White Labs Asheville hosts open house

THE STRAIN GAME: White Labs CEO/Founder/President Chris White addresses guests at his company's Charlotte Street production facility on March 23. The open house doubled as a celebration of the international provider of pure liquid yeast completing phase one of construction at its new East Coast operation. Photo by Edwin Arnaudin

White Labs Asheville celebrated the completion of its first phase of construction with an open house for government officials, members of the local beer community, VIP supporters and media on Thursday, March 23, at its Charlotte Street production facility.

Headquartered in San Diego, the international provider of pure liquid yeast, fermentation products, services, analysis and education unveiled its progress in Building 1. Guests were allowed self-guided walk-throughs of the White Labs offices, custom packaging and shipping areas and peeks into the yeast and bacteria labs (photos of which were prohibited). A production clean room, where yeast grows into bulk sizes, is also in the building.

Downstairs in a large open space, which is the future home to the facility’s brewing operations, nine White Labs beers were on tap, ranging from an IPA made with WLP001, the first yeast strain developed by the company, to the Frankenstout, which combines 96 strains.

As attendees mingled and sampled the brews from complimentary 13-ounce tulip glasses, White Labs CEO/Founder/President Chris White spoke of his excitement at having Asheville as the home for his company’s East Coast operation. He thanked local leaders for their roles in making the expansion a reality and drew applause after announcing that 21 new people have been hired in Asheville to join four transfers, whom he noted don’t want to move back to their prior posts.

“This first phase is all about yeast production, so that’s what we set up first. We’re also packaging yeast here that has been made in San Diego and sent here and also some finished goods, so we’re doing kind of a combination of things right now as we’re getting this facility running smoothly,” White said. “What we’re doing now is sort of at a miniature scale of what it will be over the next year, two years, three years.”

White hopes to have phase two — a taproom in an adjoining building — completed in July. The new space will feature 32 taps, including experimental batches and guest beers, and serve as an easy means of educating the public about yeast and its role in brewing.

Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer followed White to the microphone and highlighted the building’s history as a former storage site for Bele Chere equipment and other past lives as police horse stables and a tobacco warehouse. “I feel like we’ve kind of come full circle with yeast,” Manheimer said. She added that White Labs’ $8 million investment in the city will help keep Asheville the beer capital of not merely the East Coast, but the entire nation, and praised the company’s efforts to change the face of its section of South Charlotte Street.

This is a wonderful amalgamation of science and funky and yummy beer, and that really says ‘Asheville,’” Manheimer said. “This will ultimately create 65 high-value career opportunities in science and technology, and it will in turn support over 2,000 jobs in this area, so this is really a win-win situation.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.