Pucker Up: Where to Find the Best Sour Beer in Asheville
While you’ll definitely find people downing hoppy IPAs, frothy lagers, and malty porters around Asheville, this is definitely a city where you can find more experimental options. In the last 10 years, sour beers have found a cult following among Asheville craft beer fans, and this new puckery flavor profile can be expressed in so many ways that there’s always a new sour beer to brew!
Finding the best sour beer in Asheville is really a matter of getting to know your own taste and sampling a lot of the options, but the good thing is that the cream rises to the top in Asheville. There are so many award-winning breweries here with such high standards that any sour beer here is likely to be a truly impressive option.
What is Sour Beer?
The simplest definition of sour beer is that it is any beer that has an intentionally acidic, tart, or sour taste. Some styles include Belgian lambic ales, geuze and German gose, Flanders red ale, American wild ale, and Berliner Weisse.
If you were a child who loved SweeTarts or other sour candies, you might be a candidate for finding a gose or a lambic really refreshing. One of the varieties of sour beer that has been growing in popularity is the American “wild” ale, made by using yeast and bacteria cultures beyond the usual to ferment beers that have new flavor profiles.
Not everyone loves them – they’re often a divisive choice for the entire bar to be sour beers – but by opting for one of the many Asheville breweries that serve a variety of styles, including sours, you can ensure your whole group enjoys themselves. They also have a storied history. The German variety of gose sour beers gets its name from the Gose River, where the slightly salty water added a slight salty note to the brews.
A great way to get to know the different sour beer profiles is to order a flight. Find a brewery (some of the ones below will fit this bill) that has enough sour beer styles on tap to try three or four, maybe with a friend or significant other. Treat it like a taste test and figure out which styles appeal to you and which might be too earthy or too sour. Even if you aren’t a huge fan of them all, you’ll get a chance to sample multiple varieties.
While many people assume they’ll like fruited sours more, since many of us are accustomed to berry or citrus notes also having a sour sensation, don’t assume that you won’t like the coriander-and-salt-forward goses either. You just never can tell, and you’ll never find a better place than a tour of the top breweries in Asheville to test it out!
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The 13 Best Breweries to Try Sour Beer in Asheville
Here are some of our top picks for Asheville microbreweries (and a couple macrobreweries) where you’ll be able to have a lot of fun with a variety of beers available, all while definitely getting the best sour beers available in town. On the list, you’ll find some places that are small and simple, some that are dog-friendly breweries in Asheville (if you’re touring with a canine friend), and some spots that are devoted to a variety of drinks, not just Asheville beer.
Some places were picked because they have one stand-out sour that shouldn’t be missed, while others were picked because they have a whole vault of barrel-aging sours that can be quaffed on-site or taken home for a special tasting with friends or family.
Because you may find yourself in a bar or restaurant with unfamiliar beers on tap, here are some of the popular sour beers you might encounter. Be aware the list isn’t exhaustive, and breweries are constantly bringing on and taking out beers, so while you probably cannot drink your way through this whole list at any given moment due to availability, consider some of them as great options to try when you see their names on beer lists!
1. Live on the Funky Side with Bhramari Brewing
Bhramari Brewing was my first taste of a milkshake IPA, one with guava in it if my memory serves, and it remains one of the mainstays for off-the-beaten-path brews in Asheville. The taproom is cozy and comfortable, and the food list will keep you well-fed, so settle in to try a Good Fight sour pale ale or a Cellophane Flowers barrel-aged American sour with dragon fruit, Cara Cara orange, and passionfruit.
They really get exciting with their infusions: the Ceremonial Apiary features black walnut, hibiscus, Melipona honey, and Madagascar vanilla all in a sour ale, while Day Old Monster offers a strawberry and fig-stuffed French toast sour. (How do they get it to taste sour and like French toast? Magic, I think.)
More options: the Shadbush Story sour blonde ale aged with Juneberries, the Rare Specimen American sour ale rested on red currants, and the Face Taker Berliner Weisse, literally made with peach rings, gummy worms, cotton candy, and salt water taffy. This is absolutely the place to taste your way through the rainbow and come out with a new favorite Asheville beer.
2. Experience all the Possibilities at Hi-Wire Brewing
From their first circus-themed brewery to their expansive River Arts District beer garden, it’s not hard to find a Hi-Wire location. In addition to their on-tap offerings, they have a whole south slope space devoted to barrel-aging special edition sour beers, so even though a given particular beer may not be available due to all the bottles selling out, something special and surprising has likely taken its place recently.
As far as beers that Hi-Wire keeps around enough to can, the Dragon Fruit Margarita is a sour with kiwi and dragon fruit. The Pink Lemonade is a session sour – with only 4.2% ABV, it makes for the perfect easy-drinking beer for those who have become completely sour-obsessed and don’t want to go back to their lager or light beer.
They plan an extensive calendar of barrel-aged and fruited releases every year, so don’t miss their fun locations or their tasty beer list!
3. Embrace the Living Beer at Archetype Brewing
Archetype Brewing’s beautiful and spacious West Asheville taproom is a hub for the neighborhood, with trivia nights, groups gathering to go for a run before a pint, and plenty of live music to keep everyone entertained. Beyond being one of the best Asheville brewpubs, it offers beers like the False Antagonist, a fascinating sour and salty gose that ends with a witbier flavor finish.
While Archetype isn’t where you’ll stop in to get seven different gose flavors (unless they just go on a sour brewing frenzy very soon!), this one is well worth a stop. Especially since Archetype is right next to delicious Pizza Mind and Gan Shan West (and both will deliver right to your table), making it a good option when looking for breweries in Asheville with food.
4. Quaff Like the Belgians With Thirsty Monk Brewing
Thirsty Monk has truly created a downtown mecca when it comes to delicious craft drinks: with their classic brewpub, a hard seltzer taproom, and the chic cocktail lounge called Monk, there’s little that they can’t do.
While you’re visiting on your sour beers of Asheville tour, consider sampling the Orange Cream Gose, a classic sour beer but with vanilla and orange puree added, layering some sweetness for those who want more than just the puckery sourness.
They also offer a cherry gose, with notes of cherry juice, clearly, but also the gose-forward flavors of coriander and sea salt. If your friends tend toward the wine end of things rather than beers, this gose might be just what they should order.
5. Witness a Giant Taking on the Micro-Craft Movement at Sierra Nevada
While many people know Sierra Nevada for their ubiquitous green-labeled pale ale, if you visit their enormous production facility, restaurant, and taproom in Arden, you’ll find way more than just a few easy-drinking macrobrews.
Try drinks like the barrel-aged cranberry sour, a winter warmer that spends time in gin barrels to get more of a funky botanical note to it, all with lots of cranberry overtones. Or load up on Wild Little Thing, a sour ale with guava, hibiscus, and strawberry, ready to make you feel like you’re headed for the tropics.
For fans of the funky and unusual, try a Strange Beast Hard Kombucha too. They have flavors like watermelon, sea salt, lime, and mint, or ginger, lemon, and hibiscus, many of which follow similar profiles to a sour beer flavor but without hops and malt.
6. Find the Unexpected at New Belgium
Anyone who has cracked open a Fat Tire amber ale on a hot day knows that New Belgium knows how to make a balanced, delicious brew, but did you know they are a hotbed of sour beer production too?
Easily one of the top breweries in Asheville for options and amenities, New Belgium’s campus of beer offers experimental taps in addition to their mainstays, and you may find all manner of beers with a sour tinge.
From the Domingo Mimosa fruited sour to the La Folie Flanders Oud Bruin sour ale, you’ve got lots of options to try. An interesting series is the Le Terroir dry-hopped sour ale, which New Belgium recently blended with a lambic collaboration from an actual Belgian brewing company, as well as aging it in oak wine barrels with, of all things, green walnuts in the mix!
This literally transatlantic brew is just one of the many carefully designed sour beers you’ll find if you’re lucky and they haven’t run out yet. If none of the sours on tap are familiar, ask one of their bartenders for a rec – they can find you something sour.
7. Get Philosophical With Burial Brewing’s Sours
There are, of course, many iterations of Asheville quirky, but I tend to really enjoy the quirkiness that is associated with the Burial Beer locations in South Slope and out at their Forest Camp.
Each of their beers has a truly unusual name, and their barrel-aged sours are no exception. Try “That Which Beckons Us Beyond the Mortal Realm,” a mouthful of a name for a sour ale aged on peaches, red bean paste, cocoa butter, coconut, Tahitian vanilla, and matcha (so much in every swallow!).
Or opt for “The Separation of Light and Darkness,” a twice-aged sour ale with peaches. “Old Black Hen” offers a merlot grape-infused dark sour ale aged in wine barrels. They have a deep archive of sours alongside their many IPAs and other offerings, so you’re not likely to go thirsty in these parts.
8. Try the Salty Side of Twin Leaf Brewing
One of the acquired infusions and flavor profiles on a sour beer that is a little surprising for first-time sour drinkers is sea salt! Twin Leaf offers multiple excellent sour ales with a salty side, including Magic Hour, a kettle-soured salty wheat ale, Refreshing AF, a salty sour gose with both lemon and blackberry, and Deciduous Limb, a Flanders-style red ale with honey and figs and aged in barrels.
Twin Leaf is such a laid-back, comfortable space in the heart of the South Slope. Whether you take a spot sitting outside or play a game or two inside, you’re likely to enjoy your time at one of the top breweries in Asheville. While at this time it is not one of the Asheville breweries with food other than snacks, you’re in the heart of a zone with lots of good food if you need to stop for a gigantic slice of pizza at PIE.ZAA or some delicious food at Bear’s Smokehouse Barbecue.
9. Never Have a Dull Moment at DSSOLVR Brewery
DSSOLVR is both a brewery and so much else – they commit to the “keep Asheville weird” bit and fill the scene with delicious but truly unpredictable brews of all kinds, including sours.
Taste their Fun De Mental peach ring candy sour, featuring actual sour peach rings and marshmallows, or the fruit-forward Off to Paradise fruited sour, featuring peach, mango, tangerine, and pineapple (tastes like a fruity cocktail on the beach, but make it sour beer).
The downtown taproom features all kinds of funky art and brings together a really diverse crowd, made possible in part by the fact that DISSOLVR also makes seltzers, ciders, and more, leading to just about anyone finding something that is close to their tastes but far from their comfort zone.
You just literally never know here, and the bartenders are always happy to talk to you about what they’re serving if you want to know more.
10. Rest and Relax at Riverside Rhapsody Brewing in Woodfin
There are a few quiet gems among the big contenders of the Asheville microbrewery scene, and I like Riverside Rhapsody for the crew that wants a quieter, more old-school-microbrewery experience after, say, a day at the gorgeous but expansive New Belgium or Sierra Nevada breweries.
Riverside Rhapsody isn’t far out of town but feels like a different energy, situated just across Riverside from the French Broad River. The main taproom is cozy and simple, and on warm days, many people take their drinks to the courtyard, where Iron and Oak Brisket BBQ sets up with a simple and mouthwatering menu.
Live music from local artists makes a beautiful backdrop as you sip on the Riverside Rhapsody Cherry Tree Wild Ale, brewed with cherries grown right there at the brewery and aged to puckery perfection in steel barrels. There’s nothing quite so refreshing as a beer so close to the river!
11. Recover the Sour Beers of the Past at Zebulon Artisan Ales in Weaverville
Set back from the idyllic Main Street through small Weaverville (10 minutes north of Asheville) is a simple garage storefront brewery that has made some of the most special, complex beers I’ve ever tried.
Zebulon Artisan Ales’ specialty is “recovered” beers, re-brewing old recipes from decades or centuries in the past. You’ll find something different every time you’re there, but some releases that sour beer lovers have enjoyed included their Tokyo Style Gose, a gose that uses white miso instead of salt, and pickled sushi ginger instead of coriander.
Their Mixed Berry Sour uses blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and ages them in barrels, and their Blueberry Sour is also aged with wild culture, pulling its fermentation needs from the actual air. Their knowledge of beer is so unparalleled that you’ll not be able to resist taking a few bottles home if you stop by this special taproom.
Be aware that they are only open, at least at the time of writing, from 1 pm to 6 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, so make sure to schedule a stop in. Other breweries are within a couple of blocks, so you can make Weaverville a stop on your beer crawl of Asheville and catch a few options at once.
12. Break Open a Barrel-Aged Sour at Wicked Weed Brewing
From an excellent Asheville brewpub to a fun hangout space to one of the best Asheville breweries with food, Wicked Weed kinda has everything covered at their South Slope location (photos are from their West location). While they gained their popularity on the basis of their wide portfolio and their many IPA options, they’ve created some sour beers to remember too.
Their flagship Watermelon Dragonfruit Burst is an approachable and refreshing session sour, not intended to knock anyone over with its power but truly a drinkable, fun, and fruity addition to the options on your list. However, if you want that powerful barrel-aged sour, Wicked Weed has it for you.
Try an Angel of Darkness American Sour Ale, aged on boysenberries, raspberries, cherries, and blackberries – a ton of them, by the way, about two points per gallon before having more added to a second fermentation cycle. Their Chocolate Covered Black Angel ferments and rests in bourbon barrels but also gets some cacao nibs in addition to the cherries that give it the signature sour flavor.
Their Silencio is the only black sour ale I’ve come across with coffee and vanilla beans as the main flavors, and they’ve got many others to choose from if those don’t whet your appetite. Don’t miss that Wicked Weed also has a special taproom just for their funkiest beers called the Funkatorium, as well as a location out in Candler for the farther west sour beer lovers.
13. Drink a Classic at Asheville Brewing Company
When you’re craving an Asheville beer, you really cannot get more fundamental than Asheville Brewing Company. Their signature movie theater and pizza parlor on Merrimon is decorated with famous scenes from films, and their taproom features all kinds of incredible beers in addition to the fun of first-run and classic films and absolutely delicious pizza pies.
Try the Clout Chaser Berliner Weiss, made with black currant and granola and barrel-aged. While they don’t have the same exact sour around all the time, they’ve done a variety in the past, including a passionfruit sour blonde called Ashe Brew Wish, the Autobahn Berliner Weisse with key lime, the Blue Oyster Shuck Gose, with caramelized lemons for a totally unusual oyster and sea bean flavor.
Asheville Brewing collaborates with lots of local businesses, including other breweries, so you might find that one of your favorite gose or wild ale beers at another brewery is actually a collab with this powerhouse of a brewery.