Breaking: White Labs Inc. will expand the Asheville beer/wine scene

Chris White of White Labs said he was originally planning a northeastern expansion, but Asheville's breweries and culture won the company over. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

Less than 10 days into 2015, we  have our first huge announcement for Asheville beer: White Labs Inc. is building a new facility in Asheville. The company, “a world leader in fermentation sciences for the brewing and winemaking industries,” is acquiring a 26,000-square-foot building at 172 S. Charlotte St. (See the company’s website release and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce press release below.)

But nonbrewers and nonhomebrewers might not know how important and how big of a deal this is for the East Coast as a whole and Asheville in particular: White Labs is one of just two yeast companies (the other being Wyeast) that supply nearly all of the craft brewers in the United States.

There is no brewery equivalent.

It would be as if there were only the two largest craft brewers — Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada — and then a bunch of tiny breweries. And then one of those two large breweries opened a second location in Asheville.

In addition, strengthening the case that North Carolina and Asheville are both legitimate beer destinations with legitimate beer cultures the way California and San Diego are for the West Coast, White Labs will also bring different jobs than another brewery. Company officials say they plan to hire about 65 employees. But unlike brewery staff, a lot of those employees will be trained scientists.

At the Jan. 9 presentation, Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer spoke powerful words about how White Labs, as an advanced biotech company, “Acts as a catalyst that shows the city is home to world-class companies.”

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Web release from White Labs Inc.:

White Labs has unveiled its expansion to Asheville, North Carolina, crowned BeerCity USA in 2010.

White Labs a leading provider of yeast supplies and consulting to breweries, wineries and distilleries with fresh yeast and related products, is pleased to announce its domestic US expansion.

Now, in addition to operating in California and Colorado, White Labs will be covering the entire United States with distribution and operations in Asheville, NC. Known for its scenic beauty, music culture and robust art scene, Asheville’s reputation as a haven for brewing and culinary arts is growing and White Labs is growing along with it.

White Lab’s expansion into the North Carolina craft-brewing center is driven by consumer demand.

CEO & Founder Chris White said the expansion will result in “even quicker shipping turn around times, lower costs and less overhead. Asheville is the first step of our global expansion plan that is strategically being rolled out in waves over the next few years. Like San Diego and Boulder, Asheville serves as an innovation center for emerging breweries and we couldn’t be more excited to join the Asheville brewing community. 40% of our current customers are on the east coast. Being local will enable us to best serve them and lower our corporate carbon footprint.”

FAQ

1. What will you be doing at the new Asheville location? [Our newest location will serve our customers in the following ways: Distribution, Tasting Room, Education, Production, Analytical Lab Services]

2. Will you brew a local/regional beer? [Sounds like fun. Can’t see why not.]

3. Will you have facility tours? [Yes.]

4. Will there be a tasting-room and restaurant at the brewery? [Yes, this facility will directly mirror that of our San Diego headquarters and have both a tasting room and bites.]

5. How will White Labs’ presence benefit the local beer scene? [Availability. Community. Innovation.]

6. What is the projected timeline for the Asheville location to be operational? [Yeast will ship Q4 2015. Tasting Room & Classes Q4 2015]

7. What’s the White Labs’ commitment to the community? [From day one we’ve had a commitment to community providing everything from yeast to feedback, testing and technical advice. We are proud to create enduring experiences and cultivate community where-ever we are and have been long time supporters of JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Breast Cancer Research through Beer For Boobs]

8. What is the White Labs’ donation policy? [We love being involved and make donations when we can. A formal request on your organization letterhead and a non-profit identification number is required. Please help us, help you.]

9. Why did you choose North Carolina? And Asheville? [Asheville, North Carolina is centrally located on the [Y]east coast and within driving distance to many of our customers. Asheville has an amazing beer culture and quality of life. They’re our kind of people and it’s a natural fit with our White Labs corporate culture of cultivating community and work life balance]

10.Will you sell growlers and beer on site? [Yes]

11.Where will orders be fulfilled? San Diego? Asheville? [We will have the luxury of fulfilling orders from both the [Y]east and West coasts]

12.Will you producing all strains in both locations? [Not at this time.]

13.Are we brewing the same beers at each location [Having two locations allows for even more creativity in our brewing and we plan on brewing different beers in each tasting room that meet the needs of the local taste buds and character]

14. Any additional locations on the horizon? [We are always looking toward corporate growth and look forward to sharing our global expansion plan over the new few years.]

15.Are we fulfilling enzymes and nutrients from the East Coast? [Yes]

16.How big is the Asheville facility? [Upon completion, the Asheville facility will be approximately 32,000 square feet]

17.How many jobs are we bringing? [We are proud to bring 65 jobs to the local community]

18.What is the address? [172 South Charlotte Street Asheville, NC 28801

Press release from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce:

WHITE LABS ANNOUNCES NEW EAST COAST OPERATIONS,
65 NEW JOBS IN ASHEVILLE

Asheville, N.C., January 9, 2015– In conjunction with the Asheville City Council, Buncombe County Commission, and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), White Labs Inc. announces today its first East Coast laboratory operation in Asheville that will create 65 new jobs and invest $8.1 million over the next five years. Founded in San Diego, Calif. in 1995, White Labs Inc. is a world leader in fermentation sciences for the brewing and winemaking industries.

Mirroring the company’s headquarters, the Asheville facility will provide analytical laboratory services and product related training for industry professionals. It will also be the base for sales and marketing for the eastern U.S. and global markets. Hiring will begin in summer 2015. White Labs’ fresh yeast and related products, which are a vital link in the worldwide supply chain of the brewing industry, will be manufactured on-site for breweries, wineries and distilleries. The company has been recognized for its pioneering scientific studies on improving strains of yeast at a molecular level.

“Like San Diego and Boulder, Asheville serves as an innovation center for emerging breweries, and we couldn’t be more excited to join the Asheville brewing community,” stated CEO and Founder Chris White.  “Asheville is the first step of our global expansion plan that is strategically being rolled out in waves over the next few years.”

White Labs plans to acquire a 26,000-square-foot city owned property at 172 S. Charlotte Street. Implementing the long held vision of City leaders to energize the Charlotte Street corridor, the company will renovate and expand the turn-of-the-century structure to accommodate class-A office, laboratory and training facilities.  This announcement adds to a string of recent private investments in the Charlotte Street corridor of more than $50 million dollars.

“The City of Asheville is proud to partner with White Labs, which represents the type of advanced biotech and technology companies the City is strategically seeking to help catalyze development in our Innovation Districts,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer.  “Energizing South Charlotte Street by repurposing under-utilized city property and adding quality private sector jobs in a growing industry makes this a great accomplishment for the City.”

“This exciting announcement today cements our reputation as a leader in the national craft brewing industry,” commented David Gantt, Chairman of the Buncombe County Commission.  “More importantly, White Labs offers the kind of science and tech jobs that will employ the next generation of Buncombe County residents.”

“Chemistry is essential to brewing, and good scientific jobs are a crucial component of a sustainable, healthy economy,” stated EDC Chair Taylor Foss. “White Labs will soon be a significant biotech employer in Asheville and will find great talent generated by the fermentation sciences program at Appalachian State, resources at the North Carolina Biotech Center, and A-B Tech’s Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast.”

The Economic Development Coalition (EDC) for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions.  The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment.  The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign. Visit www.ashevillechamber.org/economic-development.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a member organization with over 1,800 member businesses and organizations. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of building community through business. The Chamber is home to a 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes over 200,000 visitors per year. To get active in the Chamber, visitwww.ashevillechamber.org.

 

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

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