FAIRVIEW — Drivers heading down US-74 toward Fairview have been turning their heads for the past few months, thinking through the possibilities of how a fire engine red, decommissioned Norfolk & Western Railroad caboose came to sit atop the hill at 1278 Charlotte Highway – and more importantly – what the caboose would function as.
On Friday Dec., 9, the caboose opened its vestibules to the public as Fairview’s first brewery – Whistle Hop Brewing Company.
The 300-square-foot caboose serves as Whistle Hop’s taproom – jokingly referred to as the cabrewse – and offers patrons a full menu of beers that range from a Banana Wheat and lavender, ginger, lemon infused Semaphore Saison, to the darker Molasses Pumpkin Marzen and even a cider.
The Fairview family owned brewery – led by the family brewer, Tom Miceli – uses a one-barrel brewing system – with goals of expanding to a 10-barrel system – and aims to serve a unique selection of beers that Miceli described on AshevilleBlog.com as, “[aiming] to get… ingredients that you might never think would compliment each other.” Evidenced by a menu offering brews such as a Honey Fig Saison, Pineapple Rail IPA, Peanut Butter Golden Stout, and a gluten-free Green Tea Mint Lager.
“I’m drinking the Chai White IPA and I really like it. It took me a minute to decide on what I wanted because the menu is really different than what I’ve seen at other breweries — I had to stop and actually read the descriptions to figure out what I thought I would like,” said patron Jess Myers. “I like IPAs, and this one is up there with the better ones that I’ve had, especially because I can taste the chai without it overpowering the drink. The free peanuts are a bonus, too.”
While Whistle Hop’s family and dog-friendly taproom has a limited capacity — seating only 30 — the owners built on a porch with a 40 person capacity, a corn hole competition area, and 6 hole, putter-only disc golf course.
“I really like the atmosphere here,” said Myers. “The breweries in and around downtown tend to be really crowded, which makes things like parking and finding seating difficult – and with the high tourist volume in town, it can be overwhelming at times. This is close enough to town to be a quick drive, and I love that it’s so laid back. The beer is good, I like the ambiance, and I’ll definitely be spending more time out here as the weather warms up.”
While the brewery doesn’t have a formal menu, yet, they do offer small bites, sandwiches, and non-alcoholic beverages at the bar from locally owned Trout Lily Deli & Market.
Located at 1278 Charlotte Highway, Whistle Hop Brewing Company is open Thursday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, noon to 10:00 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m. For more details about Whistle Hop, including beers on tap, upcoming events, and the online store, visit https://whistlehop.com.
By Whitney Cooper