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BearWaters Brewing Company celebrates 'a very eventful year'

By Paul Viau | May 22, 2013
Photo by: File Photo A SAUCY FIRST YEAR — Celebrate BearWaters Brewing Company's first year in business with great beer and the legendary performer — The Sauce Boss.

This Saturday, May 25, yet another Waynesville craft brewery is coming of age. BearWaters Brewing Company has survived — and thrived — its first year in the beer biz, despite obstacles thrown its way.

Owner-operator-brewmaster, Kevin Sandefur would be the first to tell you, “It’s been a bear of a year.” The brewery started as Headwaters Brewing Company, and was making quite a name for itself, when mid-year — out of nowhere — they were forced to change the name.

It seemed that a Pennsylvania brewery had named — and trademarked — a beer named Headwaters Pale Ale. It didn’t matter that Sandefur had come up with the name first. The other brewery had the trademark, so they issued a “cease-and-desist.”

Did you know? — Kevin Sandefur had crafted a near-perfect name for his new brewery. Every drop of water in Haywood County originates in Haywood County. Because of the high elevation, no other water flows in.

But despite being the first to use the name, Sandefur was not about to limit his distribution to North Carolina. So Headwaters (with just two letters altered) became BearWaters.

This turn of events might have put a little growl in most brewers’ growlers, but Sandefur chose to “Go with the flow.” And what seemed like a setback at the time has turned into a great opportunity for BearWaters Brewing Company. More about that later.

As a lover of craft beer, I have to tell you — BearWaters product speaks for itself. The brewery offers an extensive repertoire of great beers. Currently on tap are:

Delta Blonde, Stiff Paddle IPA, Sliding Rock Ale, Heady Eddy Pale Ale, Big Sky Rye Ale, Ryeway 74 (WNC brewers’ collaboration beer), Brown Mountain Ale, Original Sin Hard Cider, and good, old-fashioned root beer.

And BearWaters' first year has been one of great accomplishments.

• BearWaters was the first (and so far, only) Waynesville brewery honored on “Mug Night” at Asheville’s Thirsty Monk.

• BearWaters was the only Waynesville brewery represented at the recent Great American Beer Festival in Denver.

• BearWaters captured an incredible 10 medals at the recent 2013 Hickory Hops “Carolina’s Championship of Beer.”

• On May 17, BearWaters became the first Waynesville craft brewery to offer bottled beer — with the limited release of two oak barrel-aged beers: Barrel Roll Porter and Shining Creek Red Ale.

Coming soon:

• Aug. 4, BearWaters will collaborate with Victory Brewing Company (the Pennsylvania brewery that forced the Headwaters name change) on their Oktoberfest beer. As a celebration of the kinship that has developed between the two breweries, all Victory’s Oktoberfest beer will flow from BearWaters tap handles.

• Aug. 31, 1-5 p.m. BearWaters will be joined by other areas brewers at our town’s first (hopefully annual) Waynesville’s Beer Fest. This is the result of smart thinking by Kevin Sandefur, who solicited a grant from Haywood’s TDA.

Yes, BearWaters has plenty of reasons to celebrate a great first year in business. And you can join the celebration on Saturday, May 25, starting at noon. Three bands will ring out BearWaters anniversary.

Performances are as follows:

1 p.m. — The Caribbean Cowboys;

3:30 p.m. — Love Chunk, four-piece Florida funk band;

(Please note: There will be a $5 cover charge for adults starting at 4 p.m. for the premium entertainment shows that evening.)

7 p.m. — The Sauce Boss — This great performer has toured with Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffett. He stirs up slide guitar blues and a pot of Gumbo — both with a big splash of hot sauce.

In case the Sauce Boss doesn't have enough gumbo, BlueRidge Barbecue will also be on hand to handle your other hunger needs.

So come congratulate Sandefur — the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Beer Town” — and raise a glass to another crafty Waynesville brewer coming of age.

BearWaters Brewing is at 130 Frazier St., Ste. 7, in Waynesville, in the warehouse area behind Sagebrush, off Russ Avenue. For information, call 593-8679.

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