High Five, Asheville Open Thread


A River Arts District renaissance, fueled by beer, is on Asheville’s horizon, observers say
River Arts District sees big benefits from New Belgium

As the politicians and business development associations line up for their photo-ops and back-slapping, I wanted to give props to the real progenitors of Asheville’s newest industry. In all the New Belgium and Sierra Nevada coverage, enough credit has not been given to the role that Asheville’s oft-maligned, scruffy, bicycle-riding, living-wage, sustainability, “know nothing about business” hippie types played in making Asheville Beer City, USA. Without the spade work done by the local brewers, beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and hand-to-mouth civic boosters, there’s no photo-op for the politicians and business development associations.

Here is a grossly incomplete, off-the-cuff list of the under-sung who helped make Asheville Beer City, USA, the kind of place where New Belgium and Sierra Nevada feel right at home:

Please. Add to the list below. You know who the heroes are.

It’s their vibe, their civic pride, and their pride in each other that make Asheville a fun place to live, not just to drop in for a presidential weekend at the Grove Park Inn. It’s a testimony to the good taste of Asheville’s beer drinkers.

Now, get out there and Keep Asheville Weird.

UPDATE FROM GORDON: I’m not asking Tom if I can do this. Just rolling in strong and adding a picture of the tag that New Belgium put on bottles of Fat Tire at the announcement event. After the jump:

Categories : Economy, Local, Manufacturing


  1. Joe Minicozzi says:

    Oscar Wong should be on the list above for stepping out there and starting the ball rolling with great beer.

  2. Andrew Dahm says:

    Oscar is a great guy, and had the good sense to know that competition isn’t always a bad thing, particularly when it helps you build a “second brand.”

    Mike Rangel took over Two Moons Brew’n’View and kept it from going under – things might’ve been different had an early brewpub been a bust. He’s also a competition-is-marketing kind of guy. And he’s hilarious. And he gets me into a lot of fights, but he’s always very good about holding my coat.

  3. Asheville Brewers Alliance should be at the top of the list, imho.

  4. Marc Hunt says:

    It really is a convergence of progress on numerous fronts that has created the critical mass here:

    In this case it does start with the BREWING culture and leadership,

    As for COMMUNITY, think Downtown Association, sponsors of all kinds of festivals, neighborhood groups, Public Interest Projects,advocates for afforability and social and economic justice,…

    On CULTURE – Think historic protection advocates, Arts Council, advocates for performing arts, …

    On ENVIRONMENT, think Riverlink, WNCA, the Riverkeeper program, SOuthern Environmental Law Cntr, and especially those over the decades, including land trusts, the USFS and the NPS, who have protected so much land near here, …

    On BIKEABILITY/WALKABIITY – Asheville on Bikes, Blue Ridge Bike Club, greenways advocates,sidewalk advocates, …

    Lots of efforts not mentioned here, obviously. At the root of all this is the legacy of thousands of individuals being inspired by this place and its roots, and investing their energy and dollars in making it better over many years. New Belgium deciding to come here is a reflection and validation of that broad effort and the level of authenticity that we are achieving here as a community.

    Maybe I should not be so impatient about our pace…

    And I believe that many of our local political leaders and those charged with advancing our economic development agenda really “get” all this much more than ever, and they appreciate what will sell Asheville in the future as a place for great employers and great jobs. And a few of those actually do deserve credit for closing the NB deal. But we still must do better as a community in acknowledging how much we have in common when it comes to environment and culture.

  5. Marc Hunt says:

    Oh, and lest I get carried away with my optimism and rah-rah, we have lots to do on several fronts as David Forbes pointed out so well a couple weeks ago in MTNX:


  6. TJ says:

    “Oh, and lest I get carried away with my optimism and rah-rah”

    Hi Marc 😉

    You go right ahead and keep your optimism and energy. It takes a lot of that to see real change through…

  7. TJ says:

    Okay, no new thread re: Trayvon.

    Charges ARE being filed, and, attorneys for Zimmerman state they never met him, and have stepped back as attorneys. So – how could they say what his injuries looked like when they never met?

  8. Grant Millin says:

    Thanks for the reality check, Marc. Strategic thinking means being honest about a problem first. I think what we have in the current state is sort of a balancing act of filling in the loses rather than being in net gain mode led by a minority of ‘usual suspects’ thought of as our economic development ‘leaders’.

    As part of the GroWNC consortium I have asked for data that helps us all better understand who’s in the lower and middle classes. I suspect the middle class is a very difficult place to move up to in Asheville and WNC no matter the pursuit of education or entrepreneurial spirit for the majority in the low income groups.

    Evaluating the Asheville job outlook during any winter in the past shows a low point due to tourism and other patterns. Still, it’s a rather breathtaking reality check to understand that as far as upward mobility for average people goes, we are no different than two of America’s least differentiated and least appealing places to live and do business: Bakersfield and Youngstown.

    By the way, I wonder if more high tech really means a ‘lift all boats’ egalitarian economy. I don’t think that’s the promise. One wonders what our possibilities really could be with an open strategic process.


    The Best And Worst Cities For Jobs Right Now

    Click for full photo gallery: The Best and Worst Cities For Jobs Right Now


    13. (tie) Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa.
    Net employment outlook: 0%

    13. (tie) Bakersfield, Calif.
    Net employment outlook: 0%

    13. (tie) Asheville, N.C. [ http://www.forbes.com/pictures/efkk45ejid/13-tie-asheville-n-c-4/#gallerycontent ]
    Net employment outlook: 0%