“I had never been out West,” said Quinn. “I took my dog and a copy of Travels with Charley: In Search of America. My mom gave me a copy of that as I was leaving.” For the next few years he traveled and lived simply. He ate a lot of rice and beans. He was, in his own words, “on a sabbatical leave [from Pisgah].” Then, just as the west coast once had, North Carolina called him home.
Last week the news broke that Quinn was back in town, but that’s only half of the story that surprised Asheville’s beer drinkers. Jason Caughman — the other half of Pisgah’s ownership and the man running the show in Quinn’s absence — had decided to leave the company upon Quinn’s return.
The message on Pisgah’s blog was simple enough, but left questions: “To all of our fans, supporters and lovers of great beer: Pisgah Brewing Company will see a change in day-to-day management starting immediately. We are very excited to welcome co-founder and co-owner, Dave Quinn, back to Pisgah Brewing. We are sad to see co-founder Jason Caughman leave, and we wish him all the best in his new ventures. We look forward to continuing to grow as a great product and venue in the Western North Carolina region.”
Since then, Caughman has kept silent. He remains involved in other projects, including Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, a downtown restaurant set to open in March.
According to Quinn, “Jason and I had a meeting and kind of decided that … he was going to take a break and focus on his other projects. The brewery needed somebody to focus on the beer.”
What does that mean for Pisgah, besides a different co-founder at the helm? According to Quinn, the first priority is investing in brewery infrastructure to keep up with the thirst for Pisgah Pale Ale. Particularly in the heat of summer, the brewery often struggles to meet demand. It’s not unheard of for accounts to be out of Pisgah Pale for a week here or there. “That’s our number one priority this year: that it does not run out,” said Quinn. He added, “By increasing our capacity, we’ll be able to increase our consistency as well.”
Quinn also assured Xpress that the brewery will remain creative. “I spent the last three years out west seeing breweries all over southern California … I have lots of ideas to bring to the table.”
Thom O'Hearn can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @avlbeerscout.