A to Z: The Best Breweries in the NC Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains offer dozens of thrilling escapades that are deserving of a cold brew or two at the end of the day. Or maybe visiting every single brewery is your idea of vacation adventure. Here is the ultimate guide to the best breweries in the Great Smoky Mountains of NC.

breweries in the smoky mountains

Balsam Falls Brewing Company

Both traditional and creative, one-of-a-kind beers are always on tap at this self-described “nano” brewery in Sylva, NC. Don’t miss the Petrified Dragonfly Red Ale or Red in the Head IPA for something unique. Also of note, Balsam Falls Brewery has an impressive menu of mead and hard ciders.

Bearwaters Brewing

With locations in both Canton and Maggie Valley, NC Bearwaters Brewing offers over 40 hand-crafted  beer varieties along with food with a southern influence. Find a favorite brew? Take home a Croaker (2 pints) or a Growler (4 pints).

Boojum Brewing

Situated right on Main Street in downtown Waynesville, Boojum Brewing invites you to try their own craft brews, like  Dunkel Dark Lager, or any one of a handful of “guest taps” to always keep things fresh. They also offer savory bites and craft cocktails, so non-beer-drinkers (they do, in fact, exist) have choices.

Currahee Brewing Company

Operating its main production facility in Franklin, NC with a 2nd location in Alpharetta, GA, Currahee Brewing Company features a taproom, a bier garden overlooking the river, a kayak put-in and take out, outdoor music stage and a food truck. Smokehouse BBQ is next door and offers service to the brewery, so you never need to leave the bar!

Frog Level Brewing

Enjoy unique craft brews on a deck overlooking a running creek at Frog Level Brewing in Waynesville, NC. If you’re hungry, you are welcome to bring your own grub while you listen to live music on their new outdoor stage. Don’t miss their Milky Way Stout with hints of clove and banana.

Hoppy Trout Brewing Company

If you haven’t visited the craft-brew scene in the NC Great Smoky Mountains in a bit or if you’re spending your PTO seeking the best craft brews, you have to try the newish Hoppy Trout Brewing Company, conveniently located right on the main drag of Andrews, NC in Cherokee County. After a day of exploring the Oconaluftee Indian Village learning how to shoot a blowgun, relax over a Sicilian brick-oven pizza and remarkable craft beer, such the One-eyed Wilma American Wheat Ale. Complete with comedy shows and home-brew competitions, Hoppy Trout Brewing Company is the perfect way to wind down a day of exploring the history and customs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians or just to drink great beer.

Innovation Brewing Company

Ales Trail
Jackson County Ale Trail. Image Courtesy of Jackson County TDA.

Innovation, indeed! If you’re bored with beer, excite your palette at Innovation Brewing Company. How about a Mix 6 Brew made by combining a Chocolate Stout with a Peanut Butter Ale? Or a Hoppy Camper touted to be “as juicy as actual juice”. Visit all 3 of their locations. The original Innovation Brewing Company lives in Sylva, NC. Dillsboro’s Innovation Station is located at the old train station and is home to their production facility and taproom, and the Innovation Brewing taproom on the Western North Carolina college campus in Cullowhee, NC is perfect for the young at heart.

Insider Tip: While not a brewery, the Ale Trail Pass offers a Jackson County, NC Ale Trail Field Guide Vol 1 and a list of Top 10 Brews to help you plan. Visit 4 of the included breweries to receive a free, limited-edition logo pint glass.

Lazy Hiker Brewing

Located in picturesque Franklin, NC,  Lazy Hiker Brewing is your serious, must-go destination of choice! Listen to harrowing tales from hikers fresh off the nearby, iconic Appalachian Trail (lots and lots of bears!) while you sip a Trail Mate Golden Ale or Twenty Mile IPA. With over 25 brews on tap, two outdoor areas, live music, a food truck with the most amazing hand-cut fries, and a disc-golf course, you may as well plan to spend the whole day. In 2019, Lazy Hiker Brewing opened a tap room in downtown Sylva. With live music and the adjacent Mad Batter Kitchen, the Sylva taproom is always an entertaining place to be, especially when it’s time for “Slogan Trivia”!

Mountain Layers Brewing Company

With both a taproom and rooftop bar in Bryson City, Mountain Layers Brewing Company is a magnificent venue to enjoy the mountain air over a cold microbrew. Try a beer that just makes the world a better place, like Mountain Layer’s Peace, Love and Pilsner. Shout out for their Honor and Remember Wall paying tribute to veterans and first responders.

Nantahala Brewing Company

Winning numerous awards for their delectable brews created with refreshing Smoky Mountain water, Nantahala Brewing Company at the historic RC Cola Bottling Plant in Bryson City, NC is a popular hot spot for local craft beer. Try a special barrel-aged draught from their onsite cellar along with live music. Or hop over to their Sylva Outpost & Brewpub for a brew and view of the big game. The Nantahala Pale Ale is a crowd favorite that pairs with almost any food. Nantahala Brewing Company is serious about sustainability and walks the walk in their brewing process. (Insider Tip: the barrel-aged beers are only available at their Bryson City taproom.)

Nocturnal Brewing Company

Hoppy TroutLocated in Hayesville, NC on the Georgia border, Nocturnal Brewing Company’s Brewer, David Grace, creates craft beers using many locally sourced and foraged ingredients. Be sure to try the Fog Delay, available on nitro for a thicker, longer-lasting foam and a velvety smooth texture.

Satulah Mountain Brewing Company

Situated in the heart of Highlands, NC, Satulah Mountain Brewing Company is just off Main Street and prides itself on an ever-changing rotation of delicious craft beer inspired by the surrounding wilderness. Touted as “Macon County’s First Beer Destination,” they remain the only beer producers in Highlands, NC today.

Snowbird Mountains Brewery

If you’re looking for some out-of-the-box brew flavors, you’ll find them at Snowbird Mountains Brewery in Andrews, NC. Co-owner Terry enjoys experimenting with recipes and includes some exotic ingredients in his creations, like Riptide with a hint of pine. They also offer a delightful food menu with a spotlight on fresh, local organic ingredients.

Whiteside Brewing Company

Whiteside Brewing Company is a local brewery located in the heart of Cashiers, NC serving American cuisine and a large selection of both local and house-brewed beers. With a park-like setting, welcoming of dogs and large gatherings, Whiteside Brewing Company is a fantastic venue for large celebrations.

Insider Tip: To make the most of your Best Brews beer tour, ask the bartender (or Cicerone, if they have what can be likened to a beer sommelier) for a sample of the draughts that pique your interest before you order. Many breweries also offer flights with smaller portions of several beers to sample, like a craft-brew pupu platter! Most breweries are also dog friendly, and everyone knows beer always tastes better with your best friend!