New Belgium Brewing, the Colorado company behind Fat Tire Amber Ale, announced Thursday that it will build a brewery in Asheville and create 154 jobs over the next 7 years.
The company is the second major craft brewer to announce plans to build a facility in western North Carolina this year. In January, California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. said it would locate an East Coast facility in Mills River, about 20 miles south of Asheville.
New Belgium plans to build its brewery on a brownfield site near Ashevilles downtown. The company will receive a $1 million grant from the One North Carolina fund if it creates 130 jobs and invests $115 million over the next five years.
The average salary of the New Belgium jobs created over the first five years will be $48,222, above the Buncombe County average of $33,800.
Sierra Nevada also received a $1 million grant from the state. It plans to have 95 full-time employees, and will invest $107.5 million in Henderson County over the next five years.
North Carolina is home to more than 20 brewpubs and 28 breweries, making it the most active of any Southern state, according to Gov. Bev Perdues office. The Triangle and the Asheville area are home to the largest concentrations of breweries in the state. Both have more than a dozen.
The General Assembly late last year approved a change in state law to allow breweries, regardless of size, to offer tastings and sell beer onsite, even beers that are produced outside of North Carolina. The law was aimed specifically at attracting Sierra Nevada and New Belgium.
Previously, state law reserved the beer-garden niche to breweries that produced less than 25,000 barrels a year, using the cap as a way to help regulate alcohol sales.
New Belgium, which sold 712,000 barrels of beer last year, is headquartered in Fort Collins, where its brewery attracts more than 150,000 visitors a year. The Asheville facility will include a tasting facility for visitors and Sierra Nevadas will include a restaurant.
After several years of searching we are incredibly excited to have landed in Asheville, said Kim Jordan, New Belgiums co-founder and CEO, in a statement.