Franklin’s Beer Mile touts fresh, locally brewed craft perfection
Asheville, North Carolina, may be one of the top craft beer cities in the country, but just a day trip away rests the picturesque mountain town Franklin, North Carolina. Whether you visit Franklin by hiking off of the Appalachian Trail, spend the day bicycling any one of the nearby mountain bike trails, or dry off after a day of kayaking the Little Tennessee River, Franklin is the perfect place to relax and enjoy one of North Carolina’s fastest growing exports – craft beer.
In 2011, there were just 59 breweries in North Carolina. By 2015 there were 161 across the state, two of which are located right here in Macon County. North Carolina has continued to become one of the leading states in the country for craft beer production. Even more than the economic impact craft beer has on WNC, the cultural and identity the industry brings to a region is invaluable and markets to a growing demographic.
The Lazy Hiker Brewing Company and Currahee Brewing Company make Franklin a must-see stop for beer tourism. The two breweries are located less than a mile apart, and the businesses lining main street between the two are capitalizing on the traffic. Currently on tap at both the Lazy Hiker and Currahee is the Christmas Stumbler, a collaboration beer the two breweries worked up together, adding their own twists.
Located at the foot of town hill, Currahee Brewing Company opened last summer with a 9,000 square-foot production and canning facility. The brewery’s owners built the brewery with beer aficionados in mind, and it comes complete with a 2,000 square-foot tasting room and an outdoor, German-Inspired biergarten that overlooks the Little Tennessee River.
The 15-barrel brewhouse, a 30 barrel fermentation area, and a variety of wine and spirits barrels make up the brewery’s operation. Currahee’s focus is not just unique to Franklin; with an emphasis on Belgian and barrel aged beers, the brewery is setting itself apart from other NC breweries with a distinct flare.
The brewery features the Mountain Fresh Grocery food truck, serving up indulgent specials everyday. From trivia night to the always-expanding indoor concert series, Currahee Brewing is a year-round must stop.
At the tip of town hill, Franklin’s Executive Chef Nick Powers is serving up farm-to-table delicacies at Root + Barrel Kitchen. The only thing more delicious than the fresh food is the ever-changing craft beer list, which features craft beers from not only North Carolina, but all over the United States. The restaurant’s emphasis on local beer pairs perfectly with the farm-to-table theme, promising only the best locally sourced goods.
Root + Barrel often hosts special beer dinners, working with local wineries and breweries to develop a specific menu to perfectly match the drinks. For the first time, Root + Barrel will be working together to host their first beer dinner on January 25, which will feature 5 courses and beer pairings for each.
Just down the sidewalk from the Root + Barrel sits the Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub, a truly unique staple for Franklin. A speak-easy feel with a broad selection of coffee (primarily from Dynamite Roasting out of Black Mountain, NC) and espresso-based drinks, floats, shakes, and italian sodas. The pub also has hand-made baked goods such as cookies, cakes, brownies, pretzels and cheese breads that go perfectly with the craft beers and ciders either on tap or in a bottle.
Founded in 2000, The Rathskeller hosts unique events such as trivia and live music, while filling the spaces on the walls with local geniuses’ creative artwork, all of which can be purchased. Take a second to relax, play a board game or a game of cards, or challenge a friend to the Foosball table along the back wall.
A little further up Main Street is Outdoor 76, one of Franklin’s premier outdoor gear and supply stores. From specially fitted hiking boots and camping gear you may want, to paddle board and kayak rentals, Outdoor 76 has it all and more – their bar, the Rock House Lodge, features 18 craft beers on tap.
Located in the back of Outdoor 76, Rock House Lodge specializes on pouring local beers, whether special-released or just the best hops in North Carolina. The 18 beers on tap are ever-changing, keeping up with seasonal trends and ensuring the perfect beer is available for the time. And if craft beer isn’t your thing, Rock House Lodge also has wine and champagne ready to pour.
After you get done shopping, try your hand in a game of shuffleboard or challenge a friend to a game of darts, beer in hand. The Rock House Lodge is no stranger to entertainment and features a stage that regularly hosts live entertainment. On Wednesday, January 25 at 7 p.m., Sean Bendula, a dashing young singer/songwriter, is set to take the stage.
Right at the end of Main Street, in the old town hall, sits Franklin’s very first brewery, Lazy Hiker Brewing Company. Capitalizing on the lazier side of life, the Lazy Hiker has been brewing beer in Franklin since 2015. Opening in the summer of 2015, the 15 barrel brewhouse has a list of mainstay beers and regularly brews up seasonal favorites you can grab while they last.
The Lazy Hiker includes an outdoor patio area, unique games like life-size Jenga, and The Yard, an outdoor concert area that keeps a full lineup throughout the summer. The taproom stage stays booked, too, with concerts on Friday and Saturday nights – and don’t forget the weekday fun, like Wednesday night trivia or Tuesday night ping pong tournaments.
If the pretzels at the bar aren’t enough to hold you over, the Food Truck parked outside of the Lazy Hiker is serving up portions that are as plentiful as they are delicious.
Franklin’s downtown Americana charm, complete with cascading brick buildings, with stories all their own, is taking advantage of the craft beer world. With two original breweries within an easy mile’s walk of each other, Franklin’s craft beer scene has exploded since 2015. With annual events in the works, it won’t be long before Franklin takes its rightful place as a craft beer staple in WNC.