Asheville’s fast-growing craft beer scene officially got a new player as Habitat Brewing Co., situated on the north edge of downtown, began pouring its own brews on Feb. 24.
Located in an old storefront next to Moog Music, Habitat is the 26th brewing company in Buncombe County, with most of those in Asheville. And more breweries are in the works not only in Buncombe but throughout Western North Carolina.
Habitat followed a familiar route in getting into business. Beginning in November, it operated as a taproom serving guest brews from many other local breweries while awaiting needed permitting. But with the arrival of its own beers, it officially joins the scene as a producer of ales.
Matt Addis is the brewer and co-owns the business with his wife, Jennifer Addis, and business partner, Jonathan Myers. The first four Habitat beers on tap are an English-style IPA, an ESB, an oatmeal porter and an imperial red ale, or IRA.
The old building was in rough shape when Habitat took on the lease. Matt Addis says he is uncertain of the building’s history, but a land deed dates to 1918, and he believes the structure went up in the early 1920s. Renovation took about a year, he says, noting that some of the old wood was reused in the brewery, but more modern construction materials were removed.
From the start, the idea behind Habitat was to build a neighborhood brewery to serve the surrounding community. And the place has had steady traffic since the taproom started serving guest beers by such breweries as Innovation, Highland, One World and Lazy Hiker. “We have treated this period as a soft opening,” Addis says, adding that the house-made beer will now “be a draw itself.”
Customers, says Addis, have been “a good mix of regulars and folks from [UNC Asheville].” While breweries are scattered around the city with a concentration on the Coxe Avenue South Slope district, Habitat’s closest brewing neighbors are Asheville Brewing on Merrimon Avenue and Lexington Avenue Brewery downtown.
Since opening, Habitat has offered regular events, including live music, art shows, a pop-up market, improv groups, open mics and a series called Pints with a Professor, in which faculty from UNC Asheville speak about their areas of expertise. The next program in that series takes place Tuesday, March 7, with Dwight Mullen, who has written about Asheville’s African-American history.
Addis is turning out his brews on a 1.5- to 2-barrel system. As his beers come online, Habitat will cut back on its guest brews, but some of those will remain, he says. “We want to highlight some of the good local beers,” says Addis. “I won’t have lagering capability for a while, so we will keep sours and some of the styles that we are are not making here yet.” Habitat will also serve a couple of ciders, as well as wine.
For now, the Habitat beers are only sold on draft at the tasting room, which can accommodate about 200 visitors. But Addis says he’s looking forward to getting into some area brew festivals. “By summer, we are hoping to get to a couple of them,” he says.
Habitat guests can park in the Moog Music lot after 5 p.m. weekdays (avoid any spots marked “no parking”). There’s also a nearby gravel lot along Broadway as well as limited street parking.
Habitat is the latest brewer on the Asheville-area scene. Other upcoming breweries include Ginger’s Revenge, making ginger beer along the French Broad River; Archetype, which is building on Beacham’s Curve in West Asheville, and Turgua, which looks to open soon in Fairview. Wedge Brewing has built a second riverfront location, and Burial is opening an expansion brewery near Biltmore Village.
Habitat Brewing is at 174 Broadway. Regular hours are 2-10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 2-11 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.