By Jesse Wood
Dec. 11, 2014. With plans to expand its brewing operation to include hard cider, Appalachian Mountain Brewery founder Sean Spiegelman will appear before the Boone Board of Adjustment to request a modification to a special use permit to make hard cider at 289 Daniel Boone Dr. in Boone.
Spiegelman formed the Hard Mountain Cider LLC back in June. The cider corporation, along with Appalachian Mountain Brewery LLC, the brewery in Boone that opened on Valentine’s Day in 2013, and Farm to Flame LLC, which is a food truck that primarily serves the brewery, are all subsidiaries of Appalachian Mountain Brewery Inc.
The brewery has won numerous medals in the past two U.S Beer Championships. Both Farm to Flame and Hard Mountain Cider are officially certified by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project as a Western North Carolina grown and produced product.
Hard Mountain Cider has already leased 3,300 square feet of operation space on Daniel Boone Drive, and the corporation has the required permitting from the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to produce the cider. If and when the Boone Board of Adjustment approves of the modification, Spiegelman said that production of hard cider from North Carolina apples could begin onsite at the end of January or the beginning of February.
Why cider? Well, the Beer Institute reported that from 2011 to 2013, hard cider production in the states has tripled from 9.4 million gallons to 32 million gallons, and a 2012 Neilson Report predicted that cider is “poised for great growth.” Spiegelman said that while cider production has increased dramatically, it’s also “what consumers want.”
“It’s smart of us to give the consumer base what they want,” he said, adding that producing cider – and perhaps Appalachian spirits somewhere down the road – falls right in line with a craft beverage company such as AMB.
The operation will utilize four 10-barrel fermenters, three 10-barrel single wall brite tanks and one 20-barrel jacketed brite tank to create, initially, roughly 500 barrels of hard cider per year. Spiegelman said that he expects to ramp up production to up to 4,000 barrels per year in the future.
Initially, the hard cider will be available on draft, but Spiegelman noted the company will explore plans to bottle and can for self-distribution later next year. Earlier this year, Appalachian Mountain Brewery Inc. purchased additional brewing equipment and a Cask Semi-Automated Canning System, which has allowed the company to start “reliably” canning 70 cans (sized 12 or 16 ounce) of its flagship beers per minute or up to 175 cases per hour.
“Can packaging is a turning point in our history as a small-scale brewery,” Spiegelman said. “We will look back at 2014 as the year that put us on the craft beer map.”
In addition to ramping up production, AMB has been intent on forming partnerships with other entities, companies, local businesses and nonprofit organizations to grow the brand and support the community.
It has formed a partnership with Next Generation Beer Company, which is a craft beer distributor based out of Asheville. It also has started the High Country Brewers Alliance, which is a nonprofit trade organization partnering with other local breweries, the Economic Development Commission and area chambers of commerce to promote brand exposure and put the High Country on the map in the craft beverage world.
At the first of December, AMB, which is publicly traded with the ticker name “HOPS,” announced its partnership with another publicly traded brewery, Craft Brew Alliance. The two companies plan to share resources in “strategic areas” that include brewing, purchasing, distribution and sales.
“This kind of partnership aligns perfectly with what we’re building CBA to do: help bring authentic craft beers and brands to beer lovers from coast to coast. As we look to the future, we’re excited to broaden the alliance with real brands that are steeped in place and legacy and nurture their ability to serve today’s increasing demand for great-tasting, local craft beers in emerging markets like North Carolina and the Southeast,” said Craft Brew Alliance CEO Andy Thomas in a release.
One thing that Thomas cited – and the locals and nonprofits are already aware of – is AMB’s “leadership in sustainability and community involvement.”
AMB oversees a number of programs including Pints for Nonprofits, where a portion of proceeds from every pint sold in the tasting room goes toward local charities and nonprofits, and “We Can So You Can” initiative, where proceeds of every 16-ounce can helps to revitalize the environment throughout the Appalachian Mountains.
AMB’s motto is sustainability, community and philanthropy.
AMB is located at 163 Boone Creek Dr. in Boone. For more information, click to appalachianmountainbrewery.com or call 828-263-1111.