Hillman Beer: A Family Affair
I spent about 30 minutes on a Tuesday evening talking with Brad Hillman, Head Brewer and Co-Owner of Hillman Beer. For a Tuesday the brewery looked pretty crowded – not bad at all for a brewery that started only about six months ago.
Brad had been a homebrewer for more than a decade before starting Hillman Beer with his brother Greig, Greig’s wife Brandi, Brandi’s mother Wanda, and his parents Greg and “Momma Beer” Linda.
Brad had been in the restaurant industry since age 15. He had been bartending in New York for a while when his brother had mentioned the idea of opening a brewery. Greig and Brandi had been living and working in the Asheville area for a while.
About two years ago while in Asheville for Thanksgiving, Brad and the whole family got more serious about opening their own brewery. They all felt that Asheville, while already known as “Beer City” had plenty of potential and room for growth.
“We converted the garage at Greig and Brandi’s home into a neighborhood taproom. We invited neighbors and friends over each month for a tasting party. It was a testing ground to see what people liked and wanted from us. The reception was strong and we had a ton of encouragement to move forward with our plans.”
The garage taproom built up a solid base of followers, including myself! Not long after, the Hillman family started looking in earnest for their future brewery space. When they saw the 25 Sweeten Creek location, they knew they were on to something.
“It was a sketchy night club for many years. Not the best reputation from what I hear. We spent the next year completely gutting it and building out the brew house and taproom. We did keep the disco ball and if you look around you might see the giant skull, both remnants of the old club.”
In addition to Hillman Beer, the taproom space is shared with Rise Up Deli. Rise Up is also getting quite a following.
“Brandon Murry and his partner Montana Fain brought some of their food to the neighborhood garage parties. Everyone loved their food so when we got the space we knew we wanted them to handle the kitchen. We lease the space out to them and they make all the food. They brine their own meat and bake their bread too. Everything is made from scratch.”
The local beer community known for being close-knit offered advice and help as the Hillman family began to build out their brewery.
“We had so many people help out. One local brewer in particular, John Silver, was a wealth of information. John recently started Homeplace Beer Company in Burnsville.”
Hillman Beer has been in the news quite a bit lately after winning a bronze award at The Great American Beer Festival for their Four Fat Baby Belgian Quad. Nearly 8,000 beers were entered into the competition this year. Winning this highly coveted award, especially for a relatively new brewery, is practically unheard of.
“Each brewery can submit up to four beers. When we found out we won an award we were ecstatic!”
I take another sip of my Four Fat Baby and like the menu description reads, I am in “Belgian beer heaven.”
Join us on Tuesday, October 31 from 6 to 10 p.m. for their “Hill-O-Ween” Bash. They will have costume prizes including some for pets, a day-long special event beer special, and a raffle. Raffle ticket proceeds will go to a hurricane victim relief fund. RSVP on Facebook.
Hillman Beer is located at 25 Sweeten Creek Road in Biltmore Village. If Hillman Beer isn’t available at your local taproom yet, don’t worry. Brad focuses on classic beer styles and plans to increase their keg distribution over the coming year. You can find them and their events on the local independent craft beer app Brewpon.
hand model for drink local now and other beer drinking organizations, such as asheville community is brewing and the blue ridge craft beer club