Asheville Brewers Supply changes hands

CHANGE IS (HOME) BREWING: Asheville Brewers Supply's first new owner in two decades, Tedd Clevenger, has worked at the shop for years. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

Most people think Asheville’s oldest brewing business is Highland Brewing Co. But the truth is there is at least one beer-making operation in town that predates them, if only slightly.

For the last 21 years, Asheville Brewers Supply hasn’t brewed and sold its own beer — that would be illegal. However the shop, owned up until two weeks ago by Andy Dahm, has helped both new and seasoned homebrewers pick out recipes, troubleshoot processes and brew some damn good beer for a long time.

Tedd Clevenger is the one purchasing the shop from Dahm. While he’s the new owner, he’s anything but new if you’ve ever visited the shop. He’s worked at Asheville Brewers Supply for years and has managed it full-time for the past year. “Before working at Asheville Brewers Supply, I was in the financial services industry and it was clearly not a good fit for me,” says Clevenger. “I spent all my free time brewing, reading beer books and listening to beer podcasts.”

“So when Asheville Brewers had an opening, I jumped at it. … I was getting married and going on my honeymoon, but I basically said, ‘Don’t hire someone else while I’m gone, that job is mine when I get back!’” says Clevenger.

In addition to more than 10 years homebrewing, Clevenger also has local beer industry experience, including a stint at Wicked Weed — and like a true Asheville resident he’s worked a variety of other jobs, including some time as a carpenter.

He’ll bring all that experience to his new shop, though he says some things won’t change at all. “Andy’s always done well, and the reason is the customer service and education. It’s always been more than just being nice just so people will come back. …We value the relationships we have, and it’s just fun to have someone brand new to fermenting come in and to get excited with them as they grow and progress,” says Clevenger.

While the shop will have the same spirit, and while it will still do two free brewing demos per month, Clevenger does plan to roll out some changes in the coming year:

  • A new website: Clevenger says it will be launched any day now, with up-to-date information on the brewing process and other helpful features.
  • Revised recipes: Clevenger is redesigning all the house recipe kits, making them clearer and easier to follow for beginning brewers — the ones who most often rely on kits.
  • New partnerships: Clevenger says he’ll soon start working with the smallest breweries in town and figure out what might be helpful for their businesses. For example, allowing breweries to take advantage of bulk discounting but letting the shop handling the administrative side of orders.
  • A stronger focus on winemaking: Customers can expect increased offerings on the wine side of the business, says Clevenger, and  stronger relationships with the winemaking community in WNC. He just announced a new partnership with the French Broad Vignerons, and Asheville Brewers Supply is now the local club’s official shop.
  • Beer for sale: Once the shop clears adequate space and jumps through the necessary regulatory hoops, Clevenger plans to offer a small selection of beer. “I’d like to stock some things you can’t find at grocery stores,” says Clevenger. “The idea would be to let people pick up an interesting six-pack along with their recipe for brew day.”

That last one is a big deal and something that just wasn’t possible while Dahm was the owner. Under North Carolina law, since Dahm is an owner of the French Broad Brewery, he couldn’t also be an owner of a beer retail business as well.

The packaged beer, along with expanding the amount of equipment and ingredients stored at the small shop, may eventually lead to a move as well. “We’re not looking at anything right away, but at some point we’ll run out of room here,” says Clevenger. Still, the shop has only had two locations in its first 20 years, so maybe a move for the third decade is fitting.

Asheville Brewers Supply is at 712-B Merrimon Ave. Hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays. ashevillebrewers.com

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About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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