Listen to John Silver talk about his new venture and he’ll tell you all about the basics of starting a new business.
His new brewery, Homeplace Beer Co., is Yancey County’s first craft brewery. (The town approved beer and wine sales six years ago; the county remains dry.) The 5-barrel brewhouse and 10-barrel fermenter will allow him to produce about 600 barrels of beer a year in 2,000 square feet of the Burnsville Town Center, right in the heart of downtown Burnsville. He’ll be tapping into local growers seeking ingredients for the American- and English-style ales he plans to make. He hopes to open in spring.
But listen a little longer, and you’ll hear the respect and appreciation he holds for Yancey County. Silver grew up in Burnsville and Spruce Pine. He’s a local guy who wants to “just wants to do something sustainable for myself and my family,” he says. (He and his wife just had their second child.)
Silver recently bought his grandparents’ house in Yancey County “to get away from the Asheville thing for a little bit.” He views Burnsville as a Norman Rockwell-esque small town with “a great quality of life and great place to grow.” It’s his home place, after all.
The road back to Burnsville
Silver’s well-known in the Asheville craft beer circles. He started washing kegs at Pisgah Brewing in 2005, the year it opened. He moved on to Catawba Brewing, where he landed his first brewing gig and helped them build their Morganton facility. He moved again to French Broad Brewery in Asheville for a couple of years before arriving at Oscar Blues in Brevard in 2012. He finished his tour at Hi-Wire Brewing back in Asheville.
“All the experiences have been good, and I can say that I’m still on great terms with all the places I’ve worked,” Silver says. Regarding his decision to open his own brewery, he says “It was just a great time for me to jump off the cliff.”
Silver says he’s excited about tapping into Yancey County’s agricultural scene as he gets Homeplace Beer going. He’s planning to use a local honey to flavor an oatmeal brown. He’s partnering with a North Carolina grit-maker to brew a corn lager, a “sort of an Appalachian corn beer.” He figures he’ll partner with Snap Dragon restaurant and tap room for food.
All those connections, Silver says, will root his business in the community, a town that’s growing. Burnsville provides incredible access to hikers and anglers. Yancey County is home to a thriving arts scene. A craft fair in Burnsville draws 30,000 visitors for a weekend, and nearby Celo is home to another arts scene. More and more tourists are finding the mountain gem.
For Silver, it all adds up. Love your home, connect and reflect its beauty and “if you have a supportive local base, it seems hard to go wrong.”