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Settling Ashe: Small Brewing in North Carolina (Issue 31)

 

North Carolina’s small breweries continue to have a positive effect on the communities they belong to. The recent acquisition of one of its own only underscores their success.

Mike Rangel of Asheville Brewing Co. sees progress all around him in the South Slope neighborhood of Asheville.

“It seems like every time another three breweries open a new hotel goes up or a new parking garage goes into the plan,” says Rangel, who opened Asheville Brewing in 1995. “The city is moving hard to keep up the infrastructure.”

The tourism trade is driving that growth.

“You can park in one place and hit eight or nine breweries, and that kind of thing continues to be main draw here,” says Rangel. “There’s no way you’re going to hit every brewery when you visit Asheville, so you leave with the feeling of needing to come back. And most people do.”

Asheville brewers aren’t the only ones drawing tourist traffic.

“People who come into town for something else always have time to visit a local taproom and try a local beer,” says Chris Goulet, president of Birdsong Brewing Co. in Charlotte. “We get a lot of folks from outside the city, especially on weekends.”


Asheville brewers aren’t the only ones drawing tourist traffic. “People who come into town for something else always have time to visit a local taproom and try a local beer,” says Chris Goulet, president of Birdsong Brewing Co. in Charlotte.


Nicole Preyer of Preyer Brewing Co. in Greensboro says the Greensboro Sports Commission has done a great job branding the city, “Tournament Town,” drawing everything from Olympic swimming trials to NCAA basketball tournaments to state high school soccer championships to local arenas and stadiums.

“We get a lot of calls from the visitors bureau and event planners,” she says. “Having a group of breweries is something fun for people who are here for tournaments to go do.”

Preyer says the growing number of small breweries in Greensboro has also helped the local chamber of commerce draw new employers.

“When a company is looking at relocating their headquarters, they always look at the area to see if there is enough there for them to retain talent,” says Mark Gibb, who, with his wife, Sasha, owns and operates Gibbs Hundred Brewing Co. in downtown Greensboro. “Breweries are generally well-received by everyone.”

Goulet gauges the economic impact of small breweries on Charlotte from the informal meetings he and about 20 other small brewery owners there have every month.

“Altogether, we’re approaching 1,000 employees and basically none of those jobs existed six years ago,” says Goulet. “We’ve also created distributor jobs.”

Preyer says local farmers are also benefitting from the success of small brewers in North Carolina. Many of Preyer Brewing’s ingredients are locally sourced.

“We picked up 600 pounds of strawberries from Faucette Farms in Browns Summit for our strawberry wheat seasonal,” she says. “I buy the same strawberries to eat with my kids at home.”


“We picked up 600 pounds of strawberries from Faucette Farms in Browns Summit for our strawberry wheat seasonal,” says Nicole Preyer of Preyer Brewing Co. “I buy the same strawberries to eat with my kids at home.


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