Sylva: On growlers and Greening Up the Mountains


I visited Sylva last weekend. Let me tell you about Sylva.

Like most of the small towns across WNC, they’ve got a lot going on. I never had much cause to just up and go to Sylva, but now I think I do.

There’s a renaissance on. There’s a pizza shop and a bakery and a brewery and an outdoor clothing store. It’s like a mini Ashvegas. They’ve got Black Rock outfitters, we’ve got Black Dome. We’ve got Highland Brewing, they’ve got Heinzelmannchen Brewery.

I have to say a little more about the beer. Micro microbrewer Heinzelmannchen has got it going on. I didn’t know anything about them until I saw a mention of them in a program that aired recently on UNC-TV. The brewery is celebrating its one-year anniversary this year, and while it isn’t really known outside of Jackson County, expect to hear much more.

The brewmeister was out of town, but the folks running the shop when I stopped in were great. I sampled a couple of the brews and bought two growlers. I also bought a gallon of the homemade rootbeer that tasted like it had been pulled out of a 1950s-era soda fountain. Organic sugar, handmade rootbeer. Awesome!

Sylva’s even got their own version of Bele Chere, the big Ashvegas summer street party. Folks in Sylva wouldn’t dare make that comparison, because Bele Chere has gotten so UN-local that it’s hardly fun anymore. But Sylva’s Greening Up the Mountains Festival still has that homegrown feel that really makes it special. The street party is this weekend. You should stop by.

Despite all the new businesses, the town still has plenty of old touches. There’s surely a story behind Cope’s news stand, which has been going since the ’60s. The historic courthouse recently had its dome refurbished. I peeked inside, but it doesn’t look like the building is in use. Not sure what’s going on there. A statue of a Confederate soldier stands sentry out front – remember, we’re in the South.

And you’ll notice the Schulman name on at least one local street and a couple of businesses. Sol Schulman was a beloved local businessman who ran a department store.  The Bronx transplant had a heart as big as the nearby mountains. He was always extending his generosity to help family, friends and strangers in any way he could.