Brewery aims for mid-November opening
by Kellen Moore
“We’re doing everything in our power to be open as soon as possible,” said Chris Zieber, an Appalachian State University graduate who will work alongside cousin Nathan Kelischek to create the signature brews.
The result is a flurry of activity at the former welding shop on Boone Creek Drive. The skeleton crew has kept the shell of the building, but little else.
What was once automotive bays has been framed for the bar area, office and restrooms. On Tuesday, contractors poured concrete for footings that will support a covered porch, grain room and cooler. In homage to the core purpose of the brewery, a 120-foot wooden bar has been constructed at the edge of the property.
“We’ve been here some nights until 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock in the morning,” said Sean Spiegelman, the brewery creator.
The team’s oversized dreams mean they won’t be getting sleep anytime soon.
In addition to construction duties, a stream restoration project is set for Oct. 10 with help from the National Committee for the New River, N.C. State University and the Watauga County Cooperative Extension. The creeks that border the property are prone to flooding, so the brewery hopes to stabilize and enhance the creek banks with blueberry bushes, trees and hardy plants.
With environmental stewardship as a primary goal, they also plan to install wind turbines and a solar array, as well as a rainwater collection system.
The plans don’t stop with the physical space. The group also intends to create a venture capital fund that ASU graduates or local individuals could use to start new businesses in Boone.
They also have pledged to donate a portion of each pint sold to nonprofit organizations or charitable causes in Western North Carolina and hope to start a grain exchange program with the extension office.
“We want to make sure that consistently, in everything we do, we give back to the community,” Spiegelman said.
Instead of the stereotypical bar scene, the team hopes that Appalachian Mountain Brewery will be an educational and family friendly place.
“Hopefully, it will be multi-generational,” Kelischek said.
Even at this stage, that goal is being achieved. Sean and Stephanie Spiegelman’s two children often take breaks from home-schooling work to pepper the crew with ideas and questions about the process.
“They’re learning so much about business and building and politics,” said Stephanie Spiegelman, mother to 8-year-old Samantha and 5-year-old Steven.
The group hopes to be finished with construction by Oct. 31 and to pour the first glass of beer in mid-November.
The plan is to brew five or six house beers: a blonde ale, porter, amber ale, IPA, pale ale and possibly a brown ale, Kelischek said. The equipment can produce batches of about 310 gallons at a time.
After the brewery gets settled, Kelischek said they hope to add a canning line and begin distribution down the road.
As a “guinea pig” for determining whether craft breweries have a place in Boone’s business scene today, the process hasn’t always been easy, the creators agreed. In December, the Boone Town Council granted a conditional zoning change for the property after Spiegelman agreed to several conditions.
The brewery team has been encouraged by the supporters who have stopped by the worksite or shared their enthusiasm on the company’s Facebook page and website.
Spiegelman said he is eagerly anticipating the excitement and sense of community that he expects to come with the brewery’s opening day.
“I want them to come in and be, like, this is my brewery,” he said.