Weirdness is a sought-after commodity here in Asheville, so much so that, like many sought-after traits, the way many people and businesses present their “uniqueness” comes off as curated, forced, and carefully strategized, aka the antithesis of weird. I could think of one bar-whom-will-not-be-named (that I had a frankly very actually weird experience at) that embodies this curated weirdness—their whole brand is not-giving-a-fuck, but like, the same way Avril Lavigne doesn’t give a fuck.
I hate to call them out because I genuinely like their beer and space, but I think Burial can fall prey to this. The titles of some of their beer names—Portrayals of Ephemeral Beings, Untold Volumes of Belligerent Indecisions—come across as a bit try-hard. Like, are you actually this macabre, or are you just Hot Topic’s number one customer? If you’re having trouble picturing what I’m referring to, think of the person you know who constantly just calls themselves a “weirdo” on Instagram but is just a girl named Lauren who works in PR and sticks her tongue out in pictures (apropos of nothing, I’d like need to acknowledge that the Venn Diagram of Instagram “weirdos” and people that call their significant other a “goober” is a circle, and these people need to be stopped).
That all being said, there’s quite a bit of genuine weirdness here in Ashville, but in my ever-so-humble opinion, the genuine weirdness sort of skirts beneath the surface since genuine weirdness doesn’t need a marketing team shouting how weird it is, ya know? A great example is the Instagram post a friend of mine DMed me last fall with the message, “we need to go to this.”
The post in question is from Dssolvr, announcing their “Shrektoberfest.” Per that post,
“Gather ye torches and pitchforks… and lederhosen???We are going TO THE SWAMP for this one.Friday, September 30th. ALL HAIL! SHREKTOBERFEST! YES, you read that right. DSSOLVR’s inaugural Shrek-themed Oktoberfest.
The wait is finally OGRE.
Join us in the taproom and prost! to everyone’s favorite big green bean fighting machine. The one, the only, the incomparable: SHREK…The swamp comes alive on 9/30! Beers will be flowin’ and Smash Mouth shall be bumpin!”
My first question was simply, why? Why are they combining ogres and lederhosen? Why are they having a Shrek-themed Oktoberfest? And the fact that I can’t discern any sort of hypothesis is why this was a genuine, and gloriously weird idea. The cherry on top? The fact that “Smash Mouth shall be bumpin’.” Editor’s note: Also gloriously weird, the Rochester dive motel I once stayed at for a wedding circa 2009 which featured a surprise, free Smashmouth show and street fair…
Dssolvr’s musical choices have always stood out for me as authentically weird. Sometimes you’re there, and they play the kinds of screamo-metal-electronica music that goes with their extraterrestrial theme. I’ve also been there when they’ve been sticking to early-aughts pop punk (I’m never going to be mad about an old-school Fall Out Boy soundtrack at a bar), 80’s hits, or once, a weirdly soothing reggae cover of Rocky Mountain High. While their musical choices are sometimes congruent with their stylistically offbeat branding, sometimes they are mainstream, and sometimes, as with the reggae John Denver, they are simply strange, and I respect that. They’re just doing their thing not hammering you over the head with it.
I think that’s one of the reasons Dssolvr seems to fly a bit under the radar and why I’m dubbing it Asheville’s most underrated brewery. While it’s not like no one has ever heard of it (Dssolver is doing well enough to recently announce a rather significant addition), they aren’t often included in Asheville’s quintessential breweries the way your Highlands, Burials, Green Man’s, Catawbas, or Wicked Weeds are.
Similarly, I’m always shocked by how many Asheville brewery aficionados (self-proclaimed, naturally) I’ve met who’ve been here longer than me, but have never been to Dssolvr. Maybe it’s because it’s not situated on the South Slope, River Arts, or West Asheville, but tucked into a rather nondescript storefront smack in the idle of downtown, maybe it’s because it is on the newer side, or maybe it’s by design, but while there are certainly other off-the-beaten-path breweries I’d urge others to check out (River Rhapsody, Turgua, and Whistle Hops are some of my other under-the-radar favorites), I think Dssolver is my favorite because it’s not only a unique, authentically off-kilter space, but has some of the best beer in Asheville. I’d go as far as to say if I had to pick a favorite brewery, Dsslovr would take the crown.
I really could probably write an overly-wordy, extremely comprehensive list of all the reasons I love Dsslovr, but since I’ve already written an over-wordy explainer of what curated weirdness is and because I’m writing this initial draft in the dwindling time I have between my morning workout and the start of real work, let me instead offer a bulleted list.
- The aforementioned musical choices—I may not always like or understand the musical stylings, but I always appreciate that they give me something to listen to.
- Pyramid Games, Dsslovr’s hazy IPA, is my favorite Asheville hazy IPA and definitely in my top 5 favorite Asheville beers.
- I enjoy that while Dsslovr is extremely IPA-forward (they always have 5-6 hoppy offerings), they also truck in lagers, pilsners, stouts, and sours (and recently…wines). I also like that they aren’t afraid of experimenting with the sort of fruit-forward, very I’m-not-a-beer-drinker-but-I-like-this sours that some beer snobs would ignore.
- They do boozy slushies.
- Dssolvr has a great little space. It’s roomy but still feels intimate. Their outdoor space feels like you’re drinking in an alleyway, which sounds like a dig, but is high praise.
- During the one snowstorm that shut Asheville down last year, Dssolvr was one of two breweries that remained open, and as someone that revels in snowy-day bar crawls, I’ll never forget their dedication to my ability to have winter fun.
- They have dollar-off Kolsh’s on Tuesdays. As someone from the Northeast, where we often plan where we’re going by bar specials, I like that they’re one of the few breweries in town that provides some deals and steals, even if it is on a Tuesday (and actually, I kind of like that it is on a Tuesday, because it’s ostensibly the most boring day of the week, so occasionally having one too many Tuesday Kolsh’s is not an unwelcomed surprise).
So, there you have my over-wordy love letter to Dssolvr. I urge you to check it out if you visit…or if you live in town and have not yet had the pleasure.