Even with nearly 6,000 craft breweries operating across the U.S., we still get that Christmas-morning type of feel for a new brewery opening. Located two miles outside the heart of downtown Asheville, Zillicoah Beer Co. (ZBC) is having a soft launch for its new tasting room this Friday. The property sits on a 4-acre parcel with nearly 900 feet of French Broad Riverfront west of University of North Carolina.
Founding partners Jonathan Chassner, Jeremy Chassner, Mike Healy, and Steve Wilmans come from several local craft breweries and embody a background rich in experience, creativity and innovation. Co-Founder and Head Brewer Johnathan Parks joins the team having hailed from Hi-Wire Brewing.
The founders envisioned a nature centric location with a focus on social drinking and outdoor activities, akin to a park setting where patrons could enjoy craft beer. To this end, the brewery takes its name from the Cherokee word for the French Broad River itself, which serves as a focal point for the social areas of the property.
“This project has been a labor of love, and we’re stoked to finally be opening our doors to the community,” said Jeremy Chassner. “I’m really excited to sit by the river with a beer and some food from Taqueria Muñoz.”
Taqueria Muñoz will have a permanent food truck located at the brewery. The tasting room will rotate up to twelve taps, including in-house beers and guest taps, and will also accommodate non-beer-drinkers with a selection of wines.
ZBC will specialize in open-fermented farmhouse ales and lagers, along with barrel-aged offerings. Four foeders are set to arrive in November to complement the already ample selection of wine barrels and stainless-steel wine tanks, to be used as aging vessels. The space also contains a bottle-conditioning room, custom built open-fermentation room, pilot brew system, and two separate cellars for fermenting, aging, and blending.
The tasting room, which was largely assembled by the founders by hand, uses reclaimed wood from the Rankin Press Lofts Building and will be accessible through roll-up doors and a service window. This destination brewery is geared toward on-premise sales, with an ever-rotating tap selection of small batch, limited brews, alongside the craft beer staples like IPA and porter that Asheville beer drinkers have come to expect. One thing you won’t see is a production scale brewhouse.
Johnathan Parks explains, “We chose to open without a brewhouse so that we could focus on fermentation. We’ve forged great relationships with some local brewers over the years. We want to spend time creating beers alongside them, where we’ll brew with partners around town and bring the wort back for fermentation at ZBC. This opens up endless learning opportunities as well as meaningful collaborations.”