A number of WNC’s brewers and brewery owners were recently invited to Chico, Calif., to attend a special session of Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Beer Camp, organized by Terrence Sullivan, Sierra’s brewmaster and field educator.
This spring, Sierra Nevada announced that it will open a second facility in Mills River. Soon after the announcement, Ken Grossman, founder and president of Sierra Nevada, told Tim Schaller of Wedge Brewing that Sierra wanted to bring the Asheville Brewers Alliance to Chico to promote partnership rather than competition among its “new family.”
The ABA members had a three-day intensive course on the workings of the huge production facility, on track to produce 1 million barrels of beer this year. Most importantly, they got to brew a couple of beers using Sierra’s state-of-the-art equipment. Because the group was so large, they divided it into two brewing groups and brewed two different beers. Each brewery will receive a keg of the beer they brewed, starting in August. It should be fun to taste these collaborative Beer Camp brews.
“We all learned a lot,” Schaller says. “For me, it was interesting to see how Ken has done everything environmentally correctly for 30 years, just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also turned out to be an economic boon for the company.”
John Lyda, head brewer for Highland Brewing Company, says he and Scott Pyatt, co-owner/brewer of Catawba Valley Brewing in Morganton, got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the Sierra Nevada brewing operations. Like Schaller, Lyda was impressed with the extent of Sierra's environmental technology. "It was a warm day, yet they were 100 percent off the grid. In fact, they were feeding energy back to the grid," Lyda says. "They are an incredible company, and I'm really excited about them being nearby."
Green Man explosion
Green Man Brewing is expanding in a big way. The brewery has purchased a warehouse, adjacent to its Buxton Avenue brewery. The new space will allow for an additional 30-barrel brewing system, offices and twice the existing square footage. All of that room means the public can wander in, taste a brew or two and watch the brewers in action. In an ideal world, the new brewhouse would be up and running by the end of the year, says Dennis Thies, Green Man Brewery’s owner. The new system will triple the capacity of the current 14-barrel brewhouse.
“It’s really humbling,” Thies says. “I’m thankful that people want to buy our beer.” When he purchased Green Man three years ago, the beer was only being sold at the brewery and at Jack of the Wood.
As we’ve written previously, Lexington Avenue Brewery is also expanding and building a new brewhouse in the building next to its existing brewpub on Lexington Avenue, which will house a 30-barrel brewhouse. That brewery will also most likely be up and running by the end of the year. LAB's also considering purchasing a canning line.
These expansions will position these two local breweries to exceed the production capacity of North Carolina’s (and Asheville’s) current largest brewery, Highland Brewing Company. Highland will produce around 25,000 barrels in 2012. Of course, Oskar Blues Brewery will also open a second brewery in Brevard, probably by the end of the year, and will immediately surpass Highland, Green Man and LAB in capacity. Until Sierra Nevada gears up in Mills River, OB will be North Carolina’s largest brewery.
Beer, Barrels & Bottles: Asheville’s Liquid Assets
Leadership Asheville has put together a series of breakfast panels featuring area business leaders and innovators, and the next one will be all about beer.
On Tuesday, July 17, starting at 7:30 a.m. (early for beer people, I know), the panel titled “Beer Barrels & Bottles: Asheville’s Liquid Assets” will be held at The Renaissance Hotel. Breakfast and the panel costs $20, and the event will run until 9:30 at the latest. Yours truly will be moderating, and panelists are Julie Atallah, co-owner of Bruisin’ Ales; Brian Grossman, co-manager of Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River; Mike Rangel, president of Asheville Brewing Co.; and Oscar Wong, president of Highland Brewing Co. There will be raffle prizes, including some great beer swag. For tickets, go to http://avl.mx/prp9 or call 348-0673.
Asheville Brewers Alliance leadership change
The new president of the ABA is Highland Brewing head brewer John Lyda. The nonprofit membership association representing WNC’s breweries was formed in 2009. Lyda has been brewing for Highland since soon after they opened for business in 1994. He was born and raised about a mile from the brewery’s current location on Charlotte Highway in east Asheville. Schaller and Rangel are two of ABA’s past presidents.
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