“We’ll be just across the railroad tracks from Biltmore Village proper, at 2 Fairview Road,” Billy says. “I don’t think we’re going to have quite as many restrictions on what we can and can’t do [as if we were in the village], but we certainly want to build something that looks good and functions the way we want it to function.”
If all goes according to plan, the site will function in a few ways: It will be part brewery, part tasting room and part distribution center.
The brewery will start off with a seven-barrel brewhouse, five fermentors and three brite tanks (for conditioning beer). In its early days, the Pyatts expect to produce about 750 to 1,000 barrels of beer per year. “What we make here is going to be geared towards the Asheville palate," Billly says. "Big beers, fruit beers, sour beers — and we’ll take suggestions. We’ll experiment and try anything we want.”
As for the tasting room, it will be an open indoor/outdoor space with a “beer garden” feel. There will be about 70 seats and parking for about 65 cars.
The hours are still TBA, but it will likely be open six or seven days a week, from early afternoon through the evening. They don’t expect it to be a late-night hangout. “We’re not setting up to compete with our accounts,” Billy says. “The people that have supported us through all our existence here in Asheville have an opportunity to take advantage of it as well. We intend to share [the new beers].”
On-site, there will be about a dozen taps, similar to Catawba’s main facility in Morganton. The majority will flow with Catawba beers, though there could be guest beers or collaborations from time to time. They will also be food-truck friendly, with a lighted area and, potentially, a power hookup. And guests will be able to bring food or order in.
The timing for all this depends largely on permits, but they’re ready to move fast. According to the Pyatts, they could complete all the site work in as little as two to three months. If all goes well, they hope to open by late summer.
While it might seem that Asheville already has plenty of breweries opening this year, the owners of Catawba have their reasons. Scott and Billy both grew up in Marion, a town between Morganton and Asheville. And talking with them, you get the sense that Asheville has always been an honorary hometown. “We’ve been coming here since the ’60s," Billy says. "Now, even though I work primarily in Morganton, I live right off Charlotte Street."
You could also say Asheville has been an honorary hometown for Catawba as a company. When they opened about 15 years ago, Highland was the only brewery in town. Asheville was in the early stages of the local beer scene, but the excitement and support was already there.
“From the moment we started, Asheville was important,” Billy says. “Even though we produced our first beers in Burke County, we sold our first beers here. Mellow Mushroom bought our first keg and Barley’s bought the second. Ever since then, Asheville has been our biggest market. It’s our home.”
As the number of breweries in Asheville grows, Catawba doesn’t want to get left behind in their own home market. “With the increase in breweries, a guy an hour away kind of gets to get lost in the shuffle; we don’t want that to happen," Billy says. "The city of Asheville has been good to us, and we hope that we contributed some to this beer culture — and we want to be here a long time."