Published: Nov 02, 2012 11:24 AM
Modified: Nov 02, 2012 11:25 AM
HOLLY SPRINGS - email@example.com
The taps are open downtown. Holly Springs has paved the way for small-scale breweries in its town center.
Under rules approved Tuesday by the Holly Springs Town Council, downtown businesses can brew up to 5,000 barrels of beer per year, enough to accommodate microbreweries as large as Fuquay-Varina’s Aviator Brewing Company or the town’s own Carolina Brewing Company.
For now, the prospects aren’t quite so large. Mitch and Laurie Woodward, a Cary couple who proposed the rule change, want to brew 150 barrels per year out of the old Fidelity Bank at 100 N. Main St., which they’re considering buying.
The proposal to allow downtown brewing won unanimous council support, but not without a few concerns. For one, Councilwoman Linda Hunt Williams worried that downtown beer production would smell as bad as the breweries of her youth.
“The odor was unbearable,” she said.
Mitch Woodward assured the council that the “nano” aspect of his operation would limit the disturbance. Burbs Brewing plans to brew three barrels at a time.
“It takes us six hours to produce that amount, only one hour of which is used to boil the beer,” he said. “You’re boiling barley water with some hops in it, so you get this sugary kind of smell that might be spicy depending on the hops.”
But, he acknowledged, the smell could be more noticeable with a hundred barrels at a time, which the new ordinance could conceivably allow.
Councilman Tim Sack asked whether the originally proposed 15,000-barrel cap wasn’t overkill considering the needs of the requestor. “Does this limit that we’re putting here seem extremely large?” he said.
Town Planner Mark Zawadski said the high limit was based on the industry definition of a “microbrewery,” such as Aviator or Carolina Brewing. Aviator brewers say they put out about 14,000 barrels a year before its recent expansion, while Highland Brewing Company in Asheville does 11,000 a year, Zawadski said.
“If someone did want to build a large-scale brewery, 100 percent masonry, two or three stories ... we didn’t want to limit those types of operations as well. I think that that could work well,” said the planner, who introduced the beer rule change as one of the most exciting amendments in recent history.
The council eventually settled on a lower 5,000 barrel limit.
So far, Burbs Brewing is the only beer-maker interested in downtown. Carolina Brewing Company is too heavily invested in its Holly Springs Business Park location to move, said President Greg Shuck. But he doesn’t mind the potential new competition.
“I’m not too discouraged by it,” Shuck said. “I’m happy to see Holly Springs grow.”
For at least a few months, Carolina Brewing is going to remain the only game. While the downtown nanobrewery won the town’s general approval, the Woodwards still have to secure the property and answer quite a few design questions.
“We’re anticipating that this will work,” said Mitch Woodward, an N.C Cooperative Extension agent. “I guess we’ll know in a few months – it’s not for sure yet.”
But if the plans do come to fruition, he said, the old bank’s vault could make a heck of a beer cooler.