(WGHP) — It’s funny how some businesses come about. Just ask Chris Zieber.
“It’s crazy,” Chris said about how he and his cousin Nathan Kelishek came to create Appalachian Mountain Brewery. “We both found homebrewing in a different way … I was studying abroad in Singapore, and my lab professor … got good IPAs overseas. And they had had his own story and, they both came back for Christmas. We’re cousins … enjoying the holidays and said, ‘Oh, you won’t believe what I did this summer. I brewed beer!’”
And a brewery was born in Boone.
“We certainly hope for big things,” said Chris about the first taproom in 2013. “And I certainly don’t think we saw ourselves getting bought by the largest brewer in the world … I think we were looking to kind of fulfill our community tenants and do something important … and really focus on what was happening here and bringing that craft beer revolution to boot … I think we were so in the weeds. We were just trying to brew as much high quality beer as we could, and things just snowballed.”
“Snowballed” in the way a well-run brewery making very good beer tends to do. Chris and Nathan joined the Craft Brewers Alliance which led to that buyout he referred to.
“In the same way that we were facing growth challenges, so was the Craft Brew Alliance,” Chris said. “So they went to Anheuser-Busch and said, ‘Hey, you guys are bigger than us. Can we borrow some of your capacity?’ And it’s very similar story where they continue to get more and more involved with each other’s businesses and, Anheuser-Busch bought all of CBA in 2020.”
It brought the kind of money that Chris and Nathan saw as a way to continue the mission they had started
“I felt like we were engaging more people. We were hiring more people. We’re able to expand. We’re able to get investments for the pub here in Boone that maybe wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” Chris said.
As we all know, the world changed in 2020.
“COVID accelerated a lot of trends that I think were existing before,” Chris said.“It put things into a proper perspective and part of that is focus on experiential events where people come into the pubs really want something that’s special. Expanding that pub footprint is something that a huge brewing giant like Anheuser-Busch was not necessarily as interested in doing, having a ton of small retail locations where we can really tell our story and our brand. And that was something that Nathan and I both were really interested in, and … we kind of weren’t on that path.”
That’s when they had an idea: ‘What if we go back to our roots?’
See how they were the first craft brewery in the nation to do that in the way they did in this edition of The Buckley Report.