Beer Scout: Sanctuary Brewing

PET PROJECT: Joe Dinan and Lisa McDonald, the team behind Sanctuary Brewing, share their 3-acre Flat Rock homestead with a number of adopted animals — including a pig named Oliver. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Most new breweries want to talk about their beer. But for Joe Dinan and Lisa McDonald, the team behind Sanctuary Brewing, it’s all about something else: the animals.

The couple, who plan to work together to open Sanctuary Brewing this summer in downtown Hendersonville, have long been animal rights advocates. “When I was a legal consultant, I was on the road constantly,” says McDonald. “But whenever I’d get some time off at home, we’d foster a new animal.”

From puppies and kittens to chickens — even a goat — their home was open to whatever they could accommodate on their 3-acre homestead. Some animals actually never left. “We recently adopted a pig,” says McDonald. “But he’s not out on the property. … He lives in the house.”

Beyond fostering animals, McDonald and Dinan describe themselves as farm animal rights activists. McDonald is vegan, and Dinan is vegetarian. Both currently volunteer with Blue Ridge Humane Society, Asheville Humane Society and Brother Wolf. All three of those organizations could play a role in the brewery itself when it opens, as animal welfare will be integrated with Sanctuary Brewing in a variety of ways — including, hopefully, the taproom.

“We’re still batting around ideas with those organizations as far as how to work together, but we’re hoping we can do something similar to what Aloft hotel is doing right now: We’d like to host a foster animal for an evening or whatever makes sense and try to get them adopted straight from the taproom,” says McDonald.

While the two have a business plan, the realities of any small business will mean other tie-ins with animal rescue organizations and shelters will change as the business grows. “Giving back to the shelters we work with is huge, but we’re not sure what we’ll be able to do at first,” says Dinan. “Eventually we’d like to get to where 1-2 percent [of sales] could consistently go to those groups, but when we start out we’ll see. … We hope to at least have one beer on tap where $1 or so goes to one of those groups.”

As far as beer and business goes, the pair say they’re ready to hit the ground running. Dinan is a former employee of Thirsty Monk and a current brewery employee at Wicked Weed, where he focuses on the barrel-aged beers and sours.

For the initial lineup, Dinan says to expect about a dozen beers. “I think we’ll start out with a few IPAs, a coffee stout and a Berliner weiss and see how it goes,” says Dinan. “I definitely love saisons, too, so we’ll hopefully be able to do a lot of farmhouse-style beers.”

Rounding out the tap list will be a cider and a beer or two from Hendersonville neighbor Southern Appalachian Brewery.

Andy and Kelly Cubbin [the owners of Southern Appalachian] were the first people we told about our brewery,” says McDonald. “We wanted to make sure there was an alignment … and they’ve been just great mentors since then. We cannot say enough good things about them.”

Sanctuary Brewing will host an open house event at 147 First Ave. E., Hendersonville, on at 6 p.m. Friday, May 8. For more information on the brewery, including crowdfunding efforts, visit:

Furry Friends Beer Feast

Speaking of Blue Ridge Humane Society, the shelter has another big event coming up even sooner in the South Slope at Catawba Brewing’s new brewery and tasting room. The Furry Friends Beer Feast, organized by Gary Glancy,  is being presented jointly by Catawba and the Blue Ridge Humane Society along with Budweiser of Asheville, Greenlife Grocery and Ward and Smith, P.A.

On Sunday, April 26, diners can expect five dishes from Jerami Jones, Traci Taylor and Treavis Taylor of Fig Bistro with a few — OK, actually make that nine — beers. The beer lineup includes local favorites from Oskar Blues, Sierra Nevada, Southern Appalachian and Catawba along with legendary beers like Russian River’s Pliny the Elder, The Alchemist’s Heady Topper, Alesmith’s Speedway Stout and Founder’s KBS.

“It’s probably safe to say there’s never been a public beer-dinner lineup like this — anywhere. Any one of these elusive beers would be an enormous draw on their own, but all four together, combined with the incredible local brews? It’s pretty epic,” says Glancy.

Tickets are $125, a portion of which is tax-deductible, and are on sale now at:


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

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