Catawba straight back toward brewery area 102By Cliff Mori

Morganton’s Catawba Brewing Company announced last week that plans to build a boutique brewery in Asheville’s Biltmore Village have changed. Flood plain concerns at the Fairview Rd site have made development nearly impossible. Over the past six weeks, Catawba has been searching for another location for their satellite operation. Last week, Catawba Brewing signed a 10 year lease on a large space inside the Standard Paper Building on Banks St in Asheville’s growing South Slope.

The Standard Paper Building is quickly becoming the new hub of activity for the South Slope. Vortex Doughnuts, Buxton Hall Barbecue and The Public School are all going to be tenants in the old industrial building. Catawba’s decision to move there will also put the brewery within walking distance of seven other local breweries. As soon as the announcement was made, the ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ messages came flooding in from their new neighbors.Catawba outside 100

The space itself has a lot of flexibility to it. According to Shelton Steele, manager for the Asheville brewery, “Catawba is in a unique position. We get to see what has worked for other breweries as far as their tasting rooms go and also see what limits they have due to the spaces they’re in.”

Catawba’s tasting room will feature room for 300 inside, with a large roll up door giving the front half of the tasting room an open air feel with the ability to people watch on the street. A large bar will line the side of the room with plenty of stools for drinkers who prefer to be close to the taps. A large back room will house specialty barrel-aged beers and feature its own small bar where knowledgeable staff can guide customers through these unique creations. That space can also be closed off from the rest of the tasting room, and Catawba plans to make it available to private parties. For those who enjoy drinking outdoors, Catawba’s lease gives them shared access to the gravel parking lot on the side of the building. Though not much to look at now, the plan is to turn that outdoor space into seating for Catawba’s patrons as well as those from Vortex Doughnuts.

The brewery itself will sit in the back corner of the large open space and will be visible to patrons. “We want to encourage people to learn about the brewing process. Our staff will show our guests how the beer is made, and they’ll be able to see the brewers at work,” Shelton told me. Production wise, the Asheville facility’s goals remain the same despite the change of location. The Asheville facility will be a small specialty producer. Catawba’s flagship beers will be trucked in from the 5,000 bbl (a barrel is 31 gallons or 2 full size kegs) a year main production facility in Morganton. Asheville’s 7bbl brewhouse will produce roughly 500bbls of unique small batch and one-off brews each year.

Catawba intends to keep its focus on beer and will not have a restaurant on site. If you’re hungry, Buxton Hall is next door, and there are plans to make ordering take-out easy for Catawba patrons. Doughnuts from Vortex and a coconut porter will round out your meal.Catawba right toward bar area 101

With this new move, Catawba will find themselves in what is becoming the epicenter for the downtown brewery scene. As Sierra Nevada’s customer experience comes online at Mills River, Asheville breweries are bracing themselves for what is expected to be a huge boom in beer-centered tourism for the Asheville area. Some estimates put the number of expected beer tourists at over one million a year once both New Belgium and Sierra Nevada open their facilities to the public. (Oskar Blues in Brevard is also expanding with its new REEB Ranch mountain biking venue.) While those larger breweries may be the initial draw, those visitors will likely spend time checking out our local breweries while they’re in town. The South Slope’s concentration of breweries within walking distance of one another is sure to be a huge attraction. Though two years of hard work didn’t produce a brewery in Biltmore Village, this new location will be in the heart of the action.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey cliff,
    I heard wicked weed has plans over on the west side (Enka) to produce 30,000 barrels a month.

    • I don’t know anything about that. 30,000 barrels a YEAR is about what highland produces. To produce that each month would be a tremendous leap for a small brewery. Rumors are always flying. If I hear anything that sounds serious I’ll definitely share.

    • lol @ Wicked Weed producing near-Sierra Nevada level barrelage numbers…

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