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Meet The New Boss.

I mentioned last time that I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to get back to my brewing roots once again. I could not be doing that if it were not for the entrepreneurial spirit of one Michaela Lemmon.

Michaela in her element. She’s a natural! Come find out for yourself. 212 King St in Brevard, NC.

When I told the Brevard team that UpCountry would be putting the Asheville Brewery up for sale (please click this link if you missed that news), Michaela immediately stepped up and asked my plans for the Brevard location. She and I started chatting and we hit upon the perfect plan. Michaela would take over taproom operations, while I would operate our small 3.5 bbl brew system. While she has put a lot of faith in me, I have absolutely no doubts about her ability to take UpCountry Brevard and make it bigger and better than ever.

So a little info about Michaela Lemmon. Her family is originally from Upstate NY, though she spent most of her childhood in Salisbury, NC. From there she moved to Columbia, SC to attend college and study biology. During her three years at Columbia College, Michaela both swam and played softball. (Damn, girl!)

She transferred to Brevard College in 2019 and her first job in town was bartending at UpCountry. Michaela worked all through college and graduated with a BS in Health Sciences and a minor in Biology. She became the Taproom Manager for UpCountry at the same time that she went back to school to be a nursing assistant. All this while also working two nursing jobs. (Side note from John: it was this level of dedication and work ethic that convinced me Michaela has what it takes to be successful.)

I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to come out and see for yourself what changes and improvements Michaela makes to the UpCountry Taproom in Brevard. We are open 7 days per week; 2pm to 9/10pm. And when you visit, be sure to say hi and give her a huge shout out and kudos from me.

Cheers, John



Those of you that have visited UpCountry’s Asheville location over the past few months may have noticed some subtle changes. And possibly some that are not so subtle. So what gives?

The UpCountry West Asheville brewery is for sale. To be clear, we are only selling the production brewery part of the business. The taproom/restaurant currently run by Grata Pizzeria is staying open and continuing as-is. Grata will continue to offer up their locally sourced, made from scratch, artisan pizzas. And good thing because Grata’s pies are fire! Check out these reviews. Hopefully soon they will have a new brewery neighbor next door slinging some awesome suds. The Haywood Road location definitely has a bright future.

So if it still holds such promise, why is UpCountry selling the Asheville brewery? That’s a more personal question and it ties in to the concept of Quality vs. Quantity. Not just beer quality, but also quality of life for myself.

Not many people realize that I live two hours from Asheville. Every time I’m at the West Asheville location it represents a 4 hour round trip drive. And typically an overnight stay as well. That’s time that I could have, and should have, spent with my family. (Including my new granddaughter Saylor Raye!! Whom I plan on teaching to call me “Papa John”.)

UpCountry has grown to the point of having 9 distributors covering 3 states. And while that sounds impressive, what it really means for me are days spent away from home. Days figuring out contract brew arrangements, delivering beer, visiting markets, leading distributor meetings, making retail sales calls, and working late night events. Recently, I realized my heart just was not in that retail side of the business anymore. I got into the craft beer industry all the way back in 1995 because I loved beer, I loved making beer, and I loved talking to people who drank that beer. So I’ve made the conscious decision to slow down a bit and try to get back to what started this adventure in the first place. (Yep, I’m an old man in the beer world; see the picture below for proof.)

Ort visiting the crew at Red Brick. Late 1990’s. I’m in the center, paying rapt attention!

So never fear, UpCountry is not going away! We are downsizing, streamlining and simplifying. The plan is to sell the Asheville production brewery, keep Grata running as-is, stop all outside distribution, and focus on brewing at our Brevard, NC location. UpCountry will now become a small, taproom-only brewery. I’ve found an incredible partner to take over managing the Brevard taproom, which frees me up to actually brew once again. Brewing is the reason I got into this business 28 years ago and I’m over the moon to have the opportunity for my career to come full circle. Let’s hope I still got it. Wish me luck!

Cheers, John