Black Mountain was chosen as the ideal home for Pisgah Brewing based on several factors. First and foremost, the rent was cheap! And also first and foremost, the water here is simply the best, as some of the major players in the craft brewing world have recently noticed. The wall in the brewery between the grain mill room and the brewers office used to extend the length of the room and encompassed the original 2800 square feet of space, that the brewery rented for just $650/mo. Black Mountain also has an individual identity often associated with new age cultures and the creative arts through the once famous Black Mountain college, as well as local farm school Warren Wilson and the LEAF festival.
Dave moved to Black Mountain to begin construction of the brewery in the Winter of 2003/04. His neighbor rode Harley’s and owned his own flatbed truck, and the two struck a deal to move the equipment for gas money and a case of beer. Of course PBR would not suffice, and Dave brewed his trucker buddy a custom batch to repay his kindness. A few weeks later the two drove down to Myrtle Beach at 4 am, strapped a whole load of brewing vessels to the truck and carried them up I-26 westbound into the sunset.
Another person that helped Pisgah get off its fledgling feet was Ed, owner of Palmetto Brewing, who gave Dave a deal on several hundred old used Bung Style kegs, he said, “They are $25 a piece, take as many as you want, pay me when you can…..and thanks for not opening your brewery in Charleston!” Dave rode away with a UHaul full of old cooperage, and a few months later he brought Ed a check and bought another truckload.
The logo was originally designed by Dave, but with a limited talent for visual arts, another serious player was sought out to bring the sketched out idea into a full Technicolor masterpiece…enter Richard Biffle. Based out of Virginia Beach, Biffle’s art is iconic and recognizable. He is responsible for the “SANTANA” logo and works with legendary artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Black Crowes, Allman Brothers and Warren Haynes.
With his help Pisgah’s logo was refined and the small company gained some serious street cred. The first batch of Pale Ale was brewed in the early spring of 2005 with grain and hops that were bought using a loan from Dave’s college roommate. Money was really that tight in the beginning, and yet another awesome person stepped in to help Pisgah get its wings. The first keg of Pisgah Pale was sold to Barley’s downtown on 4/13/2005 and Pisgah was warned that they would have to sell at least a keg per week to keep a spot on the wall. Two days later Barleys ordered two more kegs to make it through the weekend. That Friday more kegs went out around town to places like the Town Pump, Westville Pub and the Mellow Mushroom, all of which remain strong supports of Pisgah to this day.
All things Organic: Originally Pisgah was a certified Organic facility, which meant not only sourcing organic ingredients wherever possible, but it meant keeping a large amount of government compliance paperwork on hand. Eventually the National Organic Program started changing and tightening their certification guidelines, but without any real world knowledge of how their rules would actually affect businesses. The changes would prove costly to Pisgah and would have required some changes to the brewing process, that they were unwilling to change. The decision was made to halt participation in the program in the spring of 2013, yet Pisgah remains committed to the philosophy and still uses organic grain as a base of all its beers.
In the beginning, the brewery was only open to the public on Thursdays from 5-7pm. Then the hours got longer and so did the lines for beer, as the place grew in popularity. It got to the point where people would stand up thirty and forty deep in a line to get a pint and hang out in the brewery with no place to sit at all. One night a band came and asked to play for tips, that night Dave caught someone selling grilled cheese in the parking lot, and realized it was obviously time to build a bar.
The taproom opened in April 2008, and not long after Pisgah got its first business loan. This time the banks came to them and offered equipment financing. Several weeks later, orders were placed for two 30Bbl fermenters and hundreds of new kegs with handles and the machine to wash them. With the influx of new equipment and the hiring of a couple people to help with all the work, Pisgah really turned a corner that year.
Production was nearly doubled in 2008, and Pisgah was voted #1 favorite brewery in WNC, knocking Highland off the #1 spot they had held for 12 years. In the following years major expansions included knocking down walls in the taproom and grading out the courtyard with stonework and a fire pit, as well as building the now legendary Pisgah Outdoor Stage. Pisgah hosts about two dozen music events in our 8-acre meadow each year during the summer concert series. In 2013 major renovations to the brewery like tiled floors and three new brewing tanks expanded Pisgah’s capacity by nearly double to about 5000Bbl annually.