Large place with Belgians and Belgian styles downstairs, and American stuff upstairs. All available as flights of four, individual five ounce tasters, or full pours. But, NC law says you can’t get two five ounce tasters at once - stupid laws. Service was outstanding, and selection was unmatched in the entire region, not just Asheville. A must-stop while in the area, and worth going out of your way to try.
Central Asheville dedicated beer bar. Belgian imports and Belgian styles downstairs. Anglo-American stuff upstairs. Saw a lot of barrelled and strong beer on the menu. Struggled to find something to drink. Picked a NZ pale ale from an English brewer which was oxidized :/
This place is really quite cool. It’s sort of divided into three main parts. The downstairs is sort of the "Belgian beer bar" and they have, you guessed it, mostly Belgian beers available. At the street level is the more typical American beer bar and you can try the Thirsty Monk beers here. Upstairs they have a cocktail bar which serves excellent drinks and has sort of a cool, speakeasy feel to it. It was actually my favorite part of the place.
Anyway, my primary focus here was to try the house beers. Everything on draft is available in a flight, which is always appreciated (pretty good pricing, too). They only had three house beers on, so had to pick another offering to fill it out. Good service as well. The ambiance here is a bit generic, sadly, as the other two portions of the business are quite cool and enjoyable, I thought.
It’s a good place as you can almost certainly find something to enjoy here, regardless of your taste. Definitely worth a stop, particularly given the proximity to other things to do/places to go.
The Thirsty Monk has an impressive range of beers with at least 20 on tap and about 200 bottles. Upstairs it’s spacious and airy, whilst the downstairs room is like a dungeon - long, dark and narrow with lanterns, a large Belgian flag and lots of little models of monks. It’s very much like a Belgian brown café in fact. There’s also a small patio at the front.
(Last visited 9 February 2014).
Upstairs is American beer with lots of wood and bright. Downstairs is Belgian with lots of stone and dark. Both fun and great. Service was more help yourself and food was passable, but beer list and atmosphere were top notch.
I had a great time here. They have an extensive draft list featuring beers from the local area in addition to esoteric stuff from around the USA. They offer a four-beer flight, which was handy. Great value. Friendly and attentive service. Very convenient location. Well worth seeking out if you are in town.
(Visited 06/2015): Thirsty Monk is located in downtown Asheville on Patton Ave off Coxe. Street parking is available in the surrounding area.
The building is bright purple with the logo painted on the side. The main floor opens to a bar with some tables past the entrance and the bar toward the left side farther back. Lots of breweriana, stickers and the like on the walls, and a large collection of tap handles. The beer list is on multiple chalkboards behind the bar. Downstairs is the Belgian bar, with a much darker and cozier atmosphere and its own bar. A couple couches for seating along with tables, and ceiling fans like upstairs.
The beer selection at Thirsty Monk is fairly robust and eclectic, numbering at over 25 taps. Samplers are available. On our visit the breweries represented included Thirsty Monk of course, plus Haw River, Highland, Foothills, and Black Mountain Ciderworks. Well over 100 bottles options too, including many North Carolina brewers, plus many domestic and imported (lots from Belgium) craft beers.
Service at both bars on a relatively busy Friday was good. The bartenders were friendly and knowledgeable.
We did not have food on the visit.
Overall this place has a well deserved spot near the top of the list of good beer places to visit in Asheville.
October 2011. Right in the heart of the city, this is a cool, two-level beer mecca. Upstairs focuses on regional favorites. We went downstairs to check out the Belgian selection. The basement should’ve been painted darker to give it more of a cellar feel, and it’s not exactly the nicest setting. But they’ve got what we came for -- a sturdy lineup of continental ales, in the right glassware. The bartender was friendly and beer-smart, too, which always helps. No food after 9 though -- bummer.
This place has two different vibes. The upstairs area serves local craft beers with a modernist vibe and has close to a 50/50 male-female ratio. The basement served the Belgian stuff looked like a bar out of the old country and was a veritable sausage factory. Still the basement had the superior beer selection and a fairly solid selection of lambiks. The menu was not terribly extensive but the pretzels and the potato salad were both very flavorful. You can make your own flights plus they’ll sell anything they have on tap in half sizes. Definitely the highlight of the trip so far.
Clearly The Thirsty Monk has the widest Belgian beer selection in Asheville, so if I have that craving I will likely end up here. The dark, cave-like ambiance is a huge plus as well. The tap selection is fair with a reasonable selection of styles and just pricing. I found the prices for larger bottles to be rather high, reflecting about double the cost at a nearby bottle shop. I don’t mind shelling out $10 or even maybe $12 for a 750ml of Allagash Trippel, but higher than that seems a bit much. That seems to be a common problem among a few bars downtown. Anyway, by sticking to the taps and some of the smaller bottles I was able to enjoy a wide variety of Belgian brews served in brand appropriate glassware while relaxing in the dark and keeping a fair bar tab.
I cannot believe I haven’t updated about the Thirsty Monk.They have gone balls to the wall in the past two years. Of course, they’ve added an upstairs which focuses solely on American craft beer and they have also added a kitchen which serves up mouthwatering food. Thirsty Monk went from being a good bar that specializes in Belgian beer to being a force to be reckoned with when it comes to all things beer. Superbly bad ass place now. They have become a mandatory beer destination.