Carolina Beer Guy: Thirsty Monk hires new brewer, revamps Gerber Village location

MONASTIC MALTS: Paul Friedheim is the new head brewer at Thirsty Monk's Gerber Village location, now known as 2X4 Brew Pub. Photo courtesy of Thirsty Monk

Asheville’s Thirsty Monk pubs are famous for a wide variety of beers, including many Belgian imports. First introduced at the business’s downtown location on the corner of Patton and Coxe avenues, the offerings proved so popular that owner Barry Bialik opened other locations in Gerber Village, Biltmore Park and Reynolds Village, then headed west to establish branches in Portland, Ore., and Denver.

Now the Monk property at Gerber Village is getting another remake and name as well as a new Asheville-based brewer, Paul Friedheim. According to Bialik, previous Asheville brewer Norm Penn has left the company, and Brian Grace continues as the chief brewer in Denver. In making the shifts, Bialik says he aims to boost production of and attention paid to the Monk house beers, which include such selections as Hopped Golden Sour, Tricky Monk Belgian Style-Tripel, Abby Blonde and Screaming Monk Belgian-Style IPA.

The Gerber Village location has been through a number of changes over the years. It started as a Thirsty Monk pub for South Asheville, then switched to Brother Joe’s Coffee Pub, which closed in August 2018. The site remains home to the Thirsty Monk brewing equipment and will now be known as 2X4 Brew Pub, a name inspired by Bialik’s other business, Compact Cottages, which builds affordable housing.

Along with the new moniker comes significant layout changes. “We’ve made the public bar area much smaller and put a full 7-barrel system out front,” Bialik says.

Currently open to the public, the tasting area can accommodate 16 customers, and there’s additional seating outdoors. The bar has six taps, all pouring Thirsty Monk beers, plus wine and cider. It also serves savory house-made hand pies.

Friedheim previously worked at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Co. in Lexington, Va., and is a graduate of Appalachian State University’s fermentation sciences program in Boone.

“The opportunity here is awesome,” Friedheim says. “I have a lot of friends in Asheville. Barry and Brian and I hit it off.”

Friedheim describes his job as being “pretty much in charge of acquiring the ingredients to getting the beer out.” Involved in “all parts of the process,” he’s already turned out a blonde ale, and a fall IPA is on the way in a few weeks.

“I’m coming into a brewery that makes great beers, and I want to continue that tradition,” he says. “I will definitely make Belgian[-style] beers, but I also want to expand [the] styles.”

2X4 Brew Pub is at 20 Gala Drive. Tasting room hours are 4-9 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday.

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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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