West Asheville just gained another feather in its funky cap — and it’s a salty, sudsy one.
Brothers Billy and Jim Klingel will open The Oyster House, a stand-alone brewpub, at 625 Haywood Road (where Viva Deli was until last week). Billy, brewer and founder of Oyster House Brewing Company, is relocating to the west side. Until now, the brewery was housed inside The Lobster Trap Restaurant in downtown Asheville. The new location should open its doors by January 2013.
Jim is an experienced restaurant industry professional and will oversee the food part of the brewpub equation, while Billy will continue as brew master (brewpubs, by definition, include restaurants and breweries in the same space). Jim’s most recent restaurant gig has been as chef of The Trailhead Restaurant in Black Mountain. He has also worked for The Laughing Seed Restaurant.
Billy, a Lobster Trap bartender/manager and long-time home brewer, started Oyster House almost four years ago with a SABCO Brewmagic system that he keeps on wheels behind the restaurant’s bar. With that system, he can only brew 14 or so gallons at a time — keeping him at brisk brew pace to keep up with the demand just in The Lobster Trap. In the new brewery, he’ll be able to produce three and a half barrels at a time, thus significantly increasing his production (one barrel equals 31 gallons). Billy’s Moonstone Oyster Stout, a creamy concoction that contains five pounds of fresh oysters in every 14-gallon batch, has garnered him both national recognition and a strong local following.
Billy says his plan has always been to break out and establish the brewery separate from the restaurant. He says the owners and staff at The Lobster Trap are supportive of his endeavor.
“I’ll still supply The Lobster Trap with as much beer as I can,” he says.
The Oyster House brewpub will offer 15 taps of “incredible craft beer, including as many of my own taps as possible,” Billy adds.
The food menu hasn’t been finalized, but will include, obviously, lots of oysters.
The Klingel brothers have been looking for the right space for a couple of months and signed the lease on the Haywood Road building on August 30 — Billy’s 38th birthday. (Before Viva Deli, there was a trinket shop and a paint sales business at the location).
In addition to the Moonstone, Billy’s regular beers include Oyster House IPA, Patton Ave Pale, Dirty Blonde and Upside Down Brown.
Klingel lives in West Asheville with his family, and he’s thrilled with the location of the brewpub, which he can walk to easily.
“Those of us who live in West Asheville don’t really like to leave West Asheville,” he says, laughing. “Also, those beepers they have at Sunny Point will reach across the street. You can come over and have beer, mimosas and oysters while you wait.”
The Oyster House will become the second brewery to open in West Asheville in a matter of months. Altamont Brewing Company, located several blocks toward Patton Avenue on Haywood Road, recently installed its brewery equipment and will be brewing as soon as its final licenses are approved.
Billy will continue bartending at The Lobster Trap a few days a week until his new business is ready to open. Although he typically serves his beers with a big smile, I’m betting it’ll be even wider than usual now.