Beer Scout: Spring on the South Slope

CATAWBA HITS THE SLOPE: Scott, Billy and Jetta Pyatt are ready for a busy spring at Catawba's new location at 32 Banks Ave. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

Spring is a time for new beginnings, so it’s fitting that Catawba Brewing Co. is kicking off the season by embarking on the next stage of the company’s future in Asheville.

Asheville has been the brewery’s largest market since it opened in Morganton in 1998. Brothers and co-owners Billy and Scott Pyatt knew almost from the beginning they wanted a second brewery in town. Then about two and a half years ago they announced a plan for a new brewery in Biltmore Village. Permitting and site issues eventually made it clear they couldn’t move forward at that location though. So they opened a tasting room at 63 Brook St. and scouted other locations. Finally they found a suitable fit at 32 Banks Ave.

The new address may sound familiar. It’s part of the complex that also houses Vortex Donuts — and the future home of Buxton Hall Barbecue.

The space is large, at about 5,400 square feet. Three garage doors frame the patio bar, which you pass through to what Catawba calls the Great Hall. This primary seating area will have a bar with 24 taps. The back left corner of the space houses a 7-barrel brewing system that Catawba will use to produce about 500 barrels of specialty beer per year. The other side leads into a separate space that Catawba is calling the Rickhouse — a British term for a barrel room.

The barrel room will house most of Catawba’s wooden barrels and contain its own bar with six taps of specialty beers. It may seem like an oddity for Catawba — a company best known for low ABV beers like White Zombie and Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale, but Catawba has long played with barrels at their Morganton facility. The brewery will come out swinging in Asheville with a 2-year-old barrel-aged Hooligan Scotch ale, a 1.5-year-old barrel-aged blueberry stout and a sour version of their popular White Zombie.

An outdoor courtyard with south facing views will round out the space. The grand opening is set for Friday, April 3. Hours after that will be 2-10 p.m. Mon-Thursday and noon-10 p.m. Friday-Sunday.

Burial’s new beer garden

Catawba isn’t the only brewery on the South Slope kicking of spring with a new space. Burial Beer Co. at 40 Collier Ave. will debut their new beer garden on Saturday, April 11.

GARDEN CREW: The team from Buxton Hall Barbecue will help launch Burial Beer Co.'s new beer garden. From left, Doug Reiser, Dan Silo, Sarah Cousler, Elliott Moss, Tim Gormley and Jess Reiser. Photo by Michael Files
GARDEN CREW: The team from Buxton Hall Barbecue will help launch Burial Beer Co.’s new beer garden. From left, Doug Reiser, Dan Silo, Sarah Cousler, Elliott Moss, Tim Gormley and Jess Reiser. Photo by Michael Files

“We plan to have a fully blooming garden and urban farm later this spring and summer,” says co-owner Jess Reiser. But for now, patrons will certainly settle for what Burial is ready to debut: expanded outdoor seating and a second bar.

Reiser says the outdoor bar will be open on weekends and for special events. To ring in the space, the Burial crew is teaming up with chef Elliott Moss of the future Buxton Hall Barbecue. He’ll cook a whole hog as well as barbecue chickens and a range of sides for the event.

If you haven’t dropped by a Burial brunch, it will also be a chance to check out the funk/jazz group The George Mandelkorn Project, who will play from 3-8 p.m.

Reiser says this is the first of several Burial/Buxton collaborations planned for 2015. “You can expect Buxton at Burial’s second annual Sharpen the Blades Saison Festival on May 2 and at an Asheville Beer Week event on May 29, where we will host an interactive beer and food pairing at our taproom,” says Reiser.

NC Beer Month kicks off at Monk

North Carolina Beer Month is back for the month of April. In years past, Asheville hasn’t done quite as much as cities to the east—likely since the month is too close to our own Asheville Beer Week in May.

Still, this year Thirsty Monk is kicking things off the right way, serving nearly 100 different beers that showcase North Carolina breweries. On April 2, there will be a huge tap takeover spanning all Monk locations (downtown, Biltmore Park, and Reynolds Village).

Thirsty Monk vice president Chall Gray says to expect several breweries to make an appearance that aren’t often seen in Asheville, including Fonta Flora and Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Beer styles will range from IPAs and stouts to Belgian beers and sours.


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

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