Like so many great craft brewery beginnings, BearWaters Brewing Company was born from the passionate hobby of home brewing. Founder Kevin Sandefur developed many signature recipes in his makeshift beer kitchen on weekends with good friends. Set in the backdrop of a modest root cellar adjoining his home, the hobby grew into a business.
After winning some awards at home brewing competitions, friends, family and colleagues encouraged Kevin to turn his hobby into a career.
In 2009 Kevin attended the Craft Beer Conference in Boston Massachusetts. There he met with many successful craft brewery owners who were eager to share their experiences and advice. He immediately fell in love with the industry and the people and realized this was a community he wanted to become part of.
In 2010 BearWaters was set on its way with a startup seed grant that was awarded by the Haywood County chamber of commerce. Determined to get his new venture up and running, Kevin rented a small warehouse in Waynesville. Using what he had available, Kevin methodically transformed the small warehouse into a lively bright nano brewing operation where BearWaters soon outgrew its surroundings.
In the spring of 2016 a new friendship and partnership began. Art O'Neil, a long time professional in the food and beverage industry, joined forces with Kevin and together they created a vision for what BearWaters could grow to become. Kevin had already purchased part of our current brewhouse, and with Art's help they were able to secure funding to bring it to life and purchase the rest of our production facility. They were approached by the town of Canton to consider their community as the new home of BearWaters. They were able to purchase the current building, and the two of them spent the winter of '16/'17 doing 80% of the build-out themselves.