Can a strong cider scene grow in a Beer City? In Asheville, the answer is undoubtedly a yes. Since 2013, a number of cideries have opened here in part thanks to the abundance of apple orchards in neighboring Henderson County. A new cider-dedicated taproom, Treerock Social, is slated to open later this year in South Asheville.
Need more evidence? Check out these establishments elevating the city to a must-visit cider destination:
Want cider made with super-fresh ingredients? Head to either of the Urban Orchard taprooms in Asheville, where owner Josie Mielke uses herbs, spices, muscadines and persimmons straight from her garden to make eight-month-minimum aged ciders.
“We are inspired by fresh local ingredients, but we are also always taking a note from my love of cooking. I love flavor combinations, and how flavors play off of each other and together. It really is the most fun part of the job,” Mielke said.
Urban Orchard’s ciders also play with seasonal flavors, like the Valentine’s Day Bizarre Love Triangle cider infused with cacao nibs and strawberry puree from the nearby French Broad Chocolate Lounge. On a cold evening, try the Sidra del Diablo, a semi-sweet cider with fresh habanero and vanilla.
The Urban Orchard tasting room in West Asheville is an intimate space with a coffee-shop vibe and a menu of tasty food. Two outdoor spaces and huge folding windows make for a pleasant cider-sipping setting. In the South Slope location, find more of an open, airy taproom feel, with a ping-pong table and plenty of space for larger groups. 210 Haywood Rd., Asheville; (828) 774-5151
Noble’s popularity exploded so much in its first year of production that it moved into a 9,000-square-foot warehouse that doubles as a taproom. On offer are seasonally-inspired, traditional and “New American” ciders that include Blue Bard, a blueberry, honey and rosemary cider and Friar Fig made with brandy and spices.
“Ultimately, we like to have fun and create ciders that reflect our love of all food and general merrymaking,” explained owner Trevor Baker. “We also pride ourselves on making balanced ciders, where all the flavors come through. We definitely look at healthfulness as well—our ciders have very low residual sugar content as compared to other brands. We like the drier-end of the spectrum for sure.” 356 New Leicester Hwy., Asheville; (828) 575-9622
This experimental farmhouse natural cidery and winery first caught our eye with its pet-nat ciders. Botanist & Barrel produces all of its beverages, including southern ciders, fruited sours and wines, with fermentation from spontaneous, wild cultures, and using old world methods. Its Asheville Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop is an amazing place to pull up a barstool. Natural wine and cider-lovers have over 50 offerings from Botanist & Barrel to try, with a epic tasting flights, a dozen draft lines and over 400 guest natural wines, ciders, beers and mead! There is a menu of snacks and light bites, as well as plenty of pop-ups and events to check out. 32 Broadway St., Suite 110, Asheville; (828) 338-9516
Bold Rock Cider has quite a presence in the North Carolina cider industry, and is showing no signs of slowing down! It recently opened an 8,000-square foot cidery and taproom in Downtown Asheville. This epic new space features a small batch cider production system, a kitchen putting out great, scratch-made food and private event space. Enjoy a plethora of ciders (available on draft and as growler fills to-go), as well as beer, wine and cocktails. There are also tons of events going on, like Trivia Night and live music. 39 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville; (828) 552-3720
Just about 12 miles southeast of Asheville in the town of Fletcher, find Barn Door Ciderworks, specializing in cider made with traditional, non-commercial methods. Using foraged and local apples, Barn Door’s ciders, like its signature Barn Door Blend, Early Snap and Golden John, can be found on draft in its taproom. This cozy spot is open Friday through Sunday, with cider, local beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages on offer. A tasty menu of homemade nibbles (many of which are gluten-free) rotates daily, usually offering a selection of snacks, soups, flatbreads and panini. The on-site bottle shop has plenty of interesting stuff to take home with you. 23 Lytle Rd., Fletcherl (828) 484-1586
Explore the Region
Want to add more North Carolina cideries to your itinerary? Visit these nearby spots, all located about 20 minutes from Asheville:
- Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery, 104 Eastside Dr. #307, Black Mountain; (828) 419-0089
- Flat Rock Ciderworks, 305 N. Main St. Hendersonville; (828) 692-2001
- Appalachian Ridge Artisan Hard Cider, 588 Chestnut Gap Rd., Hendersonville; (828) 685-4002
Drinking and Dining in Asheville
One of Asheville’s many nicknames is Foodtopia, and with good reason! The city is home to James Beard-winning chefs such as Kate Button of Spanish tapas-focused Curate and John Fleer of contemporary American Rhubarb.
For authentic Indian street food, Chai Pani can’t be beat—order one of its giant thali meals served with basmati rice, daal, masala slaw, raita and papadams. Bonus: it offers free refills on chai and organic black tea.
If cider cocktails sound intriguing, head to Sovereign Remedies, which has been known to host cider brunches in its upscale bar and restaurant. Recently the Autumn 75 cider cocktail was added to the house cocktail menu. Pack’s Tavern, boasting one of largest food menus in town, adds a splash of Noble Cider’s cherry cider to its red sangria. Swanky music venue and restaurant Isis Music Hall makes a Cider House Rules cocktail by combining hard cider, vodka and lemon with a seasonal berry float.
Drinking Cider in the Great Outdoors
Autumn in Asheville means incredible leaf-peeping and CiderFest, an annual event five years running. The 2017 CiderFest was held on October 7 and featured North Carolina-based and national cider and mead makers, live music and samples of artisanal cheeses, caramels and baked goods. A Kids’ Zone and plenty of local arts and crafts vendors rounded out the event, and some proceeds went to benefit Green Built Alliance. Keep an eye on Ciderfest NC’s Facebook page for details about 2018.
Places to Stay
If you take the trip to Asheville, book a room at the romantic B&B, Cedar Crest Inn, or the all-suite The Residences at Biltmore, both walking distance from Treerock. Or, consider staying downtown at Hyatt Place, home to The Montford Rooftop Bar that always carries a selection of ciders and boasts one of the best sunset views in town.
Where are your favorite places to drink cider and hang out in Asheville? Let us know!
- Urban Orchard photo: Nathan Rivers Chesky Photography