Wall Street Journal Features Asheville Beer Scene

The Wall Street Journal featured Asheville's Brewtopian culture as part of a larger story regarding the hottest spots around the country for starting a new business. Below is the Asheville excerpt. You can read the full story here. You can learn more about Asheville beer scene here.

Where the Action Is 

John Warne

Across the country, new industry hubs are drawing entrepreneurs and investors — and offering start-ups support and safety in a turbulent economy

Craft beer is a small industry, but it has a devoted customer base. One Southern town is going after those fans with vigor.

Craft beer is a small industry, but it has a devoted customer base. Asheville, has 10 breweries, with two on the way. Asheville, a Blue Ridge Mountain town of 75,000, has 10 breweries, with two on the way. That can't compare with the 40 in Portland, Ore., but it stacks up to other beer havens like Milwaukee and Boulder, Colo., which both have fewer than a dozen. "Asheville is definitely on the map and well recognized in the craft-brewing industry," says Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association in Boulder.

Entrepreneurs new to the area seek mentoring from the established brewmasters and the Asheville Brewers Alliance, formed to exchange ideas and promote the industry. They also tap Blue Ridge Food Ventures, an incubator for developing and commercializing products.

Competition among the breweries is a key driver of growth. "Every time a new brewery opens, it has to create its own creative edge, and then the other breweries have to be creative to become relevant again," explains Bill Drew, owner and brewmaster at Craggie Brewing Co. "So it's good when the new guys come in; it keeps the old guys on their toes."

In fact, the beer culture has permeated the town, with a host of businesses cooking up beer-flavored edibles and artists making tap handles and bottle labels. The environment gives brewers a place to source ingredients and fuel creativity. "By local companies teaming together, it's pretty much a win-win," Mr. Drew says.
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