Oyster House Brewing
Co. in Asheville, North Carolina by Edwin Arnaudin
Located on Haywood Road in the heart of revitalized West Asheville,
Sunny Point Café’s renowned breakfast and brunch items attract long
lines of locals and tourists throughout the year. Look directly
across the street and you’ll see fellow neighborhood treasure Oyster
House Brewing Co., an establishment that likewise warrants hourlong
waits but fortunately can provide some of the city’s best beer
within a few minutes.
A longtime homebrewer, Billy Klingel began making beer for regular
public consumption while working at The Lobster Trap, downtown
Asheville’s premier seafood restaurant, and in 2013 opened Oyster
House in the renovated former Viva Deli building with his brother
Jim, who manages the brewpub’s kitchen.
While the menu is terrific and features a respected range of seafood
options, the true focus is on the brews, beginning with the flagship
Moonstone Oyster Stout. It’s always available but each batch is
slightly different, expressing various degrees of roastiness and a
mild salty finish from the oyster shells used in the brewing
Other flavor-forward but modest ABV selections include Ole Dirty
Blonde and Bubba’s Brown Ale, which rank among the top of two styles
rarely seen in Asheville, while Step Papa Pale and Bob’s Yer Uncle
ESB are second to none in their respective divisions on the local
front. Patrons may also depend on an impressive array of IPAs, from
the juicy Galaxy IPA that rivals the freshness of Stone Brewing
Co.’s Enjoy By series to the hefty yet approachable Motown DIPA and
newly added Amarillo Pillow IPA.
Most impressive of the
regularly rotated beers, however, is Super Moon Imperial Oyster
Stout, which vies with Oskar Blues Brewery's Ten Fidy and Olde
Hickory Brewery’s Event Horizon as the best in its class throughout
North Carolina. Close behind it on the high-gravity front is Watch
Stone Scotch Ale, though it’s Oyster House’s willingness to
experiment within its five-barrel system that keeps it a
consistently exciting brewery.
The recently expanded nitro taps have made great ales even better
while one-off cask-conditioned beers allow Klingel and assistant
brewer Philip Shepard to try out various adjuncts on their core
line-up, the results of which are hand pumped into glasses via the
bar’s beer engines.
Grab a pint, half pour or flight within the inviting small space and
take some beer home in 64 ounce growlers or 32 ounce chuggers. You
can even have a taste while waiting for your name to be called at
Sunny Point – the range of the restaurant’s paging system easily
reaches inside Oyster House’s confines.