The name Pisgah is synonymous with the geography of Western North Carolina. Outdoors enthusiasts know the natural wonders that make up the Pisgah National Forest, and Mount Pisgah is one of the more recognizable peaks in the state. The name, though, has also become synonymous with organic, handcrafted beer.
Located just east of Asheville in Black Mountain, Pisgah Brewing has become a force in the area’s competitive brewing market. Its flagship beer is the Pisgah Pale Ale, made with a blend of Chinook and Nugget hops along with a blend of rich malts. “We make about 60 to 80 kegs of the Pale Ale per week,” says Pisgah’s Jeremy Austin, who oversees delivery and sales. “Plus we have plenty more that we package and distribute. It probably makes up 75 to 80 percent of our sales.”
Started about seven years ago, the brewery has seen continued growth, and that trend is not slowing down. In fact, the brewery plans to expand soon, taking over additional warehouse space connected to its current location. New equipment is being purchased and most likely a few new jobs will be added in 2013. In recent weeks Pisgah has expanded into the Charlotte and Boone markets.
“We’re happy to expand,” Jeremy says. “But our processes will remain the same. A lot of other breweries are much more automated than we are. We’re still a small, craft brewer and we do most everything by hand.”
That attention to the craft has created many local fans of the various Pisgah brews. In addition to the Pale Ale, a few other beers are made year-round, including the Indian Pale Ale, Nitro Stout, and Tripel. Other seasonal brews are made with chocolate, bacon, blueberries, pumpkins, and an array of other organic and, when possible, local ingredients. And ’tis the season for Pisgah’s Belgian Noel brew called Baptista. The brewery currently is aging and testing a new beer in oak barrels. “We’re always looking to try new things,” Jeremy says.
A look at the extensive list of past beers brewed proves that, but the venue itself is open to new things as well. The addition of an outdoor stage has allowed bigger national acts and festivals to roll through the brewery, which, for instance, was home to the WNC Highlands Celtic Festival for three years. “Between our tap room and the stage area, we are well-suited to host a variety of events,” Jeremy says. “From birthday parties, weddings or any kind of private party to a more substantial festival, we can do it all. Our outdoor venue can host about 3,000 people.”
Pisgah is looking for new local partnerships and collaborations as well. In the past it has offered special brews for Moogfest, the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF), and the Blind Pig Supper Club. “We love doing a special promotional beer for some group or event,” Jeremy says. “We’re certainly open to more of that.”
Local farms and other sources for ingredients also benefit from a business relationship with Pisgah. “We use coffee from Dynamite Roasting, which is right here in Black Mountain. All the pumpkins for our pumpkin ale are grown here, too. We use French Broad Chocolate in our chocolate stout. We love to support local businesses. It’s good for all of us.”
Pisgah supports local artists, too, with artwork always on display at the tap room. “We typically bring in the works of one artist at a time and leave up the display for two to three months,” Jeremy says. “If local artists are interested in having their work displayed here, they can contact us. We’re happy to be part of the local art scene, too.”
Of course, the tap room serves its traditional role, too, as a place to enjoy the brewer’s craft products. Typically, Pisgah has 24 taps ready to go with an array of year-round and seasonal brews. On warm days the garage doors are open so you can hang out at a picnic table with friends. As night falls you can stay warm beside a crackling fire. Inside, you can sit at the bar and on many evenings catch live music on the venue’s small indoor stage. Local and regional acts are common to the stage along with some occasional national touring acts.
If you’re more interested in the beer than the entertainment, you can catch a brewery tour at Pisgah. Brewery tours are free and open to the public each Saturday at 2 and 3 p.m. Just show up at least five minutes prior to the start of a tour and bring identification of you plan on tasting some of whatever may be brewing that day.
Overall, Pisgah Brewing is doing quite well at its outpost just east of Asheville. Jeremy says they feel lucky to be part of such a great brewing scene. “The more the merrier,” he says of the fact that more breweries are coming to WNC. “We are friends with the other brewers. We’re all doing it for the same reasons, and that’s a love of the product. We’re happy to be part of Beer City USA.”
The Pisgah Brewing Tap Room at 150 Eastside Drive in Black Mountain is open seven days a week: Monday -Wednesday 4 – 9 p.m., Thursday – Friday 2 p.m. – midnight, Saturday noon – midnight, and Sunday 2 – 9 p.m. For more information, call 828.669.0190, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit pisgahbrewing.com.