Our Charlotte ad agency was in Asheville recently working with a new healthcare client, and after a long (but productive) discovery/strategy session, we stopped by the city's newest brew pub to sample the goods. It's no secret that North Carolina is rapidly becoming a beer lover's destination, and the opening of Oyster House helps build upon that mouthwatering momentum.
Billy Klingel, the proprietor and brewmaster, was at an oyster-shucking contest on the coast a few years ago, when he experienced something more memorable than the oysters themselves: a stout brewed with these gnarly little crustaceans.
“A big light went off in my head when they told me that,” he remembers, “I already brewed … and I knew that if I could create a beer like that, I would have a really unique product.”
At the time, he was working at the Lobster House, another Asheville establishment, where the first batches of his Moonstone Stout hit the draft lines and quickly found a thirsty audience. Fast forward to 2012, where demand and production constraints required a bigger space.
However, it was tough for Klingel to find a new home for the brewery anywhere in West Asheville – especially on Haywood Road. He looked at any building open, even long shots. Eventually, something close to perfect came up.
The building at 625 Haywood Road, formerly the Viva Deli, and directly across the street from the popular eatery Sunny Point, provides the perfect home to his brew pup concept. A handmade bar with embedded oyster shells is the largest thing in the room.
In terms of tasting notes, the Moonstone Stout isn't an overly heavy beer. It is brewed with oysters, shell and all, but there is no distinguishable oyster flavor in the beer. They do add sea salt, calcium and other minerals to help build the overall flavor.
At any one time, Klingel plans to keep about five house beers on tap. With 12 taps and at least one hand-pump, there will always be plenty of guest beers available as well. “We’re still working on the list, but it will be beer that beer junkies want,” he told us “You’ll see Bells and Founders, probably Stone, and definitely Foothills – I love their beer. There will be beers from other Asheville breweries, too. Maybe a Green Man Porter, and French Broad Kölsch or Wee Heavier.”
Klingel stresses that Oyster House is a brewery first – they just happen to serve food. There will be some salads, red beans and rice, and shrimp. And if you love oysters as much as some members of our Charlotte marketing agency, then you're in luck. On the menu there will be raw oysters featuring about seven or eight different varieties of oysters sourced locally here in North Carolina but also from Virginia, New England, British Columbia and Washington State – plus grilled oysters, fried oysters, and blue cheese fried oysters. YUM!!
So the next time you're in Asheville, check these guys out. They're open 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to midnight Saturday and Sunday.