South Asheville’s craft beer scene continues to boom with the opening of The Casual Pint bottle shop and taproom in the Ingles Skyland Plaza shopping center.
Part of a Knoxville, Tenn.-based franchise chain, the store is the latest southside outpost for ales and lagers. It joins Craft Centric Taproom and Bottle Shop, which opened in December, and a cluster of breweries: Hillman Beer, Sweeten Creek Brewing, French Broad River Brewing and the Thirsty Monk pub and brewery at Biltmore Park. Not far away is Mills River Brewery and Fletcher’s Blue Ghost Brewing Co.
The Casual Pint has 35 rotating draft taps and hundreds of packaged brews, plus ciders, wine and some food offerings, says owner Brad Rogers of Hendersonville, who spent 30 years in banking before switching gears to beer.
“I’d been looking for something different,” Rogers says. “I like the concept. It’s like an English pub meets a coffee shop — a very relaxed setting.”
Rogers says he was also drawn to the franchise concept. “Standardization appeals to me,” he says. “This has proven to be successful. We’re the 25th store. I like the model: I provide the store, and they have the beer knowledge and expertise. They give us full rein to select our inventory.”
While there aren’t many overlaps between his former and current jobs, Rogers points to the presence of competition in each industry. “But beer is more collegial. We’ve had people from other stores and from the breweries come in and offer to help,” he says. “The one thing that is similar [with banking] is that you never know what each day is going to hold.”
Rogers plans to introduce beers from outside Western North Carolina into the market while showcasing popular area brews. “We’ll adjust [inventory] up or down based on demand,” he says. “If we get a lot of demand for other local beers, we will add them. If [customers] like stuff from outside the market, we’ll bring more in.”
However, The Casual Pint will not carry brands such as Budweiser, Miller or Coors. “We have some German and Belgian beers, but 90 percent of it is American craft beer,” Rogers says. The shop has only been open for a couple of weeks, but so far he says customers are gravitating toward sour beers and ciders along with a steady demand for IPAs.
Meanwhile, a few miles away in Arden, Craft Centric has settled into a routine just off busy Long Shoals Road. The venue has been steadily attracting area residents, according to owner Matt Vaughan. “We are in an area that is growing,” he says.
The store recently got a boost when readers of the CraftBeer.com website included it on a list of best American beer bars. Vaughan has already boosted his draft lines to 21, up from 16 when the business opened. One tap is dedicated to cider and another is used for nitrogen beers. About half of the taps are used for local or North Carolina beers.
The store also fills glass growlers and has installed a crowler machine for 32-ounce cans filled on demand, an option Vaughan says is proving popular with customers. A certified cicerone beer expert, Vaughan has stocked more than 375 different packages in the shop, ranging from local products to imports, and reports that IPAs and stouts are most popular among his clientele.
The Casual Pint is at 1863 Hendersonville Road, Suite 145. Operating hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday. For more details, visit asheville.thecasualpint.com.
Craft Centric Taproom and Bottle Shop is at 100 Julian Shoals Drive, Unit 40. Operating hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. For more details, visit craftcentricbeer.com