When four guys got together and decided to open a brewery, they looked to a part of the city where the beer business isn’t exactly booming.
Compass Rose Brewery, which opened this month off Gresham Lake Road, is the first brewery in northeast Raleigh.
“North Raleigh is wide open,” co-owner John Coulter said. “We felt like we could do something good.”
The craft beer scene has steadily grown in the Triangle. In Raleigh, many breweries have set up shop inside the Beltline, including the Five Points area, where there’s plenty of warehouse space.
Compass Rose – owned by Coulter, Thomas Vincent, Jose Luis Martinez and Gary Kohake – wants to tap into the North Raleigh crowd, which might feel a bit left out of the brewery scene.
Vincent, a former brewer at Natty Greene’s Brewing Company in downtown Raleigh, said he knew customers were driving from north of the Beltline to get a taste of specialty brews.
Coulter and Martinez work in the international food trade business and own a brewery in Mexico called Embajador.
Martinez, a native of Mexico, has lived in Raleigh for 15 years. Coulter lived in Raleigh briefly about 15 years ago and is in the process of moving back.
It made sense to them to open a brewery here. But customers shouldn’t expect a Mexican atmosphere at Compass Rose.
The taproom, which features reclaimed wood and industrial design details, is meant to be like a German beer hall, Vincent said. There are picnic-style tables, meant to encourage interaction.
“You sit down with strangers, and after an hour you’re best friends,” Vincent said.
Tables have board games on them, and one wall features chalkboard paint to encourage visitors to leave their mark.
“I just want it to be a space everyone wants to be,” Coulter said.
While the design features hints of Germany, the first brews at Compass Rose are telling of its Latin American roots. Vincent hopes an agave cream ale will be one of the brewery’s regular beers.
“That’s a flavor profile that will translate really nicely,” Coulter said.
Vincent has also been playing around with a saison-style beer and plans to create an IPA brew that will change as the brewery receives different ingredients.
For now, Compass Rose won’t bottle and sell its beer, Vincent said. But it will sell kegs and distribute to bottle shops and restaurants.
The brewery also plans to feature local food trucks in lieu of a full kitchen. That may change, though, Vincent said.
“We don’t want to rule anything out,” he said.
Want to go?
Compass Rose Brewery is located at 3201 Northside Drive, Raleigh. Hours are noon to midnight every day. Check www.facebook.com/compassrosebrewing for special events.