The Hop-West

One of my favorite things about The Hop is how, no matter how many times you go in there, you’ll never have the same experience twice.  The Hop, if you don’t already know this, is an ice-cream cafe with two locations:  one on Merrimon Avenue in North Asheville and one on the West side on Haywood.  Why, you may ask, would we put an ice-cream store on our blog?  Ice cream is always vegetarian, right?  Not the way we do it in Asheville.  Bacon has been making a big showing lately in all kinds of different desserts, and ice-cream is no exception.  The reason we’re covering The Hop is because they have lots of vegetarian ice creams (of course), but they also have lots of vegan ice “cream” options as well.

When we popped in late on a Wednesday night, we were only one of two tables there, but that changed quickly.  By the time we left, nearly all the tables were full, and with good reason.  The Hop specializes in doing a lot of seasonal flavors, along with unusual, fun flavors that make you want to come back next time to find out what cool, local weirdness they’re going to dream up next.  Last night, they had Pumpkin (a gimme at this time of year), Cinnamon Bun, Espresso Bean, Chocolate, Mint Chocolate Chip, Salted Caramel (by far their best-selling flavor) local Ginger, and those were just some of the ice creams.  On top of that, they also had their vegan choices:  Pear Sorbet, local Kombucha Air Sorbet, Horchata Rice Milk (a spicy, creamy South American dream!), and at least one more soy-milk option that at the moment is escaping me.  They also had (brace yourself), local Lusty Monk Mustard ice cream.  (Hey, don’t knock it–it’s actually not half-bad in small quantities.)  Last week they also had Sweet Beet, which I’m sure I would be all over if I even remotely liked beets.  (Okay, you found me out–there actually is a vegetable I don’t like.)  Another frequent group of flavors that cycle through are the ones made with local beers–Antebellum Ale is a favorite, but there are many others.

I ended up choosing two different ice creams (because I really have trouble choosing at The Hop):  Espresso Bean and Cinnamon Bun.  The Cinnamon Buns used in the eponymous ice cream are made locally, in keeping with The Hop’s commitment to Localism whenever possible.  It was a stunning combination to have the two of them together, but then I knew it would be.

AY – The Hop is another great local business which Asheville is known for. They use mostly local and organic ingredients. The dairy is hormone free and the cows live less than 100 miles away. Their vegan ice cream is almost 100% organic. They have a complete ingredient list on their website.

Scoops has mentioned some of the more exotic flavors, but I really enjoy the more simple flavor combinations. Cardamom is one of my favorites along with Local Honey, Local Honey Basil, Lemon Custard, French Vanilla, and Salted Caramel.

The Hop ice cream not only can be found in their two main locations, they also can be found at many of the local festivals and events. They also have local fundraisers and events at both of their locations.

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