Foam ’n’ fizz: The evolution of WNC’s beer biz (The complete timeline)

As part of this week’s cover package on the local beer business, we prepared an extensive timeline of the high points in its evolution, from when the Smoky Mountain Brewery first opened its doors in 1993 in Waynesville to Asheville Brewing Company’s current plans to start offering the area’s first canned brews.

Turns out there’s been so much going on over the years that we didn’t have print space in this week’s issue to include the timeline in its entirety, so we’re doing so in this post.

Be sure to also check out the other articles in the package:

“Head to Head: Amid lean times, local beer business flourishing”

“Ripples: Local brewers part of larger sustainability movement”

“Brews News: water for brewing, Craggie anniversary, Asheville Beer Week”

The evolution of WNC’s beer biz:

1993: Started by home brewers, Smoky Mountain Brewery opens in Waynesville; it closes in 1997. Current word on the street says a new Waynesville brewery may be in the works.

1994: Oscar Wong and John McDermott start Highland Brewing Co. in the basement of Barley’s Taproom on Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville.

1997: The Blue Rooster, Asheville’s first brewpub, opens next to Barley’s. Featuring Highland beers exclusively, it closes a year later.

Laughing Seed Café, co-owner Joe Eckert opens Jack of the Wood pub/Green Man Brewery on Patton Avenue in Asheville.

Barley’s co-owners Jimi Rentz and Doug Beatty hold the inaugural Brewgrass Festival, which will become one of the top beer festivals in the Southeast.

Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters homebrew club begins meeting regularly.

1998: Two Moons Brew ’n’ View opens on Asheville’s Merrimon Avenue in Asheville, with brewer Doug Riley at the helm. The next year, Mike and Leigh Rangel buy the business and change the name to Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. Riley stays on and becomes part owner.

1999: Catawba Valley Brewing Co. is born in the basement of a Glen Alpine antiques mall.

MALT starts Blue Ridge Brew Off homebrew competition. Now one of the largest such events in the Southeast, it attracted more than 500 beers in 2011.

2001: French Broad Brewing Co. opens on Fairview Road in Asheville.

2003: Andy and Kelly Cubbin launch Appalachian Craft Brewery in Rosman; it soon moves to Fletcher.

2004: Dieter Kuhn and Sheryl Rudd start up Heinzelmännchen Brewery in Sylva, specializing in German-style beers.

2005: Co-owners Jason Caughman and Dave Quinn open Pisgah Brewing Co. in Black Mountain, producing the area’s first certified-organic beer.

Green Man Brewery moves from Jack of the Wood to Buxton Avenue in Asheville, opening a tasting room the locals affectionately dub Dirty Jack’s.

August 2005: State “Pop the Cap” legislation is approved, raising the maximum allowable alcohol content of beer sold in the state from 6 percent to 15 percent by volume. This enables Tar Heel brewers to begin creating high-gravity beers.

2006: Highland Brewing moves to a warehouse space in east Asheville, next to Blue Ridge Motion Pictures, and expands production.

Local entrepreneurs Mark and Trish Lyons launch the Asheville Brews Cruise, ferrying beer aficionados from brewery to brewery.

December 2006: Bruisin’ Ales, Asheville’s only beer-only retail store, opens.

2007: Catawba Valley moves to downtown Morganton, opens a tasting room.

2007-08: Local farmers, including Echoview and Hop’n Blueberry farms, start experimenting with growing hops.

January 2008: Inaugural Winter Warmer Beer Festival, organized by Mark Lyons of Brews Cruise, is held in downtown Asheville.

May 2008: Wedge Brewing Co. opens in Asheville’s River Arts District. Owner Tim Schaller teams up with former Green Man brewer Carl Melissas, who is known for his Belgian-style beers.

February 2009: Asheville-based brewers come together to form the Asheville Brewers Alliance. Dedicated to promoting the area’s expanding beer scene, the ABA soon opens its membership to regional breweries and other local beer-based businesses as well.

March 2009: Oyster House Brewing Co., a microbrewery inside The Lobster Trap restaurant, opens in downtown Asheville.

Spring 2009: Asheville ties with Portland, Ore., for first place in the first BeerCity USA poll, put on by Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian.

November 2009: Craggie Brewing Co. opens on Hilliard Avenue in Asheville, just around the corner from Asheville Brewing’s Coxe Avenue locale. Co-owners Bill Drew and Jonathon Cort both formerly worked for Highland Brewing.

2010: Asheville Beer Divas starts holding monthly social and educational gatherings for women who appreciate beer.

January 2010: Lexington Avenue Brewery opens gastropub/brewery in downtown Asheville with brewer Ben Pierson (formerly of Green Man) at the helm. The LAB is expanding into the building next door, with a new tasting room and bottling line in the works for 2012.

Spring 2010: The new Biltmore Brewing Co. contracts with Highland Brewing to produce two beers for Cedric’s Tavern. Eventually, Biltmore Estate hopes to brew on-site.

May 2010: Dennis Thies buys and expands Green Man Brewery; John Stuart continues as brewmaster. Further expansion planned in 2012.

May 2010: Bryson City-based Nantahala Brewing Co. begins selling beer made by brewmaster Chris Collier.

June 2010: Asheville wins BeerCity USA title outright; Brewers Association and Brewgrass organizers stage first Beer City Festival in downtown Asheville’s Pack Square Park.

Just Economics puts on first “Just Brew It” homebrew festival, featuring more than 50 beers cooked up by the region’s homebrewers.

February 2011: The Brewers Alliance and N.C. Brewers Guild entice beer expert Charlie Papazian to visit Asheville and speak at an educational event held in Highland Brewing’s new taproom.

Spring 2011: Appalachian Craft Brewery moves to Hendersonville, opens the town’s first tasting room, changes name to Southern Appalachian Brewery.

Asheville retains sole possession of BeerCity title.

Nantahala Brewing’s tasting room officially opens.

Highland Brewing employee Trevor Reis wins first Asheville Beer Masters Tournament.

Fall 2011: The Thirsty Monk beer bar/restaurant opens nanobrewery at its south Asheville location with Norm Penn brewing.

September 2011: Riverbend Malt House opens in a warehouse space in Asheville, malting North Carolina-grown grains to supply local breweries.

January 2012: The first local canned beers slated to roll off the line at Asheville Brewing Co.

Later in 2012: Brevard Brewing Co. to open in downtown Brevard; Altamont Brewing Co. to start brewing in West Asheville.


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2 thoughts on “Foam ’n’ fizz: The evolution of WNC’s beer biz (The complete timeline)

  1. sharpleycladd

    Benefit Brewing, the company that does business as French Broad, actually built a little brewpub in the back of Jack of the Wood in 1997-8, sold out to Eckert in 2000, and opened as French Broad in 2001.

    • Anne Fitten Glenn

      Interesting. Didn’t know. Who’s the French Broad historian? Andy?

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