Dirk Hillegas, an experienced brewer who most recently worked with the Highland Brewing Co. team, has been named brewmaster at Triple Seven Brewhouse, the new craft brewery in the works by Westville Pub owner Drew Smith.
Triple Seven Brewhouse is under construction in the former Center for Holistic Medicine space adjacent to Westville Pub in the Bledsoe Building on Haywood Road in West Asheville. The new brewery will allow Westville Pub to add new seating and upgrade its existing kitchen (including giving Meg Schearer of Whisk AVL, who bakes in Westville’s kitchen, room to expand). Those are all keys to keeping the 15-and-a-half-year-old pub, a beloved West Asheville institution, vibrant, says Smith.
“How often do you get the chance to buy the space next door? You have to do it if you can,” Smith says. “I love this building. It feels like the hear of the west side. This will allow us to do some other things that are really needed – the little, non-sexy things are still incredibly important and necessary for our growth.”
On the brewery side, Hillegas said he’s anxious to honored to have the chance to see the construction of a new brewery from the ground up. He most recently worked with the brewing team at Highland Brewing, Asheville’s venerated first craft brewery. He moved from cellarman to the brewhouse side of the operation during his seven years there. Working with founder Oscar Wong and his daughter, Leah Wong, as well as long-time former brewer John Lyda, manager Grant DeSantos, brewer Hollie Stephenson and others provided invaluable experience, he says.
Hillegas says he’s known Smith for years and appreciated the Westville Pub’s “sense of community and commitment.” When the opportunity to lead the Triple Seven Brewhouse brewing team came up, “everything seemed to be right up my alley.”
With a five-barrel system, Hillegas plans to brew pub flagships such as an IPA, a pilsner, a pale ale, a brown ale and more. There will be plenty of room to experiment with small-batch seasonals and one-offs, Hillegas, adds, but the goal from day one will be consistency.
“We have access to the best raw ingredients and we’re excited about what we’ll have to offer,” Hillegas says.
Smith, for his part, can also hardly contain his excitement about what’s to come.
“We’ve been working on this for the past 16 months, and now we’re ready for the next step. We started making our own bread last year and it’s been fantastic. We have better food, our customers are happier and we’ve saved money. It’s the same with beer: let’s figure out a way to serve a great product and pass along some savings to our customers. If we can save loyal patrons some money, then rock and roll.”
Triple Seven Brewhouse will join a West Asheville brewing scene that’s beginning to rival the downtown Asheville/South Slope brewing action. Along Haywood Road, beer lovers can find Oyster House Brewing Co., Upcountry Brewing Company and Archetype Brewing, as well as the local cider-maker Urban Orchard Cider Co. In addition, One World Brewing, which is located downtown, recently announced it was opening a West Asheville outpost.