Food & Drink

‘Fun and interesting and different.’ Raleigh’s first bottle shop brewery is opening.

The bottle shop trend is evolving in the world of craft beer. What started as a place to buy bottles and cans of strictly the good stuff, quickly morphed into something more like a bar, with draft lines and stools and food truck schedules. Now we’re entering the brewery phase.

This August, Mordecai Beverage Company will open in the redeveloped Gateway Plaza as Raleigh’s first bottle shop brewery. Owner Andrew Christenbury has been homebrewing for more than a decade and now plans to share his beer with the drinking public.

“I fell in love with the concept of making beers that were fun and interesting and different,” Christenbury said about getting into brewing. “I like to make everything: sours, stouts, IPAs. You name it, we like to make it.”

Named for the nearby neighborhood, Mordecai Beverage Company will have 25 taps — five dedicated to wine, a couple for cider, a dozen or so for craft beer from other breweries and six to eight for Christenbury’s own beer when production ramps up. Among his brewing successes, Christenbury said, were variations on hefeweizens, a toasted coconut IPA, cucumber saison and Belgian pale ale brewed with blood orange.

“We’re excited about being something more than just a bottle shop or a brewery,” Christenbury said. “My hope is we won’t be like most bottle shops. I think the focus will trend toward those breweries that don’t get enough exposure, smaller breweries across the state and eastern seaboard. We won’t sell stuff that you can see in Harris Teeter or Food Lion.”

Christenbury said he looked all around the Triangle for a space to open, but was attracted to the redevelopment at Gateway off of Crabtree Boulevard near Capital Boulevard, northeast of the Mordecai neighborhood. The bottle shop brewery will be one of the development’s first projects to open, along with Andrew Ullom’s much anticipated bakery Union Special Bread.

“I love the fact we’re so close to the Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods,” Christenbury said. “We’re excited to be part of the rejuvenation here, instead of joining something pre-existing. We were looking for a neighborhood and community where we could grow with them.”

The shop is about 2,000 square feet, half of which is devoted to brewing beer, with the rest for the bar and retail, plus a covered patio. In around three months, Christenbury said, Gateway will unveil a communal beer garden with picnic tables and a small stage for future events and festivals.

The shop itself was built largely from reclaimed wood and repurposed equipment, Christenbury said, with only 10% of everything purchased brand new.

Mordecai Beverage Company is in its final inspection phase now and should open in two to three weeks. To track the progress visit www.mordecaibev.co.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.
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