The newest brewery on Asheville’s horizon will be led by some familiar faces. JT Murrett and Vince Tursi, former brewers at Burial Beer Co., have struck out on their own with the help of a third partner, Mike Semenec, to open a new brewery called DSSØLVR at 63 N. Lexington Ave. DSSØLVR is slated to open in early 2019, with brewing operations to begin later this year.
The space will house a three-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse from Premier Stainless Systems as well as a two-vessel, 3-barrel pilot system, both obtained from The Veil Brewing Co. of Richmond, Va. Wort brewed on these systems will find its way into 3-, 7-, 15- and 30-barrel fermenters, allowing DSSØLVR to create a wide variety of beer styles in varying quantities.
“I’d love to brew 30 barrels of English mild, but that’s not going to sell,” says Tursi. “So that’s a 3-barrel batch. But double IPA? That’s a 30-barrel. We can half batch or double batch; we’re not locked into anything.”
DSSØLVR will have three main focus areas. “The first area is a lot of what we want to drink, very lager-focused, traditional German styles and some English ales for Vince — pub stuff, getting brewing back to its roots,” explains Murrett. “Those aren’t necessarily big sellers in the market right now, so we have the other two areas: very wood-heavy, barrel-fermented and barrel-aged sours and foeder beers, and then new-school stuff like pastry stouts and hazy IPAs.”
Tursi notes with excitement that some of the lagers and pub ales will be open-fermented in wood as well and that there are plans in place for a beer engine for pouring from casks. The brewery will also open with a canning line in place, allowing for immediate distribution of packaged product in 16-ounce cans as well as 750-milliliter and 500-milliliter bottles.
DSSØLVR has already begun collaborating with other breweries around the country, starting with Hoof Hearted Brewing of Marengo, Ohio, and intends to release gypsy-brewed collabs on a monthly basis before opening. Future collaboration beers will be announced on the brewery’s Instagram page.
The brewery has also started cultivating and isolating proprietary yeast strains and bacterial cultures for its beers, banking them with Nashville-based Bootleg Biology. On the subject of possible infection issues arising from producing clean beer and wild fermented ales in the same facility, Tursi and Murrett revealed details of the brewery’s floor plan. Sour beer production will happen on the second floor in an area separated from the space planned for clean beer production.
They also cite extensive experience working with both clean and sour beers, a result of their diverse and impressive curricula vitae. Tursi began homebrewing in Boston after a friend bet him $50 that he couldn’t produce a beer better than a Samuel Adams seasonal he was drinking. He spent $200 on homebrew equipment and still lost the bet. This failure led him to question what went wrong, and the years of homebrewing that followed resulted in a job at Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Mass. After growing Night Shift’s barrel program from a handful of barrels to over 250 and moving operations from a 1,700-square-foot facility to one 10 times that size, he was offered the opportunity to open Lord Hobo Brewing in Woburn, Mass., where he served as the lone brewer on a four-vessel, 40-barrel system.
Murrett similarly started his career as an avid homebrewer, but after his job as a commercial property manager in Boston fell through, he decided to pursue his passion for brewing professionally. Taking a sales job at Blue Hills Brewery in Canton, Mass., allowed him to volunteer in the brewhouse, and his experience there led to a job at brewpub chain Boston Beer Works, where he was able to shadow staff on brew days. After attending brewing school at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont, he spent six months brewing at Lagunitas Brewing Co. in California before returning as assistant head brewer to Boston Beer Works, where he learned to brew on three completely different systems.
The background both Tursi and Murrett have developed in the industry has allowed them to learn every aspect of beer production, from building out a facility to brewing and packaging. While DSSØLVR plans to hire locally in the future, the early years will see Tursi and Murrett handling the vast majority of the necessary work.
“We would never ask somebody to do something we wouldn’t do, but we would also never trust somebody to do something where we could just do it. There aren’t a lot of breweries where the owners can walk in and handle absolutely anything,” says Tursi.
Though Tursi and Murrett lived and worked within blocks of each other in Boston and even attended the same college, the two didn’t meet until they joined Burial and helped to build the Forestry Camp production facility. Semenec, a former co-worker and roommate of Tursi’s with a background in graphic design and advertising, had long expressed an interest in opening a brewery, and with that, the pieces were in place for the inception of DSSØLVR.
Semenec, who has developed marketing materials and short films for companies ranging from New Balance to Otis Spunkmeyer, offers some thoughts on the brewery’s brand identity. “The DSSØLVR brand is our blend of great people, great beer and the pursuit of the surreal,” he says. “Following that ethos allows us to be experimental and creative as f***. As a brand, we want to ooze with awesomeness every damn place you see it. Or something like that.”
“We care immensely about the liquid we’re producing,” adds Murrett. “A huge thing that we also care about, second only to that, is not taking ourselves too seriously.”
For more information on DSSØLVR, visit dssolvr.com and follow @dssolvr on Instagram.