For far too long, this small town nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains seemed like a barren desert for craft beer, a mirage compared to the oasis two hours south in Asheville.
Earlier this year, the area’s image slowly began to change. The first craft brewery in Boone opened in February, another began pouring next door in Blowing Rock earlier this month and soon a third will start in nearby Banner Elk.
Three more breweries are located a short drive down down backcountry roads.
The scene is nowhere near as evolved as rival Asheville, where roughly two dozen breweries make it the state’s craft beer haven. And the question for Boone area: what took so long? “That’s a good question,” said Nathan Paris, at Flat Top Brewing in Banner Elk. “We’ve pretty much got it all, and (craft beer) is finally catching on.”
Boone, elevation 3,333 and population 18,000, is often ranked as a top mountain town by national publications. Anchored by quirky Appalachian State University, the town sports a mellow vibe and serves as a launch pad for adventure seekers.
Good beer was always easy to find at Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchants, the best local bottle shop, which is located at the town’s crossroads. But until recently, a local brewery was missing. Appalachian Mountain Brewery filled the gap when it opened earlier this year.
First person account: AMB is quite good.