Under the Tap

Craft Beer, Craft People, Craft Places

Tag: lazy hiker brewing

Greg’s Next Adventure: A Send Off

For the last 5 years and 8 months Greg Geiger has been the man behind the tasty brews at Nantahala Brewing Company. During his time there he helped bring about the Trail Magic Ale Series, which was born out of a love for the outdoors, local and wild ingredients, and his time spent on the Appalachian Trail. He also started the brewery’s first sour program, with great success.

Greg started  home brewing at the age of 19 while attending the University of Florida. He graduated as an industrial engineer and worked in Florida as an Environmental Tech Consultant.   His travels and love for the mountains would eventually land him in Bryson City, where he would become the “Mad Zymologist” for Nantahala Brewing.  

I have to add a few personal notes here. Engineers are the best brewers. Greg not only understood the beer, he understood the equipment. During my time working with him at Nantahala, I watched him repair, replace, and rebuild almost every machine or tank in the building. I can’t imagine a small brewery having to pay a repairman to do the things he accomplished. The expansion at Nantahala happened fast. There was a lot Greg’s brain power and handiwork involved.  I enjoyed watching him work and learned a lot from him, both about beer and life.  When the work day was over (which sometimes for Greg didn’t happen since he lived there), he’d hop in his Land Cruiser and head for the wilderness. Greg once told me, “If you want to survive a job, leave when you aren’t working. Don’t forget to get outside.” So true, no matter where you work.

While working together, we shared many grand brewery adventures; from trips to Portland for the Craft Brewer’s Convention where we got to “meet” Larry Bell to Sweetwater’s 420 Fest and Atlanta’s big ferris wheel to Colorado and beyond. I am glad that Greg was a part of so many of my adventures, and possibly the reason for a lot of them.

Once as a teen Greg purposed the question, “Why do people retire at the end of their lives?” He started throwing around the idea of working really hard for 5 years then taking a year off before finding something else to work hard at for the next 5 years. “At first I thought the idea was crazy, but everyone seemed to like it, saying if I could make a living doing it, I should.” And that’s just what he has done.

Now it’s time for his next journey. He’s already on his way. I believe he is somewhere in Texas and heading west as I type. So cheers, Greg, wherever you are! Thanks for all the tasty brews and the fond memories, no matter how hazy some may be.

Beer & Wine Express

There’s a fancy new beer store near me, so you know I had to check it out…….a lot. And of course, I went back with my camera.img_5123

Beer & Wine Express is located in Cherokee, NC just off of Highway 74 on Highway 441 North. For me this is just a scenic drive a couple exits up from Bryson City. It is a family owned business and they have made me feel more than welcome every time I’ve visited. The building is brand img_5126new and the store is always spotless and orderly. They have a very large floor plan with a lot of room for growth.

 

The craft beer selection contains all my favorites and many I have yet to try. The shelves are stocked with plenty of brews from right here in North Carolina. I’ve also picked up beers from all over the US that I’ve never seen here. I wish I could give you the full list, guess you’ll just have to check it out for yourself.

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New Brewery Coming to Bryson City, N.C.

Mark and Kim Pettit have been vacationing in Bryson City for 15 years. I had the pleasure of meeting them several years ago during one of their many visits to Nantahala Brewing Company. Sharing a love for craft beer and music, and a passion for people, we hit it off. I’d look forward to seeing them every year, either in the brewery while I was working or in the audience at various performances. These were two people who genuinely loved people, art, music, and the beauty of our small mountain town.  Lovers of the finer, yet simpler, things in life.

IMG_5024The renovation of the building they chose in Bryson City started awhile back and has had everyone’s curiosity peaked. Is it going to be a restaurant? A bar? It looked cool, like a place I’d love to hang out. Imagine how happy I was to find out it was going to become Mountain Layers Brewing Company! And then even more excited to find out that it was Mark and Kim who were opening it!

Since they’ve moved to Bryson City full-time, I’ve looked forward to getting together withIMG_5021 them, but building a brewery from the ground up takes a lot of your time.  Mark and Kim have a kind of excitement about life that radiates. It makes you want to get pumped. This past Monday I had the opportunity to stop in and see how the place was coming along. Their enthusiasm made it very easy to get excited for them and their future. They have been working hard and are looking to have beer on tap sometime before the end of this year. Mountain Layers will have a bar on two levels. IMG_5023The downstairs bar will give patrons a view of the brewhouse. You’ll be able to enjoy a beer and watch the magic happen! The bar upstairs will be a little bigger and has a rooftop deck with amazing views of historic downtown Bryson City, the Tuckaseegee River, and the surrounding Smoky Mountains. I can already see where my regular seat is going to be….IMG_5022

Even though Mark and Kim have some brewing experience under their belts, they didn’t want to get in over their heads. Going from home brewing to a full scale brewery has its share of challenges. In order to keep them ahead of the game they have recruited some outside help. Noah McIntee is joining the team as Head Brewer and General Manager. Noah comes to Mountain Layers by way of Lazy Hiker Brewing Co. in Franklin.  In their recent press release, Noah had this to say, “Mountain Layers is being built on an infectious passion for community and people – two of the core traits that define craft beer culture. I’m honored to be working with Mark & Kim in this exciting venture that embraces and explores the many layers of this amazing region.” Mark and Kim commented, “Noah brings a commitment to quality and creativity as well as a genuine embrace of the community.”

Mountain Layers Brewing Company is planning to open this fall. Autumn just cannot get here fast enough. Find them on Facebook to keep up with their progress and plans for opening.

 

Mountain Layers Brewing Company™ is going to be a  7 barrel craft microbrewery and taproom.  Located on Everett Street in beautiful downtown Bryson City alongside the Tuckaseegee River. Located in Swain County at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, the new brewery is built on the belief that the mountains have layers of history, cultures, and people which are all reflected in our ancient blue mountains stacked one after the other to the horizon.

An Open Letter to Brewery Owners

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”  – Edward Abbey

IMG_1527We are well into the rise of the craft beer scene and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. New breweries are opening, seemingly every week. Lots of small breweries have kicked it in to high gear to expand. The interest is there so, why not? Banks are ready to give business loans to brewery owners with dreams. Private investment firms want a chunk of the action so they are chomping at the bit to get involved and expand their portfolios. Even big beer wants in.

It is a fabulous business to be a part of and a wonderful time to get in. It is full of great people producing great products, and long-term breweries willing to share their knowledge.  However, with a growing scene there is a growing sense of competition and with competition, often times, comes ego. While many of you are managing to grow while staying humble and true to your roots, some of you are letting it go to your head. And I don’t mean an awesome frothy head.

11958174_10153103929540905_1996659729759751727_oI once served as VP to a fast growing NC brewery. When I first started the job we used to jokingly say that this industry was less than 1% asshole. After doing the job two years, I was sure I had met the entire 1% or else the number was climbing. I have seen breweries leave their small towns for beer fests with their chests puffed out so high they can’t see their consumer. Their ego blinded them from every customer that wanted to make contact, from every blogger that wanted to say hello, and from every fellow brewer who just wanted to feel like part of a team. I have seen tourists stop owners and brewers to offer compliments and be treated like a waste of time. I have visited brewery taprooms where pretentiousness flowed more freely than the beer. I can’t wrap my head around this. You are producing something that makes people happy! Why not let the people tell you how happy they are?

Now with all that said, I do understand ho12065503_10153499761747107_8462991802045593468_nw much work is involved in running a full-scale production brewery. I know that stopping to tell someone they are appreciated isn’t what’s on your mind when you’re trying to figure out how to fill 5 pallets with bottled beer in an afternoon and your Maheen just went down. A lot of these small courtesies are often left to other employees. Taproom managers, bartenders, and wait staff should be trained, not just for the physical labor part of the job, but to have your best interest in mind when speaking to customers. There’s nothing worse than being a day laborer who has to say “that WAS the owner” after unpleasant experiences are had and complaints need to be made. Most of you are excellent at managing money and time, but aren’t made to be in the public eye. That’s ok! Let your employees be the smiling face you can’t be!

It is possible to be awesome and not think you are better than everyone else. Don’t forget where you would be without the customer. Another important thing to remember is that every time a patron leaves your bar, they are taking the notes from that experience back to their families, friends, and social media accounts. Word of mouth is a great asset. Don’t ruin that by letting a sense of pride do the talking for you. Also, most of you are bringing an amazing economic impact to the small towns you are in, but that doesn’t mean you should treat the locals like you’re doing them a favor by being there. Be partners with your community! Make them more than grateful you are there.

I guess this could be an open letter to all business owners and operators. Choose community over commerce and let the growth happen naturally. As you expand, do so with your roots in mind as well as your goals. Slow steady growth is better than rushed ideas and poorly executed visions. Rely on your team. Be leaders, not bosses.

If you’re doing something you love, why not do it with love?

Stay Humble. Cheers.

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New Belgium Asheville

Last month my husband AJ and I attended the opening of New Belgium’s taproom in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC. It wasIMG_1550 Tuesday, May 2nd and even though it was a weekday, I knew everyone was looking forward to this so I wasn’t surprised by the turnout. We visited in the mid-afternoon and while the place was packed, the open layout kept it comfortable. The sign at the door told us they loved us and when we entered the taproom, we really felt the IMG_1531love. The folks on staff were grooving and did an awesome job keeping up with the masses. Table and bar service alike were excellent. There seemed to be no first day hiccups. I was thrown off by there being no place to leave tips, not on the card and not in a jar. Then I remembered that New Belgium is an employee owned company. That was the only logical explanation I could come up with.  It also helped me realize why everyone was in such high spirits. This is more than just a job to them. It is their life. They care about the company and the company cares about them. To the consumers this translates to happy, knowledgeable,  and caring bartenders serving up a quality product. Serving up something to be proud of.

We enjoyed our beers in the grassy yard next to the taproom. The porch was full and the sun was out, but we were the first to brave sitting in the new, thick grass. Soon others followed suit. We all watched as, in the distance, the brewery’s production facility wasIMG_1527 being finished. Enjoying craft brew and watching a brewery come together. I love that feeling.

Deciding to stay true to what I like, I had the Citradelic Tangerine IPA. Aj ordered the Botanical Imperial IPA. Both were tasty. Aj’s beer had a nice spicy, citrus flavor and aroma. Glad he IMG_1533went with one we hadn’t tasted. I almost ventured into the watermelon lime beer, but decided against it. Although, it does seem intriguing. Maybe I should have…..

New Belgium Brewing has done well, not just for themselves, but for the communities surrounding their breweries. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glad they chose Asheville as their second home.  And they chose a beautiful spot too! A nice place along the river. You can see the artwork from businesses on the other shore from the deck. While the landscaping was mostly still under construction around the brewery and taproom, you could tell a lot of thought and concern were going into the planting and planning of watershed areas.

We are excited to come back with friends and tour the facility. We are also looking forward to future events and releases. Thanks for having us!

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Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, and Art Festival

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Pearl Bottom Radio entertaining the crowd.

This weekend I was in my old hometown of Griffin, GA and had the pleasure of attending the Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, and Arts Festival.  First, I must say that I was happy to see that the town I left has some progressive thinkers and that festivals like these are happening. While it was small and humble, it lacked for nothing. There were great beers , fine IMG_4368wines, and even finer works of art. The stage hosted some very talented local IMG_4374musicians. Ice cold bottles of water were free for the taking and the same tent was offering free breathalyzers to make sure everyone was good to go.  The Grazing Here food truck was on site serving up a tasty lunch. The set-up was orderly and the people were friendly. Even the local law enforcement helping with gates and road closings seemed to be enjoying the crowd.

The ticket price was more reasonable than I expected. While early-bird and VIP passes are available, I paid the general admission price of $10 which got me through the gates with my own commemorative pint glass. I was then able to purchase tickets for beer tastings. They were $1 per 3 oz pour, which was cool. If you really liked a beer, you just cashed in IMG_4363four tickets and to get a full 12 oz pour.

I tried lots of GA beers,however there was craft brew from all over being poured. I tasted the Fixin’ To Session IPA from Jekyll Brewing, the Cadence Belgian Ale from Reformation Brewing, and the Cannon Dragger from Burnt Hickory Brewing. I also enjoyed sampling beers from Monday Night Brew, Jailhouse Brewing, Wild Heaven and Creature Comforts. Georgia has a lot to offer in the way of craft beer. The scene is growing. I am happy that my home state is producing some tasty brews.

Now for the coolest part? Doc Holliday Beer, Wine, & Art Festival is used as a way to raise money for various local charities. This year the proceeds went to Camp Southern Ground, a camp that allows children to “overcome academic, social and emotional difficulties so they may reach their full potential and provide the tools necessary to achieve excellence in all facets of their lives”. Sounds like a worthy cause to us.

IMG_4365 I am looking forward to attending this festival again next year. The beer and people were too good not to want more. Festivals aren’t easy. A lot of behind the scene stuff goes on before the fun begins and the work doesn’t stop when the gates close. Thanks to all of the dedicated people who made this happen. I was glad to be a part of it. Cheers!

 

Brewer Noah McIntee

Somewhere between his dedication to Lazy Hiker Brewing, time with his young family, and service to his communitylazy hiker and pets 008 brewer Noah McIntee found time to sit down with me earlier this year.

Noah came to the small town of Franklin, NC with an extensive work history in the craft beer industry and the personal dream of building a brewery from the ground up.  It all started with a team , an idea, a building, and some money. Noah came in with the brewing experience to make lazy hiker and pets 003it all a reality. Lazy Hiker Brewing came together in just six months and at a low cost due to the team’s dedicated vision.  Noah had his hand in every aspect of the brewery – even traveling to China to design the tanks used on the premises. So why all the attention to detail? Taste their beer and you’ll know. While Lazy Hiker is still a young brewery, celebrating one year on June 11th, you can taste the experience. They hit the ground running with quality brewing standards and the knowledge of how to “make beers that work”.

 

So what’s Naoh’s Favorite Lazy Hiker beer? He says it’s the Slackpack IPA. “I was nervous when I settled on this recipe. It’s not a west coast IPA, it’s not an English IPA. It uses American yeast and American hops that make it a little spicier and more floral. It has a flavor profile that I like.”lazy hiker and pets 010lazy hiker and pets 009

When I asked Noah what his favorite part of his job or this industry was he answered, “the connections with people and the sharing of ideas over a beer.” That’s my favorite part too, Noah. Thanks for taking the time, the people here really are great!

 

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Lazy Hiker Brewing is located at 188 W. Main Street in Franklin, NC. Visit their website for more info.

 

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