A good supply of clean water and a nice livable community make Asheville, N.C. a place where craft breweries like to operate.
When someone mentions Napa Valley, Calif., the first thought that comes to mind is wine.
Someday, when someone mentions Asheville, N.C., the first thing that will come to mind is craft beer.
Last week, Asheville sponsored its third annual Beer Week, celebrating the 18 craft beer makers who make Asheville home to their company. As a result of the publicity the community has gotten for its willingness to house small breweries, some of the bigger brewers are coming to town to create what National Public Radio called “a sort of Napa Valley of beer.”
According to exploreasheville.com (which suggests Asheville could be called Brewtopia, there are 18 craft breweries in town, one for every 8,000 people who make Asheville home. Many of the breweries offer free tastings as well as restaurants attached, and they all make their beers available for purchase on site.
Now, big name brewing companies with niche beer products are moving in. Sierra Nevada is now in production just outside the city limits, and New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire, have plans to open a facility in the fall of 2015.
The new larger breweries, which produced concern among the craft beer population initially, have made friends and influenced beermakers by getting involved in the community. Sierra Nevada is considering making some of its grain shipments available to locals at bargain rates, while New Belgium has paired with one of the Asheville brewers to create their own joint sour IPA.
“It has been a real camaraderie thing,’’ said Thirsty Monk Brewery vice president Chall Gray to NPR.
The attraction of Asheville to the bigger companies was the quality of the fresh water, as well as the outdoor activities available to employees thanks to warm weather and an abundance of parks and walkways. Also, western North Carolina has fertile ground for growing hops, a key ingredient in beer.
New Belgium is going to employ 140 people when it moves in and most of them will be local. Sierra Nevada added 95 new jobs to its facility.
“We will get a lot more attention now,’’ said Tim Schaller, President of Asheville Brewers Alliance. “It will definitely help with beer tours and culture.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.