New Belgium, Sierra Nevada dish the dirt on Asheville-area site selection

new belgium concept design

[Above: New Belgium Asheville concept design]

(Asheville, NC) – Much has been written about New Belgium and Sierra Nevada Brewing’s East Coast site searches and selection over the past several months. As everyone knows by now, the two companies landed in the Greater Asheville Area with Sierra Nevada electing the nearby rural town of Mills River.

A magazine called Site Selection posted a lengthy report this month detailing the decisions leading up to Asheville with a couple notable quotes from reps for each company. At one point, each company discovered that the other was looking in the same areas for a second brewery. So, what do they have to say about being in each other’s backyard in the future?

Austin Consulting’s Don Schjeldahl helped Sierra Nevada in its search.

Sierra Nevada also considered the site that New Belgium eventually selected in downtown Asheville. “It’s got some contamination and flood plain issues, but you can overcome those with money usually,” Schjeldahl says. “It’s also right in the face of some of Asheville’s brewers. This seemed a little insensitive, so we narrowed it to three sites: one in Marion, one in Black Mountain and this one.” […]

“Craft brewing is a tight industry. They [management of both companies] have been to each other’s breweries many times. People go back and forth between the breweries. When it comes to selling beer though, it is pretty competitive. We are here and we came here because this is the right place to be. It doesn’t matter if New Belgium is here. We’ve chosen to be out of town and taken on stewardship of the environment. They have chosen to be in an urban setting.”

Meanwhile, New Belgium director of strategic development and sustainability, Jenn Vervier, led the company’s search.

“By the time we heard that they were even looking at North Carolina, we were kind of past the point of no return. We each had to play our own ball game. If it turned out we were near each other, then that is the way it was going to be. The sites are about 15 miles (24 km.) apart, but also very different. Ours is in a city and theirs is not. We didn’t want it to happen and it wasn’t our preference, but when it became inevitable, we decided to make the best of it. We have found throughout our history that competition makes you stronger, so we are okay with that.”

With Oskar Blues also moving to Brevard along with a number of smaller local breweries, the region will eventually churn out more than one million barrels annually (~10% of the nation’s current production from craft breweries). The addition of those three brewers will also make an already hot tourist spot for beer drinkers that much more attractive.

While, perhaps, neither company will be able to lay claim to being “North Carolina’s brewery” with the other there, come 2015, few will question that the general region is among the nation’s craft beer epicenters.

11 thoughts on “New Belgium, Sierra Nevada dish the dirt on Asheville-area site selection

  1. “few will question that the general region is the nation’s craft beer epicenter.”

    You’re kidding right? Oskar Blues & New Belgium are ALREADY next to one another in Colorado among some other huge names in brewing with a much longer history than North Carolina….. it may become the REGION’s epicenter for craft beer, but you’re kidding yourself if you think it will somehow overtake San Diego, Denver/Fort Collins, or Portland. Don’t forget these are expansions, not HQ’s.

  2. Agree that’s a ballsy statement to say that few will question it and I suppose many would question it. Even now, I’m rethinking it but I think a case can still be made…at least for it matching the Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins triangle. San Diego and Portland are great scenes but aren’t in the national spotlight all that much, save for Stone.

    You’re talking the #2 and #3 craft breweries being there along with one that is climbing its way toward the top 25. Even Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins can’t say that. Maybe they’re not HQ’s but whether the CEO has an office there doesn’t make a difference from a tourism perspective. Asheville is “Beer City USA” three or four years running (popularity contest but counts for a little something when it’s that one-sided in a string of years) and has a thriving beer community already (from what I’ve read anyway).

  3. But yeah, from a sheer volume perspective, Denver/Boulder/FC would easily have Asheville beat. (Actually didn’t realize that Fort Collins was that close to the others).

  4. Any quotes related to how site selection was challenging considering the gay marriage ban vote results in NC, especially from the voters from the areas where the two breweries will call home? You wouldn’t want people that believe in a traditional marriage definition working for you, would you?

  5. Oh my god who gives a s*** whether people are for or against gay marriage? It’s an opinion. Deal with it.

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  7. Huh. Interesting undertones coming from the Sierra camp. 2015 will be an interesting year.

  8. “few will question that the general region is among the nation’s craft beer epicenters.”..

    The person above left out “AMONG” when copying the quote. Pretty big omission there. It is a great region. Noboby is saying it’s better than Portland or CO so the chill out buddy.

  9. I should have been more clear that I added that in. After some more thought about it, I added in the word, “among,” in italics after the original comment.

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