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LIBATION NATION: Dry Falls brewery blazes trail on south side

Evan and Jeff Golliher and brewer John Duncan stand in front of a wooden sliding door at Dry Falls Brewing Co., which is expected to open in the coming days on Busy Bend. Evan and Jeff Golliher and brewer John Duncan stand in front of a wooden sliding door at Dry Falls Brewing Co., which is expected to open in the coming days on Busy Bend.

Jeff Golliher, a home brewer from Weaverville, was looking at sites for a new brewery on Seventh Avenue — including a space a couple of doors from what would become Triskelion, and another across the street. Then he crossed town to see another space.

“When the Realtor showed me the building, I walked in and I said, ‘This is it,’” he said. He called his son, Evan, his partner in the brewery venture, and let him know. If their search was over, the work had only just begun.
“When we talked into the building you could see the sky in every room,” Jeff said. “The roof was falling in. There was a lot of dirt and debris. We found some old fenders behind the place, tires, a grille or two, some headlights.”
They bought the property and went to work, overcoming the many delays that seem common to brewery startups, many of which convert older industrial-type structures into brewhouses and retail space.
On Saturday, a friend was planting trees and shrubs in the gravel parking lot, one of the last improvements the city required before it would let Dry Falls open for business. Although the landscaping was one last task after many, Golliher stresses that city zoning officials have been helpful through the entire process.
“We’re hoping to open up in the next seven to 10 days,” Golliher said Saturday. “We’ve got one more permit to get from the city. We should be ready for them next week.”

Dry Falls Brewing Co. will open soon in the old Oates Paint & Body shop on Kanuga's Busy Bend.Dry Falls Brewing Co. will open soon in the old Oates Paint & Body shop on Kanuga's Busy Bend.The 5,700-square-foot space, including the brewhouse, features an L-shaped bar long enough to accommodate 16 barstools. In addition, the taproom will have five regular tables and four hightops, seating 112 in all. Behind a huge wooden sliding barn door is another space that can be opened up or used separately as an event space. Sunlight pours through large rollup doors on two walls. In the summer, they’ll roll them up for an open-air feel.
John Duncan, who made beers for the Sneaky Squirrel before that brewery closed, was busy last week with the fermenting tanks and the offerings that will soon be on tap. In a collaboration with the Gollihers, Duncan is brewing blonds, pale ales, IPAs, stout and nitro — the brewing process that gives dark beer its creaminess. Duncan has served in the Army and Coast Guard and is still a major in the Army National Guard.
“You’ll see two people by and large open breweries in the country right now — engineers and former military,” Duncan says. “I would say there’s an old running joke going back to the Roman army days that the soldier is hoping to retire and marry a pretty girl whose dad owns a brewery.”
Both engineers and soldiers are handed problems that need to be fixed — one with building skills, the other with ordnance. “Here’s a problem that can’t be fixed. Here’s dynamite, go fix it,” he says.
Athough he’s not sure how his Army specialty in psychological warfare applies, but he knows he’s ready to react and fix things. “No matter how hard you try, Tuesday don’t look anything like Monday,” he says.
“We’ll have eight house beers with rotating IPAs, porters and stouts, plus one tap for hard cider and we’ll eventually serve wine,” Golliher says. “We’re going to start out with food trucks and then hopefully sometime in 2019 we’re going to put in our kitchen,” serving pub food. “And then we’ll probably open up for lunchtime.”
Jeff and Evan hatched the idea over a flight of 24 beers at a brewery during a family reunion.
“Over a six-month period, they built a small working brewery inside Jeff’s garage,” they say on their website. “Jeff built a kegerator out of an old refrigerator and turned a chest freezer into a climate controlled area to house fermenters.”
“We got into brewing together,” Evan says. “It was a collaboration.”
They’ve developed a Busy Bend Blonde, a pale ale called Paddle Faster and three versions of stout, all called Mud Creek, which runs a few hundred yards away. “We have Mount Delay IPA,” Evan says, named for “a huge boulder of granite that took six weeks to break up.” Evan made a smartphone picture of the rock and sent it to his dad. “Hey, look, it’s Mount Delay,” he wrote in the message.
It’s been a family venture all the way. Jeff told his wife, Becky, a history teacher, that he wanted to name the brewery after a destination in the North Carolina mountains.
“She came up with about 200 names,” he says. “She’s a school teacher, so she’s very thorough in everything that she does.” They settled on Dry Falls, a 65-foot waterfall in the Nantahala National Forest near Highlands. “You’ll see that our logo is very close to what the falls look like,” he says.
During the construction, the Gollihers have had to turn away potential customers who knew the old Oates Paint & Body Shop, which opened on Busy Bend about 80 years ago.
“We’ve even had several opportunities of people coming by, wanting to know if we could fix their car or when they could get a new paint job,” Jeff says. As people reminisced about their grandpa getting a crumpled fender fixed at the shop, Jeff and Evan knew they had to preserve the old garage.
“It would probably have been less expensive to tear the building down but we would have lost the history,” Jeff says. “It’s part of the culture. We actually have leftover receipts we’ll be displaying once we get open.”
After overcoming Mount Delay, they’re ready to start pouring Paddle Faster ale, Mud Creek stout and other specialties.
“We’re very excited to be part of the brewery community and excited to be part of Hendersonville,” Jeff says. “Everybody is super excited.”

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Dry Falls Brewing Co., 425 Kanuga Road, expects to open in November. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-8 Sunday.