Beech Mountain is one of the few places in the country where the ski resort brews its own beer. Since opening in the ski village in 2013, Beech Mountain Brewing Co. has become quite popular.

The brewery is so popular, in fact, that it couldn’t keep up with the demand for its frosty pints of Beech Blonde, 5506’ Pale Ale and other tasty brews. So, this past summer, the brewery closed for renovations, which included an equipment expansion to make even better-quality beer and more of it. I’ll toast to that!

The brewery re-opened for this ski season under the guidance of new brewmaster Sean McCoy. I scampered into the brewery recently to chat with Sean about about the happenings.

Brewmaster Sean McCoy

Boomer: Tell me a little bit about how you got into brewing beer.

Sean: I got into craft beer after I graduated college from Lees-McRae (our neighbor in Banner Elk!). As I developed a palate and started to like different beer, I got into seeing how it was made. I started with a small one-gallon brewing kit at home and grew into a bigger home setup. Billy, the former brewmaster here and my friend from college, helped me get into the professional side.

 

Boomer: The brewery was closed this summer and into the fall for improvements. What have you guys been doing?

Sean: We were working on a pretty small, manual system. We were brewing three barrels of beer at a time, four times a week. And we weren’t able to keep up. We installed a new brewing system, which cuts down on the stress and manual work. We expanded to a seven-barrel semi-automated system. It more than doubles our capacity. The temperature controls also help with consistency and quality. By removing the old brewing equipment, we opened up more space in the taproom. And we added windows from the taproom into the new brewing facility downstairs.

 

Boomer: There are so many different kinds of beer these days. How do you describe the style of beer at Beech Mountain?

Sean: Originally our flagship styles were all ales. With the new equipment, we’re able to do some lagers. Our beers run the whole spectrum, from pale ales to IPAs to a porter. We like to keep our recipes pretty simple and not go overboard with heavily fruited beers or sours. The majority of our customers are looking for a pretty standard beer that’s easy to drink.

 

Boomer: What’s your most popular beer?

Sean: Our most popular is the Beech Blonde. It’s the lightest option. It’s lower in alcohol content, too, so folks can feel comfortable having one or two while they’re here. It’s a good gateway beer for someone who wants the additional flavor and body that comes with a craft beer but isn’t up for a full-blown leap into an IPA.

 

Boomer: What’s your favorite part of being the brewmaster here at Beech Mountain?

Sean: It sure as heck beats a desk job, which I did for five years. I enjoy being able to take a hobby and make it into a career. Brewing keeps you on your toes. When you think you have everything right, there’s always a curve ball. I also enjoy hearing feedback from customers and compliments about our product. We’re very small on the mega-scale of breweries, but people come from Charlotte and Asheville, where there are big-name breweries, and say that they really enjoy our product.

 

Nothing tastes better after a day on the slopes than a refreshing pint. I’ll catch ya at Beech Mountain Brewing.

Cheers!
Boomer the Squirrel


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