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Who you callin’ microbrew? NC breweries growing up and moving out

Since opening in February 2013, Trophy has squeezed in bigger fermenters and added more patio space, however their capacity – for beer and people — is limited by the building.
Since opening in February 2013, Trophy has squeezed in bigger fermenters and added more patio space, however their capacity – for beer and people — is limited by the building. clowenstein@newsobserver.com

Despite being filled with trophies, the building wasn’t a winner.

Chris Powers and David “Woody” Lockwood – the guys behind Raleigh’s Busy Bee Cafe and State of Beer – thought about opening a brewery in a trophy shop but chose instead the small, brick building at 827 W. Morgan St.

Visit Trophy Brewing Co. today and you’ll find the shop’s influence not just in the brewery’s name, but in the trophy-topped taps. Were Powers and Lockwood to win a trophy, it might be for “Best Use of Space.” They, along with partner David Meeker, shoehorned a brewpub and kitchen inside 600 square feet.

Since opening in February2013, Trophy has squeezed in bigger fermenters and added more patio space, however their capacity – for beer and people – is limited by the building.

No trophy shop could contain their next venture, about two miles away on Maywood Avenue on the outskirts of downtown. Their four-year project known as “Big Trophy” will eventually include a restaurant and taproom, but the first phase – a new production brewery – will open early next year.

As for their original home, Powers said this building will serve as a creative hub where head brewer Les Stewart will focus on experimental, small-batch beers.

Trophy is not alone in outgrowing its original space. When Todd and Suzie Ford opened Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Co. in 2011, they never imagined they would build another brewery four years later.

“We expected to retire in that building and turn it over to our employees,” Suzie said. “We really believed that would be our entire brewery life.”

Now, they are renovating a 32,000-square-foot building on North Tryon Street, a little more than a mile from their original location in NoDa, Charlotte’s historic arts district. The new facility will hold a brewhouse with four times the capacity of their current one. Like Trophy, they will keep their original taproom.

In Asheville, Hi-Wire Brewing is building a new brewery in the city’s Biltmore Village. Their first brewery opened in June of 2013 in the space left vacant by Craggie Brewing. Goals they set for two years were eclipsed in just two months.

“We never imagined 18 months after getting our first bank loan, we would be getting our second for 10 times as much,” wroteco-owner Adam Charnack in an email.

When it opens later this summer, their Big Top brewery, playing off the brewery’s circus theme, will offer tours and a taproom of its own, according to Chris Frosaker, another co-owner.

“We essentially have an entire brewhouse as our playground now,” Frosaker said. “Once we transition into the new space, we will be using the original taproom as a place for experimentation.”

“Playground” is also how Dino Radosta describes the original home of White Street Brewing Co., which became Wake Forest’s first brewery in September 2012. Just months after opening, Radosta knew he would need another brewery to keep up with demand. He found it in a 56,000-square-foot facility 10 minutes away from the original brewery. With the increase in production, White Street has started distributing six-packs of their core beers.

Wicked Weed Brewing out of Asheville is fast at work building their own production facility, which is the brewery’s third venture behind the original brewpub and the Funkatorium, their warehouse and taproom dedicated to all beers sour, funky and wild.

Is 2015 the year of the production brewery? As many of the state’s young breweries outgrow their starter homes, don’t be surprised if others go after big trophies of their own this year.

Daniel Hartis is the author of “Beer Lover’s The Carolinas” and “Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City.” He can be reached at cltbeer@gmail.com or on Twitter, @DanielHartis.

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