Two minutes into my trip to Asheville, I spotted a girl in a tie-dyed tanktop hula-hooping down the street. The majority of folks I have met since then haven’t been so stereotypical. But stereotypes exist for a reason, and Asheville pretty much lives up to its hippy rep.
The dive bars, for example, have that extra layer of grunge you can’t get anywhere else except in a town that prides itself on its laidback culture. The Bywater, a dive down by the French Broad River, was a key example. To me it seemed like a seedier version of Weaver Street in Carrboro, only with tap beers, a larger yard, and fire juggling instead of hulahoops. I suspect Bywater patrons also use their railroad tracks to toke up.
Besides the dive bars, there are breweries. You could throw a dart in any direction in this town and chances are high you’ll hit a brewery. There are two types of bars in this town: those that brew, and those that don’t. Most of the upscale, respectable joints brew and they offer a stunning array of beers. Wicked Weed, which is actually named after Henry the 8th’s quote, “Hops are a pernicious and wicked weed,” carries brews flavored with cucumbers and watermelon. Asheville Pizza and Brewing makes a pale ale flavored with jalapenos called Fire Escape. I enjoy trying new beers, but capsaicin (the stuff that makes peppers burn) and hops are a volatile combination. I felt like my stomach was doing the Can Can. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell that brew in cans. I was going to bring a few back to dare folks to drink it. Would have been hilarious.
It’s definitely my type of place. I could see myself living in West NC if there was a job I really wanted to work out here. But the one thing Asheville seems to be lacking is a comedy scene. That’s surprising considering how liberal this town is. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll open a comedy club here.