Businesses in Asheville continuously grow, move, change, and innovate, and the local brewing industry is no different. We understand that things don’t stay stagnant, so we wanted to offer an overview of what’s new with area brewers.
Highland Brewing Company’s newest addition, its outdoor event space and stage, finally came to fruition a few weeks ago through much hard work, according to Andy Roberts, Highland’s manager of onsite brewery tours and festivals.
“It took some proving,” Andy says. “We had the music space inside for a while and we had to make sure that everybody enjoyed that enough to warrant a new space. Last year we put in a stage and this year we completed that with an outside bar made from a reclaimed shipping container and a lot of reclaimed pallet wood that would have been thrown away. We finally put in the sail tents and everything necessary to hold about 1,200 people out there.”
With Highland’s new event space, Andy says they hope to attract a different crowd than Pisgah Brewing Company, which also has an outdoor stage and offers an active music schedule. Highland’s aim is just to bring a new element to the already thriving Highland Brewing venue.
“Pisgah’s space is great,” Andy says. “I don’t think what we’re going to do is going to affect them at all. I hope not at least. We offer kind of a different vibe and we’re really trying to go for a lot of different audiences now. So with this new space we’re going to open that up to a lot of different genres hopefully, to pull in people of all walks from Asheville and outside as well.”
Highland’s decision to build the outdoor space seemed like a natural progression, Andy says. The brewery team wanted to bring inexpensive entertainment to the area.
“(The events) have been very low pricing,” he says. “The first one we had was the Appalachian Shakedown which was only $8 a person to come in. The idea is to get everybody out and have a great time and just see the space and enjoy the brewery. It’s so nice outside during the summer and we love good music, and sometimes music just sounds better outside.
Along with Highland’s new entertainment space, its dedication to sustainability has spurred some changes as well. The most recent development is altering its roof for the potential of solar panels.
“I know that (solar panels) are an idea that we definitely want to put in place,” Andy says. “But being a brewery and, believe it or not, our profit margins aren’t that high so you have to kind of wait until that kind of thing is a realistic move. We are in the process of remodeling the roof to make things like that possible in the future. We are constantly trying to stay as green as possible. So small efforts at a time and hopefully we can get there.”
In addition to Highland’s changes, Wicked Weed Brewing, French Broad Brewery, and Pisgah Brewing recently made a few changes. French Broad Brewery just released a few of Asheville’s favorites in can form. French Broad President Andrew Dahm explained in a press release that its customers are often outdoors and cans are easier to handle while being active.
Pisgah Brewing also recently released some big news: It will no longer have the USDA certified organic label on its beer. None of its methods or ingredients changed, but USDA’s specifications for organic labeling have. So the organic label goes away but the same great flavors stay.
In the world of Wicked Weed’s fairly new brewery and restaurant, things constantly change, says Abby Dickinson, who is event and media director and part of the ownership team.
“There are constantly new beers going on,” she says. “Every week there are three to four new beers. We have these few staples but beyond that everything is going to be new.”
Outside of Wicked Weed’s consistent beer changes, the six-month-old business will soon reach a couple of significant milestones.
“We do have a few things to look forward to in the near future,” says Abby, who is married to one of the brew masters. “We’re going to be celebrating our half anniversary at the end of (June). We’re going to throw a half birthday party for that. Our 100th batch is also coming up so we’re going to have a little release party when that gets going.”
The brewers at Wicked Weed also decided to branch out creatively with their beer production and bring a new flavor to their already abundant collection.
“We have a sour facility that is really getting up and going,” she says. “We’ve gotten some new tanks in for that production and it’s in a separate building.”
Speaking of separate buildings, Asheville Brewing owner Mike Rangel has opened The Mill Room, which is a new event space at 66 Asheland Avenue. The space will be used for Asheville Brewing events but is also available as venue for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and other private parties.
With all the new things coming for Asheville beer lovers to look forward to, it sure seems that Asheville, at heart, remains Beer City USA.