By Jesse Wood
July 11, 2012. The Blowing Rock Town Council unanimously approved a microbrewery – the first of its kind in Blowing Rock – to be operated by Boone Brewing Co. on the grounds of the The Inn at Ragged Gardens’ Maple Lodge.
Rob Dyer, co-owner of Ragged Gardens, requested a conditional use permit to add a restaurant and microbrewery at The Inn at Ragged Gardens’ Maple Lodge, which was purchased three months ago by Dyer and Lisa Stipling and is located at 152 Sunset Drive and zoned CB – Central Business.
Maple Lodge was a historic bed and breakfast that was built in the ‘40s.
Future plans include retaining nine of the 13 rooms as overnight accommodations while converting the breakfast area of the inn into a restaurant and bar.
On the property is a separate two-bedroom cottage, which would be converted into a microbrewery and become the Blowing Rock Ale House, where “small batches” of Blowing Rock Ale will be created, according to the meeting packet, “primarily for on-site consumption” on a “very small scale” and “not intended for major production.”
A potential agreement in the packet states, “The Applicant intends to limit beer production to small batches which are hereby limited to not more than 700 gallons per week. Plans to exceed this production level must be approved specifically by the Board of Commissioners.”
Currently, Blowing Rock Ale is crafted in Pennsylvania – not Blowing Rock – and that has turned some local beer enthusiasts off.
“Unfortunately some [other] restaurants have decided that for whatever reason, Blowing Rock Ale isn’t going to sale because of Pennsylvania being on the label,” Rice said. “It’s a misconception.”
Beer brewed at the Maple Lodge cottage will have a Blowing Rock label instead of the Pennsylvania label. Rice intends on selling the locally brewed brew to the Blowing Rock Market in downtown, as well as other local establishments.
When asked what percentage of Blowing Rock Ale’s total production would be brewed at the Maple Lodge, Blowing Rock Ale co-founder Todd Rice said, “A big percentage.”
Rice said that the owners of Ragged Gardens have been “very supportive” of the brewers since its inception several years ago. He said that more than 10 cases of Blowing Rock Ale are sold during Ragged Gardens’ Music on the Lawn concerts on Fridays.
ABC permits have been secured for the Maple Lodge, and the Blowing Rock School Principal Patrick Sukow and the Watauga County Board of Education have provided written notice that they have no opposition to the micro-brewery next to the school’s auditorium, according to the packet.
Renovations for the microbrewery cottage are planned for November with hopes of becoming operational and selling beer in the first quarter of 2013.