CARY - The towns first modern brewery will stand just outside downtown Cary.
Fortnight Brewing Company has finalized its purchase of 1006 S.W. Maynard Road and hopes to open for business as early as this summer.
The team of Cary brewers hope the 24,000-square-foot building will be a hub for craft beer. Besides four huge brewing vessels for English beer, the site also will host a taproom and a new branch of Raleighs American Brewmaster home-brewing store.
There are brew pubs in Durham, Raleigh, even Holly Springs, said Fortnight co-founder David Gardner. We figure its time for Cary to have a really good brewery.
Fortnights new home was once was a childrens play palace, and its still covered with colorful floor matting and balloon-festooned wallpaper. But beneath the festive touches are the bones of a boxy warehouse, large enough for years of expansion.
Other start-up brewers always come back with the same story: Our buildings too small, said Stuart Arnold, Fortnights president. Fortnight wants to avoid the small-time brewers trap too much demand, not enough production capacity.
The plan is to take on the new brewery with a full head of steam. Arnold, an Englishman, has been serving up home brews and planning Fortnight for years. With an opening finally in sight, he has gathered a diverse and well-financed crew.
Fortnights backers include Bob Greczyn, former president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and his son Will, with whom he owns three Mellow Mushroom pizzerias across the region. The popular restaurants, including locations in Chapel Hill and Cary, will be among Fortnights first major distributors.
Theres also Dave Wilkinson, an Englishman and new Cary resident; David Gardner, a serial entrepreneur who founded a $100 million company; and Mo Mercado, an industrial engineer.
Between marriages, families and birthplaces, we all have some kind of British connection, Gardner said. By bringing the brew stateside, they hope to find a unique business niche and fence back some apparent misperceptions about English beer.
Its not warm. Its relatively warm, Arnold said. And its not all dark, he added.
The company plans to source its ingredients from England, but Arnolds careful to note that some of Fortnights recipes are tailored to local tastes.
In fact, the brewerys taproom first will serve beer at the cooler temperature familiar to Americans. Fortnight will later introduce more traditional English cask beer, and mass bottling and canning operations may follow. Brew it yourself
American Brewmaster, a home-brewing hallmark in Raleigh, will open its new outlet in one corner of the Fortnight brewing facility.
This is going to allow us to expand that (Raleigh) location, and it will also give us a piece of the Cary market, said Mark Cook, owner of the store and Brewmasters Bar and Grill. He hopes to be in business within three months, he said.
Its the first expansion for a store that opened in 1983. Cook has hoped to branch out for years, especially as scores of new home-based and commercial brewers have entered the local market.
There was a little bit of fear of jumping out, Cook said.
But he was spurned on by Fortnights big plans for Cary and by the beer frenzy thats gripping the area lately. More than a half-dozen breweries and brew pups are planned across the county, and big names like Sierra Nevada and Fat Tire are moving into the state.
I think you will see some shake-out, Cook said. The beer bubble will put competitive pressure on the small brewer, but it will also add to the craft beer craze.
The Fortnight partners say a robust business plan should set their venture apart. Cary has a large population served by no other brewer, there are few English beer producers in the state, and theyll have the capital and capacity to keep up with demand, they say.
In other words, theyre hoping the Cary tap never runs dry.