I had a lot to look forward to as we began the second half of our 2013 Spring Break road trip. We left Tennessee and were headed to Asheville, North Carolina, AKA “Beer City, USA.”
Why does this small southern city tucked in the Appalachian Mountains call itself “Beer City, USA?” According to the Explore Asheville website, “Asheville beer has garnered so much enthusiasm that it was named the winner of the Examiner’s “Beer City, USA” poll four years running. Boasting more breweries per capita than any US city (roughly one brewery per 8,000 people), Asheville is home to 12 craft breweries.”
We got a taste of Asheville — lunch at Asheville Brewing Company — when we drove through town on the way to our campground. And I couldn’t wait to get back.
We started the next day at the Biltmore, the mansion built by George Vanderbilt in the late 18oo’s. The Biltmore is the largest privately owned house in the US, with 250 rooms. The estate covers over 8,000 acres, and admission includes a self-guided tour of the amazing Biltmore House & Gardens and access to Antler Hill Village, which includes a farm with a petting zoo, a museum, a winery with free wine-tastings, children’s garden maze, shops, and restaurants.
After touring the mansion and walking through the gardens, we drove over to the village for lunch at Cedric’s Tavern, named for George Vanderbilt’s beloved St. Bernard, Cedric. This relaxing tavern serves beer from Biltmore Brewing Company along with delicious pub grub. I washed down lunch with:
- Cedric’s Pale Ale, an approachable English-style Pale Ale that complemented our order of Fried Ashe County Cheese Curds with chipotle ranch dip.
- Cedric’s Brown Ale, an easy-drinking English-style Brown Ale that paired perfectly with my order of Guinness-glazed Tavern Wings.
Biltmore’s beers are brewed at Highland Brewing Company, and the tavern had a Highland brew on draft too – Gaelic Ale, Highland’s flagship brew. We shared a pint of this American Amber Ale.
After lunch at Cedric’s we had a fun time exploring the village. It was a great day so far, and it would only get better. We still had a couple of brewery visits on our itinerary. Next stop: French Broad Brewing Company.