We were all there. Holding court in George's garage. Brewing beer. Drinking it. Creative juices flowing. A voice broke through the sipping silence — we should start a brewery. Hell yeah. Heads nodded. Glasses rose.
It was a scene that was happening in garages across the country in 2010 with the sweet smell of steaming malted barley fueling effervescent dreams. It could have died there. Maybe it should have. We were all doing well in our “day jobs.” Busy raising kids. Mortgaged up to our eyeballs. Maybe not risk averse, but suffice it to say not financial daredevils.
Once Upon a Sunday Afternoon
We talked. Dreamed. Researched. Bought a book. Built a half-barrel pilot system with the help of a local race car frame welder. His commitment to designing things that don’t crash and burn was a good omen for our beer. But not for George’s foot. His toe eventually healed from the boiling water spill. And the first beer we brewed on that system — affectionately known as the Burner IPA — remains one of our best beers.
We were nothing if not methodical. Next thing we know years had gone by and Charlotte had a dozen breweries, none of them ours. Great for our city. Great for beer lovers. But we remained on the sidelines, benched by a lack of time, a lack of focus, and a few excuses.
A Lawyer Approach
Science. Math. Creativity. The workings of brewing great beer. A mix of personalities and talents. Requirements of a great brewery.
“Good crews are good blends of personalities: someone to lead the charge, someone to hold something in reserve; someone to pick a fight, someone to make peace; someone to think things through, someone to charge ahead without thinking. Somehow all this must mesh.” ~ The Boys in the Boat
Mark is conservative, risk averse. Ric is the science guy. Allen is unfazed, the first one to throw a punch. And George, well he is the coxswain, the leader who balances the entire group dynamic.
The Boys in the Brewery
“Want to build your own brewery?” The headline of an article in the Charlotte Observer circa 2014. Mark’s wife left it out for him. He knocked on the door at Deutsche Beverage Technology. And the home search began. Safe to say we have seen every warehouse within a three-mile radius of uptown. Allen went gray during the process. Actually we all did.
A Three Year Home Search
We talked to other brewers, our wives, the finance guys. The brewers all cheered us on. Our wives initially supported the idea — probably when they thought it would never happen. We hired a CFO. He said, you’re crazy. Stick to your day job. We fired our CFO.
Screw the Finance Guys
800 Grandin. Good things come to those who search. We found our spot. Things moved “quickly” after that. Friends and family got involved. Logistics took over, but at the heart of it all, a community we could be part of. Grow with. Thrive with. Home sweet home. Thank god the dream didn’t die. See you soon.