Pintful

Pintful: Nickelpoint Brewing helps make Raleigh neighborhood a craft beer destination

john.frank@newsobserver.comMarch 6, 2014 

— A new brewery will soon give the Five Points neighborhood a richer craft beer vibe.

Nickelpoint Brewing plans to open in the area roughly three months from now. It will complement the local beer focus at Crafty Beer Shop, which opened in late 2013 just off the main intersection.

As the name suggests, Nickelpoint is all about its new location, and plans to work a neighborhood bar atmosphere into its 20-barrel production brewery.

“We like the number five,” said Shaluka Perera, one of the five owners who hope to make the bar a 5 o’clock happy hour spot.

The neighborhood so inspired the owners that the company changed its name Saturday from Union Square Brewery, a reference to Raleigh and the location where the state capitol was built.

“We’ve gotten so much of a warm welcome there,” Perera said. “That was one of the reasons we wanted to change the name.”

The group searched the entire Triangle for a good spot, considering sites in the Wake Forest area and south of downtown Raleigh. Five Points was an underserved neighborhood, they decided.

Crafty is good company

Crafty Beer Shop also considers it fertile ground. After opening in late summer, it has attracted a loyal following to its cozy confines, part coffee shop (with couches and free Wi-Fi) and part bottle shop (with deep shelves of singles lining the walls).

Wendy Harris, one of the Crafty co-owners, said it’s not a typical bar scene. “We are a little different. While we definitely have a bottle shop, we’re definitely a neighborhood pub,” said Harris, who runs the place along with fiance, Glenn Carr, and his two daughters, ages 22 and 26.

The prime location at 2003 Fairview Road, in the old Hayes Barton Furniture shop, helps drive the crowds. And Crafty keeps the taps evolving. “We feel like the whole excitement of craft beer is to try new things,” Harris said.

Nickelpoint’s Perera said they are forming a bond with their Crafty beer brethren. The brewery is located a mile to the east from the bottle shop, near Larry’s Beans.

It plans to offer a 1,000-square-foot taproom at the front of a 7,000-square-foot brewery, a big size for a newcomer. Perera, 39, said they are considering adding bottling or canning early in their tenure and hope to distribute kegs to area bars.

A traditional brew

Brewer Bruce Corregan’s emphasis is on traditional styles. He is looking to convert 10 years of home brewing experience into the professional realm with the help of his brother Matt Corregan, who is a chemist and works quality control on the brewing process.

“I brew to style and they are pretty much European (inspired),” said Bruce Corregan, a co-worker of Perera at IBM. “I just want to brew a good, quality beer.”

Perera said that direction is intentional, part of a renewed industry focus on the tried-and-true beer styles lost amid the rush for the latest-biggest-baddest American brews.

“We thought about it long and hard and what we found out is some brewers ... have gone to extremes,” he said. “A lot of (people) are looking at them and saying I’d like to pull it back a little bit, more towards the mainstream.”

What I’m tasting

At a recent event at Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro, I tasted Nickelpoint’s strong Belgian golden ale and porter.

Both beers had clean, simple lines that illustrated Corregan’s style and packed good flavor. The Belgian weighed in at 9 percent alcohol-by-volume and left an ethanol hint to its syrupy sweetness. The porter didn’t feel as heavy as the style allows and made an easy-drinking dark beer on a warm winter afternoon.

Contact John at 919-829-4698 or jfrank@newsobserver.com.

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