The Wedge Brewing Co., Asheville's newest microbrewery, opened its doors last week to a thirsty horde ready to lap up the latest offerings in hand-crafted beer.
Owner Tim Schaller expected 100 to 150 patrons would visit the Friday opening in the space in the bottom corner of the Wedge Gallery on Roberts Street in Asheville's River District. Instead, he got about 250 beer-lovers eager to taste the Wedge Brewing Co.'s first product, the Iron Rail IPA. Customers filled the dirt parking lot and waited in line up to two hours for a sip.
The brewery, in a former artist's studio that looks onto railroad tracks, joins a beer-making scene in Asheville that already supports five other breweries — Asheville Brewing Co. Green Man Brewing, Highland Brewing, French Broad Brewing and Pisgah Brewing. But Schaller sees room for his new venture, saying he's confident that he's got a good location, with plenty of parking, in a part of town he considers "the last frontier around here that's not condo-ized." And how about the beer? Schaller teamed up with "my favorite brewer in town," former Green Man brewer Carl Melissas.
Wedge Brewing will be open limited hours while it continues to ramp up production. The brewery will only be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays until the weekend of the June 14 to 15 River Arts District Studio Stroll, when, Schaller says, he plans to be open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday. After that weekend, the brewery will be open weekdays from 4 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 4 to 10 p.m., according to Schaller.
Schaller also previewed his planned schedule of beers. The Iron Rail IPA is currently the only beer on tap, but June 14, Wedge Brewing will add a carob porter. On July 10, a pilsner will go online. And July 17, the start offering a Belgian wheat beer, and American pale ale and brewer Melissas' Golem, a Belgian he's made before in Asheville.
Schaller said folks should mark Saturday, July 19, as his grand opening, which will include an outdoors showing of the drive-in classic Thunder Road. The movie, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, starred Robert Mitchum as a moonshine runner going up against rivals and government agents set on thwarting his business. The movie, shot in Western North Carolina, includes scenes shot around Western North Carolina. One sequence is a car chase shot in Asheville's River District, a chase that roared right by what is now the Wedge Brewery Co.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor