After spending our first two days in Montreat and Black Mountain, we decided to spend our last two days in and around Asheville. This is where during our BroGo 2019 last August, we had been able to discover and visit 10 craft breweries in two days. Since most of the breweries did not open until noon, we decided to drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) to Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi and a location we had traveled to many times on those summer vacations to Montreat. But before heading up the BRP, we decided to have breakfast at a great biscuit place my brother had discovered last year, one whose tempting motto was “Put Some South in Your Mouth.”
We ordered our biscuits and gravies online prior to heading out and then drove over to where most summer Saturday nights, Asheville natives and tourists enjoy “Shindig on the Green”, all canceled this year and certainly deserted on a Monday morning.
Feeling quite satiated, we started our hour’s drive up the BRP to Mount Mitchell enjoying great views of the mountains along the way with foliage midway through their fall color change. Once we arrived, we were surprised to find so many other tourists even for a brisk Monday morning. Remarkedly, most everyone on the trail was wearing a mask even outdoors. When we made it up to the summit, I was surprised to discover that the tall 25-foot tower I was so accustomed to seeing on my many trips here had been replaced with a much smaller but definitely more handicap-accessible observation deck.
After capturing a few photos of the beautiful vista, …
…we drove back down to Asheville for lunch and to hit our primary target, craft breweries.
Our first stop was Wicked Weed where the previous year we had enjoyed great beer and live music. This year, we got to sit in the same outdoor “social-distanced” seating area, while enjoying a delicious salad, and partaking an incredible IPA.
At each of these three craft breweries, we enjoyed a delicious IPA in a totally outdoor or non-enclosed setting. In fact, we were amazed and pleased with the steps that each brewery had taken to ensure patrons safety.
But probably the ultimate precautions we encountered were taken at our last stop of the day, Asheville Brewing Company, where their enormous outdoor covered patio that could normally accommodate over a hundred patrons was arranged to seat less than ten dinner parties. And to ensure safe behavior, they even posted all the discouraged mask practices that have become so common during this pandemic.
Being our last stop and dinner location, we ordered the same delicious pizza we had ordered the year before which had a pesto base, curry chicken and toasted coconut crust.
So, between lunch and dinner, we had managed to hit five craft breweries; not a bad showing and certainly an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon/evening.
On our last day together, we planned to once again try to hike up Lookout Mountain. This time after walking there from our house, we found only three cars at the trailhead. We began to make our way up the well-marked trail, and it seemed, at least for me, a bit more challenging than the previous year (I was of course a year older). Once the trail began to clear the trees; we could see a vanishing view of Montreat some 3,500 feet below.
Once we reached the summit, I set up my phone on a rock for a selfie of us.
After we made our way back down, we stopped by Lake Susan to capture one more shot…
… before sitting on the porch overlooking the rushing waterfall to read, an activity I always look forward to on each trip here.
Then it was onto our first brewery, Bhramari, for lunch and another IPA (or two).
After lunch, we hiked over to a brewery we had missed last year, Twin Leaf, where we partook of another great IPA. Our last stop before leaving was Funkatorium, another Wicked Weed brewery that specialized in Sours. We, however, chose to stick to our tried and true IPA.
For our last dinner together, we picked up pizza in Black Mountain to take back to the house (yea we had pizza two nights in a row since beer and pizza pair so well together). We had enjoyed sitting at the Firepit so much we could not pass up one more chance. Not wanting the evening to end, we stayed out until it got so dark, we had to use the flashlight on our phone to follow the path back to the door.
Inside we devoured our pizza and beer, having felt we had definitely earned it after our strenuous hike up Lookout that morning.
The following morning, we were sad to realize our time together was over. As we packed up all our things, it was hard not to think back over the four days of great conversations, great hikes, great beers and great food we had had. We each had a day’s drive back home to reflect further on our time together but this trip, unlike most BroGo trips with a focus on having great beer, we were each departing with an extensive selection of souvenirs.
And as soon as I got home and my wife returned from her outings, I popped the first one.
Cheers, Bro to another great BroGo!