By Jesse Wood
Oct. 11, 2013. About 150 people turned out for Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn’s grand opening on Thursday afternoon.
The grand opening follows nearly a full year of renovations and four months since the ale house, restaurant and inn opened on Sunset Drive, adjacent to The Inn at Ragged Gardens and Best Cellar, whose owners also own the former historic and renovated Maple Lodge that now houses the ale house, restaurant and inn.
The new enterprise is a collaboration between the Blowing Rock Brewing Company co-founders Jeff Walker and Todd Rice and the owners of The Inn at Ragged Gardens and the Best Cellar Rob Dyer and Lisa Stripling.
The Blowing Rock Brewing Company now brews its own artisanal Ale House Series in the new location while it plans to move its brewing operation of the Legacy Series, which is marketed in grocery stores across the state, to Hickory in the next year. The Ale House Series will be sold in the brewery as well as in the form of kegs and growlers available at the brewery and local retailers.
Along with the families of those involved in managing the operation and its 35 employees, members of the Blowing Rock Town Council, Mayor J.B. Lawrence and officials with Yadkin Bank, the lending institution that financed the project, attended the grand opening and participated in the ribbon cutting. Also present were those involved in the renovations of the Maple Lodge: general contractor Cliff Baldwin, Kostis Building and architect Larry Greene
“It was outstanding,” Rice said of the evening.
Rice said that he hopes to have “beer camps” established this winter, where the art of brewing with hands-on experience that also will also be packaged with two nights stay at the inn and the culinary cuisine of Erick and Jenny Virt, the chefs of the restaurant.
Because Blowing Rock Brewing Company supplies more than 500 stores across the state including Harris Teeter, Walmart, Whole Foods, Lowes Foods and more, the company, like many other brewers, contracts with another brewer to handle large-scale commercial accounts of its Legacy Series, which features a competing price point. That is currently being brewed in Pennsylvania but Rice said that operation is moving to Hickory in the near future.
As for the Ale House Series, Ray Hodge, who has a “long history as a respected brewing trailblazer,” is the company’s brewer.
The Ale House Series, which Rice dubbed “more artisanal,” is produced in Blowing Rock, using local ingredients where possible, and will change with the seasons for different beers at different times of the year. It will be brewed with a five-barrel system and double batched in a 10-barrel system to double production.
“Our plan is to really put Blowing Rock on the national map for the very high-end, high-quality beers we’ll be producing,” Rice said.
Within 60 days Rice expects to have six varieties of beer for kegs and half-gallon jug growlers.
The Blowing Rock Ale House & Inn and Brewery, which is located at 152 Sunset Drive, is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day except Wednesday.
See Photos by Ken Ketchie and Lonnie Webster Below
Ken Ketchie Photos
Lonnie Webster Photos