Craft Beer, Curated 6

Bruisin’ Ales Approaches 10 Years in Asheville

Asheville has changed a lot over the past ten years. The population has doubled, parking lots have risen higher, new businesses fill our once-vacant downtown, and tourists clog our alleys and trailheads even outside of leaf season. But the greatest change to our town undoubtedly lies in the beer industry—and Bruisin’ Ales has been witness to it all.

“There were only six breweries in Asheville when we opened,” says Julie Atallah, who co-owns the bottle shop downtown alongside her husband Jason. “The scene was much, much smaller; everyone knew everyone, and it was low-key and even a little bit sleepy.” When the Atallahs opened their doors almost exactly ten years ago, they had no idea of the industry expansion that would follow. “The wild ride of massive growth over ten years has been incredible—certainly not something we projected or expected. But it’s really put Asheville on the map, making us one of the powerhouse cities for beer in the United States. I can’t say that there is even a slow season anymore. It’s nonstop and keeps on getting better.”

So how did the Atallahs manage to open a bottle shop—at the time, one of only ten or so in the country—exactly on the cusp of Asheville’s brew boom? The answer, it seems, is “sheer luck.”

The Atallahs moved south from Allentown, Pennsylvania; their town’s proximity to Philadelphia bore their love of beer. When it came time to invest their passion for brews into a business, Asheville was the obvious answer. It was our small-town beer community that initially appealed to the Atallahs; they could see that their knowledge and expertise proving profitable for themselves, and advantageous to the city, too. Plus, the timing was perfect. “The beer laws—with the help of grassroots Pop The Cap, which raised the ABV to 15%—had just changed, opening up a world of beer that had never been available in NC before,” Julie remembers. “We knew we had the business experience and beer knowledge to bring those beers to the people. And we knew that at that time, a smaller market and city that supports small, independent business would be the perfect place to take the risk.”

The rest, as they say, is history. Bruisin’ Ales (so named for the phonetic entendre: brews and ales) quietly opened in the winter of 2006 and since then has gained a loyal following of local and national ale enthusiasts.

As the local beer culture has changed and expanded, so has the operation of Bruisin’ Ales. It remains the premier beer and bottle shop in Asheville, offering an incredible selection of unique (and delicious) brews that you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere, plus a solid base of extensive knowledge and genuine passion. “Being that you can buy good beer almost anywhere these days, what continues to set us apart is our passion for beer and customer service,” Julie notes. “We have always had an aggressive approach to sourcing new brands. And, since our shop is so tiny, we have to be choosy about what hits our shelves.” The craft beers you find on the varied shelves of Bruisin’ Ales are taste-tested by the folks behind the counter and hail from all corners of the globe. These aren’t just America’s trendiest brews—they’re the tastiest, most unique ales from around the world. “We work very hard to offer a carefully curated selection that rotates constantly,” Julie promises.

Since Bruisin’ Ales expanded their online inventory last year to include real-time inventory, shipping across the country has also become a big part of their business. For Julie, the best part of their expanded online retail is the benefit it has for our local Asheville community. “Beyond the simple thrill of getting Asheville and WNC brands out to other places and people, it’s been incredible to witness the uptick in interest. It’s even better when an online order not only turns into a repeat customer, but may also inspire them to visit our town and be a part of the scene themselves.”

If you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’, Bruisin’ Ales is definitely not your destination. But if you’re looking for great beer and good people with some serious brown-bottle know-how, well, this just might be the place.