Hold the Booze, Pass the Booch: Alternatives to Drinking Alcohol in Asheville
In the Land of the Sky, it may seem like beer flows from the taps of every home and restaurant, and that it’s impossible to live a sober lifestyle because of such abundance.
Needless to say, the prevalence of alcohol leads many individuals to seek alcoholism treatment in Asheville ; after all, according to a 2017 article by the Citizen-
Times newspaper, there are 26 craft breweries in Asheville alone, and 60 in the Western North Carolina region. In addition, the number of liquor distilleries in
the Asheville region more than tripled between 2015 and 2017, only adding to the ocean of booze that can serve as a death sentence for struggling alcoholics.
But there’s an alternative drink scene in Asheville that makes it hip to be sober these days. It may be called “Beer City USA” and a focal point of both craft cocktails and a growing wine culture, but there are a number of alternatives for non-drinkers who crave something beyond soda and water:
- Kombucha: The first record of kombucha – also known as the “Tea of Immortality” – dates back to 221 BC in China; the fizzy beverage is made from combining black tea and sugar with a colony of yeast and bacteria, which carbonates the beverage and infuses it with a number of healthy enzymes and probiotics. Advocates extoll its health benefits, claiming it boosts energy, improves digestion and shores up the immune system, and it’s plentiful in the Asheville region. There’s Buchi, which started at a community kitchen in the mountains outside of Asheville and is now sold locally and on tap at area stores and restaurants, featuring such flavors as Fire Kombucha (cold-pressed ginger, cayenne and spices), Seed Kombucha (turmeric, pineapple and coconut water), Air Kombucha (echinacea, pineapple, mint and basil) and Unlimited Kombucha (apple and lime), among others. The Western North Carolina-based company Shanti Elixirs offers Shanti-Jun, “a unique cousin to kombucha” that “is over 1,000 years old originating in the Himalayas. It is a fermented tea like kombucha but as the added benefits of green tea (with bioactive compounds and powerful antioxidant properties) and raw honey (with antibacterial, antifungal antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties).” Asheville’s Green River Booch offers such flavors as Berry Mint, Strawberry Basil and Lemon Ginger, among others, and while Lenny Boy Brewing Co. also produces beer, they also brew seven different kinds of kombucha, including Lavenderade, Elite Beet and Mint Condition.
- Tea: With tearooms in Asheville, West Asheville and Black Mountain, Dobra Tea brings a love of the beverage all the way from Eastern Europe, where during the last years of Communism, “a group of young tea lovers began meeting to sample rare Indian, Chinese and Japanese teas smuggled into Czechoslovakia.” The first tearoom opened in 1993 in Prague, and 10 years later, Dobra Tea began opening rooms in the United States. According to the company’s website, imbibing is an experience more than it is consumption of a drink: “The tearoom gives us the opportunity to share our passion of tea and culture with the Asheville community. You may find the tearoom is something between a church or a pub. Many see it a place where they can relax easily, engage in good conversation or meet a loved one for the first time.” Alchemy – which bills itself as an “apothecary” and an acupuncture clinic as well as a tearoom – says “honors the practice of Chinese Medicine, by offering classical formulas, seasonal specialties, intentional fare, as well as flavors meant to simply delight the palette and senses.” Although there is no storefront – it’s sold at dozens of area establishments, however – “Asheville Tea Company blends cleanly grown, sustainably harvested botanicals and small batch artisanal offerings to bring the flavors of Asheville into each of our handcrafted teas.”
- Juices and smoothies: Whether it’s raw food, whole food or whatever the latest dietary trend is, you need something to wash it down, and there are plenty of juiceries and smoothie shops throughout Asheville: Clean Juice, Mountain Juicery, Farmacy Juice and Tonic Bar, I Love Juice Bar, Green Sage Café and Elements Real Food, just to name a few.
When you take into consideration the number of coffee houses throughout the region as well, it’s clear that alcohol isn’t the only beverage to please your palate – and none of these alternatives will leave those predisposed to a substance abuse problem seeking alcoholism treatment in Asheville.