Boone Beercaion: A Boone Brewery Guide
Asheville is often considered the darling of North Carolina’s impressive craft beer movement. However, the sheer number of breweries can make a beer weekend in Asheville over-whelming. Instead of lingering over a pint or three, we slam a flight we can’t even remember drinking before moving onto the next brewery. For beer travelers looking for a more relaxed beer weekend in a similar mountain setting, there are plenty of other options in the North Carolina Mountains like Boone, which is while I compiled this Boone brewery guide.
While Boone is most known as the home to Appalachian State University, it’s also a secret weekend getaway for many in the Tar Heel state. The Boone / Blowing Rock area is filled with plenty of places to hike, mountain bike, and rock climb and the same entrepreneurial spirit that fuels Asheville’s restaurant and brewery scene.
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Dinner at Gamekeeper
Friday night is low on beer stops as the dinner recommendation is quite remote. Thus, I suggest popping into Peabody’s Beer and Wine to stock up on some libations for your hotel room. Peabody’s does an awesome job of amassing a rather large collection of both popular and hard to find North Carolina brews. They even have a vintage cellar where they’ll occasionally release vintage beers for sale from.
Dinner is at the Gamekeeper Restaurant. The Gamekeeper merges wild game like elk and emu with local ingredients and wholesome southern flavors. Its guaranteed to be a dinner unlike anything you’ve experienced before (reservations are recommended). They also boast a rather impressive beer list including several hard to find sours from Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. The cocoa rubbed elk leg alongside Ferme de Grand-Pere (a red sour aged with blackberries and dates in red wine barrels) is something dreams are made of.
Gamekeeper is the kind of place where you can linger over dinner for hours, enjoying the mountain views from its picturesque elevation. Plan to make it a multi-course meal. If you are driving, be sure to designate a driver though as the restaurant is located along some treacherous mountain roads. Uber is available in Boone if you prefer not to drive. Or, book a room at Yonahlossee across the street. We stayed in one of the cabins and safely stumbled home after a hard night of eating and drinking at the Gamekeeper.
Saturday – Boone
A Morning of Adventure
Saturday’s adventure focuses around the town of Boone, where you’ll be spending the day and evening brewery hopping. The opportunities for outdoor activities and adventure are limitless. If rafting is your thing, check out the Watauga River. If you prefer to work off last night’s beer with a walk in the woods, check out the Cascade Trail. If you’re looking for a place to rock climb, Rock Dimensions will get you started.
For those who aren’t looking to be Indian Jones, there is still plenty to do in Boone. You can hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway for boundless viewpoints if you don’t think the switchbacks will be too rough for your hangover (Mt Mitchel – the highest point on the East Coast – is a two drive along the parkway if you’re feeling up for it. You can actually drive to the top.). Or, just check out the shops and art galleries of Boone.
Afternoon Brewery Tours
Once the morning adventure is over, the brewery tour commences. Start at Booneshine Brewing Company for a taste of their hop forward selections of beers. While Booneshine is a production only brewery, next-door Basil Fresh Pasta and Deli offers all of their beer on draft. Basil is also a great place to grab lunch. The beer bar, gourmet food store, and bottle shop makes fresh pasta and sauces for consumption onsite or to take home. I suggest ordering a flight of their many IPAs for a side-by-side comparison and then pick a favorite to go with your meal.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery is less than a five-minute drive from Basil. Really, you can’t go wrong with any of the selections on their rather lengthy beer list. If you require a beer break, Appalachian Mountain also has a cidery. While on most of these beer itineraries, I suggest ordering a flight for a full sampling, I’m not going to do that on this itinerary. As Boone is not as brewery heavy as most beer cities, I suggest you stick around Appalachian Mountain for a few pints and hours as Appalachian Mountain is a destination brewery with a great outdoor space and an onsite food truck.
For dinner, head into Boone’s historic city center for Lost Province Brewing. Not only are the beers spot on, but the wood-fired pizzas are spectacular. Check their specials board for other wood-fired treats. When I was there, chicken wings were on the menu, but I didn’t notice them until we were leaving (and they looked and smelled heavenly). Lost Province does a nice job of balancing both hop forward beers like the Mosaic IPA and malt bombs like the Bald Guy Breakfast Stout. I would avoid the Sunset Saison though as Appalachian Mountain’s Rosé Wit is a better example of a hibiscus infused beer.
If you still have some party left in you, relive your college days and bar hop Boone. Boone Saloon, Galileo’s, and River Street Ale House are fun options with decent beer selections. If all the college students make you feel a bit old, Town Tavern offers a more mature crowd. It is not walkable though.
Sunday – Blowing Rock
Explore The Blowing Rock
Apparently, it’s a sin to drink alcohol before noon, so you’ll have to wait until the clock strikes twelve before that first sip. While you’re waiting, might as well visit The Blowing Rock for some breathtaking views. The legendary rock carries as much mystique as the hazy Blue Ridge Mountains that it overlooks. Folklore tells us that The Blowing Rock was formed out of a tragic love story between a Cherokee brave and a Chickasaw maiden, and Ripley’s-Believe-It-Or-Not claims it’s “the only place in the world where snow falls upside down.”
Depending on your adventure level, there are two ways to explore The Blowing Rock. Visiting The Blowing Rock itself is pretty tame. The paths are all paved and there isn’t any real hiking. You can tour the rock in as little as twenty minutes. The more adventurous can opt for the Glen Burney Trail, which enjoys that same views. You just won’t be able to get your picture taken on the rock.
Lunch at Blowing Rock Brewery
Wrap up your weekend with lunch at Blowing Rock Ale House and Brewery. Their hearty pub fare made from locally sourced ingredients pairs well with the well-rounded beer menu, which features everything from lagers to hop-forward beers to tasty seasonals. I’m partial to the Schwarz Bier and the Hop Hiker. Blowing Rock Ale House even has their own inn on site for a fun beercation experience.
There are plenty of places to stay in both Blowing Rock and Boone with close proximity to the activities and breweries on this list. Check out the TripAdvisor reviews and pick hotel that best suits your travel style. We enjoyed the self-service cabins of Yonahlossee. Their remote location added to the relaxation of our mountain retreat to Boone.