After months of planning and securing our location in Bryson City, the brewery was founded in the spring of 2009 by Chris Collier, Mike Marsden, Joe Rowland and Ken Smith. Over the next few months, our original brewing equipment, a 10BBL Pub Systems brew house, four fermenters and six conditioning tanks were purchased from R.J. Rockers Brewery in Spartenburg, South Carolina.
Our First Brew Day
More than a year later, we received our brewer's permit and started brewing our first batches of beer. The Noon Day IPA was the first brew to hit the fermenters and in mid-May 2010 we delivered our first keg.
The Tap Room
December 2010 brought the unexpected exit of partner Mike Marsden, leaving the task of completing the Tap Room to the remaining partners. Almost three months later, on a chilly day in early March 2011, our Tap Room opened to the public. The Brewery and Tap Room project took more than two years to complete, and there was still more to do.
Year One Behind Us
At the end of our first American Craft Beer week on Saturday, May 21, 2011, we celebrated our first year of brewing. Several small batches were released that day and the turnout was both huge and humbling.
Changing of the Guard
The summer of 2011 was a whirlwind and the challenge of brewing enough beer to keep our brews flowing at our Tap Room and meet local demand was ahead of us. At the end of August, the decision to hire a full time brewer was made and shortly thereafter, Greg Geiger joined the brewery as Brewmaster. Our original brewer/partner, Chris Collier, left the company and returned to home brewing and his full time, day job in Atlanta.
Trail Magic Ale™ Series Launches
The next few months were both exciting and exhausting. However, once our increased production levels were under control, we were ready for the next chapter. In December after weeks of planning, research and discussions with the Friends of the Smokies and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, our limited release series, Trail Magic Ale™, was announced. On March 10th, the first release -- a Bourbon Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout was released exclusively at the brewery.
A little more than a month later at the Hickory Hops Festival, our little brewery was awarded nine medals (out of the twelve beers submitted) including Gold for our Up River Amber and Devils Courthouse Belgian Golden Strong. More than all other awards received the previous two years.
Two Years Pass
At the end of American Craft Beer week, on Saturday, May 19, 2011, we celebrated our second year of brewing. The Floorwalkers headlined the event and the Springer Sunrise Session IPA and 8-Foot Drop Double IPA were released.
Lemongrass Imperial IPA
The second Trail Magic Ale™ is released in early June. The release of our hopped-up, lemon bomb was a huge hit and eclipsed our single day sales record.
After the announcement to build a second brewery in Western North Carolina from Sierra Nevada Brewing in early 2012, Greg and Joe were invited to participate in their Beer Camp program in Chico, California. In late June, joined by John Stuart (Green Man Brewmaster), they boarded a plane in Asheville bound for an adventure.
Lost in the Wilds™ Collaboration
The first few days out west were spent visiting a few western peers including 21st Amendment, Russian River and Bear Republic Brewing. Then the guys made their way to Yosemite National Park where Nantahala's Lost in the Wilds™ collaboration series is born. First up, is a hopped-up stout to be brewed with Green Man Brewery and released during North Carolina's first Craft Beer Month in April of 2013.
Beer Camp No. 82
Greg, Joe and John join some of the other WNC brewers in Chico to experience Sierra Nevada Brewing's Beer Camp. The multi-day event was intended to be a thank you from Sierra Nevada for the warm welcome we extended to them. It turned out to be much more and the experience brought us closer together as a brewing community and opened our eyes to what is possible. Our group brewed a hoppy black ale with an experimental hop variety on their state-of-the-art pilot brewhouse. The beer was released at each of the participating breweries in October with Ken and Brian Grossman in attendance.
Music Venue Established
A stage and state-of-the-art sound system were added in April 2012. A variety of nationally touring bands preformed over the next few months culminating with jam band, Donna the Buffalo, on the evening of July 28th. Members of The Herd traveled from more than forty states to Bryson City for the show. It the brewery's first sold out event and was deemed, "the biggest thing to ever happen in Bryson City" by local dignitaries in attendance.
Trail Magic No. 3
October is traditionally the busiest month of the year in the Smokys, and 2012 was no different. The third and final Trail Magic Ale™, a Belgian Golden Ale Aged in French Oak, Red Wine Barrels with Elderberry, was released on the 19th to close out the 2012 series.
Green Room Opens
The Green Room opens at the end of October, which features a twenty five seat tours & tasting bar and a retail space for the brewery’s growing selection of branded apparel and general merchandise The expansion also doubles as a heated Tap Room during the cold off-season.
There's a long list of projects looming including the launch of tours and tastings from the Green Room, the expansion of the Music On Tap™ Concert Series, the beginning of a barrel-aged series of beers and a brewery expansion. Stay tuned as we continue the craft beer journey.