The next morning while enjoying coffee and breakfast on the porch listening to the gurgling sound of the close-by stream, my brother suggested we climb Lookout Mountain, an activity we had done numerous times growing up on our annual vacations to Montreat. Thinking that it would be good to “earn” our beer that day with some prior strenuous exercise, I readily agreed. Normally we would have driven to the trailhead but instead my brother suggested we just hike there from our cabin. We did in what turned out to be a 10,000-step hike before noon.
The trail to the summit is well maintained and in certain locations includes steps to help with the steep incline. At one point near the summit, you crawl across shear rock in a two-handed fashion. It was posted as about a 45-minute 0.6-mile hike, but we didn’t time ourselves.
Once we reached the top, we were a bit winded with our heart rates certainly accelerated and so rested for a while just to take in the wonderful mountain views. As we looked around, pleased with our accomplishment, we both commented that it was nice to know that two men in their 60s (and me being considered a senior citizen by some companies) could still accomplish such a feat without falling or breaking any limbs. We both probably had been climbing this mountain since we were around ten years old which meant we could still do this 50 years later.
The hike down and back to the house obviously were much easier and when we got back, I discovered that I had earned my first Fitbit Skyscraper badge for climbing the equivalent of 100 flights of stairs.
As we lunched on leftover pizza and what seemed an appropriate IPA (zoom in for beer name), we knew we had worked hard enough to earn an afternoon of beer drinking. Our venue that afternoon was Asheville just 25 miles west of where we were. For this close proximity to Asheville was another reason we chose Montreat as we could enjoy some of the 30+ craft breweries in this western North Carolina town.
Our first stop was one of the older craft breweries in Asheville, Green Man.
In the interest of upfront full disclosure for those concerned about our state of sobriety, I have to point out that at many of the breweries we went to, we were able to purchase either a flight of 4 oz. samplers or ½ pints. Thus, we knew we could taste many more beers that way without becoming…well you know. Thus, with the flight above, we got to try four different IPAs while only consuming the equivalent of a single pint (16 oz.) of beer.
We next ventured to the roof top tasting room of Burial where we enjoyed a nice hazy IPA.
Besides being impressed with the beer, we were surprised to hear a live band playing on a Sunday afternoon.
Having only visited two breweries with many more in our future, it was at this point that we started to talk about how wonderful it would be to live here (a dream all four of us siblings shared growing up) or at least to own a condo that we could come to on occasion to enjoy the beer scene.
Our next stop was Wicked Weed, a relatively newcomer (2012) where we were delighted to find yet another live band to listen to while enjoying one of their IPAs.
Our last stop for the day was Asheville Brewing Company where we not only enjoyed one of their award-winning beers, but possibly the best pizza either of us had ever had (yes that is toasted coconut on the crust with pesto base, roma tomatoes, red onions, curried chicken and a sweet chili sauce drizzle).
On Monday, our last day together, we decided to hike a bit around some of the familiar stomps from our childhood…
…before our scheduled 90-minute brewery tour at one of the newest to Asheville but certainly well-known craft breweries.
I had actually been on this tour with my sister in May but knew it would be worth a second visit with my brother. We had four (or five) tastings during the informative tour capped off by one more on their deck overlooking the peaceful French Broad River.
Our plan had been to then lunch at Wedge, a craft brewery in the River Arts district but unfortunately found their food trucks didn’t arrive until 4:00 PM. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a beer with their complimentary peanuts.
We soon found with the swarming sparrows that they too enjoyed the peanuts (although I didn’t notice them diving for any of the pints on the table).
Around the corner, we found a taqueria where we enjoyed another great beer along with their delicious carnitas rice bowl.
After lunch, we drove to the oldest craft brewery in Asheville where we had another flight of some of their tasty IPAs.
Following this excursion, we returned to the “south slope” in Asheville where we could walk to several more breweries. First up was Catawba where we again not only had a great beer but enjoyed life music on a Monday evening no less!
We made one more stop at Hi-Wire before walking to dinner.
Our last stop at Bhramari was actually one we had both been to before but never together. Finally, on Monday night after the chilly weather we had had, it was warm enough to dine al fresco in a short-sleeved t-shirt.
Tuesday morning, we had breakfast at a well-known eatery that often has a line out the door. We had one more flight, this time a flight of delicious gravies with their great southern biscuits (their motto: put some south in your mouth).
Over breakfast, we were able to reflect over our time together. My brother had used as a guide, an online article of the 12 essential breweries in Asheville. Scrolling down the list, we realized that in just two afternoons/evenings, we had visited 10 of them. Not a bad showing at all!
I also recalled that on Sunday afternoon, I had suggested we change the name from BroGo to BrewGo. Given that our Portland trip last year was all about beer and this year, even though the draw was coming to the area we always vacationed at growing up, it was the craft beer that we could taste that cinched the location (rough count we tasted about 23 or 24 beers over the four days together). Even thinking back to some of our earlier BroGo trips, it was often our common love of IPAs that featured highly in our time together. So, at breakfast, we confirmed definitely that from then on, each of our trips together in the future would become our BrewGo!