8/25/2011 - Where the Action Is Part II
by Emily Maltby - Wall Street Journal
"Where the Action Is," shows several communities across the country that have become hotbeds for certain industries - and that have helped fuel growth in other, related industries.
Take Asheville, N.C., for example, which has 10 local breweries, plus two more under construction. Asheville's ice cream parlors and bakeries - and even a local mustard company called Crooked Condiments - have beer-flavored edibles. Local artists make the tap handles and beer labels.
A start-up called Microbroo LLC specializes in beer shampoos, conditioners and body washes. Brad Pearsall, who founded the company with his wife last year, says the products -- which are as seasonal as the brews -- are not alcoholic thanks to a boiling process used in production. Microbroo currently sources the beer in its products from Highland Brewing Co. Inc., the first brewery to open in Asheville in 1994.
Meanwhile, Hop'n Blueberry Farm, an agro-tourism farm just outside of Asheville, recently started growing hops, a flower that is a key beer ingredient. The hops are transported down the road to Pisgah Brewing Co., where they can be used right away in the company's organic beers. Van Burnette, who runs the farm, says he's getting many tourists who come to sample the beer and learn about the hops.
"They have generated so much interest it's unbelievable," says Mr. Burnette.
Asheville hosts home-brewing contests and several beer festivals each year. That scene draws tourists from near and far who also partake in the Brews Cruise brewery tour and shop in the specialty beer store that has hundreds of labels.
"The ecosystem is supportive, which is why it has grown," says Oscar Wong, founder and president of Highland Brewing. "With this kind of good fortune, you grab a hold and run with it."