BOONE – Roughly 10 months after being sold to the Portland, Ore.-based Craft Brew Alliance, Boone’s Appalachian Mountain Brewery hasn’t seen many noticeable changes, but that’s about to change, according to AMB co-founder and brewmaster Nathan Kelischek.
“We’re really excited about continuously brewing awesome beers in Boone and expanding our footprint here for sure,” Kelischek said. “It’s only a matter of time until those plans come to fruition.”
One change that will occur in May 2020 is that AMB is ending its lease for its cidery and packing space at 289 Daniel Boone Drive, Suites A, B and C. The space, which Kelischek said is 6,000 square feet, is a different location from AMB’s brewing and brewpub operations location at 163 Boone Creek Drive.
According to Kelischek, the move is to accomplish short-term goals for the brewery, which has used the Daniel Boone Drive space since 2015.
“We were only given the opportunity to renew that property for a five-year lease and we need a lot less than that to get what we’re trying to get done,” Kelischek said. “It’s too long for us to stay there.”
Kelischek said that while a new cidery and packaging location haven’t been finalized, it won’t mean AMB will be moving operations out of Boone.
“We need to be operating in a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot facility, and it has not come to fruition yet,” Kelischek said of the potential future cidery and packaging center. “We’re working really hard to put those plans in motion and real excited about out future here in Boone.”
While the future of the packaging and cidery operations isn’t yet nailed down, Kelischek said, regardless, AMB will continue to be the largest beer producer in Boone. Currently, Kelischek estimates AMB will be producing more than 4,000 barrels of beer in 2018.
That future will include work at AMB’s home base at 163 Boone Creek Drive.
On Nov. 29, 2018, CBA completed the purchase of the tract of land, brewery and brewpup at 163 Boone Creek Drive for $805,000.
In February, 163 Boone Creek Drive was rezoned to B3 – General Business from its conditional district approval it had received in 2014. Kelischek told the Boone Town Council at the meeting that CBA was wishing to do some beautification of the property and due to the conditional district status, they would have to return to the town each time for any exterior work.
Kelischek told the council in February that CBA had no plans to leave 163 Boone Creek Drive.
“We love Boone, we’re here to stay, we appreciate the community’s support and everything we do to fuel our passion and fuel our growth,” Kelischek said.
Another benefit of the CBA sale, according to Kelischek, is that all full-time employees now have benefits and 401k options.
“We’re really supporting our local guys as much as we can here,” Kelischek said. “(CBA has) allowed us to have a lot more resources to be able to reinvest in the community, and I think that’ll come to light when we announce all of our future plans.”
CBA bought AMB and two other breweries in October – Massachusetts’ Cisco Brewers and Miami’s Wynwood Brewing – for less than $45 million. Cisco Brothers sold for $23 million and the financial details of the other two sales were not disclosed.
CBA could be facing changes in the near future. A publicly-traded company, CBA is partially owned by Anheuser-Busch Companies, which owns 31.6 percent of the shares as of May 2019.
The St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Companies – which brews domestic beers Budweiser, Michelob Ultra and Natural Light among others – has been expanding its craft beer portfolio in recent years, now owning Shock Top, Goose Island, Breckenride Brewery, Stella Artois and more. Anheuser-Busch is currently the country’s largest beer market owner.
As part of a 2016 deal between Anheuser-Busch and CBA, the former has the option to make a qualifying offer to buy all of CBA’s stock by Aug. 24 at the price of $24.50 a share. The CBA stock has been hovering around $15-16 a share for months. If no offer is made, CBA retains all distribution rights and regains the right to sell the company to whoever they choose, according to industry trade website Craft Beer Business.