BRYSON CITY, N.C. – Taylor Yates joined Nantahala Brewing Company as lead brewer. Yates will take over day-to-day production brewing and cellar oversight from Nantahala’s head brewer, Tom Walsh, who will retire this Fall. Founder, Joe Rowland and Brewmaster, John Stuart, began planning the transition with Walsh earlier this year with the goal of hiring an experienced production brewer with roots in Western North Carolina.

“We are excited to have Taylor on our team. We believe he is a great fit to quickly step into Tom’s role at our brewery. Tom has done an amazing job helping us overcome some big challenges and invested his time increasing the quality and consistency of our beer since he became our Head Brewer a few years ago. We will miss him dearly, but we know he’s excited to spend more time exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, traveling and spending more time with his wife and children,” Rowland said.

Born and raised in Georgia, Yates started his craft beer journey in college when a friend introduced him to craft beer. He was instantly hooked and soon began occupying his free time with home brewing and working at the local home brew shop. He began his professional brewing career with Burnt Hickory Brewing, Georgia’s first nanobrewery in 2012. From Atlanta be moved to Savannah and began brewing at Moon River Brewing, one of the oldest craft breweries in the Southeast. There Yates learned the science behind the process from acclaimed brewer/owner, John Pinkerton.

In 2016, he was offered a position as Brewmaster at start-up Currahee Brewing in Franklin, NC. There he managed all aspects of the brewery from recipe development, wort production and packaging. In 2017, Yates brewed Kawi Coffee Stout which took home a Bronze medal at that years Great American Beer Festival, adding to the Gold Medal he received in 2014 for a Dry Irish Stout at the World Beer Cup.

“Taylor had a great opportunity to work with John Pinkerton in Savannah and will continue to focus on learning more about the brewing process here at Nantahala. His knowledge and experience operating multiple brewhouse setups during his previous positions, should allow him to seamlessly begin operating our brewhouse and cellar with the assistance from our current production team. We anticipate him quickly learning our recipes and processes from Tom and me. We are working on some new products right now as well, which we are excited to have his input on,” Stuart said.

Outside of the brewing business, Yates spends his time in the outdoors of Western North Carolina fishing, hiking and paddling. He and his wife enjoy spending time in the garden, cooking and relaxing by the river.

About Nantahala Brewing Co.
Founded in 2009, Nantahala Brewing Company creates award-winning beers in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A proud supporter of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Friends of the Smokies and Great Smoky Mountain Association, the brewery’s beer, culture and vision are defined by the park’s wild spaces and its untouched, natural water that flows from one of the purest, protected watersheds on the planet. Nantahala Brewing is known for such adventure-inspired flagships as Dirty Girl Blonde Ale, Hazy Mountain IPA, Noon Day IPA, App Trail Extra Pale Ale, and Bryson City Brown Ale. In addition, the brewery seasonally releases Little Tennessee Logger, 4-Foot Drop Pale Ale, Devil’s Courthouse Belgian Golden Strong, 8-Foot Drop Double IPA,  Hellbender Hefeweizen, Rivers End Oktoberfest, Pattons Run Porter, Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout and Sticky Dog Stout and is known for their specialty Trail Magic series. These beers can be found in six packs, four packs and on draft in grocery stores and restaurants across North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. For more information about the brewery, visit