Brews News: true-blue beer trifecta and more

Oskar Blues Brewery coming to Brevard
It’s a true blue beer tri-fecta. Oskar Blues Brewery of Longmont and Lyons, Colo., will open both a production facility and a restaurant in downtown Brevard. This, on the heels of Sierra Nevada’s plans to build a brewery/restaurant in Mills River, and New Belgium coming into the River Arts District with a brewery and tasting room soon after. The 21st Amendment Brewery announcement that they, too, will open a facility in Asheville? A joke. The Deschutes Brewery rumor? Not true either. For the moment, at least, only the first three are definitively opening facilities in Western North Carolina.

So why Brevard for Oskar? It’s true that Dale Katechis, owner/founder of Oskar Blues, loves to mountain bike and that the new facility on Railroad Avenue sits near a bike trail that leads directly into Pisgah National Forest.

“Certainly mountain biking is part of the equation,” says Chad Melis, Oskar Blues’ marketing director. “But Brevard is also similar to Lyons, where we started. It’s music rich, it’s mountainous, there are lots of outdoor activities nearby. It reminds us of home.”

Plus the Longmont production facility was reaching capacity and OB already ships a good bit of beer to the eastern part of the nation. Their beers, including Dale’s Pale and Ten Fidy, are currently distributed in 27 states.

OB plans to start production in Brevard by December of this year and will produce 40,000 barrels in their first year. Between the brewery and the restaurant, the business hopes to hire 75 to 100 people, most of whom will come be locals, says Melis. 

Melis notes that only 12 of the 45 taps in the two Colorado tasting rooms are Oskar Blues beer, and says, “What we’re really trying to do is support craft beer. We have great relationships with Colorado brewers, both large and small. Our goal is to make that happen in North Carolina as well. We want to be part of the social fabric of the community.”

Josh Freeman, Brevard City Planning Director, says, “from the city’s standpoint, we’re thrilled. This is a great opportunity for the community.”

Just a few weeks ago, Brevard Brewing Company opened in downtown Brevard, with brewer Kyle Williams at the helm. Williams says Brevard residents have welcomed the new brewery effusively, and he can hardly keep up.

“The dream for many of us has been for the greater Asheville area to become the epicenter for craft beer the same way Napa is for the wine industry. It’s clear now that the dream is becoming reality even faster than we had hoped. We at Brevard Brewing welcome Oskar Blues to Brevard and feel that the market is big enough to allow us all to be successful in this beautiful mountain community,” Williams says.

Brewgrass sells out in eight minutes
Eight minutes: That’s how fast 3,000 tickets sold online to the 2012 Brewgrass Festival, which will be held on September 15. This year’s sales went smoothly, and organizers held back approximately 500 tickets to sell locally from Barley’s Pizzeria & Taproom. An announcement will be made as to when those tickets go on sale. They sell for $45 per person cash. Don’t fret if you missed out, however. Beer City Festival tickets are still available at Barley’s and local breweries. Those tickets are local only (or, at least, no online sales) and go for $40 cash. Beer City Fest takes place on June 2 at Roger McGuire Green downtown as part of the first Asheville Beer Week. While Beer City Fest typically consists primarily of Southeastern breweries, the “new” WNC breweries have been invited to pour at the Fest.

The House That Beer Built
Love local beer? Like to use a hammer for good? The Asheville Brewers Alliance has donated $10,000 and nine days of hammering to help built a local Habitat for Humanity home. Thirsty Monk, Wedge and Highland have already had their brewery work days, but several more coming up. If you’d like to volunteer to help build with local brewers, you can sign up at the brewery tasting room or online at ashevillehabitat.org. Here’s the schedule: May 12: French Broad; May 19: Asheville Brewing; June 9: LAB; June 16: Pisgah; June 23: Nantahala Brewing.

New Belgium meets with community
Representatives from New Belgium Brewing held two community meetings last week at the Artery in the River Arts District to answer questions and gather ideas. The business is working on coming up with their concept designs for their $175 million brewery and tasting room, which will be located on Craven St. next to the French Broad River. 

Jenn Vervier, NB’s director of sustainability and strategic development, and Jim Spencer, NB’s director of engineering, both discussed the business’ plans and answered queries from the audience (about 100 folks showed up on Monday night). Residents concerns ranged from traffic to jobs opportunities to maintaining the creative and artistic integrity of the RAD to environmental concerns to odors that may emanate from the building.

Speaking of the latter, Spencer says most of the brewing vapor will be recaptured as part of the energy recovery program, but a slight aroma may escape now and again. I can’t imagine boiling grain could possibly smell worse than what swirled up from the stockyards when they were on the same site. 

Also, an update on brewing capacity, which will probably be about 350 to 400,000 barrels the first year (2015?), but which ultimately will be around 700,000. The brewery will have a bottling line, and possibly canning as well, as that’s been popular recently, and NB’s newest canned beer, Shift, is flying off the shelves. Also, an interesting statistic for those interested in the beer tourist equation — the Fort Collins brewery brings in around 100,000 visitors annually. Vervier says it’s the biggest tourist attraction in that town, but it won’t be the biggest in Asheville; the Biltmore Estate currently draws more than one million visitors per year.

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