Cruising down Riverside Drive in Woodfin, you might go right past Zillicoah Beer and never realize it’s there.
For now, there’s no clue that Buncombe County’s 37th craft beer operation is taking shape on property that used to house a paving company, but the forthcoming brewery promises to be one of the area’s more unique beverage destinations.
With a split cellar, Zillicoah will produce sours and lagers, two of the most difficult and time-consuming beer styles — and it will do so without a brewhouse. Instead, the beer will be started at other area breweries and finished at Zillicoah, says brewer John Parks, whose partners in the project are brothers Jeremy and Jonathan Chassner. Mike Healy of Lexington Avenue Brewery — where Jonathan Chassner formerly brewed — and Steve Wilmans of Echo Mountain Recording round out the company’s board of directors.
“It’s been a project we’ve been thinking about for 10 years,” Parks says. He previously worked for two years making specialty beers at Hi-Wire Brewing and before that was cellarman at Asheville Brewing Co. Initially, the idea was to open a barrel-aging facility, but Zillicoah evolved to include the split cellar and tasting room with a dozen taps and a big covered patio with picnic benches.
The name Zillicoah comes from a Cherokee word for a section of the French Broad River. An Asheville street uses another spelling: Zillicoa.
Zillicoah Beer will use a 15-barrel fermentation system and can work with breweries that have 5- to 15-barrel brewing systems. By starting the brewing process elsewhere, Zillicoah opens itself to many collaborations and flavor profiles.
“We want to focus on the fermentation side,” Parks says. “That’s where the hard work is. We have all these brewhouses in Buncombe County, and we can use that to an advantage. We can brew wherever we want.”
The partners are leasing the 4-acre space at 870 Riverside Drive, which has an industrial feel similar to that of Wedge Brewing Co. A rail spur runs near the building, which is also alongside the French Broad.
Zillicoah already has a couple of saisons in its tanks, both using grain from Riverbend Malt House. Parks anticipates the beers being ready in a couple of months as construction continues on the taproom, which he hopes to have open later this year.
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