Sylva Heinzelmannchen Brewery turns nine

by Randy Conn and Kathleen Kiser

Heinzelmannchen Brewery turned it’s ninth birthday on Saturday and for that occasion they provided a dry and tasty place during the rainy Greening Up the Mountains 2013 Festival in Sylva. See the video story we’ve prepared and read some more information about it’s owner and the brew he makes.

According to German legend, the Heinzelmannchen are gnome-like creatures found in the Black Forest of Germany. Rarely seen, they are helpful to creatures and people alike. They visit in the night to help business owners with chores so as the proprietors will have more time to give back to their community.

Dieter Kuhn, owner of Heinzelmannchen

Dieter Kuhn is the certified Braumeister of Heinzelmannchen Brewery. Born and raised in Heidelsheim, Germany, he came to the United States with his family when he was twelve years old. He came to WNC in 1991 and opened Heinzelmannchen Brewery in 2004. His thick German heritage and zest for taste has made his local brewery quite a success.

“Over the years,” Kuhn shared, “living in Chicago, and living prior to that in Germany, I always had good beer to drink and it was always part of the existence in my growing up. When I got here [WNC] in ’91 I felt kind of ‘shortchanged’ in the beer scene. There was plenty of Budweiser, there was plenty of commercial stuff around but not anything that really ‘struck a fancy’ in my book so I started brewing my own beer because I didn’t want to drink the other stuff and that’s the reason why I opened up the brewery, so that I could make some good beer that I could drink and I could share with other people.”

The local brewery scene has expanded since Kuhn’s first year in business as hand crafted beers are becoming more and more of a favorite. When he started Heinzelmannchen, he was one of 5 local breweries.

“The movement (of handcrafted brew) started in Asheville and around here about the late ‘90s.” Kuhn added. “In 2004 I was one of five breweries in the area. Now there’s 12-14 of us that are doing what I started doing 9 years ago. We’re all just trying to do the same thing. We just wanna make good beer and to provide an alternative to Budweiser and all those other guys.”

Kuhn is happy with his career choice. His brewery means very much to him and his heritage. Everyday provides him an opportunity to do what he loves.

“It’s my passion, it’s my livelihood,” Kuhn said. “Every morning I come here and I’m ready to go to work. I rarely sleep in. I’m excited about the start of the day and what’s ahead and what I can do to get some good beer going and get some good beer out there for people to partake of.”


Caraciture of Kuhn, hanging outside his office

“Nine years speaks for itself.” Kuhn explained. “There’s been breweries that came and left already since I’ve been in business. Being a traditionalist and a hard worker is just paramount as far as what it takes to make a business and to make it prosper.”