by Emily Honeycutt – firstname.lastname@example.org – Assistant A&F Editor
Three former Seattle residents moved to Asheville in hopes of making a name for themselves in craft beer.
“After visiting God knows how many breweries and just getting more and more involved in the beer scene, we were like, you know what? Our life’s passion is absolutely to open up a brewery,” said Jess Reiser, part owner of Burial Beer Co., along with her spouse Doug Reiser and friend Tim Gormley.
The trio’s love of beer began when Gormley, who is also the head brewer, introduced the other two to quality beer.
“We met in Seattle about 5 or 6 years ago,” Jess Reiser said. “Tim’s always been into beer. He kind of introduced us to the craft beer movement I would say.”
Prior to meeting Gormley, the Reisers laughed at the quality of beer they were drinking.
“We were kind of drinking a lot of kokanee for the most part,” Jess Reiser said. “It’s from Canada. It’s a high quality crappy lager. Tim really introduced us to the different styles (of beer) there are.”
When the three beer lovers decided their passion was to open a brewery, Gormley made a decision to quit his job.
“He was working for a trucking company in Seattle doing market analysis and stuff,” Jess Reiser said. “He quit to be a brewer. He started brewing for for Lazy Boy Brewing in Everett. He went out to brew for Sound Brewing in Poulsbo, Wash.”
Gormley was the first of the group to come to Asheville.
“I visited here a couple years ago,” Gormley said. “I thought it was obviously a burgeoning beer scene, but also like a cool artsy town. I almost considered it like the Seattle of the South in a lot of ways.”
Asheville made the most sense as a place to open a brewery, Gormley said.
“I told these guys that I really like Asheville and they should check it out,” Gormley said. “The South was kind of on our radar because it’s unchartered territory in some ways with beer. So these guys came and checked it out and kind of fell in love and said, ‘Yes, let’s do it.’”
The beer scene was not the only thing that attracted the Reisers to Asheville.
“Jess and I are starting a family,” Doug Reiser said. “We have a young son and another one on the way, and we really wanted to be a part of the community. We lived in Seattle, which was very metropolitan. Tim called (Asheville) little Seattle, but it’s more like little Portland. Portland is a much more family-oriented town.”
Doug Reiser said they already feel like they are a part of the Asheville community.
“It’s been incredible,” Doug Reiser said. “We’ve been here for five months or so, and we already feel like we’re part of the community. Everybody here has been incredibly welcoming and excited about what we’re doing. It’s just been so rewarding to make this move.”
The pride they have in their brewery was well earned, Jess Reiser said.
“We talk shamelessly about our brewery because we’re so proud. I mean this is just something that we’ve been thinking about for such a long time and then it’s like building the bar ourselves and everything here is us. We’re doing it all ourselves. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this 600 square foot place. Every inch of this place is going to be done by us, so we’re pretty proud.”
Their involvement in the business will be more than behind the scenes work, Gormley said.
“We’ll be managing it,” Gormley said. “That was always an important thing for us because we always appreciate going to bars or breweries and the head brewer is right there. It just makes it so much more intimate. We love craft beer because it’s a community.”
The owners plan on opening Burial Beer Co. on 40 Collier Ave. south of downtown in the first half of May. After this venture, Jess Reiser said they have more brewery plans to tackle.
“We’re looking at land, and we’re going to be building a farmhouse with a 15 barrel system. We’re about two years out from opening that,” Jess Reiser said.