When a human being enters our barn by the stream, once the dazzle of contrasting light goes and their sight adjusts, if it is between the hours of 1 and 5 PM on weekdays, when the dual purposes of this address overlap, if the Tasting Room is not packed by an obscuring mob of imbibers, if the production team is not otherwise occupied upstairs or outside or within the cooler or in the warehouse or around the brewhouse or behind the brights or among the bubbling forest of fermenters, that human being will see men in hoodies.
Men in hoodies, wearing boots that are not created equal. Men crouched over kegs, spinning the valves of large instruments, wielding tremendous rubber hoses gasketed and clamped together, operating bottling machines, rolling cooperage over floors abused by cooperage, over the steady growl of the filter and the intermittent hysterical whine of CO2 and the Gatling gun staccato of air compressors, with pallets and pallet jacks, mallets and pipe wrenches, shaping afternoons that smell of hops into vehicles that deliver small tonnages of beer from station to station, blue-jean wearing guys, caked in mill dust, bunting the grain around the bases until it slides home perhaps in the form of a 35-degree pint poured for you at the Tasting Room bar for less than a fiver.
With the cold come the frayed jeans, the faces of millers pinked beneath the white dust, forklift drivers blowing on their hands, brewers shedding their hoodies to muscle grain-bins up to the brewhouse and then to the kettle. The garage door’s opened for necessity, closed in a hurry, and leaving the walk-in cooler after even a long stay won’t fog up your glasses anymore.
Listen, it’s not like we think they’re stylish. This job eats clothes. Imelda Marcos couldn’t go through boots as fast. And the pockets. The pockets are very handy.
So think of this today if you’ve got the afternoon free. Sure, there are plenty of places you could go to sit and tilt a glass–comfy places, places holistically appointed to suppress any desire to leave, where the heat unerringly triumphs over the opened door and there’re two bathrooms and Winter, Labor and Austerity are just ideas, that’s all, weightless as shadow, incapable of reaching you in your perch among the toasty clouds. But listen to what I tell you now:
Anybody who lets aesthetics play second banana to output, who likes to see into the guts of a thing, who admires the rhythms of labor, we welcome you.
If a French Broad IPA on draft is worth a periodic draft of November wind, and Wee Heavy-Er warms your bones faster, and it seems like a nice and special thing to watch the behoodied guys make and package the beer that’s in your hand, welcome.
Asheville: Thanksgiving Dinner is being served gratis at this moment by our man Jerry. Behind me, right now, a meal freely given has made a family of a group disparate save their unifying appreciation of the $2.50 pint.
It isn’t just a brewery they built here, and it isn’t a state of mind either. It’s a different sort of thing, connecting dots that aren’t often connected–that usually reside in the separate spheres of home and work and deserved indulgence. It’s one of the ideas that can’t reach you through the glass, where with the usual comforts and in the usual ways you are are served by people in t-shirts.