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Catawba Valley Brewing

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Catawba Valley Brewing Company
 The Catawba Valley Brewing Company grew out of a
simple gift, and the love of good beer.  A beginner’s
home brewing kit given years ago began a passion for
brewing that could only culminate with production on a
larger scale.  It seemed natural to take production from a
few gallons to a few barrels and beyond.  During the
summer of 1999 the business that is now Catawba
Valley Brewing Company was born.
In April of 2007 the brewery relocated from Glen Alpine,
NC to downtown Morganton, NC.  In the process we
didn’t lose a customer or miss a delivery.  In fact we
achieved record spring sales.  In addition to relocating
we’ve also opened our taproom to the public.  We
encourage those interested in finely crafted beers to
stop by and try our selection of beers.  Getting a fresher
beer is a near impossibility.
North Carolina’s first brewery dates back to 1774. Single Brothers Brewery & Distillery
operated in what is now Old Salem until 1813. It took another 220 years for the
western end of the Tarheel State to get into the brewing business. Smokey Mountain
Brewery (now defunct) opened in Waynesville in 1993 and Highland Brewing started
production in Asheville the following year. Asheville now hosts two brewpubs (Green
Man and Asheville Pizza) and one additional micro (French Broad), while Hickory is
home to a brewpub and a micro (the related Amos Howard and Olde Hickory,
respectively). It wasn’t until the turn of the century, actually the summer of 1999, that
the Burke County town of Glen Alpine, a very dry community, joined the Western NC
brewing brotherhood.

With business acumen, rather than history in mind, Billy, Jetta and Scott Pyatt
acquired their first brewing equipment over five years ago. While pieces of a defunct
Boulder, Colorado brewery gathered dust in Billy and wife Jetta’s garage, the Pyatt
brothers scouted additional equipment and searched for an affordable building in
which to begin their brewing business. They settled on the basement of an old,
two-story brick building, originally a textile mill, on Highway 70 in Glen Alpine. An
Antique Mall works the retail trade in the upper level. Definitely not the consummate
brewery building, it’s functional nonetheless.

Though still a hodgepodge collection of various and sundry tanks, pumps and
jury-rigged systems, Catawba Valley Brewing Company released their first beer in July
1999. With four non-brewing years to sample and research the market, their
homework is paying off. Mostly a one man effort – brewer/salesman Scott has opened
keg-only accounts from Hickory to Asheville. While the younger Pyatt is an extremely
likable, persuasive fellow, it’s his beer that does the real selling. Indian Head Red is a
mild, highly quaffable amber ale. Its lighter, little brother Wooden Nickel Ale plays the
golden angle, a pleasant training wheel brew for beginners and experienced craft beer
drinkers alike. Brown Bear Ale, a dark, softly hopped English recipe touts its sweet
malty profile, while Fire Water IPA, another take on a UK style, puts hops flavor and
bitterness to work. Neither sweet nor overpoweringly bitter, this deep golden brew
makes a satisfying session beer.

Working with a stockpile of 175 kegs and a delivery vehicle that is described as
“anything that’s running,” Scott takes great pride in his work. “It’s exciting to sell new
accounts,” he explains, “but it’s even more exciting to have customers ask about new
products.” Repeat sales “show that you’re doing something right.”

At two years of age, Catawba Valley has been suffering growing pains, the good kind of
pain. Scott spent most of 2000 re-investing in the brewery. A concrete-lined pit was
the big project. Dirt was removed, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow, to enable placement
of two 20 barrel fermenters inside the low ceiling basement brewery on Highway 70.
And ingenious Scott did most of the work himself, assisted by friends and neighbors
when necessary. Paid in beer. no doubt. Somehow he brewed 300 barrels that year.
With the addition of a new grain mill and auger, a glycol coolant system, a second
walk-in cooler and, thank goodness, a real bathroom, the fledgling micro’s annual
capacity was increased to 1200 barrels. It’ll take more than Scott can do alone to reach
that level, but the sociable brewer is not beyond trying. From the brewery’s central
location, they hope to expand self-distribution into the Boone/Banner Elk region next,
with Statesville and Charlotte targeted in the not too distant future.

At Catawba Valley Brewing, micro is the operative word. Scott Pyatt efficiently divides
his time between brewing and selling. A phone call to the brewery is almost always
answered by his recorded voice: “If we’re not here, we’re delivering beer.” You gotta
believe him.

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