new_ belgium_distribution_center_2014By Cliff Mori

Why New Belgium at Enka Matters

New Belgium recently announced the location for their distribution center. The River Arts District “Liquid Center” was never intended to store the huge quantities of beer that New Belgium will ship throughout the east coast. The beer will be transported to the distribution center and sent out from there. The distribution center might not garner the excitement that the brewery project does, but the choice of Enka for its location is great news for those who live in the area.

American Enka was a rayon manufacturer that moved to Western North Carolina in 1928, and at its peak was North Carolina’s largest employer west of Charlotte. The Enka plant was sold to BASF in 1985 and closed in 2007. Much of the original plant was demolished, but fortunately the owners of the site preserved the iconic clock tower that watched over the sprawling factory.

Since the plant’s closure, there has been a lot of talk about the long term possibilities of the site. Since 2010, Asheville development firms Lewis Real Estate and Taylor and Murphy have been working towards revitalizing the site with plans for retail and restaurant space, baseball fields, and a greenway to connect to the Buncombe County Sports Complex. The recession and environmental concerns about the site itself have kept project progress minimal.

Presently, there are a few manufacturing firms on the portion of the site that faces Sand Hill Road, but much of the old factory’s grounds are in a brownfield state like the site that New Belgium chose to build on in the River Arts District, and remain unused. There is hope that New Belgium’s announcement might be the catalyst needed to get the bigger development plan back on track. New Belgium is known for investing in the communities they work in, and are expected to be great neighbors. As someone who can see the clock tower from my back porch, I’m happy to welcome them to the neighborhood. (More here on what New Belgium is working on at its Asheville brewery location in February.)

Here’s the press release announcing the location of the New Belgium distribution center:

New Belgium Brewing announced today that it has secured a site for their East coast distribution center at the Enka Center off Highway 19/23 in Enka-Candler, NC, about 8 miles from their brewery and liquid center. At full build out, the distribution center operations will support about 30 of the total 140 expected jobs. Hiring will begin by early 2015.

“New Belgium beer will be brewed in Asheville and distributed up and down the East coast from our distribution center in Buncombe County,” says Jay Richardson, General Manager of New Belgium’s Asheville operations. “We’re proud to bring these jobs to Western North Carolina and our beer to the East coast.”

New Belgium invited several firms to submit design-build proposals on the DC, with more than half based in or having permanent offices in NC. The submission process is complete and the DC contract will be awarded by early March.

The 100,000SF Distribution Center will be built concurrently with the brewery and liquid center on Craven Street in West Asheville, and be ready for occupancy by fall 2015. There will be room for a future 40,000SF expansion. When complete, packaged beer will leave the DC for East Coast distribution.

New Belgium is in support of diversifying truck routes between the brewery and distribution center. Once up and running, truck routing will include utilizing Haywood and Amboy Roads and Riverside Drive, once infrastructure is improved to enable truck access along that route as part of the City’s River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (RADTIP).

To keep up with New Belgium’s Asheville Brewery go here.

Sierra Nevada Hiring Ramps Up

Sierra Nevada has been brewing beer out at the Mills River facility for a few weeks now, dialing in their processes to produce the same excellent products they make out at Chico, California. Though the tasting room and restaurant won’t open for several months, some hiring for the hospitality end of the business has begun. Recent job listings include GM for the Restaurant, Executive Chef, Tour Guides, Maintenance Technicians and Managers, and more. For all the up to date Sierra Nevada jobs go here.

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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