Anyone who resolved to “drink less beer” this year is going to be mad to hear about all the new breweries opening up in the Triangle in 2016.
In downtown Raleigh, expect plenty of new offerings from a new space appropriately called Plenty.
Taking over the old Tir na nOg spot, Plenty is the brainchild of the owners of neighboring Laotian restaurant Bida Manda. Co-owner Vansana Nolintha envisions it as a combination taphouse, bookstore, florist shop and dim sum restaurant. It will all open into a communal area, so visitors can sip a beer while shopping for flowers or reading a book.
Plenty’s head brewer is Patrick Woodson. He’s the son of N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson, who has supported a beer lab on campus.
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Just outside of downtown, on Maywood Avenue near the farmer’s market, Trophy Brewing Co. recently opened a new, larger brewery.
In 2016, the original location, which the owners are now calling Little Trophy – they didn’t use my suggestion of Participation Trophy for some reason – will focus on experimental, small-batch beers. The year might also see the opening of a restaurant or outdoor stage area at the new Maywood location, they said.
The Trophy team also owns Busy Bee and The Hive in downtown Raleigh. They’re in the process of transforming The Hive – previously just a second bar above the ground-floor Busy Bee – into Mash & Lauter. It will serve Belgian beers with recommended food pairings.
Modern Romance will have all the classics of the craft beer scene like IPAs, saisons, porters and Belgian ales. Durty Bull, on the other hand, is seeking a niche audience. “We use old-world brewing techniques, along with our own creativity and passion, to bring you barrel-aged and sour beers as well as many other unconventional brews,” according to Durty Bull’swebsite.
Durty Bull will be on Broadway Street in downtown Durham. Modern Romance hasn’t found a location yet, but Lara Murphy said they want to be downtown and plan to open in late 2016 or early 2017.
The name is easy to explain, said Murphy, who co-owns Modern Romance with her husband, Paul Hobson. They bonded over brewery trips while dating, took a beer-heavy honeymoon to Belgium and made home brewing a couples activity years ago.
Both of those coming on the heels of Ponysaurus Brewing Co., which opened its own taproom in late 2015, shows a lot of optimism in the Durham beer scene – which wasn’t exactly lacking options before. And let’s give some credit to these newbies, too, for picking some great names.
Elsewhere in the Triangle
Cary, which is the sixth-largest city in the state even though local leaders still insist on calling it a town, is finally getting a second brewery to give Fortnight some competition. Bond Brothers Beer Co. will be in downtown Cary, with tentative plans for a grand opening in the next few months. The brewery on Chatham Street will be a large space, with both an indoor bar and an outdoor beer garden.
In Carrboro, Dingo Dog Brewing Co. plans to open a brewery on Plow Girl Farm by spring, with a taphouse in town by 2017. The brewery’s founder, a 16-year-old St. Bernard mix named Dingo, and his human co-founder, Tim Schwarzauer, envision a brewery that’s also a 501(c)3 charity.
It will give every cent of profit to a foundation that Schwarzauer and his brewer, Billy Gagon, are setting up that will support animal rescue groups. Schwarzauer said he’s only ever heard of one other charity/brewery before, and he’s aware it won’t be easy to pull off.
“We decided we would make this as difficult on ourselves as we could and work with as many regulatory organizations as possible,” Schwarzauer said, with a nervous laugh.
In Hillsborough, Mystery Brewing Co. plans to build a kitchen this spring, said founder Erik Meyers. He said he also wants to gradually increase production throughout the year and begin distributing more widely – possibly even out of state.
In western Wake County, Jim Smith and Jay Thomas are trying to find a location for their project, New Hill Brewing. It’s named after the remote rural community where Smith lives and has been home brewing for two decades, although he said it probably won’t be located in New Hill itself, but in Apex or Cary, when it opens in late 2016.
A bit east of the Triangle, the Rocky Mount Brewmill is getting up and running. A sort of co-working space for breweries, the first tenant is Koi Pond Brewery, which opened Jan. 3. They’ll be joined soon by Sweet Taters Brewery.
I talked with one of Koi Pond’s owners, lawyer Deborah Sperati, a year ago for a different story. She had two compelling reasons for wanting to start a brewery in Rocky Mount, rather than an hour west in Raleigh. There’s less risk with cheap real estate available, she said, plus the chance to give back to the community by possibly driving a bit of tourism and job creation.
“I’m from eastern North Carolina,” Sperati said. “And it’s very hard to get people to come here right out of college. They’re drawn to the bigger towns.”
Finally, one last bit of news that deserves a future column of its own: Both Tyler’s Taproom and Aviator Brewing Co. are planning distilleries in 2016. The Tyler’s project will be in Durham, and Aviator’s is operating out of the company’s Fuquay-Varina brewery.
Did I miss anything? Please let me know.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran