Carolina Beer Guy: Looking back at a busy year in beer

SPICE OF LIFE: David Ackley and Cristina Hall opened Ginger's Revenge ginger beer brewery and taproom in the River Arts District in spring 2017. Photo by Benson Schliesser

Another year has come and almost gone on the local brew scene, and with it a wave of new breweries and beer-related businesses have opened in Asheville and around the mountains. These additions pushed the total number of breweries in Buncombe County to 37 and raised the overall count in Western North Carolina to more than 70. Along the way, two local breweries were also sold to new owners.

For those who haven’t been keeping track or are looking for a refresher, here’s a rundown of the busy year:

New breweries

Archetype Brewing Co. opened at 256 Haywood Road, joining a fast-growing beer community along the busy West Asheville stretch. Archetype has plans for more growth in 2018 and looks to add a rooftop beer garden in spring. For now, the indoor tasting room is open, with food options in the adjoining building such as Pizza Mind and Gan Shan West.

Ginger’s Revenge launched at 829 Riverside Drive in spring. The brewery specializes in different varieties of alcoholic ginger beer.

Zillicoah Brewing Co., 870 Riverside Drive, is producing two very difficult styles: sours and lagers.

Habitat Tavern and Commons released its first batch of beer this year in a remodeled historic building at 174 Broadway, next to Moog Music.

White Labs Kitchen and Tap at 172 Charlotte St., combines a boutique kitchen and taproom next door to the White Labs yeast manufacturing facility.

Hillman Beer, 25 Sweeten Creek Road, joined Hi-Wire Brewing, French Broad River Brewing and Catawba Brewing Co. in the greater Biltmore Village area, which some have dubbed the South South Slope.

Eurisko Beer Co., 255 Short Coxe Ave., plans to have its beers on draft in Asheville and Charlotte by the end of the year. It taproom is set to open in 2018.

• Wedge Brewing Co. completed its long-planned second location in the Foundation development at 5 Foundy St., only a mile or so from the original Wedge, which remains open.

• Fairview greeted the arrival of two breweries. Whistle Hop Brewing Co., 1288 Charlotte Highway, has a tasting room in an old parked railroad car. Turgua Brewing Co., 31 Firefly Hollow Drive, is making beers from locally sourced ingredients.

• After Basic Brewery in Hendersonville closed in September, Black Star Line Brewing Co. opened in its former space at 131 Third Ave. W., as the area’s first brewery owned by an African-American, queer female. Soon after its launch, the brewery received a flurry of racist and homophobic online comments from an anonymous source while at the same time experiencing an act of vandalism that affected its brewing operations. However, the business was given solid support from the area brewing community.

• Triskelion Brewing Co., 340 Seventh Ave., will become the fourth Hendersonville brewery when it opens Sunday, Dec. 31.

Homeplace Beer Co. made its debut at 6 S. Main St., Burnsville, as Yancey County’s first brewery.

New beer stores

• What’s a beer scene without plenty of places selling ales and lagers? Craft Centric Taproom and Bottle Shop opened this fall at 100 Julian Shoals Road in Arden, and The Whale Craft Beer Collective debuted in late December at 507 Haywood Road in West Asheville.

Ownership changes and expansions

• Wicked Weed Brewing was purchased by the craft division of global beer giant A-B InBev, makers of Budweiser and Bud Light. The sale led to an angry firestorm among some craft beer purists, however many customers have stood by the brewery, which produces a range of sour and barrel-aged beers.

• French Broad River Brewing also found new ownership when Paul and Sarah Casey of Chapel Hill took over the operation.

• A deal to sell French Broad to the Thirsty Monk was never completed, but the pub chain, which has made a name for itself in Asheville with a strong line of imported Belgian beers and its own house brews, announced expansions into the Western states with new locations in Denver and Portland, Ore.


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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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