Carolina Beer Guy: Eluvium Brewing strikes gold in Weaverville

NUGGETS ON TAP: Jon Varner (pictured) and Shea Lewis run Eluvium Brewing Co. in downtown Weaverville. The taproom opened in October, making it the town's third such establishment. Photo courtesy of Kendra Penland, Asheville Brewers Alliance.

Weaverville is rich in small-town charm with restaurants and shops lining its Main Street. Over the past few years, it’s developed its own craft beer scene as well.

Eluvium Brewing Co., has set up shop at 11 Florida Ave., the third such business to open in this northern Buncombe County town. Brewer Jon Varner and his girlfriend, Shea Lewis, quietly opened Eluvium last October, joining two other nearby breweries: Blue Mountain Pizza and Brew Pub, which makes a range of small-batch beers; and Zebulon Artisan Ales, which specializes in French and Belgian-style farmhouse ales and other historic recipes.

Varner, who handles all the brewing at Eluvium himself, is mostly sticking with lower-alcohol session beers, sold on draft in the taproom just off Main Street. The space had previously been used for storage for a nearby furniture store, and Varner says a lot of renovation was needed to get it ready for the brewery.

The owners knew they didn’t want to open a brewery in the crowded Asheville market and settled on Weaverville after considering other area towns. “We looked around at Mars Hill and Marshall and we found this spot, and it just worked out perfectly,” he says.

Varner served in both the Army and Navy and also worked in the intelligence community before switching gears to brewing. He learned homebrewing and then moved into professional brewing.

“I realized I didn’t want to do that for someone else,” he says. “I planned a road trip, and a buddy of mine was living in Leicester.” Varner came to Western North Carolina from Virginia and decided to stay. He says the Eluvium name is borrowed from a type of gold deposit, a nod to North Carolina’s one-time fame as a gold mining destination.

Varner currently has about 16 recipes and has been rotating them out on his taplines. Eluvium beers have included a New England IPA, an American bitter, an American strong ale and a session IPA. “We try to put a lot of flavor into beer without putting a lot of alcohol into them,” he says.

With a few exceptions, most his beers are 4 to 5 percent ABV, and he says the vast majority of his taproom customers have embraced his accessible creations.

Eluvium has also been tapping guest beers from Ginger’s Revenge and Archetype Brewing Co., plus Brevard Brewing Co. and Mad Co. Brewing of Marshall, but as Eluvium increases production, Varner plans to eventually phase out the guest beers. “My greatest fear in the world is running out of beer,” he says.

Eluvium Brewing Co. is at 11 Florida Ave. Operating hours are 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 2-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. The tasting room is closed Monday-Wednesday. For more details, including expanded seasonal hours, visit eluviumbrewing.com

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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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