Published: Oct 16, 2012 04:45 PM
Modified: Oct 16, 2012 04:47 PM
FUQUAY-VARINA - When Mark Doble buys ingredients to make beer for the Aviator Brewing Co., he tastes them without ever asking about the price.
Doble, who owns the Fuquay-Varina brewery, doesnt want a little thing like price to affect his ales and lagers. In fact, he doesnt know what it costs to make each beer.
We do not put a beer on a spreadsheet, Doble said. We always buy based on quality. We select the grains based on taste. Were not about trying to make an extra 5 to 10 bucks. None of the business guys get it.
In about three years, Dobles love for craft beer has transformed his company from a two-person operation in an airport hangar to a business of 64 employees that produces about 10,000 barrels of beer a year and runs a restaurant and tap house in Fuquay-Varina.
Most recently, Aviator won five N.C. State Fair ribbons four of them first-place wins in the N.C. Brewers Cup, the fairs first beer competition.
Aviator was one of 33 professional breweries that entered the statewide competition. It walked away with top prizes for its European amber lager, American ale, Belgian strong ale and smoke-flavored/wood-aged beer.
For avid beer drinkers, theyre known respectively as OktoberBeast, Hot Rod Red, Devils Tramping Ground and Black Mamba Stout.
While Doble said hes happy about the wins, the competition meant more than blue ribbons it brought exposure to one of the states booming products: craft beers.
People are going to the state fair and see these beers and say, Whats Hot Rod Red? Maybe this is someones beer awakening, said Doble,, a former Hewlett-Packard engineer who turned his beer-brewing hobby into a full-time job after he was laid off.
Local residents can expect to see a lot more of Aviator in the next month or two. The company just inked a deal with grocery-store chains Harris Teeter, Lowes Foods and Food Lion.
Even with the business success and continued growth, the state fair wins mean a lot to Aviators employees.
The fairs all about showing off the best of the state, said Ben Hart, a brewer. The beer industry is getting big. I think it needs to be showcased.
With North Carolina serving as home to more than 60 breweries and beer pubs, it was time to acknowledge beermakers presence, said Richard Mitchell, organizer of the N.C. Brewers Cup. Mitchell approached state fair officials early this year about adding a beer competition to the fairs judging slate after reading a blog post about the need for one.
The fair in turn asked him to take it on.
I was dumb or smart enough to say yes, said Mitchell, a technology consultant from Chapel Hill. There (is) a talented group of brewers that deserve the same recognition as everyone else. Its like being a master chef.
All of the winning beers are on display no taste-tests available at the N.C State Fair in the education building.