The story below is an excerpt from our Sept./Oct. 2015 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Our seven mountain states have much in common, not the least of which is they all have a spot to combine a great fall drive with fine dining and a stop at a local craft brewery or winery.
With craft breweries and wineries popping up at an impressive rate across Blue Ridge Country area, it’s common to hear of special pairings with your favorite brew or wine, but there’s no reason to limit pairings to drinks and culinary delights. There’s also an abundance of opportunities to pair the beverage of your choice with outdoor adventure, scenic fall drives, and exceptional places to stay along the way.
Pushing the limits on outdoor adventures is as much of the philosophy at Oskar Blues Brewing as it is to brew great craft beer. Founder Dale Katechis began his company in Colorado in 1997 and then pinpointed Brevard, North Carolina as the place to build a second brewery. It’s no accident that the Brevard location, which opened in December 2012, is just a few miles down the road from Dupont State Forest, which provides great access for mountain bikers, hikers, and others who enjoy the great outdoors.
The love of outdoor adventures led Oskar Blues to become the first craft brewery to can its beer.
“It’s because of the portability factor and because our owner is an avid mountain biker and most of the people he hires are outdoor enthusiasts,” says Anne-Fitten Glenn, marketing director. “You can put a can of our beer in a backpack and have it fresh and good on the trail.”
In 2014, Oskar Blues expanded its outdoor offerings by purchasing 145 acres of what had been a family dairy farm.
“Dale, our founder, thought it was a great opportunity to access Dupont State Forest and have a place to use for events and rent out as a venue,” says Glenn. It’s called REEB Ranch—Reeb, which is beer backwards, is also the name of the Oskar Blues bike company. The bikes are hand welded in Colorado.
REEB Ranch offers accommodations that include a 1940s cabin with waterfall views, a barn apartment with bike park and pasture views, and campsites. REEB Ranch is about eight miles from the brewery, and there are outdoor opportunities there as well.
“There’s a bike/hike path that leads from the brewery into Pisgah Forest,” says Glenn. “We have a mountain bike ride that leaves the brewery every other Friday led by the Blue Ridge Cycling Club. Everybody meets at the brewery around 6 p.m. They mountain bike to Pisgah and then come back and eat burgers and drink beer.”
It’s easy, as well, for bikers in Asheville to get out to the brewery in Brevard. A trolley picks up at Aloft Hotel in Asheville every Saturday at 5 p.m. and returns at 9 p.m. and up to six bikes can fit on the trolley.
“ Our dedicated bikers will bike to the brewery and then take the trolley back to Asheville,” says Glenn. Plus, she says anyone is welcome to park at the brewery anytime and hike or bike to Pisgah.
Biking and beer are also popular around Greenville, South Carolina. Thomas Creek Brewery owner Bill Davis says they sponsor the Greenville Spinners Bike Club and their members will use the brewery as a start and end location for a long ride, followed by drinking beer and socializing at the brewery.
“ We also sponsor a bike outing out of Furman once a year in early spring,” says Davis.
Pat Walker, owner of Blue Ridge Brewery in Blue Ridge, Georgia, loves being on wheels too, but instead of a mountain bike or road bike he prefers off-roading in his Jeep or getting out on a motorcycle.
He says his favorite place for an outdoor adventure is at Beasley’s Knob, on the other side of Blairsville, which is about a 20-minute drive from his brewery in downtown Blue Ridge.
“ It’s only five dollars to ride the trails all day,” he says. “It’s state-run and affordable. Five dollars is insane. You can spend all day out there. You can take dirt bikes, 4-wheelers, side-by-sides and off-road vehicles like Jeeps. It’s very challenging. There’s rock climbing, not just trails.”
Whether you prefer hiking or mountain biking or canoeing or one of a number of great outdoor adventures, we’ve found a place in each state in our readership where you can combine your love of the outdoors with great beer or wine, spectacular scenery, and amazing places to dine and sleep.