’s a look at several trends from 2018 that may or may not continue in the new year.
Building away from the South Slope: Though both considered property in the brewing district, Nantahala Brewing Co. planted its Asheville outpost in the middle of Haywood Road, and Noble Cider chose Rankin Avenue for its forthcoming downtown restaurant and taproom. Elsewhere, One World Brewery kept its downtown brewery and added a larger operation in West Asheville, while new neighbor UpCountry Brewing Co. opened its second location in Brevard in the former Peaks & Creeks Brewing Co. space less than a month after the latter brewery’s closure.
Expanding outside Western North Carolina: For a few local breweries, the time was right to build beyond the region where they got their start. To satisfy the demands of its growing Triangle customer base, Hi-Wire Brewing brought its Fun Zone to Durham, and Burial Beer Co. announced a taproom in Raleigh’s Transfer Co. Food Hall. Meanwhile, Thirsty Monk went all the way to Portland, Ore., and Denver to add new brewpubs to its portfolio.
The continued rise of cideries: The demand for locally produced cider remained high in 2018, prompting Urban Orchard Cider Co. to open a taproom and production facility on the South Slope, Daidala Ciders to partner with artist Andy Herod for a River Arts District taproom and gallery, and the aforementioned Noble construction. Beer producers Wicked Weed Brewing and Turgua Brewing Co. also got in on the fun, releasing their first ciders.
Popular beer styles: With edible glitter making its way into brews across the U.S., West Asheville across-the-street neighbors UpCountry and The Odditorium collaborated on a sparkly beer that was so in-demand that it quickly ran out at both establishments, though the style otherwise failed to gain traction on the local front. Made with Champagne yeast, Brut IPAs were fairly ubiquitous in late summer, and while Wedge Brewing Co., Asheville Brewing Co. and One World have made and continue to make beloved hemp beers, New Belgium Brewing Co. earned nationwide attention for its potently aromatic Hemperor Hemp Pale Ale.