With each passing week, we grow closer to the much anticipated opening of the Lexington Avenue Brewery (the LAB) and Sweet Peas Hostel. Located in the TS Morrison Building on North Lexington Avenue, these two businesses, covering a total of 12,000 sq ft of space, stand to reshape the flow of nightlife and travelers in downtown Asheville.
I recently had the pleasure of touring the construction site with Mike Healy, the co-owner of these two businesses. On that day in mid May, Healy had nearly 30 people working hard to try to get the LAB and Sweet Pea's up and running as soon as possible. Healy is shooting for a late July or August launch date.
Downstairs: Lexington Avenue Brewery (The LAB)
Located at 39 North Lexington Avenue, the LAB will be a 365 occupancy restaurant, bar, brewery with two music stages. Imagine a front of the house layout similar to the Usual Suspects, with a large serpentine bar topped with reclaimed pine from the roof and fronted with Tupelo gum also salvaged from the building.
Offering a unique blend of Southern and California cuisine, the restaurant will serve full lunch and dinner in a casual dining environment. The dining room and bar area will have a space to accommodate small musical acts.
At the rear of the building behind the brewery on the right and the stylish doorless airport style restrooms on the left, will be a larger music venue with a 99 person occupancy.
Directly behind the bar, will be the brewery operation. The 15 barrel JV Northwest brewing system will stock 3000 gallons of cold storage with a combination of German influenced brews, local favorites and seasonal offerings.
The focus of the brewing operation will be "making beer the way the German's have been for the past 400 years," explains brew master Ben Pierson. Pierson's long list of brewing experience includes training at Kaltenberg Brewery in Furstenfeldbruck, Upland Brewing Company in Bloomington, IN, as well as several years as both brewer and brewmaster at Asheville's Green Man Brewing Company.
Pierson explained that the brewing at the LAB will utilize "infusion mashing" to produce 30 kegs per batch. The goal is "clean and balanced" beer that provides true "drinkability." "I want to make something that, besides its balance, is easy to drink and makes you think the entire time that you are drinking it."
Beer style lineup provided by Pierson:
- White Belgian Style Ale
- German Kolshe
- Bohemian Pilsner
- Oktoberfest Marzen
- American Style IPA
- Chocolate Stout
Ben Pierson stands beside the brewing operation at the LAB.