Swamp Rabbit Brewery, a new craft brewery by Ben Pierson, a well-known Asheville beer personality most recently known for his work at Lexington Avenue Brewery, is set to open soon. Swamp Rabbit is located on the main drag in Traveler’s Rest, S.C., which is only about an hour south of Asheville, just across the North Carolina state line in South Cackalacky.
Pierson, an award-winning brewer, left the popular Asheville brewpub in 2012 following what he described as a contract dispute with the owners of LAB. Pierson built the LAB brewing system and had worked for them since 2009. He worked for Green Man Brewing in Asheville prior to going to Lexington Avenue Brewing. Pierson said when he quit that he would return to his landscaping business in Greenville, S.C.
Pierson has been holding a series of private events at Swamp Rabbit as he nears his grand opening. His beer has already getting rave reviews. Here’s a sampling from Swamp Rabbit on FB:
Vinnie Taylor: Traveled from PA…land of many great breweries..Victory, Appalachian Breweries to name a few…Ben Pierson, Brewmaster Magnificent, has captured the essence of German Beers to a T! The Porter and Oktoberfest, next to a Champagne Cocktail is my new favorite drinks. Don’t walk, run to Swamp Rabbit Brewery and Taproom. It is absolutely worth the run to Travelers Rest, outside of Greenville and Asheville, SC.
Dan Lewis of Asheville: My beer drinking experience goes back over 40 years and several continents; I have a long palate memory and am not easily swayed by popular opinion or the latest thing. I live in Asheville, the local beertopia, so you’d think I’d have my fill of good beer, but not all Asheville brews are worth serious consideration to me. Some places I avoid all together. Perhaps someday the brewers at these un-named places will elevate their product to a higher standard. All that said, I was fortunate enough to recently sample the soon-to-be-revealed Swamp Rabbit beers, and find myself envying the local residents of Traveler’s Rest; Ben Pierson’s brews are European quality, world-class exceptional beer. Subtlety , complexity, mouth feel, long finishes…these beers have it all, and then some. I live some 50 miles away, and expect to make the 100 mile roundtrip regularly…it’s THAT good. Ben is one of the top brewers in the region, and that will not be a secret much longer. Thanks, Ben; you know how it’s done.
“Contract dispute”? I heard from several sources the Lab offered him a generous 60k annual salary and a considerable percentage of ownership in their company, but he demanded something ridiculous (I heard $1m) for them to keep him on as brewer.
Personally, I think the beers have only gotten better since he left. *shrug*
I haven’t found the beer to be noteworthy now or when he was there. Certainly on the bottom of the Asheville pile.
Agreed. They have a good location and that’s about it.
Couldn’t agree more, excellent location, bar is super cool, the Backroom is an excellent small venue, food is just ok not great, but they are the last brewery I tell my out of town friends to visit. Some of their seasonals are decent though.
Yeah, the beer was pretty good there in 2011/2012 and Pierson did a great job, won lots of awards, but since he left I never recommend that place. Burial, Hi Wire & Lookout have all hit it out of the park.