Appalachian Sun brewery working on permanent home in downtown Elizabethton

Published 8:11 am Friday, July 12, 2019

After seven years of pursuing the craft, James Kerr and his wife Traci is at last succeeding in his goal to open up his own brewery in downtown Elizabethton.

“I signed the lease in early spring,” Kerr said.

The lease represents a seven-year-long story. Kerr said he started brewing beer at home in 2012, but seeing other people enjoy what he creates convinced him to pursue his passion.

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“I like seeing people enjoy it,” he said. “I get a lot of positive feedback.”

Appalachian Sun has been handing out free samples of their product for years at events such as Evenings on Elk or with other businesses in the area, but Kerr has never been able to sell his creations until now because he did not have a license to do so. Once the construction finishes, he will finally be able to obtain said certification.

He said he got into brewing as a hobby after visiting a brewery in Seattle.

“I fell in love with the smell,” Kerr said. “I got a home system and all the equipment I would need.”

He said he obtained a half-keg system, meaning he can brew up to 15 gallons at a time, while the standard kits make anywhere between three to five gallons at a time.

As for his location of choice, he said Elizabethton was the only possibility.

“I have lived here for 35 years,” he said. “This is home.”

Looking at his company’s logo on the sign at 524 East Elk Avenue, Kerr said it was an emotional experience.

“Sometimes it seemed like it was not going to happen,” Kerr said.

The brewery will hold roughly 80 to 90 people at a time, with a second story in the works for more formal events, as well.

Kerr also said the brewery will not have food starting out, though he plans to supplement that with food trucks that do not compete with other restaurants in downtown, such as a taco truck.

“It will build a collaboration with other businesses,” Kerr said.

Kerr said the brewery will serve many different kinds of alcohol in addition to beer, including stouts, IPAs, Belgium and fruit beverages. There are also plans for a craft soda bar for those not interested or too young for alcohol.

Construction and renovation is slated to finish around the end of September, but Kerr said he expects to formally open around the end of October or early November of this year. Meanwhile, he said he will be keeping his business as local as possible.

“I will be making it and serving it right here,” Kerr said.