Some of Asheville’s most popular beers are stashed in a big, ordinary-looking warehouse in Fletcher. Cans of Asheville Brewing Co.’s Shiva IPA are in there, as are bottles of Green Man Brewing’s ESB, Catawba Brewing Co.’s White Zombie White Ale and many more.
They’re all under the watch of Budweiser of Asheville, Inc., which delivers the brews to grocery stores, convenience markets, taprooms and restaurants in a 12-county region of Western North Carolina. That commitment to Asheville-area breweries might surprise some beer drinkers who hear the company’s name and figure it’s merely a division of global brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, but its local roots run deep.
Independently owned and operated by Hubey Wood and his family since 1985, the distributorship makes its own calls on which beers to represent. Most of its business is still with A-B InBev’s brands — including Budweiser, Bud Light and Michelob. But in recent years, Budweiser of Asheville has also carried local craft beers, which now make up 15 percent of the company’s business, according to sales manager Chad Wood.
Asheville Brewing was the first local brewery to sign with Budweiser of Asheville, according to brewery president Mike Rangel. “They are locally owned and have been around here a long time,” he says. “We felt like they would be a good fit. It was a game-changer for us.”
He adds that about 60 percent of Asheville Brewing’s business is generated through Budweiser of Asheville, and that letting the distributor handle deliveries allowed the brewery to concentrate on making and packaging beer. “We would not have started canning if we didn’t have had an outfit like them doing a lot of work for us. It gave us the opportunity to expand our portfolio of beers. It’s been a great relationship.”
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