Sierra Nevada Brewing Company executives dropped by the Thirsty Monk last night, Nov. 17, while visiting Asheville on a site-scoping tour. More accurately, it was a family visit.
Spotted while visiting Thirsty Monk were CEO and founder Ken Grossman, his son Brian, who is the Chico Area general manager, and Brian’s fiancée, Gina. Rounding out the scoping team, but not out-on-the-town that evening, was Ken’s wife, who was reportedly back at the hotel taking care of a young family member.
Ken and Brian said no decision has been made yet as to where the company will site its planned East Coast brewery, although Buncombe County continues to be one of the potential locations.
Brian explained that picking a site is a big decision and involves many parameters, key among them being finding a place where he can raise a family.
This is Ken’s third visit to Asheville in as many months.
Brian expressed excitement about Asheville Beer Week next spring and said he plans on attending.
Thirsty Monk owner, Barry Bialik, who was tasting lambics with this reporter when the Sierra Nevada group dropped by, was impressed with the Grossmans’ extensive knowledge of lambics, even though Sierra Nevada doesn’t brew that type of beer. “Both the father and the son are very knowledgeable of the chemistry and yeasts involved, and their passion for beer is clear,” Bialik said.
“There we were, the publisher of Mountain Xpress and the owner of the Thirsty Monk, tasting our various lambics, while the weekly knitting group socialized in one corner and a group of lesbians carried on in another — and then the owners of Sierra Nevada drop in. It was an Asheville moment!” declared Bialik.
For more about Brian and his involvement with the family business, read his New York Times account in 2010.
My father has been reducing his duties as he moves toward retirement. At some point, the family will sit down and discuss what roles my sisters and I will have in future years.
My father never pushed us to work in the company, but he has worked so hard at this that we feel a responsibility to keep it going. Each of us owns a percentage of the company.
Our family is very close, so working in a family business is a plus for us. If you’re not close to your family, it just wouldn’t work. There’s so much to discuss that if you don’t get along, it would make life impossible. I’ve heard stories about things that happen in other family businesses, such as a father having to fire a son.