My Trip to North Carolina, A State That Gets It
By Dave Hoops
My name is Dave Hoops, Master Brewer at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth, Minnesota. I admit I love North Carolina. It’s awesome: with its incredible natural beauty, great people, amazing beaches, not to mention the localism-bordering-on-fanaticism regarding craft beer.
My sister-in-law Mary lives in the sweet town of Wilmington, North Carolina (population 108,000), right on the southern coast. For the last 12 years or so, my family and I have visited once or twice a year during holidays and spring breaks. Over the years, I’ve witnessed the craft beer industry in North Carolina grow at least tenfold; I’ve also tasted some of the greatest beers I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample.
In this month’s article, I thought it would be fun to indulge my curiosity about North Carolina’s growth, casting a comparative eye toward Minnesota’s growth as a craft beer mecca.
“I admit I love North Carolina. It’s awesome: with its incredible natural beauty, great people, amazing beaches, not to mention the localism-bordering-on-fanaticism regarding craft beer.”
North Carolina made huge news in the last six months when craft industry juggernauts New Belgium Brewery and Sierra Nevada announced plans to build breweries, costing in excess of $100 million, near Asheville, North Carolina. Another brewery, Oscar Blues from Colorado, which holds the (beloved?) distinction of being the first craft brewery to offer their beer in cans, also opened a huge new plant in nearby Brevard a few months ago.
Location, Location, Location
The question has to be why? Why is North Carolina so attractive for small-to-large business owners? In 2012, Site Selection Magazine, which specializes in tracking area economic development, awarded North Carolina its highest ranking in the “Top Business Climate in the US” category. For comparison, Minnesota wasn’t even listed among the top 25 states. Does Minnesota have a chance to draw more craft brewing superstars to our state? Hard to say, but I think that we can.
I reached out to my friend Christian Holbrook, Quality Specialist Brewing Process & Raw Materials at New Belgium Brewing Co. in Fort Collins, Colorado. I asked him what, from his personal perspective, made the brewery want to move to North Carolina:
“I am really excited by the fact that we are building a second brewery. This will bring many challenges that will be a lot of fun to tackle from a brewing and QA perspective. I think the choice of Asheville is awesome. There is already an outstanding Asheville craft beer community and culture there that I very much look forward to experiencing in the near future and that I am really stoked to be a part of.”
Chris also highlighted the fact that community matters just as much as the great business climate:
“In addition to the brewing community, there is the community of Asheville itself, with a fantastic cycling culture including a strong arts culture, as well as universities in the area that are ready and able to collaborate on technical brewing projects. These are all unique and vital qualities that make this an obvious and exciting fit for us.”
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