Pintful

Pintful: Fortnight Brewing Co. in Cary adds big-name investor

jfrank@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2013 

JOHNFRANK1.NE.033111.JEL

John Frank.

JLEONARD@NEWSOBSERVER.COM — JULI LEONARD

  • What’s On Tap Bull City Food & Beer Experience

    4 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Durham Performing Arts Center

    The inaugural event features food from 20 local restaurants and beer from 50-plus local and national breweries. Along with live music, featured keynote speakers are the founders of Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues breweries. Tickets are $75.

The new breweries exploding on the local scene are finding creative ways to finance the craft.

Crank Arm Brewing in Raleigh is making a final push this week to raise the last $10,000 of its $35,000 goal through the microdonation website Kickstarter. And Steel String Brewery in Carrboro – which just announced its opening date as March 22 – is selling memberships to its “Hit-Maker’s Club” for between $250 and $1,000.

But Fortnight Brewing Co. in Cary is going the traditional route. It’s raising capital from investors and finding equal success.

The nascent brewery recently announced a new big-named and deep-pocketed member of its team: Bob Greczyn, the former CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina who retired in February 2010 at a $4 million annual salary.

He will serve as a co-founder and advisor along with David Gardner, a serial entrepreneur in the IT world.

In a recent interview, Greczyn said he is a newcomer to the craft beer arena.

He entered the industry through another new enterprise, a Mellow Mushroom franchise he opened with his son in Cary that includes 24 taps with mostly craft beer.

“I taste everything we get at the restaurant,” he said, adding he enjoys light-bodied beers and India pale ales the most.

Fortnight will focus on English-styled beers, aiming to open sometime in late summer or early fall. Right now, President Stuart Arnold is busy buying commercial equipment and hopes to pick a home for the brewery in coming weeks.

The company’s investor backing helps quell concerns of saturation in the Triangle brewery market. And not surprisingly, Greczyn remains bullish on the prospects in coming years.

“It’s still relatively young,” he said. “There’s lots of good craft beers out there. I just think that gets more and more people interested.”

A chocolate alternative

If chocolates are on the list for Valentine’s Day, let me offer an alternative: chocolate beer. Think of it as the anti-Hallmark gift.

Once more, rare chocolate beers fill the shelves this time of year, making it hard to pick a favorite. I called three local bottle shops for recommendations from the pros:

• Jason Cole from The Bottle Shop at Tyler’s Taproom in Raleigh: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. The British brewery sells the beer in 16.9-ounce nitrogenated cans, taking the flavor to a whole new level. “It softens up the flavors so you get almost this buttery chocolate flavor,” Cole said. He likes it poured over vanilla ice cream.

Sold in four packs, about $9.50.

•  Ben Wilson at Sam’s Quik Shop in Durham: Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout. A newcomer on the market from fall 2012, this is a true chocolate dessert beer. “It just delivers on what it’s called,” Wilson says. “It’s very densely milk-chocolaty.”

Sold in four packs, about $11.

• Jason Kaczor at Ridgewood Wine and Beer in Raleigh: Terrapin Moo-Hoo Chocolate Milk Stout. This seasonal sweet stout from an Athens, Ga.-based brewery is rich in flavor but not over the top. Kaczor describes it as “milk chocolate with a little bit of roastiness to it.”

Sold in four packs, about $9.

What I’m drinking

The new small-batch beer offerings at Carolina Brewery brought a welcome diversity to the Chapel Hill brewpub’s lineup.

I enjoyed the Funky Monk the most. The Belgian Ale shows a red hue in a tall tulip glass, rich and drinkable with nice spiciness from the yeast that fits the style. The new beers rotate constantly with other limited offerings, so try them soon before they are gone.

Contact John at jfrank@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698. Follow him on Twitter @ByJohnFrank.

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