New Belgium Brewery
design credit: Alchemy Design Studio
New Belgium Brewing Moves East. Asheville’s River Arts District becomes second home to large-scale craft brewing.
Asheville, North Carolina has enjoyed nationwide recognition over recent years as its tourism industry continues to thrive. Headlines include a long list of celebrated restaurants and chefs, a rich assortment of music, fine arts, outdoor adventure and of course… craft beer.
Holding the title as Beer City USA for three years in a row, Asheville has plenty to offer when it comes to finding a good beer. Until several years ago, all of Asheville’s brews came from relatively small breweries, yet with plenty of praise. It didn’t take long for some of the bigger names in brewing to take notice of the welcoming, beer-loving city nestled within one of the oldest and most picturesque mountainscapes in the world.
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Sierra Nevada Brewing opened their first east coast location last year in 2015 just 20 minutes outside the city of Asheville, boasting their relative location to Asheville as “an area where beer has become a way of life.”
Not soon after Sierra Nevada opened its doors, New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado, finished construction on their new facility in Asheville’s River Arts District, officially welcoming the public this year in 2016.
Unlike Sierra Nevada, which broke ground on vacant land, New Belgium is located on the grounds of Asheville’s historic stockyard, where livestock were long ago brought to auction. With intentions to repurpose, designers behind the new facility carefully held onto the original materials from the site. After sorting and mindfully storing a collection of metal, wood and vintage building supplies, over half of the original site material was used in construction of the brewery.
New Belgium’s Creative Director Melyssa Mead visited Asheville early in the construction process to help select wood from the original stockyard buildings for repurposing. It was during these initial visits when Mead crossed paths with Darren Green, owner and operator of The Old Wood. Co., and also New Belgium’s soon-to-be neighbor. “After seeing the quality of their work, the artisanship Darren brings to everything at Old Wood, and knowing they were onboard with repurposing, it was a natural fit for us to enlist Darren for our furniture.” says Mead.
Seasoned to working with reclaimed wood, Darren and The Old Wood Co. team began crafting the brewery’s Liquid Center and additional interior furniture from the old stockyard material. Today, the Liquid Center serves a variety of on-site craft brews from the brewery’s impressive tasting room.
“The collaboration was a fun and inspiring process.” says Mead. “We brought in ideas and Darren made them better.”
For those involved in craft business, be it beer or furniture, an opportunity to work with neighbors while preserving a historical sense of place is as good as it gets, or at the very least, worthy of a toast.