Brewery Spotlight: one man's passion project will be the first brewery in Elizabethton

Hannah Swayze • Aug 27, 2018 at 12:00 AM

The Story

Over 5 years ago James Kerr stepped into a brewery in Seattle. The smell, he said, was what made him fall in love with craft beer.

“It was all about the smell of that one time.”

It’s because of that day that in a few short months Kerr will be opening the first Brewery in Elizabethton, Appalachian Sun.

Kerr has no partner, no backer and he doesn’t want one. His wife and his friends taste his beer and he’s planning to continue to pour time and energy to his business, with the help of his family and friends.

The tap room

“I’m going to an industrial factory warehouse kind of look so I’m not going to have a lot of pretty decorations it’s going to be like signs, safety glasses and stuff,” said Kerr.

The space of Appalachian Sun’s future tap room is located inside part of the old Bemberg factory property behind Elk Crossing in Elizabethton. It is slightly hidden and a front garage door opens to reveal a large space with incredibly high ceilings and exposed brick walls.

Kerr considered other places, but they were either too expensive, needed too much work or were too streamlined in style. Before finding the space, he even considered somewhere in Johnson City, even though he didn’t want to open it here.

“It was my dream to have it here in Elizabethton,” said Kerr. “This town need something. And I hope it starts something.”

The beer

What is a brewery without the beer?

For 5 1/2 years Kerr has been experimenting and brewing a wide selection of different beer styles. From porters to stouts to Belgians, hefeweizens, and saisons, Kerr has recipes for them all.

“I’ve got about 25 recipes, different kinds of stuff,” said Kerr.

Kerr plans on having about 12 beers on tap once he opens up to the public. In addition to his staples, he plans to still make small batches of experimental and new beers.

The beers are named after local businesses and people Kerr knows. One of his recipe is named the Bonnie Kate Kolsh after the Bonnie Kate Theatre in downtown Elizabethton.

The Bonnie Kate Kolsh, Alton’s Pale Ale, an ale named after his father, the Sycamore Shoals Stout, and his Watauga Wit are the four beers he plans on keeping on tap as his staple beers.

Right now

While Kerr anticipates opening around November, he still has some i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Until then, beer-lovers can give his beer a taste October 13 at the Go Betsy Crafts and Drafts event.

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