A leader in yeast and fermentation since 1995, White Labs announced last week that White Labs Kitchen and Tap was open to the public. The boutique restaurant and tasting room is located in downtown Asheville and will showcase the delicious art of fermented food and beverages.
“This is our first venture into food, and we’re excited to explore it from a perspective we know a lot about — fermentation,” said White Labs CEO, President and Founder Chris White. “When developing plans for White Labs Asheville, we wanted to recreate a similar experience that is offered in our Boulder and San Diego Tasting Rooms with the addition of food. My vision is for White Labs Kitchen and Tap to be a fun and appetizing way for the general public to explore the complex world of yeast and fermentation.”
The restaurant offers a menu that melds culinary art with the science of fermentation. Guests are able to enjoy woodfired pizzas, house-made fermented sauces, farm-fresh salads and other beer-infused dishes and desserts. Since bread and beer yeast both originate from the same family (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), all pizza doughs served at White Labs Kitchen and Tap are slow-risen using White Labs pure liquid yeast cultures. By bringing this process into the kitchen, White Labs is revisiting the historical relationship between brewers and bakers, where one would rely on the other for brewing or baking.
Libations include wine, specialty cocktails and 28 rotating guest and house beers. White Labs beers give patrons an opportunity to do side-by-side comparisons of the same base beer fermented with various yeast strains. This one-of-a-kind brewing process is made possible by a 24-hectoliter brewhouse and 16 six-hectoliter fermenter tanks located at the company’s San Diego-based headquarters, where batches of beer are split into separate vessels and inoculated with different strains.
“The team has put a lot of work into White Labs Kitchen and Tap, and we’re excited to finally open our doors and show it off to the public,” explained vice president Lisa White. “Prior to opening, we had the honor of brewing collaboration beers with Mad Co. Brewing, Urban Orchard Cider, Hi-Wire Brewing, Burial Beer Co. and Bhramari Brewing Co. to feature on tap. We look forward to continuously growing our relationship with Asheville’s vibrant artisanal community and complementing the existing breweries, bars and restaurants in the region.”
With approximately 5,200-square-foot of indoor and outdoor areas, White Labs Kitchen and Tap has a seating capacity for nearly 100 guests. The space is adorned with Erlenmeyer flask light fixtures, which add to the company’s science of fermentation specialization and overall theme. Visitors will enjoy a casual atmosphere, featuring two large, 12-seat communal tables, additional chairs and bar tops and floor-to-ceiling window systems that flip open to the outdoor patio, allowing for an open-air, in-room experience within the main dining room.
The front-of-house staff is led by White Labs Kitchen and Tap General Manager Chris Genua, who has nearly 20 years of restaurant and service industry experience. Prior to his role with White Labs, Genua worked in New Belgium Brewing’s Tasting Room. Kitchen operations and the back-of-house team will be managed by Head Chef Evan Timmons, who boasts more than 15 years of culinary experience including eight years in kitchen management. A specialized expert in cooking with woodfire, Timmons showcases his talents through the unique specialty pizzas served in the restaurant. Additionally, he has worked under three James Beard Award-nominated chefs. Both Timmons and Genua reside in Asheville, N.C., and will be a valuable asset in leading the 40 employees hired for this endeavor.
“It’s been great working on the finishing touches for White Labs Kitchen and Tap,” said Genua. “We’ve put together a great team of culinary and fermentation enthusiasts, who will be able to provide a unique restaurant experience to our guests. We’re all excited to be part of the White Labs team, and we can’t wait to introduce more people to the science and art of fermentation.”
Guests may take a tour of White Labs’ Asheville facility during which they will walk through the production facility, learn about the science of fermentation and how White Labs manufactures pure liquid yeast for the brewing, wine and spirits industries. Public tours are available daily at 3 p.m., and spots may be reserved by signing up at the White Labs Kitchen and Tap host stand.
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