Green Man Brewery’s expansion invests in the future, celebrates the past

STAYING ON THE SLOPE: Green Man Brewery owner Dennis Thies says that while it would have been considerably cheaper to expand his company in another part of town, he was committed to keeping the business near downtown in the South Slope neighborhood. Photo by Cindy Kunst

After three years in planning and two in construction, Green Man Brewery’s nearly $6 million expansion facility finally officially opened to the public on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. The affectionately nicknamed Greenmansion was built on the same field next to the brewery’s original tasting room where Green Man released its first bottles on St. Patrick’s Day 2013, keeping the brewery firmly in touch with its roots as it builds for the future.

The 20,000-square-foot space is expected to significantly improve the customer experience at Green Man by providing supplemental amenities, a new tour flow, more draft beer taps and a more visible retail outlet for to-go bottles and merchandise. Watched over by an impressive stone mosaic of the Green Man logo, the ground-level “Brewtique” grants customers easier access to Green Man branded clothing and glassware, six-packs and 22-ounce bottles of Green Man’s flagship and seasonal offerings along with 18 draft lines.

Another 18 taps can be found upstairs at an indoor/outdoor bar that features views of both the surrounding mountains and the production floor as well as ample seating and custom TVs. With space already at a premium at Green Man’s existing South Slope taproom, Dirty Jack’s, the streamlined crowd control of the Greenmansion’s additional 400-person capacity (as well as its 10 additional toilets and outdoor seating) should help to keep the thirsty throngs happy and comfortable when tourist season arrives.

Dirty Jack’s, possibly the first brewery tasting room in the city, will not be relegated to being a footnote in the history of Asheville craft beer. The facility’s production equipment will be rededicated to brewing Green Man’s highly sought-after sours, and its bar will remain open seven days a week with hours corresponding to those of the Greenmansion.

While all tours will now be starting next door at Greenmansion, Dirty Jack’s will still be part of the tour experience as visitors learn more about the company’s lengthy legacy on the South Slope. According to director of public relations Elise Carlson, “There’s always a place in our hearts for Dirty Jack’s, and we’re happy to have room for everyone to spread out. … People can visit both places and have the whole experience of what Green Man is about, where we’ve come from and where we’re going.”

Green Man’s growth spurt is not over. Expansion has been planned to occur in three distinct phases, explains brewery owner Dennis Thies, with construction and the grand opening of the tasting room marking the completion of phase one. Phase two is already underway and will involve the installation of new tanks, which will expand the brewery’s fermentation capacity by more than 30 percent. This phase also entails getting the brewery’s new KHS packaging system online, which includes the company’s state-of-the-art CombiKeg keg wash/fill and a 25-head bottling line.

Phase three will see the installation of a custom-fabricated 10-barrel copper brewhouse from renowned manufacturer Kaspar Schulz, which is currently being handmade in Germany and should be in place on the Greenmansion’s production floor some time in early 2017. Thies is particularly enthusiastic about this piece of equipment. “If you think [the production floor’s] cool now, wait until you come back a year from now,” he says. “It’ll be amazing.”

ROOM TO ROAM: With two floors of taps, a new retail space and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Green Man Brewery's recently launched Greenmansion will allow customers ample room to spread out, complementing Dirty Jack's cozier quarters next door.
ROOM TO ROAM: With two floors of taps, a new retail space and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Green Man Brewery’s recently launched Greenmansion will allow customers ample room to spread out, complementing Dirty Jack’s cozier quarters next door.

The KHS bottling line and keg wash/fill will be about five times more efficient than those currently in use at the brewery. The new bottle filler will reduce the beer’s exposure to oxygen, thereby improving quality control and shelf life substantially. Similarly, the keg wash/fill is effectively five times as efficient as the brewery’s current system, with the capacity to fill one keg per minute as opposed to the current equipment’s rate of 12 per hour.

Customers visiting the Greenmansion will be able to watch the production floor develop organically over time, with the installation of the Kaspar Schulz brewhouse representing the crowning achievement of the extensive build-out process. Many of the aesthetic touches in the tasting room were planned around this piece of hardware, with a patinated copper bar surface and pennies inlaid on stair landings and windowsills designed to match the copper of the new brew kettle. When everything is in place, it will be readily apparent to patrons where every cent went.

Green Man’s nearly two-decade-long history on the South Slope was a central consideration to Thies when deciding to build in the heart of downtown. “What’s important to me is the value we place on how important this is to [downtown] Asheville,” he says. “This would’ve been a hell of a lot easier to build out on Airport Road and get 50,000 square feet and spend a third of the money. … I didn’t cut any corners.”

Thies goes on to point out that Asheville’s first double IPA (Rainmaker, formerly known as The Truth) and first three sours (Maceo, Bootsy and Snozzberry) were all brewed next door at Dirty Jack’s. In spite of the added expense that a construction project as substantial as the Greenmansion entails downtown, Thies takes pride in the fact that the entire operation was completed without accepting any outside investment or tax incentives from financial institutions or governmental entities.

He is similarly proud that no trees were removed in the construction process, highlighting his commitment to Green Man’s roots, both literal and metaphorical.


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