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Small Town Watering Hole Goes Global; AMB Merger Means Jobs, Philanthropy and Community Investment

Photo by Ken Ketchie
Photo by Ken Ketchie

by Madison V. Fisler

Update: As of Dec. 19, Appalachian Mountain Brewery has officially closed the acquisition of North Carolina Natural Energy. Appalachian Mountain Brewery will be traded under OTC:NCNE until the name and symbol change goes through as final terms and conditions are processed.

This will allow AMB to offer shares to qualified investors to expand the company in Boone including increased production, distribution and operation.

Dec. 4, 2013. It looks like the “Official Brewery of the Appalachian Mountains” Appalachian Mountain Brewery here in Boone is looking to expand.

After months of preparation, our little local brewery has officially entered into a letter of intent to acquire publicly traded North Carolina Natural Energy Inc., headquartered in the foothills. As part of the agreement, NCNE will change its name to Appalachian Mountain Brewery Inc. and begin trading publicly as the craft brewery. Closing on this deal is expected by January.

“This is a strategic move by AMB to prepare for growth in Boone and further our distribution outside of our town. We are really looking forward to furthering our community, philanthropy, and economic stewardship and footprint. This is all positive for everyone involved and our Hometown Boone, NC. Lets look forward to a New Year with many new things to come,” Appalachian Mountain Brewery announced on Facebook today.

As per the agreement, the owner and founder of Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Sean Spiegelman, will be appointed CEO and will continue to manage the brewery with a continued focus on community stewardship and environmental sustainability. 

“The focus in doing this is that we are acquiring a public company that has tremendous value for our small brewery and will allow people to participate as shareholders. We want to grow our business in our hometown of Boone. We have plans to open up another location and are looking at a full-scale bottling and cannery, as well as a restaurant eventually. Boone will be our hub. This is where we started and this is where we will stay,” said Spiegelman.

And AMB will be utilizing this merger to further their philanthropic endeavors as well. 

“The big thing about this opportunity is that it will provide over the years the opportunity to use this public vehicle to do so much for our town and the nonprofits that we work with. It will create long-term partnerships and will allow us to do good on a much larger scale. We can do more regionally and locally, create more jobs and long-term benefits toward sustainability,” Spiegelman said.

“That’s the biggest thing for me. I don’t want to sound like I don’t care about the profitability, but I care about this community that helped us to start and I want the community to know that we are here for them. I always say that, but it’s really the most important thing. I’m here to help, to help the students, the community, everything. I always say, its not about how much money you make, its about what you do with your time. It’s a huge investment into this great place that we live.”

The current president of NCNE and Appalachian State University graduate Clinton Walker expressed his excitement with the merger.

“We are going to be the newest publicly traded brewery,” Walker said. “The industry has hundreds and hundreds of craft brewers, but the only ones that are publicly traded are huge. The goal is to open up a distributing and bottling company in Boone to localize the entire process.”

With the merger, Appalachian Mountain Brewery will obtain a wholesale liquor, beer and wine license, which NCNE applied for in anticipation of the merger. 

“This is a perfect combination,” Walker said. “Sean Spiegelman is probably one of the brightest people I have ever met. He has funded the startup and the establishment of the brewery from his own funds, which is very appealing to me. They are already up and running and this will only add to their growth. Our goal is to merge before the end of the year. We have been preparing for this for months and it has been kept quiet.”

When the merger is finally closed, Walker explains that he will step down as CEO and Spiegelman will step up to take his place. 

“I will remain a shareholder, but I will be resigning my position and Sean will take over. I look forward to remaining a consultant for the new company,” Walker said. 

North Carolina Natural Energy is a publicly held company in the business of managing alternative renewable energy solutions including Biofuels, Wind Energy, Agriculture, and Livestock.

One of NCNE’s shareholders, Chanticleer Holdings, Inc. and its CEO Mike Pruitt played a key role in mediating this combination. Chanticleer Holdings, Inc. is focused on expanding the Hooters restaurant brand as well as Charlotte-based chain American Roadside Burgers internationally. These restaurants will be looking to showcasing craft beers from Appalachian Mountain Brewery and assisting in regional distribution. 

“On a scale from one to ten, I am at about a million in excitement right now,” Spiegelman said. “It makes me so proud that I can help make this place a better place to live.”

Appalachian Mountain Brewery, which opened on Valentine’s Day of this year, is dedicated to giving back to the High Country community that it calls home. Aside from the “pints-for-nonprofits” initiative, the brewery as a whole also participates in many other initiatives to give back to the area including involvement with the Appalachian State University Fermentation Science program, a local grain exchange program and a planned venture capital fund to help locals with start-up businesses in Boone. 

AMB won two Gold Medals and won the overall categories in the 2013 United States Open Beer Championship for its Honey Badger Blonde Ale and California Common. AMB competed against the biggest and best breweries from around the world where over 2,500 beers competed in 68 categories for aroma, appearance, mouth feel, flavor and overall impression.

Photos by Ken Ketchie