Outdoor recreation communities are often home to some great breweries, and Brevard is no exception. In fact, when you come off the trails in Pisgah, you’re only moments away from one brewery, and just a couple minutes on the community bike path from another. If you stay on that path, there are two more breweries in downtown Brevard. That’s four great breweries that are less than a 20-minute bike ride from each other!
Owner Jon Bowman moved his business here largely because of his love of mountain biking. He used to run Tipping Point Brewery in Waynesville, which is only about an hour away. But when the opportunity opened up in Brevard, he jumped.
“I moved here so I could mountain bike,” he said. “There’s no bike trails in Haywood County unless you ride Flat Laurel Creek trail. This is the spot for us.
“Waynesville is very similar to Brevard, you know, the tourist and second-home population, but Brevard has that outdoor, mountain biker, climber vibe.”
Bowman is currently working on upfitting everything he needs into a building that used to be part of the former Brevard Lumber Company.
Brevard’s oldest existing brewery is the Brevard Brewing Company, located downtown on East Main Street. The relaxed, community-friendly atmosphere at Brevard Brewing Company has made it a favorite spot for locals to enjoy conversation over a pint of one of the world’s oldest crafts.
Owner and brewmaster Kyle Williams offers German-style lagers in addition to American ales. Williams said they are the only brewery in western North Carolina to specialize in lagers, which can be more costly to produce and require patience to brew due to a long aging process.
According to Williams, most mass- produced lagers are light and lack flavor, whereas many craft breweries strive to make consistently bolder and hoppier brews. Brevard Brewing Company’s goal is to give beer lovers the best of both worlds – beer that is both drinkable and flavorful.
Of course, if you’re a mountain biker, you know that Oskar Blues, as a company and as a culture, is cut from the mountain biker lifestyle of “Work hard, play hard.” That vibe, along with access to the trails, and, of course, clean water, are a big part of why Dale Katechis brought his business here.
Katetchis had been visiting the area for years to ride mountain bikes, and began coming so often that he bought another bike to leave here.
“One thing led to another,” he said. “I sketched it out on a napkin, and it made more sense to build a brewery here. I knew I wasn’t going to be giving up quality of life, but instead was going to enhance my quality of life.”
In return, Oskar Blues has done much to improve the Brevard community. Not only are there bands at the brewery and events and their nearby biking facility, the REEB Ranch, but the Can’d Aid Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the brewery, has given 50 bikes to kids in the community who didn’t have bikes before. They also regularly fund trail projects in the region. After all, REEB’s mantra is “Ride Bikes. Drink Beer.”
The Can’d Aid foundation also regularly drums up support for other communities who have experienced a natural disaster. When a community near their Austin, Texas, brewery was recently leveled by tornados, they canned tens of thousands of cans of water for disaster relief.
Oskar Blues Brewery is also continuing its tradition of supporting cycling in Transylvania County with their sponsorship of Brevard resident and professional downhill racer Neko Mulally.
“Craft beer, in general, is part of the social fabric in these communities,” said Marketing Director Chad Melis. “It’s important to be authentic about your passions and incorporate that into what you do. We have a rich history of cycling culture. We started our own bicycle line, REEB, and we want to support someone we think is heavily dedicated. We’re proud and happy to be able to support Neko and realize his goals.”
Ecusta is the Cherokee word for the Davidson River, so it’s only right that Ecusta Brewing sits on the riverbanks at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest. A recently renovated space, fresh ideas about beer and proximity to the forest keep it hopping with people coming in and out of the woods.
It’s not uncommon to see a nod to outdoors culture at Ecusta Brewing, with beer names like Rey’d On, First Descent IPA, Forest Party Red and Parkway Pils. Recurring events like their local dart league and trivia nights have a loyal following, and the brewery is always a popular spot for a post-ride pint.
“We now have two great entities that draw people to our area, craft beer and our forest,” said owner Josh Chambers. “Both have the same affect: they help you decompress, enjoy the moment and bring like-minded people together. What better way to finish, or plan, an adventure than talking it over with a fresh local brew! Simply put, they both make you feel good.”