Look, I'm not going to lie to you. I am a stone-cold beer geek. A homebrewer for decades. A total snob. And I don't care. Life is too short to drink mass-market beer. I'm willing to pay seven or eight bucks for a single half-pint of a rare and obscure beer, especially one from Belgium.
If you want to go drink pitchers of Bud Light and get hammered while watching the game, the Thirsty Monk is not for you. No, the Monk is something special--the ultimate mecca, the Shining Pub On A Hill, for beer snobs everywhere. They serve half-pours, and flights, if you just want to sample a little of each one, and the bartenders are knowledgeable and can intelligently discuss the history, style and characteristics of each beer they serve. If you ask nicely, they'll even let you try a little sample for free, so you know what you're getting into before you buy. It is, in short, almost too good to be true.
The first floor is all American craft brews from all over the country, and downstairs is a dim, spartan grotto that serves Belgian beer exclusively, and where you'll find some of the most interesting and obscure beers on the planet. The Monk is where you go to sample beers that you won't find anywhere else. The selection is dizzying, and exquisite in its diversity. The taps rotate regularly. You can go several times in one week and find new brews on the menu each time. The true beer geeks at the Monk, who are even geekier than me by orders of magnitude, go to great lengths to offer a diversity of brews on tap that you will not find anywhere else in Asheville, or anywhere in the Carolinas for that matter. (And that is saying a lot-- Asheville was, after all, recently voted Beer City USA.)
The Monk has gotten so popular that they are now renovating the third floor and plan to install a liquor bar there. They have a kitchen at the Monk too, and it's really quite good--they use beer as an ingredient in most of the recipes, naturally.
So, basically, what I'm saying here is that this pub, located right in the heart of a beer geek's paradise, where there are craft breweries popping up like mushrooms all over the place, nonetheless stands out above the rest, even by the empyrean standards of Beer City, USA. You must go there. You simply must. First round is on me.