Tale of two breweries: How New Belgium, Sierra Nevada picked Asheville


SiteSelection.com has a great behind-the-scenes look at how Sierra Nevada and New Belgium went through the process of picking a site for their new East Coast breweries. Both big craft brewers picked Asheville. A few highlights:

Sierra Nevada at first highly valued a college-town setting, as well as a community with strong sustainability values. From Don Schjeldahl, a site consultant with Austin Consulting, who guided Sierra Nevada’s location search:

“If someone had methane recovery from a landfill, they got some points,” Schjeldahl says. “If there were solar panels on a courthouse roof, that got some points. We looked at stream restoration and bike trails. It was also about the ability of communities to tell the story. If a community doesn’t have a good, professional economic development group and is clumsy at it, that tells you something. A healthy downtown was also important. …”

Sierra Nevada came close to picking an eastern Tennessee location, but officials broadened their search again to include Asheville. Here’s an interesting note:

Sierra Nevada also considered the site that New Belgium eventually selected in downtown Asheville.

“It’s got some contamination and flood plain issues, but you can overcome those with money usually,” Schjeldahl says. “It’s also right in the face of some of Asheville’s brewers. This seemed a little insensitive, so we narrowed it to three sites: one in Marion, one in Black Mountain and this one.”

Sierra Nevada eventually picked a site in Mills River, in Henderson County, south of Asheville. Schjeldahl called the site a great compromise.

New Belgium highly valued a site that workers could bike or walk to. Jenn Vervier, the company’s director of strategic development and sustainability, said the site that New Belgium picked near the River Arts District was great for that. Another key was water quality. Finally, New Belgium wanted to be sensitive to the local brewers:

“We suspected smaller brewers might be intimidated by us showing up, so before finalizing the deal we hosted a meeting with the Alliance.” Vervier says. “We didn’t want to move to a town where people representing the industry didn’t want us to be there.”

New Belgium was also aware that Sierra Nevada was eyeing Asheville, but Vervier said there was no going back:

 “By the time we heard that they were even looking at North Carolina, we were kind of past the point of no return. We each had to play our own ball game. If it turned out we were near each other, then that is the way it was going to be. The sites are about 15 miles (24 km.) apart, but also very different. Ours is in a city and theirs is not. We didn’t want it to happen and it wasn’t our preference, but when it became inevitable, we decided to make the best of it. We have found throughout our history that competition makes you stronger, so we are okay with that.”

 Click over to read the full story at SiteSelection.com.

Image link for beer photo.

1 Comment

Barleycorn July 30, 2012 - 8:41 pm

What happened to the “Craggie for sale” thread? Did Bill’s lawyers shake ya down threatening libel charges or something?

Post Comment