Cellarest Beer Project enhances West Asheville brewing scene

RESPECT YOSEF: Cellarest Beer Project co-founders Mark Goodwin, left, and Harrison Fahrer have been friends since their days at Appalachian State University. Photo by Edwin Arnaudin

Motorists and pedestrians have long had good reason to avert their eyes when passing by 395 Haywood Road. Though situated next to the clean blue walls of West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen, and catty-corner from the shabby chic exteriors of The Admiral, the rugged grounds didn’t exactly encourage sustained attention during the McKnight Tire era, nor in its vacated aftermath once the business closed in August 2019.

But for the better part of 2020, heads have been turning while passing that same lot, attracted by the beautification of the property as Cellarest Beer Project takes shape. The brewery is the realization of co-founder and director of fermentation Mark Goodwin’s long-held dream to have his own craft beer establishment and has a targeted opening date of February 2021.

The vision for Cellarest has its roots in Goodwin’s days as a brewer at Cascade Brewing in Portland, Ore. During his off hours, he frequented Apex, a bar with a large outdoor patio, beer garden tables and minimal indoor seating. The atmosphere got him envisioning his own similar venue for a farmhouse-inspired brewery, and he began working on business plans.

In 2016, after a decade in Portland, Goodwin was hired as the head blender for Burial Beer Co., whose co-owner Doug Reiser — in his side work as an attorney — actually handled the trademark for the brewery Goodwin was going to start in Portland. As such, Goodwin says the Burial owners knew his “wheels were turning” from the get-go and have been immensely supportive of his small-business goals.

The Asheville version of that dream gained traction during a summer 2018 camping trip with a small group of friends, including Charlotte-based Harrison Fahrer, with whom Goodwin had stayed close since their days at Appalachian State University. On their way out of Pisgah National Forest, they stopped at Ecusta Brewing and began formulating a plan that would bring in Fahrer as general manager. In yet another fortuitous turn, the visit was also where they met Ecusta co-founder Bill Zimmer, who soon became their business partner in Cellarest. Thus began the search for viable real estate, which yielded contenders on Charlotte Street and in Candler before the unlikely former automotive garage emerged.

“When I saw this property, at first I thought, ‘There’s no way this is going to work. This is a garbage dump.’ The before and after pictures are going to be pretty amazing,” Goodwin says. “But I saw the benefit of having probably one of the largest patios on Haywood.”

The original goal was to open at the start of summer 2020, but that timeline was delayed by the lease not being signed until February, at which point all the equipment was ordered and Fahrer moved to Asheville. A month later, the COVID-19 pandemic threw the entire craft beverage industry into disarray — a mixed blessing for the Cellarest team.

“People kept saying to me, ‘Aren’t you glad you didn’t open in June?’ I’m personally like, ‘No. I would have loved it. Let’s open — let’s just do this.’ But we didn’t have to deal with that constant changing of what’s allowed,” Goodwin says.

Adds Fahrer, “We’ve been able to design the space with COVID in mind, and we’re confident that when we open, people will have a better handle on things.”

Aiming to be a hub for the surrounding neighborhoods, Cellarest will operate with a 4-barrel system, on which Goodwin will make regionally influenced, small-batch beers, incorporating seasonal, locally grown ingredients whenever possible. He’ll also use three different types of wood for fermentation, lagering and aging, and pour the beer from European-style serving tanks that utilize a liner and compressed air for dispensing instead of CO2, thereby encouraging fresher beer served at its proper temperature.

Goodwin plans to offer a variety of styles, including new takes on sours that earned him acclaim at Burial, with a focus on medium/low-ABV “table” ales and lagers to encourage longer visits. Unless otherwise noted, every Cellarest creation will have less than 20 parts per million of gluten — the international threshold for beer to be considered “gluten-free.”

Cans and growler fills will be available for to-go service, and visitors will get to enjoy draft pours in the spacious outdoor setting, amid an original mural by local artist Gus Cutty and eventually a small stage for local bands to perform and a drop-down projection screen for film showings. Cellarest is also partnering with the WALK for food delivery and will have scannable codes on each table that will connect to the restaurant’s online ordering system.

To help foster a true neighborhood vibe, Goodwin and Fahrer are hoping that customers who live nearby will walk or bike to Cellarest whenever possible. They’re also are working with Asheville on Bikes Executive Director Mike Sule to potentially lower the speed limit at the Haywood Avenue/Michigan Avenue intersection and are exploring closing off the single block that runs between Cellarest and the WALK to further reduce the presence of automobiles — all to enhance the overall experience and encourage Goodwin’s humble core mission.

“I want people to just have fun and drink beer, honestly,” he says. “I feel like beer’s gotten a little out of hand in some places. It’s not meant to be that way. People want simplicity.” cellarestbeer.com


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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7 thoughts on “Cellarest Beer Project enhances West Asheville brewing scene

  1. bsummers

    Oh thank the gods!!! How long has it been since theres a new brewery in Asheville? Days? A week?

  2. Alison Antaramian

    I don’t really understand why the author felt the need to be rude towards McKnight’s. That was in pretty poor taste in my opinion.

  3. J

    Wow. What trash journalism. Just unabashedly cheerleading the continued racist gentrification of Asheville. Shame on the writer and mountain express for being so hideously smug. This is what liberal white supremacy looks like. Absolutely pathetic, but sadly, not surprising in the least.

  4. Paul Williamson

    Sounds like a fine idea. With climate change the weather in February 2021 for an opening should be excellent. Good luck.

  5. Lycra

    ah yes white libs celebrating more gentrification as the last of black owned businesses on haywood is forced out of the newly bohemiated haywood st. mountainx. Maybe you can start bad mouthing the gas station across the street as well so that it too can become yet another useless tourist trap run by some clueless chumps who have doctorates in craft brewing and who ‘just want make beer done right, the simple way’ and who in no way serve the actual community. What neighbor hoods do you expect to be a hub for cellarest beer? Ask yourself that, certainly it won’t be the local population who can barely afford rent due to rising real estate costs and lack of government support during a pandemic, certainly not the homeless population, and most definitely not the black population who continues to be pushed out by white gentrifies who cater only to rich tourists and not the real community. Be sure to make friends with the police department though cellarest, they will happily arrest and brutalize any filthy poor or homeless that the motorists and pedestrians might be compelled to ‘avert their eyes from’… All while you most certainly will be touting a blm sign in your front window while simultaneously putting black people out of business great job! This article is just as tone deaf as the rich san fran couple who moved to avl and learned to say y’all.

  6. Adam

    Great one of the few black owned businesses in west Asheville replaced with another needless brewery. We don’t want you here and this disgusts me. I hope your business fails.

  7. Pete McKelvey

    Yikes, you’ve seriously been proudly averting your eyes from one of the only black owned businesses that remained in West Asheville? and now you’re celebrating ANOTHER brewery? Y’all, “mixed use” neighborhoods don’t mean residential, restaurants, breweries, and bars. Another brewery is the last thing Asheville needs. It is comical the way this article is written to romanticize Goodwin’s process of arriving on the groundbreaking idea of.. *drumroll* opening a brewery in Asheville. Truly an innovator.

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