Nantahala Brewing has always been a microbrewery with a ‘macro’ business model. Opening in 2009, in the small town of Bryson City, Nantahala’s founder, Joe Rowland, thought big — and its paid off ‘bigtime.’ 

In just 10 years of operation, Nantahala Brewing has crafted a nationwide reputation for the quality of its beer, a strong following for its focus on the great outdoors and it’s all been driven by the resounding backbeat of band after band of musical entertainment.

Nantahala’s base of brewing operations remains in Bryson City, where it continues to brew and serve great beer under the watchful eye of industry legend, brewmaster and director of brewing operations, John Stuart. In addition, Nantahala provides entertainment and feeds visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains with incredible eats from its popular brewpub.

Nantahala beers are also rolling off the shelves in distribution throughout North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, but Joe Rowland thinks bigger.

Last year, Nantahala opened its first ‘Outpost’ in Asheville, at 747 Haywood Rd. in West Asheville — bringing the Nantahala brand front and center in Beer City, USA.

A few months earlier, Rowland and company finalized plans for yet another ‘Outpost’ in Sylva. It was 15 months in the making — finding an ideal location, designing, planning, permitting and construction.

I am pleased to report that Nantahala’s Sylva ‘Outpost’ opened July 1, after a weekend soft opening where 40-taps flowed with Nantahala-crafted beers and the kitchen really ‘showed-off’ — serving outstanding sandwiches, burgers, wings and more.

My wife and I enjoyed the two first burgers served — Carol had a hand-made (and aptly-named) ‘Outpost’ Burger and I devoured a wonderful Bison Burger — a tribute to my alma mater, the University of Colorado. My burger was topped with the best caramelized onions I have ever tasted.

Location, Location, Location

With both Nantahala ‘Outposts,’ Nantahala management has demonstrated a flair for real estate. Nantahala’s Brewery and Brewpub in Bryson City is right around the corner from the city’s number one tourist attraction — The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.

Nantahala’s Asheville ‘Outpost’ is smack-dab in the middle of West Asheville — one of most popular areas in the city — near restaurants, night clubs and more.

But Nantahala’s Sylva Outpost might be the brewery’s best location of all — near Jackson County’s Historic Courthouse, bordering on picturesque Scott Creek and on a street with traffic of up to 60,000 cars a day.

Oops, I failed to mention that Sylva is a college town — home to thousands of thirsty Western Carolina University students, who will love the Sylva Outpost’s craft beer, great food and a steady stream of great bands on both indoor and outdoor music stages

Nantahala’s Sylva Outpost is a, “Win-Win” for the brewery, the town of Sylva and all of us who enjoy good, craft beer. You will love it.

Nantahala Brewing’s Sylva Outpost is at 5 Grindstaff Cove in Sylva and open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday. For information, visit

Paul Viau is an award-winning creative director, with a 30-year career in advertising and marketing. Originally from Denver, Colorado, he met his wife, Carol, when they worked for rival advertising agencies in Miami, Florida. They became permanent residents of Haywood County in 2008 and reside in Waynesville. 

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