Fresh off the heels of opening a new distribution center, Hi-Wire Brewing has unveiled 2022 expansion plans for its Biltmore Village production brewery and South Slope specialty brewery, both located in Asheville, N.C., in addition to the opening of three new taprooms in the same year.
Set to be completed in February 2022, Hi-Wire will be expanding its production brewery in Asheville’s Biltmore Village area with the addition of seven 90-bbl fermenters, one 90-bbb brite tank, a second grain silo, a new grain out silo and an automatic carton wrapper for packaging twelve-packs. The additions will bring the location’s brewing capacity up to 40,000 bbls per year.
Chris Frosaker, one of Hi-Wire Brewing’s co-owners, said, “We’ve seen strong sales growth, and we feel like we can keep growing. Plus, the addition of more taprooms requires more volume.”
Hi-Wire’s distribution sales by volume have grown by 27 percent as of November 2021 in comparison to the brewery’s 2020 wholesale figures. In 2020, the Asheville-based brewery produced about 19,000 bbls, while it rounded out 2021 at approximately 23,500 bbls. Hi-Wire’s overall production goal for 2022 is to hit 30,000 bbls including wholesale distribution as well as allocations for its seven existing and three new taprooms opening this year.
“The opening of the distribution center really allowed us to expand production,” Frosaker continued. “Opening RAD [Beer Garden and Distribution Center] let us get all of our dry goods out of the building and streamline shipping off site, and if all goes to plan, we’ll be expanding again in 2023.”
Hi-Wire Brewing’s original location in downtown Asheville will also be expanding its brewing and seating capacity by the end of February 2022. The South Slope specialty brewery is currently home to the original brewhouse of Asheville, but it will finally be retired in February of this year. The system was originally used by Highland Brewing, the city’s first ever brewery, when it opened in 1994, so as a monument to its legacy, the brewhouse will be permanently enshrined at Hi-Wire Brewing RAD Beer Garden for visitors to see and take photos with a piece of Asheville brewing history. In its stead, Hi-Wire is installing a semi-automated 15-bbl brewhouse along with four new 15-bbl fermenters and two 7-bbl fermenters. The additions will take Hi-Wire’s specialty brewery from a 2,000 bbl per year theoretical capacity up to a potential 6,000 bbls per year.
“By the middle of 2023, we’ll have 264 tap handles to fill in our taprooms,” Frosaker said.
If you’re doing the math at 24 taps per location, that’s a total of eleven Hi-Wire taprooms coming by summer 2023.
Frosaker continued, “With the batch sizes at our Biltmore Village production brewery, we just can’t have that many unique styles in an efficient way, so we’re expanding the South Slope specialty brewery to further innovation and creativity and to keep our taprooms stocked with fun beers.”
The South Slope brewery expansions will also bring canned taproom-only specialty beers for the first time ever, including Hi-Wire’s 2021 Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning Japanese Dry Rice Lager fermented on Ben’s American Sake Koji (5 percent ABV) and the sought after 20W-50 Imperial Stout Series. These four-packs of 16-oz cans will see no distribution beyond Hi-Wire’s taprooms and online beer shop with the Japanese Dry Rice Lager set to release first on January 7. On the taproom side, Hi-Wire’s original location in Asheville’s South Slope district will double its current seating capacity with the addition of large communal-style tables situated under a colorful new mural by one of Asheville’s most renowned muralists, Ian Wilkinson.
Also taking place in 2022, Hi-Wire Brewing has previously announced a future location in Charlotte, N.C.’s South End neighborhood planned to open this spring as well as a two-level Cincinnati taproom opening near the end of the year. A taproom in a yet-to-be-announced city has also been teased to open in late summer 2022.
This continued aggressive growth backs up one major pillar of the company’s mission statement, which is to “cultivate community” both amongst the brewery’s staff and within the cities that are home to Hi-Wire taprooms.
“Even though we’re from Asheville, opening these new taprooms allows us to create environments that bring people together and support the community more than we ever could if we just sold our beer there,” said Javier Bolea, Hi-Wire Brewing’s creative director.
In the past 13 months, Hi-Wire has opened taprooms in Wilmington, N.C., in December 2020 followed by the August 2021 opening of its first Kentucky-based taproom in Louisville, and most recently, a third Asheville location opened in November 2021 that is one part outdoor beer garden and one part distribution center. Each family-friendly taproom is packed with games, colorful murals and over 20 taps of Hi-Wire beer and also has a full calendar of events from beer festivals and release parties to history nights and tarot readings. The impact these taprooms have in their communities is instant, but it goes beyond simply having a good time.
Bolea continued, “Hi-Wire is for the people. Our taprooms and beer are approachable and fun, but each location also offers us another avenue for charitable contribution.”
Following the catastrophic destruction by tornadoes in the western part of the state in early December, Hi-Wire’s Louisville taproom immediately joined the effort to collect donations for victims and was able to deliver a truckload of non-perishable food, water, toiletries and other necessary items along with over $200 in gift cards to those impacted. In June, Hi-Wire taprooms collectively raised over $2,600 for local LGBTQ+ organizations in Asheville, N.C., Durham, N.C., Knoxville, Tenn., and Wilmington, N.C. This comes in addition to regular charity pint nights and events benefiting local organizations like The Pat Summitt Foundation in Knoxville, The Animal Protection Society of Durham and Wilmington’s Northside Food Cooperative.