Where else can you find American and German flags covering a brewery in Western North Carolina? Or a brewery that promotes putting the screens down — you won't find a single TV at the brewery — picking up a pint of delicious craft beer and talking to the person sitting next to you at the bar? Nowhere but newly opened Guidon Brewing in Hendersonville, NC.
After spending a little over 20 years on active duty for the U.S. Army, Mike Baer, the owner of Guidon Brewing, retired to Fort Stewart, Georgia just outside of Savannah. But Georgia just didn’t feel like home and Baer didn’t have many job prospects after retiring from the army.
But he did have an idea to open his very own brewery — he began home brewing in 2003 and had become a fairly advanced, self-taught brewer over time — all he needed was the perfect location.
Baer had traveled all over the world during his time working reconnaissance for the army. He did a few different tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and Alaska, but it was during his tour in Germany where he met his wife Connie.
Mike and Connie out on a hike with their four-legged family member.
They both knew they didn’t want to retire in any of the areas they had previously lived while Baer was with the army, so they decided to take a trip to Gatlinburg, TN on a recommendation from a friend.
“But we definitely did not like Gatlinburg,” Baer commented. Fortunately, on the way back home to Georgia, the couple saw a sign for Asheville and decided to make a pit stop.
Baer was already enrolled in the Professional Brewing Science program at South College in Knoxville, TN, but quickly found out the program was going to also be offered at South College in Asheville.
“I could just transfer schools,” Baer said, “which worked out perfectly.”
The couple made the move to Hendersonville in 2016, which Baer said fit their budget and their desire to live in a town — not a zip code — that had its own quaint downtown.
It was time to start working on his plans for Guidon Brewing.
“Our main obstacle was time,” Baer said. “I did the vast majority of work myself and that took a lot longer than we anticipated.” To make his brewery dreams a reality, Baer also worked a full-time job as a project manager for construction crews, which he still does to this day.
Mike Baer crafting the bar at Guidon Brewing.
But all the hard work paid off for Baer. Guidon Brewing has a warm and inviting atmosphere that differs greatly from the industrial, open-bay scene that most breweries have in the area.
“Almost everything in our taproom is handcrafted,” Baer said. “We also don't have any televisions to help promote social interaction between our customers.”
Because Baer and his wife moved around so many times while he was in the army, they never fully belonged anywhere.
“Whenever we would go out somewhere, we might not know anyone else in the bar,” Baer remembered. “So, we would actually talk to one another.”
He hopes due to the lack of TVs that people at his brewery will put their phones down and actually talk to the person sitting next to them at the bar.
“We also have a loft area that's full of couches and comfortable chairs,” Baer said, “which feels more like a coffee shop than a brewery.” The brewery also has a large deck and outdoor space and the only dedicated dart board room in Hendersonville.
Patrons of the brewery have told Baer how impressed they have been with the great beer Guidon Brewing has been producing, noting how unusual that is for a new brewery right out of the gate. See for yourself — head over to Guidon Brewing in Hendersonville to meet the locals and keep up to date with their Dig Local profile for events, specials and more.