Garner Cleveland Record

Cleveland couple hopes to open brewery in historic downtown Garner

Brice’s Brewing Company logo
Brice’s Brewing Company logo courtesy of Dana Bengtson

Kris Bengtson loves beer.

He loves it so much, his wife, Dana Bengtson suggested he brew his own beer to save money.

“My thought and what I said to him was, ‘quit buying other people’s beer and just make your own. It’s bound to be cheaper,’” she recalled. “And that was the worst statement I’ve ever made in my life, because it’s not. It’s taken over our house.”

Kris Bengtson now brews his own beer and has been doing so since 2009. He’s won multiple local and regional awards for his homemade beers.

Dana Bengtson isn’t totally upset. She and Kris hope to open their own brewery with a tap room next year in Garner’s historic downtown. The brewery is called Brice’s Brewing Company.

The town council recently approved a craft beer store and tasting bar that will sell specialty beers, called Beerded Lady Bottle Shop.

But this would be the town’s first brewery. The town has been trying to revitalize its downtown by attracting retail stores and restaurants. A brewery would be something new for the town and could help start the growth.

Many other small towns including Fuquay-Varina and Clayton have hopped on brewery bandwagon.

“I really can’t think of a better location,” Kris Bengtson said. “The proximity to Raleigh, six miles from downtown (Raleigh). The real estate prices are right, right now because there not a lot in downtown (Garner) but there will be within the next two years. So we’re going to be in the middle of all of that and it’s going to be pretty exciting.”

“They are putting a lot of money into refurbishing the historic district downtown and we really just want to be a part of that,” his wife, Dana Bengtson added.

Kris Bengtson said they were looking for a place to put their business when they stumbled upon Garner. Patrick Byrd, the Garner Revitalization Association board chair, suggested they make their home Garner. He thought it would help the growth of the historic downtown.

Assistant Town Manager John Hodges and Downtown Development Manager Mari Howe said the brewery could potentially be good for downtown – if they can make it happen.

“It’s one of those things that can jump start other things happening down here,” Howe said.

“Even just having a place that Brice or someone else could brew would help the local economy in a big way,” Hodges added.

‘The devil made me do it’

Each beer Kris makes has a name and a story behind it. One of his beers is called “The devil made me do it,” a lemon thyme imperial saison.

He said a friend was testing it out for him and had one too many.

“The next day she calls me and says, ‘that beer of yours is the devil,’” he recalled. ‘“I swear the devil made me do it.’ And I thought that’s the name for it.”

Another one of his beers is named “Farmor,” which means grandma in Swedish. Much of the company is based after Kris’ grandmother and his Swedish heritage, like the company’s logo: a butterfly.

His grandmother died unexpectedly in 2009. Her favorite creature was a butterfly. After her memorial service, while they were in the car, a yellow butterfly touched the windshield and flew away.

“Ever since then I feel like butterflies are my connection with her in a way,” Kris said. “I feel like I can talk to her and she’s not gone. Fast forward to 2014 when we were out at a restaurant and I write a forward and backwards B on a napkin and (Dana) says that looks like a butterfly.”

Kris said he knew then that’s how he wanted to honor his grandmother. By having the logo honor her memory.

The business will be a family business. His wife will be the president of the company, he the vice president and his sister will help market the company.

The Bengtsons hope to open their business within nine months, but they have to raise enough money to do so. They must raise $50,000 from the public to put a down payment on the equipment through a Kickstarter program from Angel Investors. If the couple does not raise the $50,000, then they will not get the money at all.

“It is a great location and we want to be in downtown, people want us to be” Dana Bengtson said, “but if the Kickstarter isn’t successful we can’t sign a lease. We just don’t have enough money to secure the business.”

Kris said he hopes that everything works out. He said could see his business – five years from now – growing bigger and distributing their own beer beyond Wake County.

“We’re thrilled,” Kris said.

“I’m anxious to be open now,” Dana added.

Alexander: 919-829-4822;

Twitter: @GarnerCleveland

How to help

Anyone wanting to donate money can go to the link and click the green “back this project” button.

Or you can search Brice’s Brewing company in the search engine and navigate the website. If the company does not raise the $50,000 then you will not be charged.