Written by Derek Halsey | Photos by Anthony Harden
Andy Mason, of Boone’s Lost Province Brewing Company, is bringing an alchemist’s mind to the art of beer brewing.
These days, craft beer brewing is big business.
Smaller breweries have popped up from time-to-time over the last few decades, but recently, what was once a niche industry has been propelled to new heights, with micro-brew hotspots ranging from Colorado to Portland to Brooklyn—and to Western North Carolina.
A century ago, however, nearly every beer company was a craft brewer. Before the bottling industry came on the scene and they found a way to keep beer contained enough to transport and be stocked on store shelves without losing its fizz, the beer barrel was the only way to go. If beer barrels did take a trip far from the brewing company, they had to be kept cold all of the time, and that meant using ice from ponds, rivers, and lakes, even the Great Lakes.
Before electric ice-making technology hit the scene, ice was cut from nature: Barns and building were filled with it, caves and underground rooms were also used as ice storage facilities well into the summer months, and rail cars were packed to the brim with massive chunks of frozen lake water ready for transport.
Because of those limitations, most cities in America had multiple breweries. Milwaukee became known for being the beer capital of the United States. At one point in the 1800s, Cincinnati, Ohio, sported over 30 breweries making beer in town at the same time. By the turn of the 20th Century, Cincinnati had upwards of 40,000 people working in various aspects of the overall beer brewing industry.
These days, virtually every list of the top craft brewing towns in America features Western North Carolina in the top 20, and some in the top ten or higher. Asheville has led the way in that regard. But now, places like Boone have also stepped up with impressive breweries making high-quality beers of all stripes, flavors, and ingredients.
In downtown Boone, at 130 North Depot Street just 60 feet or so from the now-famous bronze park bench statue of late, local music hero Doc Watson, is the Lost Province Brewing Company. The on-site brewery, restaurant, and live music venue is run by the owners, Andy and Lynne Mason, along with daughter Carolyn and an enthusiastic staff.
The full article continues below. Click to open in fullscreen…