The brewhouse formerly known as Hivemind has gone through plenty of setbacks — the name was only the start of it.
“We came up with Hivemind because we wanted to do something as a collective,” says owner Josh Bailey. “There’s this really great community with the breweries. Everybody seems to help each other out and support each other.”
Unfortunately, a Chicago-based brewery had already trademarked the phrase “Hiveminded Brewing,” and although Hivemind tried to work around it, the name finally had to be changed.
The bee logo had already been designed, though, and they loved it.
“Everything in the world is trademarked,” Bailey says, echoing other local brewery owners. “It’s so difficult to come up with anything.”
Enter Bhramari, Hindu goddess of bees.
“A lot of our investors were like, ‘That’s awful. It’s hard to spell and harder to say,’” Bailey says. “I think it’s catching on though. … It is difficult, but we like it. That’s our name now.”
Beyond that, they’ve lost and gained investors, grown from a $350,000 operation to a $900,000 one, gone over budget and missed multiple planned opening dates.
But this time, they say they’re ready to open the hive in December.
“This project started because I wanted to do a little taproom to start and end my tours,” says Bailey, who is also the owner of Asheville Brewery Tours. “Maybe a little hole in the wall with 10 taps where I could park the vans and people could eat and buy a T-shirt.
“Then I started talking with [chef] Josh Dillard and [brewer] Gary Sernack … and we went from a small taproom to a full-blown brewhouse with a full kitchen … so that’s where we’re at now.”
Bailey says his experience with Asheville Brewery Tours showed him that one of the most-requested things during or after tours was food, which inspired the restaurant inside of Bhramari, which is headed by Dillard.
“[Dillard is] one of the most incredible chefs I’ve ever known,” Bailey says. “And I’ve known quite a few. He’s incredibly creative and artistic with his food. Even though we’re a brewpub, it’s going to be a higher level of food than most people are going to be expecting.”
Dillard has worked at several local restaurants, including Zambra and The Admiral, and says he plans to take those experiences, add beer and create some new and interesting dishes.
“A lot of our food is going to be beer-inspired,” Dillard says. “But, instead of using the finished product, [I’m] using the ingredients that go into a beer in a lot of the food.”
He mentions a possible candy bar made from the malt that goes into a porter, caramel made from wort (unfermented beer) and chocolate that would give a “sense of having a porter, but actually eating a porter.”
“It’s definitely progressive American food,” Dillard says. “We’re going to be local, we’re going to be seasonal. We’re going to keep changing and thinking up new dishes as we see fit.”
Bhramari will have taps from every brewery featured on Asheville Brewery Tours, but the team also plans to have plenty of house brews available.
“People ask me all the time, ‘What kind of beer are you going to be brewing?’” says Sernack, the brewer for Bhramari. “And my response is often ‘good beer.’”
Sernack currently plans to have four or five flagship brews at all times and eventually aims to do some kettle-souring and other things.
The star of the show when the brewhouse opens will likely be Sernack’s Carolina Common, a take on the California Common style brewed with all-local ingredients that they plan to run through a fusion tower with different ingredients every day.
“I was trying to figure out how to put doughnuts in there,” Sernack jokes. “Bacon will definitely be in there sometime. Everybody likes bacon.”
A colony of breweries
Asheville is already tightly packed with breweries, and there are many more on the horizon, which could lead to stiff competition for beer drinkers’ time in the future. But Bailey says he’s confident about Bhramari’s prospects.
“Everybody does well here,” he says. “Personally, how I view Asheville as far as craft brew [is that it] is like Napa for wine. When is the wine bubble going to burst in Napa? It’s not. It’s always going to be where people go for wine. It’s a tourist destination for people who want to experience wine, and that’s what Asheville is for beer. I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world where this is happening.”
“I have no fear of things not going well,” he adds. “I’ve had Gary’s beer. I’ve had Josh’s food. They’re both wonderful.”