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Hi-Wire Brewing Company

Hi-Wire Brewing Company

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When Adam Charnack walked into work one morning in January and opened an email that proclaimed his business a winner, there was more than a wisp of suspicion from the co-owner of Hi-Wire Brewing in Asheville, NC.

Figuring it was one of those cheesy scams from someplace like Guam, Charnack soon realized the email was legit: Hi-Wire had just been named Best New Brewery in North Carolina for 2013 by

“Just ecstatic,” was how Charnack summed up his reaction. “It’s almost surreal—really flattering.”

The achievement was no small feat considering the booming landscape of North Carolina craft beer, and the fact that Hi-Wire took over the space previously occupied by Asheville’s first craft casualty, Craggie Brewing, which closed in December 2012 because of financial struggles.

“We’re in a town that loves beer; people were skeptical at first,” said fellow co-owner Chris Frosaker. “But luckily people in Asheville gave us a chance, and we came out swinging and the beer has tasted good from day one.”

Charnack and Frosaker say the old-timey circus theme of Hi-Wire perfectly depicts the company and its products—fun, authentic and crafty.

“And, you know,” Charnack said, “Asheville is a little bit of a circus itself. Everything about (the name) just felt right.”

Frosacker, one of three pharmacists on the ownership team, and Charnack, an affordable housing real estate developer, say they are not beer connoisseurs but rather passionate fans of “good, solid, drinkable beers.”

hiwire-beersConsequently, Hi-Wire’s four year-round “Main Attraction” brews are classic, approachable styles for all palates: Prime Time Pale, Hi-Pitch IPA, Bed of Nails Brown and Hi-Wire Lager.

The brewery pushes the envelope a bit more with its seasonal offerings that so far have included a coffee stout, black IPA and, most recently, a double IPA featuring an abundance of Citra and Amarillo hops.

After taking over the facility on Hilliard Avenue in the “South Slope” neighborhood, the Hi-Wire team went to work transforming the tasting room. Retaining the raw feel of the 1947 building, they knocked out walls to open up the place, erected a long bar using reclaimed wood from a friend’s farm and put in all-glass, roll-up garage doors and a glass vestibule.

“We tore that room down ourselves, us and our brewers,” Charnack said. “You don’t need to spend a whole ton of money to make it an appealing space, so we did it on a budget. We wanted to make it clear that this is our vision, this space, and we hope that people feel it complements and coincides with everything about us—open, relaxed, fun. That’s the brand. That’s who we are.”

Despite its sizeable 30-barrel brew house, Hi-Wire produced only 2,150 barrels of beer in 2013, its capacity limited by an old system, constrained space and the time-consuming practice of lagering. Still, the company has made things work.

In addition to capitalizing on the tasting room’s prime location within a short walk of brewing neighbors Asheville Brewing, Burial, Green Man, Twin Leaf and Wicked Weed, Hi-Wire spread its visibility immediately after opening with the launch of 12-ounce six-pack bottles distributed by Next Generation Beer Co. While the focus for now is the company’s two main markets of Western North Carolina and Charlotte, Hi-Wire is preparing to use the recent momentum to expand its reach.

“I don’t know any brewery that would be stupid enough to put their beer in six-packs at 2,000 barrels a year,” Charnack said with a smile. “It’s not common, and there’s a reason for it: When you’re on this small of a scale, it’s very manually intensive, it’s costly. But I think it’s the best decision we’ve ever made. It instantly got us out there and across North Carolina. It’s put our beer into more people’s hands than we could have ever imagined, quickly.”

Gary Glancy is a longtime, award-winning journalist living just outside the booming craft-beer town of Asheville, NC. He left the newspaper industry in 2012 to embark on a beer-centered six-week road trip across the U.S., culminating in his first visit to the Great American Beer Festival®, and then follow his passion by pursuing a career in the craft-brew industry. A Certified Cicerone®, Glancy is a tour guide and beertender for Catawba Brewing Co.’s Asheville tasting room and satellite brewery. is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.