Richardson: Construction on New Belgium’s Asheville brewery on track; brewing to start in late 2015

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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new_belgium_aerial_photo_2014Note: I’ve corrected a reference to New Belgium’s water usage in the text below. Original post Dec. 9, correction Dec. 15.

The construction of New Belgium Brewery’s new East Coast brewery in Asheville will peak from now through spring, the manager of the new brewery said Tuesday, with the Colorado-based brewer set to start making beer in Asheville in late 2015.

“Building activities at the site will peak from now until March, when the rest of our brewing equipment, and the expert installers to put it together, will arrive. From April to September, the big focus will be on the beer-making process itself,” said Jay Richardson, the brewery’s general manager.

“A lot of the visual change on site is happening now.”

With construction at a high point and the arrival next month of six big brewhouse tanks, Richardson said he’s reminded again of the work it’s taken to get to this point. “It’s a lot like the groundbreaking. There’s a ton of energy with our partners to get to this point.”

I asked readers for their questions via Ashvegas on Facebook, questions that I put to Richardson, as well as company President Christine Perich and Susanne Hackett, the company’s spokeswoman in Asheville. The topics jump around, so here’s a bulleted run-down of questions and answers:

Jobs and hiring

Richardson said New Belgium will do the bulk of its hiring next year. There are a number of specialized positions being advertised now on New Belgium’s website. “Some of those we have tried to fill with existing co-workers. We want to have a small percentage of the team to be seeded with our values, the same values that our team in Asheville must have. On top of that, we’re filling as many of those jobs as we can locally and will develop the culture here in its own Asheville way, with those values as a foundation.

New Belgium officials plan to attend Asheville’s Homecoming Job Fair in January, where they’ll meet face-t0-face with potential applicants.

“Our HR manager will be there and we’ll be talking to people, getting to know how they do their work, how they show up,” Richardson said. He added that Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College is helping the company with job training programs.

Working with local artists

One reader asked if New Belgium planned to work with local artists and craftsmen for wall art and furnishings. Hackett said numerous artists have reached out to the company seeking to work with New Belgium on architectural and retail elements. New Belgium has decided that it will create a web page on its New Belgium Asheville site that will allow artists, craftspeople and makers to upload digital portfolios, rather than seek out requests for proposals for individual projects. The new site should be live by the end of January, she said.

“We are already working with some artisans, particularly with architectural elements, and are continuing to engage,” she said.

Greenways and riverfront access

One reader asked when the greenway bike patch will be open, and whether it will connect with French Broad River Park. Richardson said the plan is to have the greenway open when construction is complete around the end of next year, but he noted that the greenway work, as well as stream restoration on the construction site, is an Asheville city project. Hackett added that the greenway won’t immediately connect with French Broad River Park because of other work at a connecting point.

Water filtration, water usage and wastewater treatment

Several readers asked about water issues. First, what level of water filtration will be in place for the beer-making process? Richardson said filtration will be minimal, although testing has revealed high levels of chlorine in Asheville’s water as compared to New Belgium’s Colorado brewery.

How much water will New Belgium use in its beer-making process? Richardson said that in 2016, if New Belgium is making about 200,000 barrels of beer, it would be using about 800,000 gallons of water 200,000 bbls of beer would be using about 800,000 bbls rather than gallons of water. Those numbers are projections, he said.

What about wastewater treatment? When New Belgium’s new brewery goes online, it will put wastewater into the city of Asheville’s water system like any other business. The company will have a volume control that will allow it to manage how much wastewater it releases into the city system.

In the meantime, New Belgium is testing new technology that would allow for the anaerobic digestion of wastewater on a small footprint at the brewery. Sierra Nevada, at its new brewery in Mills River, is using the technology on a much larger scale, Richardson noted. The new technology “will allow us to also capture methane that we can use.” The water treatment facility will be put in place once it’s been tested and the technology proven, he said.

Demolition of Craven Street houses

One reader noted the demolition of a couple of older homes on Craven Street. Richardson said that work is being done by private property owners, not New Belgium. He said he wasn’t aware of specific plans for other demolition or renovation work on private homes in the neighborhood.

Brewery odor

A reader asked how New Belgium plans to lessen the environmental impact of the smell associated with the brewing process at its brewery. Richard said the brewhouse design will allow for the recapture of heat from the boiling process and run it through vapor condensers, which will mitigate the smell. “What little odor might escape will smell like grain cooking,” he said. (Older breweries don’t have this technology in place, he said.”

A special East Coast beer

One reader asked is New Belgium had plans to create a new “flagship” beer for its East Coast brewery. Richardson said “there’s nothing in our portfolio plan, but there are a lot of discussions about a beer or beers just being produced in Asheville. Some of our fermentation vessels are sized smaller for that purpose – to make single-batch beers without a lot of waste,” he said.

New Belgium’s Asheville brewery, by the numbers

1 million – pounds of rebar in the cellar deck alone

500,000- minimum number of barrels of beer brewed annually in Asheville at full capacity

42,264 pints– number of pints brewed per batch on a 200hl system

5,000 – yards of concrete poured on the site in 2014

700 – yards of concrete in the cellar deck

350 – number of piles driven to stabilize the ground

350- approximate number of people working on site daily from spring-fall 2015

200 – hectoliters per batch in our brewing system = 5,283 gallons

150- approximate number of people working on site daily in January 2015

74—number of immediate neighbors who shared a potluck meal this November

45 – approximate number of coworkers New Belgium will hire in Asheville in 2015

30 – number of fermentation and bright tanks the cellar deck is ready to receive

20 – approximate number of coworkers who will be hired annually through full build out

9 –silos in our malt silo building that hold between 50 and 100 metric tons

6 –number of bright beer tanks in our cellar

3 –beer styles initially brewed in Asheville

2- Asheville hires who will be co-owners by January 2015

1 – new East Coast home

Images courtesy of New Belgium Brewery

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Jason Sandford December 15, 2014

    Regarding the bit on water to beer ratio, I’ve made a correction to my error. The water-to-beer ratio is 4-to-1, as JW correctly notes. Here’s the corrected paragraph:
    How much water will New Belgium use in its beer-making process? Richardson said that in 2016, if New Belgium is making 200,000 bbls of beer would be using about 800,000 bbls rather than gallons of water. Those numbers are projections, he said.

  2. huh December 11, 2014

    Remember when JW based a city council campaign on criticism of NB and kept repeating that they weren’t coming to Asheville?

  3. Jonathan Wainscott December 9, 2014

    In fact, New Belgium itself has said its water to beer ratio is just under 4:1 ( )

    That doesn’t take into account all the water needed to actually get that beer to market. Production of glass bottles and aluminum cans, water to grow hops and produce paper packaging. Beer has an enormous water footprint and Jay Richardson knows it. This 800,000 gallons of water for 200,000 BARRELS of beer is flat out wrong by a lot. What’s the dealio? Is this misinformation lost in translation?

    1. hauntedheadnc December 10, 2014

      Are you opposed to beer in general, or just beer in Asheville?

      Thought you might enjoy this:

  4. Jonathan Wainscott December 9, 2014

    Don’t forget to add 100 18-wheelers daily on Haywood Road and why is there no self-congratulatory number for all the bazilions of yards of toxic soil removed from the brown field, and if there are 33 gallons of beer in a barrel and they make 200,000 barrels that’s 6,600,000 gallons of beer. How can you make six million gallons of beer with only 800,000 gallons of water? (It takes almost 4 gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer too, so in order to make 6,600,000 gallons of beer you would need to use 26,400,000 gallons of water)


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