Erica and Joey Justice, the owners of Sweeten Creek Brewing, fell in love while doing what they loved — brewing beer.
The two met while both working at Highland Brewing. “But Joey and I came to the brewing industry independently from each another,” Erica said.
Joey started home brewing when he lived at home in the Northwest, and then decided to move to Asheville in 2006 to pursue a career in brewing. He started working on the packaging line one day a week at Highland and in the lab part-time. With the full support of Highland, Joey decided to complete the 10-week Master Brewers Program at the University of California-Davis. Once he returned to Highland, he quickly moved his way through the company, ultimately becoming the head brewer.
Erica started home brewing at a young age with her father. “I decided after college to go to UC Davis to get my Master Brewers Certification, as well,” she said, only a year after Joey.
Erica then made her way to Asheville in 2010 in hopes of getting into the brewing scene. “I soon found myself at Highland working behind the bar,” Erica said, "which soon led to a full-time position as a quality assurance specialist.”
During their time at Highland, the two fell in love. But after 3.5 years at Highland, Erica took a job in the lab at Oskar Blues, and in 2014, Joey left Highland, as well.
“We both had dreams of opening our own breweries before we met,” Erica said. “After Joey left Highland, we decided that if we were ever going to try to start our own place that this was our chance.”
So, they started putting together a business plan for their future — Sweeten Creek Brewing.
“Our hope with Sweeten Creek was to create an inviting community gathering place with high-quality, consistent beer and food in South Asheville,” Erica said.
She said the biggest and most positive change for the brewery was when it went from a sophisticated home brewing setup to a larger 10 bbl system with the ability to distribute 12-oz cans in Asheville in less than 3 years.
“The most rewarding experience has been the opportunity to reinvest in our property and customer experience while growing with our local regulars,” Erica continued.
While Sweeten Creek may be a bit off the beaten path, Erica said its location has allowed the brewery to have a unique outdoor space and an out-of-town feel while still being close to downtown Asheville.
“Being local gives us an opportunity to create jobs locally while offering a safe and welcoming atmosphere for the people in our community,” Erica said.
Start your brewery hopping early with Sweeten Creek — it’s one of the handful of breweries open before noon — and experience its inviting, dog and family friendly creekside lawn while sipping on some delicious brews.
Check out Sweeten Creek's Halloween event below, and make sure to keep up with their Dig Local page for all their Scoops and specials.