WEST JEFFERSON — New River Brewing is moving from Lansing to downtown West Jefferson, and proprietor Greg Hershner said his family-owned beer fermentation operation is expanding in the process.
There is still much work to be done for Hershner and son, master brewer Adam Hershner, before New River Brewing opens its doors to the public sometime about April 2019.
Since mid-November, the father-son duo has been renovating their newly purchased 1940s-built warehouse at 108 S. Third Ave. in West Jefferson. When the work is finished, the brewery will include a tap room and kitchen, plus space to expand its brewing operations.
So far, the former Burgess Furniture storage building interior has been stripped of its old wooden shelves and cleared out, revealing a spacious, blank canvas for the brewery to move into, Hershner said.
Hershner said they plan to add windows to the front of the building, which looks out past Jefferson Station towards Mount Jefferson, and swap the current roll-up garage door for a slide-up door with windows.
Additionally, the finished floor will be raised several inches off the warehouse’s concrete foundation for plumbing and wiring to run underneath. Tin roofing will cover the ceiling insulation, walls will be repainted, the building’s thick wooden support beams will remain exposed and a stage will be erected in the corner of the room, giving the interior an overall industrial atmosphere with plenty of space for patrons to mingle, Hershner said.
There will likely be room to seat about 156 people in the new brewhouse, Hershner said — roughly the population of Lansing, where New River Brewing has resided since 2017.
Hershner, of Warrensville, said he did not want to relocate from Lansing, but he was forced due to Ashe’s status as a dry county; the only exceptions are Jefferson and West Jefferson, whose populations exceeding 500 citizens enabled voter referendums to legalize selling and serving alcohol within town limits.
For New River Brewing in Lansing, that meant the business could brew and bottle its beer, but could not acquire permits to serve or sell its products on brewery premises, necessitating the move. Some businesses in Lansing, such as Pie on the Mountain and Molly Chomper Hard Cider, are able to sell and serve alcohol because of their proximity to the N.C. 194 scenic byway, but New River Brewing was afforded no such exception, according to Hershner.
“We are moving because of the need to be able to sell beer at the retail level,” Hershner said. “Lansing is closer to home — we love Lansing and hate to be leaving, but it’s time to make the next move for our business.”
In the meantime, Carolina Country Wines & Craft Beer in downtown West Jefferson serves as the New River Brewing tap house.