36 Hours in Asheville, N.C. (www.travel.nytimes.com)

photo by Rebecca D'Angelo for The New York Times

In recent years, Asheville has come to rival Portland, Ore., as a center for craft beer, and the city now claims to have more microbreweries per capita — from places like Green Man Brewery (greenmanbrewery.com) with its cask-conditioned beers, to the hip Wedge Brewing Company (wedgebrewing.com) in the River Arts District. You can try a few on an Asheville Brews Cruise tour (brewscruise.com), or linger at the cozy, student-friendly Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company (675 Merrimon Avenue; 828-254-1281; ashevillebrewing.com), which has a bar, arcade and movie theater (tickets $3). Settle down in front of the large screen with a pint of Rocket Girl or Ninja Porter and a quite respectable pizza (toppings include Spam, as well as smoked Gouda and artichoke hearts) ...read the entire article HERE

Beer Town of the South

featured in Southern Living, July 2008
By Tanner C. Latham

A life without beer is not a life I want to lead,” declares a guy sitting in the back row of the Asheville Brews Cruise van. Everyone nods in acquiescence at such a definitive and reverent statement. Yes. A brews cruise. Basically, owner Mark Lyons picks you up at a designated location, leads you Sherpa-style through tours and tastings at three local breweries, and delivers you back safe and smiling.

More Than a Tasting - This experience transcends the expected. At each stop, Mark and the brewmasters explain the intricate details of the ales or porters they’re crafting. Their passion exceeds that of even the most boisterous beer lover among us. And each question we ask, no matter how elementary, is answered with great nuggets of infor- mation we tuck away for our next cocktail party or poker night.

Editor’s tipsy tip: Pack a pad and take notes. Better yet: Designate a note taker. Let’s be honest. By the last stop, you may be only able to focus on simple truths. You know, like a life without beer... View this page in Southern Living HERE

Good Times On Tap On Brews Cruise (www.visitNC.com)

It came to Mark Lyons like a bolt out of the blue. For a long time, Asheville has had a burgeoning microbrew scene, but the breweries had never really become a part of the area’s visitor industry. Lyons, however, was about to change that. “It was an epiphany”, he says, “It all came at once. The idea, the concept… even the name.” And thus the Asheville Brews Cruise was born.

It only made sense. With six microbreweries currently in business and more on the way, Asheville will soon have more brewers per capita than Portland, Oregon – the microbrewing mecca. Lyons decided to “tap” into that vein and bring beer aficionados from near and far to some of Asheville’s breweries, to learn about the process, philosophy, and history of each. And, of course, to sample the beer. With a background in the tourism industry and a 12-seat Ford passenger van, Lyons – and the Brews Cruise – was on its way. For the cornerstones of his tour, Lyons chose three popular breweries that serve up three very distinct tastes and experiences... ...read the entire article HERE

Mumbo Gumbo: Cruisin' for a Brews-In (www.BoldLife.com)


Photo by Brent Fleury

It's no wonder Asheville was recently named "Beer City USA." Alright, we tied with Portland, but by any account, our fair town is a haven for hopheads. With all of the breweries popping up seemingly o daily, it becomes hard to keep track of what's what.

Enter the Brews Cruise. For several years now, Mark Lyons and crew have been shuttling beer lovers from brewery to brewery to sample the best of what Asheville has to offer. Tours include transportation, samples and in-depth, behind the scenes looks at the beer-making process. With the scene ever-growing, the Brews Cruise has kept in step with the times and has recently expanded the tours to provide more options in their guided pub-crawls.

While hardly a "cruise" per se, Lyons has added walking tours to the weekly itinerary. Participants meet up downtown and stroll between the Asheville Brewing Company, Green Man and the Oyster House — the Lobster Trap's new in-house brewery. "The walking tour is just so new and fresh," Lyons says. "I really like not having to get in and out of the van at each stop, and the fact that all of the breweries downtown are so close is exciting." What's more, depending upon the day, beer fans get to sample food at either the Trap or the ABC... read the entire article HERE

Asheville's Brewery Scene (www.ashevilleNC.com)

For those looking to learn about the process of creating the perfect beer, the Brews Cruise Asheville may be the answer. The Brews Cruise visits three local breweries for a tour and tasting where you will, as owner Mark Lyons says, "see the whole process from grain to bottle." And they are the designated driver, so you can thoroughly relax and enjoy! So next time you have a hankering for an especially good beer, get yourself down to a local brewery and raise a pint to the art and craft of the brew... read the entire article HERE

With a laid-back attitude and eclectic nightlife,
Asheville, N.C., knows it's hip

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Despite its Southern latitude, Asheville always has been cool, because it has mountain altitude, which means it's always a shade less sultry in the summer than most of Dixie.

But now Asheville is cool for its attitude as well, a laid-back mecca for dredlock-wearing hippies that Rolling Stone magazine dubbed the "freak capital" of the country a few years ago... read entire article HERE

Take a Brews Cruise

Check out the suds side of Asheville, N.C., where interesting beers abound. When Mark Lyons started the Asheville Brews Cruise in 2005, he said it was an epiphany. He woke up one morning with not only the idea but the name of the venture.

It's not clear how his wife, Trish, received that sudsy greeting about their future livelihood, but she has since bought into the notion, often helping with the tours.

The Cruise is a three-hour excursion in a chauffeured van to visit microbreweries and brewpubs in the Asheville, N.C., area. Also currently included on some tours is a stop at Bruisin' Ales, a beer exclusive package store with hundreds of selections... read the entire article HERE

Bring on the Beer: Asheville, NC’s Brews Cruise

www.AshevilleNow.com

Asheville Brews Cruise began as the brainchild of Mark and Trish Lyons, and stemmed from their numerous excursions to the Pacific Northwest and Colorado. The Lyons passion for craft brewed beers followed them to Asheville in 2000 when they moved here from Sedona, AZ. Both Trish and Mark were delighted to learn that similar to Seattle and Portland, Asheville had its own brewing personality.

Mark first developed a taste for great beer while traveling the world when in the Air Force. His love of craft brewed beers and the microbrew industry really became evident in the mid 90's, while attending Appalachian State University. This is where the ground work was laid for the eventual "Brews Cruise." As a Recreation Management and Tourism major, Mark was on the first leg of his entrepreneurial endeavor. But first, a tale of two ladies. There is no more beautiful and awe inspiring of grand ladies than Sedona, Arizona, so Mark thought. This is until spa cohort and friend Trish entered the picture. Mark and Trish quickly became an item and were looking for a new place they could afford to settle into. After a quick trip to check out Asheville, they were NC bound...

View this entire article HERE

For art, architecture, beer, food, music, it's a great town for that

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Sitting at the bar in the dim stone basement of the Thirsty Monk, the three of us admired the collection of beer set before us: a dozen glasses in varying shades of gold and amber and bronze, reflecting the light like shimmering jewels.

Bill reached for his first glass, put his nose in it like it was a glass of wine and sniffed, took a slug, wiped the foam off his lip. ``People just don't realize that Asheville is a great beer town,'' he said.

I had always thought of Asheville primarily as an arty town -- in fact, we had a full agenda of art-hopping planned, from the downtown galleries to riverfront warehouses that have been converted into artists' studios -- but I was open to arguments on behalf of the town's other charms.

The Thirsty Monk, which serves at least 150 varieties of beer upstairs and only Belgian-style beer at the basement bar, was Bill's first exhibit as he made his case.

Bill, his wife Gail and I were having flights of beer -- four half-pours at $3 to $4.50 each. We sipped, passed glasses back and forth, commented: This one needs more carbonation, this one has a hint of smoke, this one has a nice touch of bitterness.

Then, after we'd sipped enough to open our minds -- and our palates -- to it, we sampled one last brew that we'd earlier turned up our noses at: raspberry beer. Fresh, light, not too sweet. Surprised, we agreed that we'd serve it as a dessert drink or an aperitif.

A great beer town, indeed. Asheville has at least nine craft breweries, and the Asheville Brews Cruise offers van and walking tours of several. In a national competition recently the town was named Beer City USA, beating out Portland, Ore., which has, of course, a much larger population and many more local breweries... read the entire article HERE