With 3 new brewpubs, will Raleigh's stein spill over?

3 more breweries opening soon, but owners say the more, the merrier

abaird@newsobserver.comJanuary 30, 2013 

— Drink up, Raleigh, a lot of people are counting on you. Not that that’s a bad thing.

An already vibrant local beer scene, centered around six established breweries inside city limits, will welcome three new brewpubs in the coming months.

The idea, of course, is simple enough. Make good beer. Have a good place to drink it. But there are plenty of differences.

827 W. Morgan Street, a building once home to a bail bonding company and a restaurant across the street from St. Mary’s Townhomes, has almost completed its transformation to the home of Trophy Brewing Co.

The finishing touches will be done by early February, and Trophy will likely become the first of the new additions up and running.

Owner Chris Powers said he wants to bring life to a part of downtown that is underserved and ready for a bar to call its own.

“This neighborhood has really been ignored for too long,” Powers said. “I lived here for a few years, and there’s no place you can walk to just to have a drink.”

When the doors open for the first time, six varieties of beer will be brewed in the back and served at a bar in the front along with pizza and pub food. By summertime, the pub will offer a few indoor tables and expansive outdoor seating.

New venture by Nystedts

Raleigh Brewing Co. will also open in February. Located in an expansive warehouse near Meredith College, at 3709 Neil St., Raleigh Brewing Co. is the second foray into the beer business by Kristie and Patrik Nystedt.

The couple has lived in Raleigh for a couple of decades, with Kristie working her way through the corporate ranks, and Patrik working as a commercial pilot.

Kristie said they initially planned to brew beer for a local bar in 2010 but quickly decided to expand to a full-scale operation that would make them part brewer, part supplier and part gathering place for the neighborhood.

Through Atlantic Brew Supply, located in the same warehouse, the Nystedts sell everything needed to brew at home, from the hops and enzymes to the filtering and fermenting systems. They recently finished building a massive brewing system of their own that will allow them to brew six standard beers and an array of specialty brews. A bar has been built, and they have plenty of room for live music and large gatherings.

“We’re building this for Raleigh,” Kristie said. “Everything about this is made for people right here, from the supplies for home brewers to our bar area. We want this to be everyone’s bar.”

As part of that effort, Raleigh Brewing Co.will offer basic classes about the brewing process and a course training people to taste beer.

John Federal, brewer and general manager, said the educational aspect is important because it shows the value of local craft beer over cheap, mass-produced beer.

“Teaching people is important, because you can throw around all the beer terms you want, but until you see why it’s better for yourself, there’s really no explaining it,” Federal said.

Crank Arm expands

The third brewpub scheduled to launch also has an intensely local focus.

For about two years, Crank Arm Rickshaw has taken people to beer around downtown. Mike Morris, Adam Eckhardt and Dylan Selinger, all bike enthusiasts, are teaming up to bring local beer to people downtown.

The trio will open Crank Arm Brewing at 319 W. Davie St. no later than mid-April, becoming the first to brew in the heart of downtown.

Eckhardt said the goal is to provide artisan beer while incorporating green transportation methods via rickshaw and the company’s waste veggie-oil powered truck to minimize the impact on the planet.

“This is a chance to help showcase the great greenway system Raleigh has for bikers, and to make a place that’s great to relax and have a drink,” Eckhardt said.

A rye India Pale Ale and American Wit will be the two flagship beers, and four other seasonal beers will rotate through the taps.

Too much beer?

As the number of brewpubs continues to grow, some are starting to ask: When will there be too much local beer and too few people?

Win Bassett, executive director of the N.C. Brewers Guild, which represents the 70-plus brewers around the state, said that saturation is a long way off.

“As long as breweries produce quality beer, there’s no real saturation point,” he said. “There’s a pub on every corner in places like Portland, and we’re a long way from that.”

Others, such as Kristie Nystedt, said the glass ceilings may run out soon, but she believes there is plenty of room for growth as long as businesses take a thoughtful approach to finding available demographics instead of targeting the same groups.

“It’s about what you’re selling – because the beer has to be good – but also about who you’re selling it to,” she said.

The consensus for now is that more is merrier, and people such as Powers consider extra competition a good thing.

“Having more people brewing, it will make everyone provide a better product,” Powers said. “Everybody wins.”

Baird: 919-829-4696

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