Wilmington North Carolina Remains Potential Site for Stone Brewing

The Wilmington area doesn’t have the kind of building that Stone Brewing Co. wants for its new East Coast operations, but that doesn’t mean the Port City is out of the running for the highly sought facility.

At least in Wilmington’s case, the company will look at vacant land instead, Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, said Monday.

WBD late last week responded to the Escondido-Calif.-based company’s request for proposals for the facility, proposing the brewer could build on an approximately 20-acre site at Wilmington International Airport, Satterfield said.

Stone Brewing has been pretty specific in what it is looking for, Satterfield said. It seeks an approximately 130,000-square-foot building expandable to 220,000 square feet with 33-foot minimum ceilings and within a mile of major expressways, among other factors, he said.

They won’t just be brewing beer at their facility. There will be a hospitality facility, a retail store, dining options, indoor and outdoor bars and service areas, Satterfield said. No building in the Wilmington area fit the company’s criteria, he said. “However, officials at WBD were in contact with the company, and the company has agreed it’s acceptable to them to send a site proposal versus a building,” Satterfield said.

“The goal is to make the cut,” Satterfield said. Then the area might have the opportunity to lure the company here. “There may be other potential sites that could work but goal one will be to get them to consider the region first.”

The ILM site meets the brewer’s requirements for electric, gas, water and sewer and its location is near downtown but also near Interstates 40 and 140, Satterfield pointed out. Stone Brewing says it is the 10th largest craft brewery in the U.S. It employs 900 and produced 213,000 barrels of beer and topped $135 million in revenues in 2013. “Expenditures are projected to exceed $20 million in the initial phase of the business plan” for the Eastern facility, the company said in its request for proposals.

Production is projected to be more than 120,000 barrels in the first phase and eventually grow to nearly 500,000, it said. “This isn’t the first brewery that we have tried to attract here,” Satterfield said. “Beer is the new wine.”

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North Carolina Trying to Brew Partnership with Stone Brewing Co.

North Carolina is making a push to land another major craft brewer.

Two years after scoring a double victory with the recruitment of New Belgium and Sierra Nevada, North Carolina is among several states now trying to lure Stone Brewing Co. of Southern California, one of the 10 largest craft breweries in the country.

The Escondido, Calif.-based company, founded in 1996, has made public a Request for Proposal in its plans to find a site for an East Coast expansion facility somewhere east of the Mississippi.

The RFP, open to all communities throughout the Eastern U.S., expires Saturday and has generated responses from numerous cities ranging from Facebook page campaigns to songs written about why Stone should choose their particular area.

Andrew Tate, president and CEO of the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, said that while his office wouldn’t confirm whether it has submitted a response to Stone because it does not comment on active projects, “We take every opportunity to compete for businesses that complement the area very seriously, and we take our responsibility to respond very seriously.”
According to a report Wednesday by the beer website Brewbound, an economic development representative with North Carolina’s Department of Commerce is spearheading an effort to develop a state response to Stone’s RFP, in addition to those generated by individual cities. The representative, Dallas Hardenbrook, wouldn’t reveal which specific areas of the state might be included in a proposal to Stone, the article states, but he is working closely with several cities that have expressed interest and might be a good fit.

Hardenbrook added that the presence of other big-name craft breweries such as Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium should act as attraction rather than a deterrent for Stone, but the company may not wish to locate “immediately adjacent” to other breweries.

The craft-beer renaissance in North Carolina is no secret to Stone’s leaders. From 2009 to 2011, three N.C. establishments were named Stone’s “Most Arrogant Bar” in a nationwide competition to find the bar that can sell the most pints of Stone’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard Ale and Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale, earning special visits from company co-founder and CEO Greg Koch. Barley’s Taproom in nearby Greenville, S.C., has won the past two years.

John Lyda, president of the Asheville Brewers Alliance, said he thinks Stone likely is not looking at Western North Carolina to expand because of the presence of the region’s big three.

“If I was a large brewery I probably wouldn’t want to do it,” said Lyda, vice president and brewmaster at Highland Brewing in Asheville. “I don’t know. Greg (Koch) kind of makes some surprising decisions sometimes, so I don’t know.”

Stone spokeswoman Sabrina Lopiccolo said Thursday the most important factor for the brewery in choosing a location is that it meets the project’s site requirements. The presence of other major breweries “doesn’t really weigh either way” in the decision-making.
“Any cities east of the Mississippi are being considered at this point,” she said. “Our deadline is March 15, and at that time we will look at all the proposals, but we don’t have any preference at this point — it’s all fair game.”

Stone plans to invest $60 million and employ nearly 375 workers during the full five-year build-out, which will include a production brewery, restaurant and distribution center.

Among the site requirements are a 130,000-square-foot facility, with room to expand to 220,000 square feet, and a municipal wastewater facility capable of processing 100,000 gallons a day from the brewery. The site would also need to be within 1 mile of a major freeway/access routes.

Requirements for a proposal response also include a description of why Stone would be “a good fit for this community and this location.”

Places such as Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Blount County in eastern Tennessee have teamed up with marketing companies in their creative attempts to lure Stone. Community leaders in Myrtle Beach established a Facebook page called “Stone Brewed on the Beach,” which had more than 2,100 Likes as of Thursday, while Blount County — a finalist in the recruitment of Sierra Nevada — hired a musician to write two songs for its pitch to Stone.

Tate joked that “we don’t have a qualified vocalist in the office” for such an effort, though he said the Henderson County group wouldn’t be opposed to engaging companies at such a creative level.

In the end, however, “What I can say is that it’s a very expensive proposition on a project that is still in the very early stages of even collecting information. I think that songs sound like fun, Facebook pages do, too, but they won’t make up for a lack of substance or infrastructure, culture. They can’t outweigh the critical elements and the required elements of the project.”

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Deschutes Rolls Out Double Batch Brewed Mirror Pond Called Mirror Mirror

Usually you’ll find wine in in stacks of aging wine barrels, but not so much in “Beer Town U.S.A.” Wednesday afternoon, Gary Fish, owner and self-declared “first employee” of Deschutes Brewery, unveiled a new brew.

“Mirror Mirror” is a double batch-brewed version of one the country’s most heralded craft brewed beers, “Mirror Pond Pale Ale.”

This new beer is a 2014 Reserve, 50 percent aged in wine barrels for 10 months at the Mountain Barrel aging facility on Bend’s southeast side. It’s an intensive undertaking — double batch brewing, transporting, aging, then transporting back again to the company’s main brewery a few miles away — but according to brewers, well worth the effort. This barley wine is bottled at 11.2% ABV (alcohol by volume), and will be made available in Deschutes Brewery’s expanding territories, but on a very limited basis.

The last batch of “Mirror Mirror” was bottled back in 2009.

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Did the Tenaya Creek Brewery Really Brew the Most Expensive Bottle of Beer?

Thanks to female bartenders at Fremont Street’s Atomic Lounge, Las Vegas’s oldest bar, the city can now claim to own the most expensive bottle of beer ever brewed. Robin Leach reported Monday that Esquire Network’s “Brew Dogs” filmed segments at Tenaya Creek Brewery and Artisanal Foods near McCarran Airport for the program hosted by James Watt and Martin Dickie. James and Martin decided that a bottle of commercially made Lowenbrau saved from the ill-fated Hindenburg airship that sold for $17,000 did not qualify for the craft beer record. That turned out to be another bottle of beer sold for $2,330 last year.

For two weeks, the craft brewery’s beer with its expensive ingredients from Artisanal Foods was brewed quietly in the famous “Rain Man” suite at Caesars Palace for the TV filming. Then Tuesday night, the liter and a half beer in a beautiful magnum-sized glass-blown bottle inside a glass attache case was moved to Donald Trump’s penthouse suite at his International Hotel here to be auctioned. I was asked to help James and Martin with the auction after they decided to donate the proceeds in full to our charity Keep Memory Alive at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

Dozens of hands went up in the air as we moved the spirited bidding along in $250 increments. Would we set a new world record? Atomic Bar manager Rose Signor was bidding against two others as we closed in on $2,300. She quickly recruited two of her female bartenders, and the price soared. At $3,000, James joined the girls with his contribution to beat out one other remaining bidder. As it went higher, I chipped in, too, and joined the Atomic girls. At $3,500, our rival folded, and we won the beer. Each of the five of us agreed to pay $700 apiece to claim the new world record for Las Vegas. The rare and unique beer, with gold flakes, will go on display at Atomic for a few days until we can organize a party there this month for us to drink its delights.

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Spring Training in Florida Finally Gets Real Craft Brew for the Grapefruit League

THERE’S something new and familiar awaiting Phillies fans heading down to the central Florida Gulf coast for spring training, and I’m not talking about Bobby Abreu. It’s beer, and I mean the good stuff like we’re used to finding in Philly – not the cases of Coors Light that college kids on spring break haul up to their beachfront hotel rooms. In the past two years, the region has seen an explosion of new brewpubs, breweries and craft-beer-pubs. From the newly expanded Sea Dog brewpub, just up the road from the Phils’ home at Bright House Field, to new breweries in nearby St. Petersburg, small-batch beer has finally arrived.

“It was a craft-beer wasteland down here,” said Jeremy Joerger, founder of the newly opened JDubs Brewing Co., in Sarasota. “Now, we’re possibly the hottest state in America.” Indeed, this is the land of Hooters, overpriced cigar lounges and beachfront bars serving umbrella drinks. The clientele was gorgeous, but if you were looking for a decent beer you were lucky to find a Sam Adams amid a sea of BudMillerCoors.

Today, about 20 small breweries (not counting Yuengling’s Florida plant) dot the vicinity, and new bars devoted to locally brewed beer are cropping up.

Where’d they come from?

Local brewers and enthusiasts credit the growth to Tampa’s highly regarded Cigar City Brewing, located in an industrial park near the airport. Founded in 2008, the brewery has built a devoted following attracted to its full-flavored ales, including a Cubana-style espresso brown ale and a series of sour beers aged like cigars on Spanish cedar. The annual release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout (slated for March 8) draws a circus-like crowd to its tasting room. “Cigar City showed everyone down here that there is a huge market for craft-centric niche beers,” Joerger said. “They led the way, to open up a big opportunity for other craft brewers.”

The opportunity for growth (not to mention the warm temps) caught the eye of Casey Hughes, former brewmaster at South Jersey’s Flying Fish brewery. Last summer, he moved south for a job as head brewer at the new Coppertail Brewing Co., in the Ybor City section of Tampa. “What I’ve seen in the past six months is amazing, with everyone embracing good beer,” Hughes said. “It’s crazy, it’s just blowing up like nuts.”

Though Coppertail isn’t expected to open till April, word about the new guy in town has spread quickly, as Hughes has introduced his lineup at pop-up tastings in bike shops and other locations. “We sent out a Facebook notice 24 hours ahead of time, that we would be pouring in our tasting room,” Hughes said. “We went through everything.”

Hughes is especially taken by the fast-growing scene just down the coast from Clearwater, in St. Petersburg – a town that The New York Times travel section recently highlighted because it is in the process of reinventing its reputation as a dowdy home for senior citizens. The Times noted that its historic Central Avenue – once known for its thousands of green benches – is attracting a lively crowd thanks to new breweries, including Cycle Brewing and Green Bench.

A little farther south in Sarasota, another Philadelphia-area transplant, Jim Keaveney, has been organizing events and support of new breweries through a craft-beer club. In just two years, it’s attracted 300 members who attend bottle and can shares on sunny beaches. “When I first moved here a little over four years ago,” Keaveney said. “I used to say we were 20 years behind Philly. These days, it is closer to five. . . . Many of the towns down here are stocked by expats from all over the country who developed a taste for good beer up north, so it is natural that we are starting to catch up.”

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