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Triangle Stop plunges into craft beer on tap

Beau Waddell sticks a label on a 32-ounce growler of beer at the new Mountain River craft beer bar in the Mills River Triangle Stop.  Beau Waddell sticks a label on a 32-ounce growler of beer at the new Mountain River craft beer bar in the Mills River Triangle Stop.

MILLS RIVER — How things change. Seven years ago, Mills River was dry.

Then the people voted to allow beer and wine sales.
Then the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. announced plans for a $100 million destination brewery on the French Broad River in the northern edge of the sprawling farm community.
Then the city of Asheville, boasting an explosive growth of craft breweries, won the title as Beer City USA.
Then the North Carolina Legislature tweaked state ABC law to make it easier to fill and sell "growlers" — heavy, refillable 32- or 64-ounce bottles — from a bar tap.
Then, in a non-descript building on Ashe Street in Hendersonville, Beau Waddell, a fourth-generation executive of the family business called Triangle Stop, hatched an idea. Get ahead of the curve. With the help of a store manager who was the most knowledgeable craft beer expert he knew, Waddell created Mountain River Tap and Growlers, a craft beer bar in a back corner of the Triangle Stop at the corner of Haywood Road and N.C. 280. It opened last week.
"This is definitely a pilot," said Waddell, who was wearing a red Triangle Stop polo shirt as he greeted customers and drew draft beers. "In our area it's such a tradition. It's more than a tradition. We have to figure out how to embrace it and make it a part of our business."
So far so good.
The Mountain River bar features eight taps and a constantly rotating variety of craft beer from the keg. Waddell had reacted to the growing popularity of craft beer at a retail carryout level already.
"We used to have six or eight doors of all domestic beer," he said, pointing over to the glass coolers that cover one wall of the Triangle Stop. "Now we have two doors of craft beers."
Matt Travis draws a draft beer.Matt Travis draws a draft beer.But not all the microbreweries package their beer for sale in six-packs; they put it kegs and market it to bars and restaurants.
"Southern Appalachian is not going to package their beer," he said. "Fire Escape (an Asheville Brewing Co. product) is not bottled or canned. The only way you can get it is in a keg."
So the kegs are coming in.
Most (but not all) microbreweries make deals with big distributors to deliver their kegs to bars and restaurants and now, a Triangle Stop c-store in Mills River.
"Brevard Brewing Co. just started distributing," Waddell said. "So the owner of the company dropped his kegs off on Monday."
Waddell said the local vote allowing alcohol sales had to happen but otherwise no change in state law was needed.
"In theory we probably could have done this years ago," he said. A new "growler fill" law enacted by the General Assembly last year improved the financial forecast for Waddell's venture.
"When they passed the growler law that gave us another way of paying for all this equipment," he said. "We knew we'd have to get people excited about the growlers. We've had people that bought growlers yesterday come back today to get another one."
Customers can order a 16-ounce beer ($4 or $5) or a "flight" of samples and decide which one they want to take home.
A growler deposit is $6. Bring it back and Mountain River will switch it out for a clean one at no cost. Refills are $6.50 for a 32-ounce growler ($14 for so-called high gravity brands with a higher alcohol content) and $12 and $24 for a 64-ounce growler.
During the opening week, Mountain River offered Brevard Brewery's Bock Lager, Highland 20th, Southern Appalachian Pilsner, Oskar Blues' Dale's Pale, Wicked Peel by the new Hendersonville hard cider maker Flat Rock Cider Works, Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale and Asheville Brewing Co.'s Fire Escape and Shiva.
The bar will rotate kegs regularly, offering a taste of what's new and interesting and seasonal from the many craft breweries in the Asheville area.
"It's a little different," Waddell acknowledged, for a company that has been steady and successful selling gas, soft drinks, cheese crackers and candy bars for many years. "We're happy about that. If it works we're very happy. We're on Day 2, so we don't want to get too excited."

 

 

Mountain River Tap & Growler
Triangle Stop, Haywood Road, Mills River
Eight taps of craft beer
Beer available by the glass or in 32- and 64-ounce growlers to go.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4-midnight Friday and Saturday, 1-10 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.