A New Way to Float
Stephan Pruitt and Hamlin Beattie are the brains behind The Brew Tub, Asheville’s newest addition to the river community. With summer in full session, people are headed to seek relief from the heat in local swimming holes and waterfalls, and these two entrepreneurs have a new twist on tubing down the French Broad River. Both spent their childhoods in the mountains of the Carolinas. Stephan, a self-described “river kid,” remembers growing up and spending whole summers in local rivers and creeks but never the French Broad River.
“The French Broad had a reputation,” Stephan says.
But it’s cleaner than it’s ever been with help from local nonprofits and small business owners bringing attention to clean-up efforts. What was once livestock auction grounds and scrap yards are now LEED-certified breweries and restored riverfront parks.
Last year at the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) in Black Mountain, North Carolina, Hamlin observed a man floating in a lawn chair drinking a beer, patiently waiting for the live music to start. Hamlin was especially struck by this idea of engaging individuals who haven't interacted with the French Broad River in typical ways. A year later, the duo brought the idea to life, engaging individuals beyond the typical ways of a tube or a kayak.
Stephan and Hamlin, now a part of this story of rebirth on the French Broad River, offer customizable, year-round river tours on The Brew Tub. These tours are led by certified river tour guides who are experts in the history of the French Broad. During the two-hour Brew Tub tour, you can learn the French Broad’s history and ecology—and have plenty of laughs, too.
The Brew Tub offers a unique experience as you never actually get in the water. It embraces the wide range of experiences being sought out in Asheville.
“Asheville is a melting pot, and we want to be able to cater to a wide range of needs. We want you to be able to enjoy the river how you want by offering a diversity of experiences,” Stephan says.
These 10-seat rafts have the potential to be customized for any group. Do you want a dinner catered by one of Asheville’s fine dining establishments during sunset? A wine and cheese experience while you float? The Brew Tub can make it happen and wants you to enjoy the river in whatever way that you choose.
In addition to local food and craft drinks (they can pick you up from any Asheville brewery), the Brew Tub has teamed up with Asheville Greenworks, a nonprofit organization that focuses on enhancing the quality of life for Asheville residents through environmental conservation projects and education. Through informing floaters on the history and importance of the third oldest river in the world, Stephan and Hamlin plan to engage the community in a more meaningful way with the French Broad. Greenworks helped the duo plan the best path down the river and offers the opportunity for floaters to give back to the river clean-up efforts.
The Brew Tub team values the locals who are vital to the success of a tourist town like Asheville: the service industry. Folks in the service industry are the lifeblood of Asheville. The Brew Tub would love to be an oasis on the river for them by customizing team building days for bartenders, baristas and servers.
For a one-of-a-kind French Broad experience, The Brew Tub is a safe bet.
Who: Stephan Pruitt and Hamlin Beattie
Where: The French Broad River
What to Do: Gather a group of friends, do a brewery crawl around Asheville, and pick up some of your favorite brews, grab a pizza or two, and make a reservation for an afternoon on the river. There's no better way to learn the river's rich history and make some lifelong memories.
A New Way to Hang Out
For many Asheville residents, climbing trees and spending the warm summer days in nature is nothing strange; it’s a great way to feel like a carefree child again. For River Echeverria, spending time in the trees isn’t just a way to feel like a kid again, though; it’s a way of life. River planted roots in Asheville two years ago and began his business with Alex Patton creating tree weaves, a type of eco-friendly netting that’s sturdy, durable and tons of fun. Picture a treehouse, but instead of walls and floors, there is open air and connectedness to the tree’s surroundings. Picture a backyard paradise.
River's yard is a multilevel network of tree nets, an ongoing work in progress with crows nests, swings, color-coordinated nets for games of Twister in the trees and slacklines. Not only is it a great place to practice balance, whether that be with a slackline or through yoga, but it’s also a peaceful way to kick back, read a book and get to know the trees inhabiting a yard or forest.
“The mission is to bring people closer to the trees. We have a very intimate relationship with these trees,” River says. “We know each tree distinctly and are very aware of its cycles. Before we made this, though, they were just nondescript trees in the yard. My goal is for people to understand how valuable tree spaces are. We can use the space in trees to amplify the livable space that we have, and I see a lot of waste of trees in the world. I can build a six-story mansion in an oak tree that someone else would just cut down.”
Good news, Asheville: River and Alex don’t plan on moving their home base anytime soon, and while they travel a lot for their clients in other states, they’re excited to grow Tree Weaves in the WNC mountains.
“We love having more local clients. We love being here. This is our home,” Alex says. “We love traveling and seeing the world, but we’d love to spend more time at home.”
Whether you’re looking for a space net to take to festivals or on road trips or an elaborate multilevel weave in your backyard, River and Alex are the area experts on hanging out in trees.
“We want to connect people to nature and give them a reason to go outside every day,” River says.
To learn more, visit TreeWeaves.com.
Who: River Echeverria and Alex Patton
Where: Your Backyard (Not yet; you have to call them.)
What to Do: Take a look at your yard—is it missing a multilevel treehouse? Chances are, it probably is. Give River and Alex a call, and let them build you a little paradise in the trees. And stock up on books, because you're about to have a new favorite reading nook.