Asheville area breweries in expansion mode

by Dryridgeinn on May 9, 2014

Expansions are under way at Asheville Brewing, Brevard Brewing, Highland Brewing, Green Man, Thirsty Monk and Oskar Blues.

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Spring is bringing a big wave of brewery expansions in Asheville and around around Western North Carolina with new equipment arriving that will boost the production of local ales and lagers.

The expansions come as New Belgium Brewing nears construction on its $175 million East Coast brewery along the French Broad River in West Asheville. That project — which will become Asheville’s largest brewery — will eventually hire 140 workers and produce a half million barrels of beers annually, including such products as Fat Tire amber ale. Groundbreaking was held last week at the site on Craven Street and construction will begin next week.

Also in the works:

• Asheville Brewing, 77 Coxe Ave., has new brewing equipment on order to turn out such beers as Shiva ESB and Rocket Girl lager. The brewery’s production will increase 30-35 percent to as much as 13,000 barrels of beer annually, company president Mike Rangel said. “We are going to expand to three shifts” at the brewery,” he said.

• Brevard Brewing, 63 E. Main St. in Brevard, has just received its new 15-barrel custom-made brew house. When combined with a 30-barrel fermentation tank that’s on order, it will boost production there by 50 percent, brewery owner Kyle Williams said. “When this is all ready, it will allow me to get more (beer) into Asheville,” he said. He will keep the old brewery system running until the new one is on line, “but I’ve already got a buyer for it,” he said. Brevard Brewing specializes in longer-to-producer lagers, including pilsner.

• Highland Brewing, 12 Old Charlotte Highway, is making a major $5 million expansion that will increase its production by as much as 50 percent, company founder Oscar Wong has said. “We are in the process of prepping” for the expansion, Wong said Monday. Highland now turns out about 38,0000 barrels of beer annually which is sold in nine states, mostly in the Southeast. Their flagships includes Gaelic Ale and Oatmeal Porter.

• Green Man Brewing, 23 Buxton Ave., has added new tanks and is planning a $4 million expansion that includes a 17,000-square-foot building with a packaging facility, a specialty brewery and a tasting room. Green Man already operates two breweries on Buxton, including the main production line and the smaller original system. The brewery produces such beers as ESB, IPA and porter, sold on draft and in bottles.

• The Thirsty Monk at Gerber Village, 20 Gala Drive, looks to resume brewing in the next few weeks, owner Barry Bialik said Monday. The Monk has also acquired a 2.5 acre lot off Thompson Street along the Swannanoa River that could be used for a 15-barrel expansion system and for beer events.

• Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard has closed a 145-acre parcel in Henderson County that will be used for a bicycle park, company spokesman Chad Melis said. “This is something that we hope to get up and running by summer,” Melis said. A trail on the property could be used to bicycle to the Brevard brewery, Melis said. Bicycling is a passion of the brewery founder Dale Katechis and Oskar Blues has a bike-building operation in Colorado, Melis said. The Henderson County farm is now being used to graze cattle, which might eventually be fed spent grain from the brewery at 342 Mountain Industrial Drive in Brevard. The company’s best known beers include Dale’s Pale Ale and Old Chub.

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