Brewery looks into Johnson City; survey explores beer climate in - WFLA News Channel 8

Brewery looks into Johnson City; survey explores beer climate in Tri-Cities

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TRI-CITIES, TN (WJHL) -

A nationwide trend is taking root in the Tri-Cities; micro-breweries are opening across the area.

So far this spring, two breweries have plans to open; one in Kingsport and one in Bristol, Tennessee.

Another company wants to cash in on the industry’s popularity and is looking into opening up shop in Johnson City. That company reached out to the Washington County Economic Development Council to get a feel for the beer climate in Johnson City.

The Economic Development Council then created a survey, launched Thursday, to find out how thirsty folks are for new breweries.

As of Thursday afternoon, less than 24 hours after launching the survey, more than 100 people weighed in on their desire for micro-brewery in Johnson City.

“So that kind of reaffirms that this is something people would be interested in,” said Tania Zeisler, who works at the Washington County Economic Development Council.

Zeisler said breweries have seen success across the country, and here in the Tri-Cities.

“If you look at Depot Street Brewing, for example, in Jonesborough, they’ve been open for 10 years and they’re actually up to 15 beers that they’re producing now, so they’ve seen tremendous growth,” she said.

In addition to the growth of existing local breweries, new ones are popping up as well.

Holston River Brewing Company in Bristol, Tennessee is gearing up for its grand opening next month.

Chief Brewer Mike Pensinger said it hasn't been easy to get a brewery going in the state of Tennessee.

“We’re behind the times a little bit when it comes to breweries simply because the surrounding states have over 100 breweries, biggest thing for them is they can brew things over 6.3 percent [alcohol by volume],” he said.

Pensinge said micro-breweries help build a town's culture and economy.

“Instead of taking a truck and making the beer in one place and trucking it somewhere, you just go to your local brewery and get it…We get to be much more individualistic, we get to make beers that are unique to us, to our space, our preferences, and that way it gives people more options,” he said.

Even though Holston River is weeks away from opening, Pensinger said they’ve been well-received.

“The local people are behind us more than I’ve ever seen anybody behind a business like this,” he said.

Holston River Brewing Company hosts its grand opening on May 23rd. The Sleepy Owl Brewery in Kingsport opens its doors for the first time Friday April 25th.

The Washington County Economic Development Council couldn’t say much about the company looking into opening in Johnson City, but News Channel 11 did learn an announcement about that should be made in the coming weeks.

Click here to take the survey.

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