open-brewing-logo_2014By Cliff Mori

Gerber Village Location Will Reopen As Customer Brewed Concept

If you’ve driven by the Thirsty Monk’s Gerber Village location on Hendersonville Road recently, you’ve seen the sign on the door letting patrons know that a new concept is in the works for the South Asheville space. The new plan is something completely different for Asheville’s beer scene, and Thirsty Monk owner Barry Bialik was happy to share the details with me last week.

Bialik told me that as Biltmore Park has become the hub for all things Monk in South Asheville, and it has allowed the Gerber Village location to take on a new role. The location houses the Thirsty Monk’s brewing equipment, and soon that equipment will be made available to the public for those who have always wanted to produce their own commercial beers.

Brewer Norm Penn will supervise homebrewers, beer tourists and others as they use the Monk’s equipment and ingredients to produce their own recipes on a commercial scale. After fermentation is complete, those customer produced beers will be available on tap for purchase at the Gerber Village tasting room. According to Bialik, “It gives homebrewers the chance to get their beer in front of the general public, to actually make a commercial beer.” Bialik feels that not only will it be fun for people to try their hand at brewing, but it could also give would-be professional brewers exposure and a real sense of whether or not people will actually spend money for their beer. Plans are in the works to track sales of each batch and allow brewers to share in the profits from their hard work. According to Bialik, there is a similar concept in Austin, Texas that was the inspiration, but nothing like it anywhere on the East Coast.

Here’s the official press release:

Thirsty Monk owner Barry Bialik announces the introduction of Open Brewing, a brand new brewery and brewing concept in Asheville’s beer scene, launching in late September. Open Brewing will serve as the first commercial brewpub in the country dedicated to “open-source brewing,” an incubator for homebrewers to develop and refine their recipes on a larger scale, share their final products and gain valuable feedback. Plus, Open Brewing will be South Asheville’s hot spot for beer lovers to gather and sample unique brews they may never have the opportunity to drink twice.

Open Brewing will accept applications from homebrewers to come and brew their beer, which will then be offered on tap in the tasting room. The homebrewer will be paid a royalty for each pint sold to the public. “As the craft beer industry has taken off, so has homebrewing, and we have had a great relationship with the local homebrewing community [through Thirsty Monk] over the years,” said Bialik. ”Our intent is to create an avenue where homebrewers can reach new audiences, experience the brewing process on a larger scale and gain opportunity in the beer world that might not otherwise be available.”

Open Brewing is located at 20 Gala Dr. #101 in Gerber Village on Hendersonville Rd, the location of the former Thirsty Monk South. It will operate under its own identity, but share some resources and logistical support with Thirsty Monk.

Beginning in September, homebrewers will be able to submit recipe proposals to Open Brewing via email at hello@obrewing.com, and a tasting panel will choose applicants to brew. The panel will be anchored by Norm Penn, a homebrewer turned professional who now works full-time as the Head Brewer for Thirsty Monk, and Matt McComish, Thirsty Monk Head Beer Buyer, Certified Cicerone and beer education instructor at A-B Tech.

The opportunity to be among the first to brew at Open Brewing will be offered as an award at the upcoming 15th Annual Blue Ridge Brew Off on September 13, hosted by Asheville’s Mountain Ale and Lager Tasters (MALT) homebrew club. “We’re excited to provide this avenue to showcase the amazingly talented brewing community here,” says Bialik.

Thirsty Monk Beers Are Back!

Last week, Thirsty Monk released their own beer for the first time in over a year. With a bigger brewery set-up and bigger tanks to fill, Monk-brewed beers should be a regular offering from here on out. Brewer Norm Penn is excited to be back behind the mash paddle and served up five delicious offerings at last week’s event. The brewery expects to release a different beer each week, keeping with the theme of variety that has made the Thirsty Monk so popular with craft beer fans.

Thirsty Monk’s first round as a brewery was one of the best kept beer secrets in Asheville. Norm Penn is an excellent brewer, and the beers he was producing from the Thirsty Monk’s Gerber Village location in South Asheville were always top notch. Unfortunately, the brewery’s one barrel (31 gallon) batches kept supplies limited, and patrons had to travel to South Asheville to try the beers, meaning few got the chance. Now that Penn is brewing seven barrel batches, expect to see Thirsty Monk beers at the Biltmore Park and Reynolds Village locations. I asked owner Barry Bialik about the likelihood of seeing Norm’s beers downtown, and he told me that it would depend on consumption at the other two locations. Supplying Biltmore Park and Reynolds Village are the first priorities, but If there is enough to go around, an occasional keg could make its way to the Monk’s flagship location on Patton Avenue.

Cliff Mori is the owner and operator of BREW-ed, which offers brewery tours and a variety of beer training in Asheville.  He was the first Certified Cicerone in Western North Carolina (the beer equivalent to the wine world’s sommelier), then began working for the Cicerone Certification Program by traveling around the U.S. proctoring exams. Cliff also teaches a variety of beer-related courses at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

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2 Comments

  1. Beware the “Free the Brews” events. They are a Koch Brothers-funded rightwing recruiting project, dressed up as a celebration of craft brewing.

    “Young People Like Beer” and Other Wisdom From the Koch’s Activist Network

    bit.ly/1pEyEyg

    “Just like a lot of other businesses, it’s one that’s marked by tons of government regulations, tons of cronyism where businesses are trying to keep the little guy down…So we did a Free the Brews campaign. It featured young entrepreneurs that we’re really supporting and who were really trying to cut through the red tape and get started. We got hundreds of people into that event. In Asheville, North Carolina we have over 500 people that we were able to impact through our Free the Brews event.

    “…We’ve been able to get tons of these young Americans interested in the ideas of freedom, not because we came through with a really great way to talk about marginal tax rates, but because we were able to talk about freedom and regulation about something that they care about.”

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