Posted by Liz and John Attaway, 11/9/22
The majestic mountains roll up and down in front of us with a checkered pattern of red, orange, and green. As we move north, they grow larger and more vibrant. The roads wind, twisting and turning towards the sky. As we round the corner, a cozy, small town with small shops and eateries line streets, while music can be heard from the brewery down the street. This is Black Mountain, NC. The Best Little Beer Town stuffed with live music, friendly locals, stellar restaurants, and of course, beer! Let’s explore.
Stay: Monte Vista Hotel:
Near the town square, the red brick historic Monte Vista hotel’s large lobby warms your cold hands as the crackling fire illuminates the entire room with warmth and light. Relax on the cozy couches or check out the elbow room art gallery filled with local art. Tables from Southern Proper Hospitality’s Milton’s dots the lobby and adjacent rooms, and a large bar opens to the beautiful outdoor patio with a lounge and fireplace area! Upstairs, the beautiful hardwoods stretch into each room. Inside the room, beautiful wood pieces, original hardwood floors, and comfy bed invites you to stay the night. The beautifully renovated bathroom is bright and light!
This historic hotel dates back to 1917 when a school was converted into the hotel with 33 rooms. In 1937 the building added the brick, while in 1950 a new wing was added. As a staple of the community, it has been renovated over the years, but the touches and charm are still there to see! The most striking of the 1917 originals are the beautiful, original hardwood floors. Then, in 1975 a new building was built. So, the Monte Vista with its crackling fire and beauty has been housing and holding people since 1917! That’s over 100 years!
Best Little Beer Town:
From breweries to ale houses to garden parties to ale trails, this town is all about the beer! Starting with the Black Mountain Ale Trail, where you can explore three local breweries with tastings at each. It is a great way to explore the area and the local beer. Our first stop is at Black Mountain Brewing for a fantastic boozy Two-Way Mirror Bourbon Barrel Oktoberfest and their regular tasty Oktoberfest Marzen. Both are outstanding and paired well with the fall foliage and weather! We learned some fun facts about the brewery like it was an old wash building that was only open until 1963 and had been empty until they moved in. They also have a beautiful mural of Roberta Flack. She lived in Black Mountain until the age of 7 before she moved to Virginia Beach. If you don’t know who she is, this singer is one of the only people to have back-to-back record of the year.
The second stop is Lookout Brewing where we went hoppy with the Mountain Hopshine IPA, that John really liked and a crisp Schatz Lager that was refreshing. The final stop down the mountain in Old Fort, is Hillman Beer. There we got a boozy Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout that was Liz’s favorite of the day and two other great beers, the Old Fort Original Lager and a malty Festbier. Their space is pretty amazing, it is along the river and is bright and light with patio seating. Inside is a beautiful taproom that even serves food. For this sleepy town, we were impressed.
Back in Black Mountain, there are other spots you can grab a cold one, like The Lowdown. We stopped by around sunset, and we’re greeted by a garden of flower and plants with a cute little outdoor courtyard. The courtyard was filled with plants in the middle, tables dotted the perimeter, and a STUNNING view of the mountains is to the left. We grabbed a few local brews from the GROW building and relaxed out in the courtyard. While listening to Dirty Dog, a Grateful Dead tribute, we sipped on the hoppy Dissolvr Bones and Waves, a dry-hopped IPA, the malty Darwin’s Forehead Salty Brown Porter from Fona Flora Brew in Nebo, NC that was Liz’s favorite. After that, we tried the crisp Shadowclock Pilsner from Burial Beer that was John’s favorite and the lip puckering Tart Berry Berliner Weiss with blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry from Green Man Brewery.
Another spot is the Black Mountain Kitchen and Ale House, which we will talk about more later, but has a great selection of Black Mountain Brewery and other local brews from around the region. Liz’s favorite was the IFFY Pumpkin Ale from Hillman Old Fort. Plus, we stumbled upon their Oktoberfest so we got to enjoy live Polka band and stein holding competition! It was a nailbiter.
Note, North Carolina Beer Month is October!
Places to Eat:
Go wild and make sure to put Bush Farmhouse on your Black Mountain, NC Journey. Little did we know we would be enjoying a South African restaurant when we started our trip, but here we were with an incredible meal stuffed with African-inspired plates and cocktails. Tempting dishes like the sensational rack of lamb that is fall off the bone tender with the best seasonings paired with earthy and hearty UMNGQHUSHU or the fantastic peri peri spiced chicken wings that were tender and juicy. A good selection of beef jerky and Droerwors to start and a tender, seasoned, perfectly cooked grilled octopus. If you’re looking for curries or meatloaf, they have that too! Wash that down with a Bushveld Porch gin drink that’s easy drinking or go Durban Poison that’s smoky! On top of the food, they have a large patio and bar area, then beyond are the farm animals like chickens, goats, and pigs!
The spot for brunch in Black Mountain, NC is this brunch heaven called Open Oven Café. The two-story spot with plenty of outdoor seating has a little bit of everything from an amazing chicken and waffles that’s sweet, nutty and savory to omelets, avocado toast, sandwiches, and more. Benedicts your thing? The Hog Heaven Benedict is a bacon fat drenched biscuit with a gooey egg and thick cut bacon on top. It really is hog heaven. The locals tell us this is THE brunch spot for the town; we agree.
This is the spot for you to unwind with a beer, watch a little football, or catch live music is at Black Mountain Kitchen & Ale House! Beyond the local and regional beers, the food is outstanding like their tender, crispy, and juicy fried chicken sandwich enveloped in creamy mayo and crunchy pickles. They also have a selection of burgers and appetizers like the tender and delicious chicken wings, as well as sides like crunchy tots. We watched Tennessee beat Alabama here and listened to a singer song-writer after.
The Town & Lake Tomahawk
The cozy little town is bright with outdoor and scenic activities. Being near the mountains, it is definitely a spot to check out the fall foliage, take a hike, sit by the lake, or stroll around the small shops in town. Strolling the streets of Black Mountain, there are several small shops with everything you can imagine from souvenirs to hiking gear to hardware to coffee. And only minutes from the Appalachian Trail and down the road from Asheville, it is a destination! One of the highlights of the town is Lake Tomahawk. An easy stroll around the lake while taking in the changing leaves was breathtaking. On the other side of town is the town green where they have a beautiful clock and views of the mountains! You really can’t get away from the mountain views here!
We really enjoyed our time in Black Mountain, NC.