Jill: One of the first breweries to break soil in Asheville, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company, which opened in 1995, is clearly an institution.
Jill: After spending seven minutes within the confines of the northern branch of the two-restaurant chain, I knew that I’d walked inside the mind and heart of a 14-year-old boy. “Leave no space uncovered” seemed to be the motto for the design team in this carnivalesque brewery with its own movie theater, arcade and pizza bar.
Jill: Oh, and lest the image cause confusion, this is just the arcade (showing vintage episodes of “The Flintstones”). The theater is in another part of the building, and no worries: it comes with its own bar.
Jill: We shied away from the pizza bar and ordered from the menu. I enjoyed our pie, but, sadly, not enough to remember what we ordered three months later. Besides, we were there for the beer. And the beer was there for us. Nine beers, to be exact. Available at both restaurant locations and distributed other area restaurants and stores, Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company’s beers seemed to come from never-ending taps.
Ben: While every brewery we visited had at least one “light” beer, Asheville Brewing’s Rocket Girl Golden Lager was perhaps the best and most flavorful, with malt, hops, and a touch of buttery diacetyl, in effect. This reminded me of a more flavorful, less buttery version of French Broad’s Gateway Kolsch.
Among the other highlights were the Roland ESB (Extra Special Bitter), with toasty malt and citrusy cascade hop flavors. This was a bit dialed down as compared to French Broad’s ESB, which made it smoother and easier to drink.
Ben: The Ninja Porter, one of Asheville Brewing’s flagship brews, featured a very smooth texture, aided by only mild carbonation, with a decadent roasted chocolate malt flavor, and a kiss of hops. Their Scout Stout was similar to the porter, albeit a bit boozier and, as a result of a lack of hops flavor, more one-dimensional.
Ben: We also sampled Christmas Jam (Belgian Wit), Asheville Amber, Boogie Down Brown, Moog (Filtered Pale Ale), and Shiva IPA. They were all solid, competent versions of their respective styles. The Amber had a nice lightly-toasted malt character, though the Brown— oddly for the style—managed to have less of this flavor. The Moog possessed a nice sweet malt backbone to go with its American hop feature, while the Shiva was a typical, quality grapefruit-bomb of an IPA. All of this brewery’s styles were fairly typical, but all quite tasty.
Ben’s Favorite Beer: Ninja Porter
Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company
675 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina 28804