The first casualty of Asheville's craft beer scene has fallen. Craggie Brewing, which opened three years ago, will close its tasting room and brewery on Dec. 1. Retail sales will continue until the beer runs out.
Brewmaster and owner Bill Drew says Craggie's money has been in short supply for more than a year, and the financial pressure became too great to stay open. “We were probably at the point this time last year where I was thinking about closing because we were getting low on funds,” he says. “But we were able to find a way to keep it open for another year, so I'm proud of that.”
Drew says it's likely that the Hilliard Avenue brewery will continue to produce beer under different ownership. “There's some guys that have their own beer concept that they want to do here, so we're working with them,” he says. “They're business professionals with some homebrewing experience, so they're actually going to be keeping on some of the assistant brewers to help them learn the place and learn the system.”
With almost a dozen breweries already in Asheville and more on the way, has the craft beer market reached saturation? “It all depends on what you're brewing and who your clientele is,” Drew says. “I think it's harder these days to start out with grandiose ideas. Sometimes you have to start small and work your way up.”
Drew says he's not sure where he'll go from Craggie. He plans to stick around and help the new owners set up shop before he moves on. “The only advice I really pass out it: Make sure you love what you do and don't expect to get rich,” he says. “As the saying goes, if you want to make $1 million, start out with $2 million.”