Matt Addis says he started dreaming of opening a brewery almost immediately after he brewed his first beer. Now that dream is about to become a reality as he and Jonathan Myers prepare to open Habitat Tavern and Commons in May.
“I fell in love with brewing in a way that I hadn’t with anything else,” Addis says about his first homebrewing experience. “It was one of those love-at-first-sight things. From the time I started doing it, I knew this is what I wanted to spend my life doing.”
Around seven years after his first stovetop brew, Addis is finally ready to open his first professional operation, but he and Myers aren’t content with launching just another brewery — they say they hope to turn Habitat into a multifunctional neighborhood gathering space.
“There are certain towns where the culture happens around pubs, and I’m really intrigued by that,” says Addis. “I really feel like, if I want to get a feel for the neighborhood and what’s happening in town, that’s the space where that happens.”
Myers has experience in community organizing, which he hopes to leverage to help turn Habitat into the neighborhood space they envision. In the past, he’s started several small nonprofit organizations and even helped form a neighborhood space that hosted artist openings, theater troupes, concerts and more — all things the two are considering bringing into Habitat.
“It’s about connecting the dots in the neighborhood — connecting people who have similar passions and ideas and introducing collaborations,” Myers says. “I create space for communities to happen. We’re just going to put it to the neighborhood and ask what kind of space they would make. That happens in Asheville anyway — people get together over a pint of beer and talk about what they want to create together.”
In fact, Habitat has plenty of space. Located in a 4,400-square-foot building next to Moog Music and High Five Coffee, the owners have ample room to house the planned 2-barrel brewing system and much more.
Though Habitat will likely open as a pub with guest taps before getting all of the required brewing permits, Addis says they have a number of beer recipes ready.
“Right now, we’ve got a Baltic porter, a stout, an IPA, an IRA and a pale ale,” he says. “I’m still working on perfecting some specifically Carolina things. We’re hoping to have four or five standards and a couple rotating.”
Other local breweries have run into problems with names, and, unfortunately, Habitat is no exception. A vineyard in California distributes a wine with the name Habitat on the label, and according to Addis, the “patent office won’t even look at anything alcohol-related unless there’s an agreement to coexist,” so the two are currently trying to work out a deal so they can use the name.
“We chose the name four years ago,” Addis says. “Habitat, for us, became an idea of a biosphere that sustains the life around it. … Not that we necessarily want to lay it out that deeply. I like that it’s vague enough that you don’t have to think about it just to walk through the door, but if you’re looking for something a little more intentional, it’s certainly there.”
Addis and Myers remain optimistic, but they’re brewing up other ideas if the worst-case scenario happens, and one thing is certain — the “Tavern and Commons” name will remain, no matter the umbrella label.
And regardless of the name, the owners are eagerly looking forward to opening to the public. “The first day that I sell a pint of beer to somebody is going to be nirvana,” says Addis. “It’s been a long journey for sure. We’re finally getting to spend all our energy and time on what we love.”
Habitat Tavern and Commons is scheduled to open at 174 Broadway sometime in May. For updates and details, visit habitatbrewing.com.
Sharpen the Blades
It’s almost time for Burial Beer’s Sharpen the Blades Fest — a celebration of saison-style beer from 35 North Carolina breweries that happens Saturday, April 30.
“This is the third year that Burial has hosted Sharpen the Blades Saison Fest,” says Burial’s Jess Reiser. “It is an event that celebrates a specific style of beer, the talent and passion in the local North Carolina craft beer community and the beginning of a new season of agriculture.”
Salt and Smoke will be cooking up seasonally inspired plates until 9 p.m., and East Coast Dirt and the Ouroboros Boys will provide live music 5-9 p.m.
Before the event, Burial will host a special bottle release at 11 a.m. featuring Terrestrial Paradise, a farmhouse ale bottled-conditioned with mango juice and wild yeast, and Garden of Earthly Delights, a saison aged on tangerine peel, fresh cucumber and turmeric. People who come for the bottle release will be able to prepurchase their entry into the festival.
Sharpen the Blades Fest begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at Burial Beer Co., 40 Collier Ave. Admission is $8 and includes a 10-ounce commemorative glass and two pour tokens. Extra tokens cost $2, and each token grants a 5-ounce sample of any of the beers featured.
Editor’s note: This issue of Xpress marks the last Beer Scout offering from writer Jesse Farthing, who has covered the Asheville brewery beat for the past several months. Cheers to Jesse as he moves on to other adventures!