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LETTERS / Let Me Tell You About Our Business Plans

Dear Editor,

I would like to take the time to introduce myself to your readership.  My name is Nathan Paris and I am the owner of Flat Top Brewing Company, LLC.  I am looking very forward to opening our brewery in the AC PRIDE Incubator, located at the former Banner Elk Elementary School.  I have been a resident of Avery County off and on for the past 13 years and have had ties to the area for over 20 years.  My wife and I and our 3 children own two residential properties in Avery County and hope relocate here on a full time basis because we do truly love the area.

I feel as though the citizens of Avery County should learn more about our plans with the brewery.  First and foremost, we are committed to being good stewards of Avery County.  This will be accomplished in a multi-faceted manner.  To begin, every can of beer that leaves our facility will be labeled as a product that has been made with pride in Avery County.  This is free advertising for the county and will help create another destination for the tourist industry that we all depend upon.  Second, we are committed to having a vertically integrated product.  By this, I mean that we would like to use as many local ingredients as humanly possible.  Our county Economic Development Director, Bret Gardella, put in us contact with several key potential partners (including Jerry Moodyat the extension service) early on in the planning phase of this project so that we could explore the possibility of fostering mutually beneficial relationships with local farmers and businesspeople.  We would like to assist local farmers in the hop growing process.  We are blessed with an area that is very conducive to growing hops and this new crop could be used to augment a sluggish Frasier Fir market.  We will be an outlet for these hops, which is something that current hop farmers have been lacking.  We also discussed with Mr. Moody the potential uses for the spent grains used in our brewing process—including giving them to local farmers for feed as well as giving them to local business people to recycle.I have approached Erika Siegel (another contact facilitated by Mr. Gardella), owner of My Best Friends Barkery in Banner Elk, regarding giving her spent grains to make her own homemade dog treats with; again, another way we can help vertically integrate businesses in our county.  Next, every beer we make (there will be up to 6 standard, year-round beers, 4 seasonal beers, and multiple possible “small batch” beers) will be named for a local area or point of interest.  Examples of this could include Crossnore Cream Ale, Banner Elk Stout, Linville Falls Lager, etc.  We are doing this introduce our beautiful areas’ heritage to a broad market outside of Avery County in a way that will make us all proud and again costs nothing to the residents of the county.  In addition, we would be honored to help sponsor our many local festivals, including Wooly Worm.

I feel very strongly that the AC PRIDE Incubator provides the best venue to make this happen for multiple reasons other than the obvious one being the location.  As a novice business owner, I would benefit greatly from the educational resources to be offered there including general business as well as computer classes.  In addition, we hope to be a key educational component in the incubator by offering tours and partnering with the Appalachian State University Fermentation Science program to offer internships.  We also anticipate some sort of partnership with the Mayland Culinary Arts program to be located in the incubator as well.  I am of the opinion that Flat Top Brewing Company (and hence the AC PRIDE incubator) can be a real catalyst for growth in Avery County and become a locally grown success story with a broad geographical reach.  I personally appreciate the opportunity to help Avery County shine.  If I can shed further light on our plans or aspirations, please feel free to reach out to Bret Gardella at the Economic Development Office and he can put you in direct contact with me.  It is, after all, through his willingness to embrace the potential of a microbrewery and all the benefits that go along with it, (such as job creation, cooperation with local agriculture and businesses, and possible tax revenue) that we have decided to locate in Avery County.


 Nathan Paris


Flat Top Brewing Company, LLC