All About Beer Magazine - Volume 35, Issue 3
May 24, 2014 By


Highland Brewing, Asheville, NC, and Pisgah Brewing, Black Mountain, NC

A mountain ridgeline or leafy green is altogether better with a beer—and western North Carolina is as good a place as any to make it happen. Two breweries near Asheville, the state’s beer capital, will amp the experience with live music.

Just outside downtown, Highland’s spacious wooden deck lined in hop vines offers enticing seats, but the action is out back in “the meadow.” The wide-open, grassy cove between the brewery and tree line is home to live music through the warm months. The picnic tables are sparse, so bring a blanket and chairs along with Fido and a Frisbee. Beer is served from a cargo container converted to match the taproom décor, and summer is the season for the spicy yet crisp Highland Razor Wit.

In nearby Black Mountain, a field outside Pisgah Brewing is home to a rocking outdoor concert series each summer. At the front is a grand, rustic wooden stage that fits the surroundings. For 2014, bluegrass band Leftover Salmon and the eclectic Toubab Krewe are among the acts on the early lineup. Expect some shows to sell out. But be sure to arrive enough to visit the taproom, which features a long list of special, limited brews.

—John Frank

Black Dog Bar & Tables, Cedar Key, FL

One of the funkiest beer bars in Florida exists in Cedar Key (population: 702), an island community in the Gulf of Mexico.

Black Dog Bar & Table sits on the water—literally. It’s on a concrete pier. A wide wooden deck surrounds most of the fire-truck-red building. There are no taps, but plenty of bottles sit behind five glass cooler doors. Up to 160 different beers fill the shelves, including Florida-brewed options from Cigar City Brewing, Swamp Head Brewery and Florida Beer Co.

Spending the day on the water? Pull up to the pier, yank a rope to ring a bell and someone will send down your order in a bucket.

The view from the deck encompasses tiny islands within paddling distance, occasional dolphin sightings, and concrete pilings from an old pier that provides a resting spot for flocks of pelicans, cormorants and gulls.

Climb upstairs to grab a bite at The Pickled Pelican, cross Dock Street to sample the food at Big Deck, or stop by Tony’s Seafood Restaurant on your way out of town for award-winning clam chowder.

—Gerard Walen

Big Bend Brewing Co., Alpine, TX

Saddle up at the tasting room or outdoor beer garden in high desert country. Rolling hills and ancient volcanic mountains give way to grasslands dotted with Chihuahuan Desert cacti. Start with a full pint of Terlingua Golden Ale and enjoy the floral nose and biscuity malt, or Tejas Lager, an easy-drinking pilsner built for long quaffs under blazing sun. Share a specialty bottle like Marfa Light, a Russian imperial stout. Temperatures fluctuate at this exposed elevation, but November through April is a good time to visit. Alpine is the nearest town to Big Bend National Park, where the Rio Grande’s serpentine path runs through spectacular canyons cutting the border between the United States and Mexico.

—Erika Bolden

More in the South

Blue Mountain Barrel House, Arrington, VA; Boylan Bridge Brewpub, Raleigh, NC; The Pink Gator Cafe, Sarasota, FL; Peg’s Cantina, Gulfport, FL; Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, Pinella Park, FL; Jester King Brewery, Austin, TX

This story appears in the July issue of All About Beer MagazineClick here for a free trial.

See more great places to drink beer outside in the Northeast.