Highlands for the Holidays: Exploring Biltmore and Beer

The first full day of our adventure in Asheville started at the Biltmore Estate, where we spent most of the day touring the house and gardens, having lunch, and sampling some wine. Then, later in the evening as the temperature dropped into the 30’s, Merri Beth and I walked to downtown and sampled some craft beer at Catawba Brewing, Twin Leaf Brewing, Burial Beer Company, and Wicked Weed.

Exploring the Biltmore Estate

Tuesday, December 27 – Our scheduled tour time for the Biltmore House was 8:30am so the household was up, ready, and out the door around 8:00am. Merri Beth and I took the Passat, while the kids went with Jim and Beth. It took us about 15 minutes to get to the Biltmore Estate, and it took us another 15 minutes to navigate through the winding roads and beautiful landscape before we arrived at the parking lot. The morning air was crisp and mild as we made our way to the shuttle stop and the temperature was supposed to get up to the mid 60’s.

There was a shuttle that took us the short distance from the parking lot to the front of the Biltmore House, where we started our self-guided tour. We decided the addition of the audio tour wasn’t really our thing.

To back up a bit, it had been several years since I toured the Biltmore with a group from my Leadership NC class. One of the big reasons why we came to Asheville was to see the Biltmore Estate for the holidays—Christmas at Biltmore. The Estate definitely pulls out some of the best holiday decorations and literally, almost every room on the tour has at least one Christmas tree, many of them have more.

Our family went from room to room, learning about the house, some history, and about life at a different time. Towards the end, when we started getting to the kitchen areas, Coco started crashing. It didn’t help that she had a rough night of sleep and was up super early due to fighting a cold. Jim, Zander, and I found a bench and took a little rest while Coco caught a quick nap while Beth and MB walked through some of the shops.

After a quick coffee and hot cocoa break, we decided to tour the gardens and the greenhouse. We started at the south Terrace and took the walking path through the shrub garden. This lead us through the walled garden and the rose garden as we made our way to the Conservatory (with the rope and Professor Plum). MB was really interested in seeing the Orchids. There were a variety of flowers and tropical plants to look at. Zander and I went out back to find a seat and enjoy the nice day, and eventually went to check out the Azalea Garden, which was pretty dormant this time of year, but I could see how this garden would bloom like crazy in the spring and fall.

As we made our way back towards the Biltmore House, I took Coco with me since she was still a little sleepy and went ahead toward the south Terrace. When we got there, we decided to keep going across the large front lawn and enjoy the full view of the house. Eventually, MB, Zander, Jim, and Beth joined us and we took some fun family pictures with the Biltmore House in the background. We were getting hungry, so we hiked back to the car and headed over to Biltmore Village.

The winding roads through the Biltmore Estate offered magnificent views of the property. After we went over the river, through the woods, and past a large open field, we found Biltmore Village. While we waited 30 minutes to have lunch at Cedric’s Tavern, we walked around the village and I took the kids to the small park nearby. I got a text that our table was finally ready and we settled in for a good meal at Cedric’s.

After ordering our beverages, we ordered some appetizers and then our main entrees. The food was amazing, the service was great, and the atmosphere was busy and festive.

We wrapped up lunch and headed over to the Biltmore winery. After waiting for about 10 minutes, we found our way to a wine tasting table and started sampling. MB, Beth, Jim, and I tried the wines that sounded interesting to us, while the kids did their best to behave. It was getting late in the day, and ice cream was on the line, the children were pretty good considering the torture we were currently putting them through: nothing much to do while we did a wine tasting.

The wine tasting was fun. We then headed to the wine shop before wrapping up our day at the Biltmore Estate with a tasty ice cream treat.

Believe it or not, we spent the entire day at the Biltmore Estate. The sun was fading over the Blue Ridge Mountains as we headed to the exit and back into downtown Asheville around 6:00pm.

Exploring the Asheville Brew Scene

With the kids and the in-laws zapped from a long day at the Biltmore Estate, MB and I took advantage of some kid free time to go sample some of downtown Asheville’s finest craft beer. We left the car parked at the house and walked about 18 minutes to the first brewery. Our place was only three blocks north of downtown, so walking was a nice treat. The air was getting chilly, but it was nice to breathe in some cold, mountain air.

Catawba Brewing Company

The first stop was Catawba Brewing Company. MB and I waited in the line at the bar and each got a sampler. We found a quiet spot at the front at the high top tables and starting our sampling. We had a King Winterbolt Winter Ale and a White Zombie Ale while at Mellow Mushroom the other night and we thought they were pretty good. Most of the beers were decent, nothing really stood out as amazing.

Samples included: Barrel Zombie Night, Small Batch Dunkelweizen, Small Batch Pineapple IPA, Mother Trucker IPA, Milepost 316.3 IPA, RED-iculous Red IPA, Firewater IPA, and Astral Bootie Beer.

Twin Leaf Brewery

Less than a block away was our second stop of the evening at Twin Leaf Brewery, where it was trivia night. The atmosphere was lively and the beers were good. We found a corner at a shared table where we were able to taste our shared sampler. We answered some trivia questions and engaged with a few locals.

Samples included: 144 Juicy Fruit, Jedi Mind Tricks White Session IPA, Leafer IPA, Arkenstone Oktoberfest, Basil Tripel, and Luminosity.

Burial Beer Company

Our third stop was Burial Beer Company. The guys at the same table from Twin Leaf had recommended we stop in here. And we’re glad we did. The beers were solid, but deadly (just kidding, the theme was the only thing dark). Burial was divey, but fun.

Samples included: Bolo Coconut Brown, Gang of Blades, Massacre of the Innocents IPA, Hawkbill IPA, Skillet Donut Stout, Ferraris & Floral Fabrics, Magpie of the Gallows, and Blade & Sheath.

Wicked Weed

The last stop of the night was Wicked Weed. We opted for the Brew Pub instead of the Funkatorium because we wanted to get some late night snacks, even though it wasn’t even 10:00pm. We were slightly disappointed because they won’t do flights when they are busy. It worked out because they didn’t have much of a selection that we cared for, instead we got a few half pours with our snacks.

Samples included: Elderberry Saison, Dancer Reindeer Ale, and Gluten FREEk.

MB and I felt like we got a good run of different places in while we were kid free for the evening. We grabbed an Uber back to our place and got some much needed rest.

Pictures from the Biltmore Estate

Pictures from the Asheville Brew Scene

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About Shibby

Jason Hibbets is a senior community evangelist at Red Hat which means he
is a mash-up of a community manager and project manager for
Opensource.com–a publication and story-telling platform for open source
communities. At night, he wears a cape, and is a Code for Raleigh
brigade captain as well as a CityCamp NC co-chair.

Jason is the author of a book called The foundation for an open source
city
–a resource for cities and citizens interested in improving their
government through civic hacking. While writing the book, he discovered
his unknown super power of building communities of passionate people.

Jason graduated from North Carolina State University and resides in
Raleigh, NC with his wife, two kids, two border collies, nine chickens, lots
of tomato plants, and a lazy raccoon somewhere in an oak tree. In his
copious spare time, he enjoys surfing, running, gardening, traveling,
watching football, sampling craft beer, and participating in local
government–not necessarily in that order, but close to it.

You can follow him on Twitter: @jhibbets

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