A&F Staff Writer
The two excited cousins who co-founded Appalachian Mountain Brewery stood in front of the projection screen eager to unveil their new documentary, We Can So You Can, last Monday afternoon at Jack of the Wood in downtown Asheville.
The organizers of the tour aim to stop at locations in Asheville, Greensboro, Charlotte and Raleigh to support local nonprofit movements such as Trips for Kids WNC, Spay Neuter Charlotte, Triad Health Project and Triangle Land Conservancy.
The screening of the colorful 16-minute documentary, which tells the story of Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s beginnings, while highlighting the philanthropic character of its creators, kicked off the Boone-based brewery’s weeklong documentary tour.
“We’re here tonight as part of our statewide media tour where we are trying to reach out to some local nonprofits and promote our We Can So You Can Foundation,” said 27-year-old Chris Zeiber, co-founder of AMB. “When we say that a portion of every pint goes to charity, we really mean that.”
Once the tour’s coordinators had chosen a venue for the film screening to take place, the venue was then invited to select a nonprofit organization from the surrounding area to be supported by the evening’s proceeds.
“I think this will be an awesome way that we can get people to connect to the brewery and see what really drives us instead of just seeing our beer on the shelf or on tap,” said AMB sales representative Lauren Couey. “There is a whole lot more to our brewery than what you can see on the surface.”
We Can So You Can Foundation reflects the three principles the founders have instilled into the company: community, sustainability and philanthropy.
“These guys care a lot about the beer, but they’re using their passion to give back to the community,” said Couey, a native of Manhattan Beach, California. “I moved to Boone as an outsider and I have never encountered so many people that honestly want to help each other so much.”
A production company based in Boone produced We Can So You Can. Wonderland Woods, a company that normally focuses on worldwide humanitarian efforts, partnered with AMB to pursue their shared altruistic interests.
“We met them pretty much right after they opened and decided that it would be a good time to partner and capture Appalachian Mountain Brewery’s story in a visual way,” said 24-year-old Wonderland Woods lead editor Eitan Abramowitz. “Since then, we’ve been capturing what they do on a project-by-project basis to get their story out there and highlight the beauty of North Carolina.”
Zieber co-founded AMB with his 27-year-old cousin Nathan Kelischek and an associate named Sean Spiegelman, who was not present at the event.
Kelischek and Zieber are first-generation Americans born in Asheville whose lineage traces back to Germany. Even though Kelischek works as the master brewer, both cousins have a lengthy background in brewing beer.
“We were sent to Germany when we were young to experience the culture and we saw everybody drinking socially at very young ages over there,” Kelischek said. “We brought back home-brewing and we all started doing it as a family.”
Kelischek uses his expertise in chemistry and fermentation sciences to perfect the brewery’s distinctive “high-country” brews. While he was polishing his brewing skills in the chemistry program at Appalachian State University, Kelischek met Spiegelman, who ended up becoming the company’s CEO.
The staff at Appalachian Mountain Brewery must enjoy a very friendly and rewarding work environment because there seems to always be something fun and charitable going on there.