A Brewery With a Point of View

I can’t find a definitive number of breweries in Asheville, but according to most Google searches, as of 2020, there were 30-some breweries within the city and its metropolitan area. That sounds about right, so I’ll go with it (I do wonder if they count every physical brewery or just the brand—Hi-Wire, for example, has three locations within Asheville city limits, Catawba has two, One World has two, Wedge has three, Archetype has two…just something to think about). 

Before craft beer officially became mainstream, breweries were fun because they were something different than just your regular old bar. Then, as they became increasingly popular, they became fun because of the experimental beer, low-key atmosphere, and the propensity to have large outdoor spaces. However, with their now year’s long mainstream success, many breweries have become somewhat cookie-cutter, and much like the bars with the same industrial lighting, you could find in the lobby of any trendy urban apartment building, some of the newer ones seem to all be manufactured at the same assembly line somewhere that loves wooden picnic tables, houseplants, and a somewhat knowledgable bartender who only wants to share his knowledge with men with beards and women with multicolored hair. 

Now, credit where credit is due, what sets Asheville apart from many beer-centric cities is that all the classic Asheville breweries have a distinct point of view and characteristics that make them feel unique. I’ve been to a couple of the newer ones though, that feel like they’re falling a bit into the cookie-cutter territory, like someone wants to open a brewery simply because it’s Asheville and that’s what Asheville does rather than because they have innovative beer or a fun concept for a venue. 

Then I went to Cursus Keme one night. 

Cursus Keme is one of the newer breweries in Asheville, located off Swannanoa River Road, not far from the Innovation Station. It’s definitely off the beaten path and more than a little tucked away. In fact, walking from where I parked my car down the dark road to Cursus Keme the night I went wasn’t foreboding necessarily, but that’s probably only because I consider Law and Order SVU a comfort watch. The brewery is, like many breweries, tucked into a very industrial section of town that has possibly seen better days, but the building itself is very modern, very spacious, and dare I even say, grandiose?  However, I can’t say for certain because the night I went to Cursus Keme, they kept the lighting very dim. It was indeed a choice…but as I’ve established, I’m down that they made a choice rather than simply painted by numbers. 

There was a band playing at Cursus Keme that consisted of a banjo, a couple of tambourines, and I want to say they were wearing some sort of crazy costume, but I can’t recall because the beer I chose was pretty strong, and like I said…it was very, very dark, which was only magnified by the number of plants propped around the brewery. I know I just said that house plants are part of the paint-by-numbers brewery kit, but these were more jungle-level—I want to say that the plants combined with the darkness gave the place strong Jurassic Park vibes, if that makes sense for an indoor brewery, and couldn’t figure out why I wanted to say that, but I just checked their menu and they have a beer called Velodust, which in my mind is velociraptor-adjacent, so it all tracks. 

Additionally, the three bartenders were wearing matching monogrammed tracksuits they all wore unzipped to their navels sans undershirts…also, a choice. Between those outfits, the dark, the plants, and the very loud, weird ass band, I left Cursus Keme that night wondering exactly what I’d just witnessed, but cookie-cutter, it was not. 

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