For Asheville drinkers eagerly anticipating the debut of the South Slope’s newest brewery, the wait is finally over. Following 2 1/2 years of planning, numerous obstacles and delays, and a lot of hard work, Eurisko Beer Co. opened quietly with an unannounced soft opening on Feb. 16.
The 1,500-square-foot tasting room at 255 Short Coxe Ave. welcomed a crowd of family, friends and industry peers who turned out to partake in eight Eurisko beers, including two saisons, two IPAs, two pilsners, a pale ale and an imperial stout. So far, the brews have been well-received on beer review aggregator Untappd, with all eight currently boasting scores north of four out of five.
Eurisko owner and brewmaster Zac Harris and head brewer Zack Mason laid out short-term plans for the brewery’s lineup, with the tap list seeing the addition of completed beers such as a coffee vanilla porter and an abbey bruin in the coming weeks. Future beers will include full 15-barrel batches of the brewery’s imperial stout and double IPA, previously brewed as pilot batches, as well as a Belgian-style witbier and a barleywine to be made on the pilot system. Subtle adjustments will be made to existing recipes in subsequent iterations, such as transitioning from White Labs’ California Ale Yeast to its English Ale Yeast for the imperial stout and incorporating grains from Riverbend Malthouse.
A tap takeover at Appalachian Vintner on Friday, Feb. 9, provided a public preview of half of Eurisko’s current lineup, with Mairzy Doats saison proving to be an early hit. The first in a series of saisons named for a nonsensical song recited by “Twin Peaks” villain Leland Palmer, a sixtel of Mairzy Doats kicked in less than four hours at the Vintner event. A half-barrel of Mairzy has traveled to NoDa Brewing in Charlotte, where Harris formerly brewed, as Eurisko’s first out-of-town draft account.
According to Vintner employee Jim Brown, Eurisko’s first customer at the tasting room’s soft opening, the brewery’s to-style representation of classic beers was a refreshing change of pace from some of the more complicated offerings favored by many local breweries. “I loved the beer. I loved the pilsner, and that Mairzy Doats is the s**t,” says Brown. “I liked the Batch One saison as well. And the stout was awesome.”
The Eurisko taproom can hold 77 guests, with an expansive outdoor beer garden rated to a capacity of about 140. Although dogs are not allowed inside the tasting room, they are welcome in the beer garden. A more exclusive, 25-person-capacity downstairs tasting room is expected to open in late summer or early fall, which will likely house the brewery’s higher-gravity and barrel-aged offerings.
“The best review I saw so far is that’s a simple, clean, no-frills space. We’re making beer and we’re trying to sell the beer, no gimmicks,” says Mason of the brewery’s taproom strategy. “Our goal is to keep prices reasonable. We’re using 20-ounce glassware, so you’re actually getting full 16-ounce pours, not including head. So that pilsner’s a $4, true 16-ounce pint. Hopefully, that’s a draw.”
Currently open Thursday through Sunday, Eurisko’s tasting room hours will gradually expand over the coming weeks, explains Mason, with a six-day weekly schedule expected to be in place prior to a grand opening event scheduled for Friday, March 23. Eurisko beers will be pouring at Brawley’s Black and Blue festival in Charlotte on Saturday, March 17, and are expected to pop up at select bars and restaurants around Asheville in advance of the grand opening.
Harris explains that Asheville was the perfect place to open Eurisko because its knowledgeable community of beer industry professionals and avid homebrewers is less susceptible to trend-chasing than more casual craft beer enthusiasts. “In Asheville, you don’t have to shoot for the hazy IPA cans,” he says. “New places like Zillicoah or Hillman or Archetype are on similar paths, but nobody’s doing the exact same thing; everybody’s not stepping on each other’s toes all the time. It’s a competitive market, and that competition continues to drive everybody, but its also deceptively diverse.”
Eurisko intends to define itself in that crowded market by focusing on fundamentals. “Do you consider yourself an experimental brewery by experimenting with the basics?” muses Harris. “Can a really dry, straightforward saison become something where somebody says, ‘Wow, I’ve never had this in Asheville.’ I think there are still niches in this town that don’t seem like niches because they’re so simple. We feel confident making straightforward, really solidly produced versions of classic beers, and I think right now that’s what Asheville needs in some ways.”