Although the official “Grand Opening” is May 20 for Mountain Layers Brewing in Bryson City, the newest brewery in Western North Carolina has already starting pouring pints on Everett Street. 

Surrounded by piles of debris, old wood and gravel, Joe Rowland sees opportunity. “This is the inevitable next step for us,” he said.

Co-owner of Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City, Rowland wanders around a four-acre lot at the end of Depot Street, less than a block from the flagship brewery. Purchased by Rowland in early 2016, the property consists of an abandoned warehouse (formerly the RC Cola bottling company) and large open field. Initially, the 11,000-square-foot building was going to be used for Nantahala’s equipment storage, barrel aging program and bottling line. But, as time went along, an idea for the remaining 3,200 square feet of unused space crept into the minds of Rowland and Co. — a restaurant and indoor/outdoor brew pub.

Turning onto 2nd Street from the hectic U.S. 19/74 highway, you find yourself cruising through downtown Andrews. It’s Saturday afternoon, and for most small towns in America, it is no surprise the center of a community is busy. 

But, for Andrews, this is a sight to behold. For a mountain town that’s been eerily quiet for many years, bordering on abandoned, the downtown is now abuzz with folks strolling the sidewalks, cars parked up and down the street. A sense of “well, hey, check this out” crosses the minds of those who used to only stop in this part of Cherokee County to refuel as a halfway point to their final destinations, which seemingly could be in any direction.

After operating in Waynesville for the past four years, BearWaters Brewing will be making a big move to downtown Canton.

art frTaking a right off East Main Street, just before crossing the bridge into downtown Franklin, you pull onto Lakeside Drive and keep your eyes peeled. You know Currahee Brewing is somewhere around here, but where? It must be behind that large warehouse sitting alongside the Little Tennessee River.

And it’s just in that moment you realize Currahee is the large warehouse looming over you.

art frIt all started in a boat. “Dan [Elliot], Jon [Bowman] and I were fishing on Wolf Lake,” Doug Weaver said. “And we started kicking around the idea of having our own place, and here we are today.”

Sitting around a desk in the basement of Tipping Point Brewing in Waynesville one recent morning, the trio laughs and reminisces like a band of high school chums at a reunion. They’re longtime friends, and they’ve created something special in this flourishing downtown of arts, small business and culinary delights.

art frThirty-eight is Noah McIntee’s favorite number these days. “For a lot of folks, we’re not the sleeper hit anymore,” he said. “We’ve surged fast and have gotten a great hold on the market share.”

Head brewer and general manager of Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin, McIntee is full steam ahead with the recent distribution deal the company signed. In their first seven months of operation, Lazy Hiker has become a mainstay in six Western North Carolina counties (Macon, Swain, Jackson, Clay, Cherokee and Graham). That number will increase to 38 counties as it join forces with Skyland Distributing in Asheville.

art nantahalaIn a long-awaited strategic move, Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City will soon be putting the final touches on the purchase of a nearby bottling company.

art frIt’s been a dream come true for Kelsie Baker.

“This first year has really been a whirlwind of learning and getting our feet under us,” she said. “The public reception has been beyond what we could have hoped for, and we want to do everything we can to keep people excited and proud to have us here.”

art frJohn Duncan won’t forget Aug. 19 anytime soon.

“It was damn scary,” he chuckled.

That day not only marked the opening of the Duncan’s Sneak E Squirrel Brewery in Sylva, it also marked the culmination of a dream of his that’s been almost 20 years in the making.

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