Catawba Brewing announces revised plans for Asheville brewery

Catawba Brewing Company welcomed the new year with an update on its plans to open a second brewing facility and tasting room in Asheville. The Morganton-based brewery had begun renovations last summer on a building at 2 Fairview Road in the Biltmore Village area but city of Asheville officials put a halt to the project.

Catawba announced in a Jan. 1 statement that it will move forward by tearing down the existing structure and starting from scratch, building a two-story brewery and tasting room with outdoor beer garden areas. Construction is expected to begin in February with a projected midsummer completion date.

In the meantime, Catawba plans to set up a temporary tasting room starting in early February in an old strip mall at 63 Brook St., across the street from Fig restaurant and its 2 Fairview Road site. The company has already hired an Asheville manager and hopes to release its next seasonal beer, LeSexxxy Saison, at this location in March.

Following is an excerpt from the statement by Catawba Brewing owners Billy, Jetta and Scott Pyatt:

“Though this seems to be the project that will never culminate, we have not lost our desire.  We are still committed to building and opening our second brewing facility in Asheville, NC.  Here is the short form update – a longer version is available if anyone wants to buy me beer and listen!

To refresh everyone’s memory, our chosen site is located at 2 Fairview Road (Biltmore Village area).  It is a nice, flat 1.3 acre lot located ¼ mile from The Bohemian Hotel, and just across the railroad tracks from Fig Restaurant.  There was an existing building on=site that, for a variety of economic and timing reasons, we chose to renovate rather than build anew.

After months of design and permitting issues, we finally received the go=ahead for our retrofit of the existing building.  We began the demo with vigor this summer, but the City of Asheville reconsidered our planned construction and prohibited us from implementing our build.  The project was halted, and the building stands as an unusable skeleton.

This winter we looked at a myriad of other sites from traffic=flow, economic, and timing points of view.  We were unable to find another place we liked as well as 2 Fairview, so we implemented our “Plan B” – We will tear down the existing building, design a completely new brewery from the ground up, and build it on the 2 Fairview lot.  Yes, this will take longer and be more expensive, but in the end we’ll have a fantastic showcase of the wonders of fermentation.

As for that showcase, it’ll be a two=story structure.  The lower floor (western side) will be dedicated to brewing.  We already own a 7 bbl “boutique” system,  and we’ll install it there.  We’ll also move small fermentation equipment, barrel= aging, sours, and such from Morganton to the new space.  This will give us the much=needed ability to make the small batch, highly diverse beers we just don’t have the room to do in our Morganton location.

The upper floor will form our public tasting room.  An interesting twist is we are building a balcony/mezzanine above the brewery itself!  We’ll offer ample covered, air=conditioned space for our patrons to enjoy a beverage while they watch our brew staff in action!  And if there isn’t enough action inside, our visitors will be able to move outside to the covered porch, or down to ground level to both covered and uncovered beer garden areas.  We’re excited by the opportunities that building from scratch offer.

As with any construction plans, the schedule is somewhat fluid. The permitting plan set is in the hands of the City of Asheville for approval. We have our fingers crossed. We are soliciting bids from general contractors now, with a plan to

start construction in February. I’m told it will take 20=22 weeks to build the facility, so that puts our opening in the middle of summer.

Temporary space

Obviously we are disappointed not to be open already – but we aren’t deterred. In fact, we have developed an interim plan for our Asheville presence that will tide us over until our permanent site is ready – 63 Brook Street!

We’re bursting at the seams in Morganton, and we have to get the smaller brewing equipment out of there to make room for our larger toys. The delays in building our permanent home in Asheville have caused us to be creative. Thanks to some great work by our partners, Biltmore Property Group, we located a very reasonable, functional (albeit rough) space in the Historic Biltmore Village – 63 Brook Street. That space will be the temporary home of Catawba=Asheville.

For reference, the temporary site sits near the intersection of Brook/Sweeten Creek/Fairview road, right across the street from FIG Restaurant. Even better, you can look out the front window of 63 Brook and see our 2 Fairview construction site!

This facility, an old strip mall that is destined to be razed in 2014, has a 4000 square foot, unbroken room on the western side. That room was an old tire store/auto repair center with high ceilings, cement floors, roll=up doors, and even a few large windows to the main street. It will make a fantastic storage area for our small equipment as we await our new site. But it’s large enough to offer us the opportunity to showcase some of our beers in our own, on=site tasting room there.

We are going to upgrade the facility’s accessibility, clean it up, and build a rudimentary bar and serving area there. It won’t be terribly fancy, but we will be able to serve a lot of customers, update them on our new site’s progress, train some new staff, and build some awareness and support.

As with all construction in Asheville, we are navigating the permitting and contracting waters. Things are happening onsite already, we have hired our Asheville Manager, and we hope to be open in early February (I would like to do our next seasonal beer release there). I’ll keep you updated!

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food-section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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