By Seth Muller
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer
It started with home-brewing friends sitting around a table, dreaming of starting their own microbrewery. Now those same friends are discussing when they can tear up the blacktop on Greensboro Street for a water line to their new business venture, the Steel String Brewery.
Cody Maltais, Andrew Scharfenberg, Will Isley and Eric Knight are putting all their chips on the table in order to give Carrboro a beer all its own.
“I think everyone sees a brewery as the last piece in the puzzle for Carrboro,” said Maltais. And many others agree, a microbrewery would fit nicely into the makeup of Carrboro’s culinary and locally-grown values.
You can tell they are passionate about craft beer and beer brewing, and it is something they are excited to share with the town. So what should Carrboro expect from the Steel String brewers?
“Carrboro can expect a great representation of American craft beer,” said Maltais. “Every step of the way, we never thought about keeping our cost down on inputs in terms of hops and wheat. Instead it’s about what’s going to really interest people and make them come back every day.”
The microbrewery will open in mid to late November at 106 S. Greensboro St., adjacent to Glass Half Full in the former location of the Trading Post.
Isley, the officially named Brew Czar of the company, shared what sort of beers they would be offering. “We are going to have two year-round ones, the Rubber Room Session Ale, which is a pale ale, slash IPA hybrid, 4.7 percent alcohol and it’s got a little bit of wheat to make it smooth. It’s really citrusy but really easy to drink. And then we are going to have our IPA, our Big Mon, which is 6.5 percent, big, big IPA, a lot of hop aromas. Then each half year we are going to have two dark beers during the winter and two light beers during the summer.”
Another value that the brewers agree on is North Carolina grown ingredients.
“If we put all our money into North Carolina, it will come back to us.” Said Maltais. As of right now, they are buying as many of their ingredients from North Carolina as they can without sacrificing quality. They commented that they would love to see the hop market take off in the area, and N.C. State and Appalachian State University are both working on developing more hops that can be grown locally. Locally committed and consciously crafted are parts of Steel String’s motto.
As for the interior of the brewery, Carrboro can expect a bar and patio where people can come in and enjoy some local fare, and we are not just talking beer. Neal’s Deli may offer their sandwiches at the brewery and the brewers might use Open Eye Café’s coffee beans in one of their beers.
“Everyone has been super, super supportive. I think they want a brewery as much as we do,” said Scharfenberg. If Steel String Brewery doesn’t sound local enough for you yet, they will also be showcasing local art for sale in their taproom.
Opening a brewery in Carrboro is a unique challenge because most breweries operate on a model where they have a large production facility. Carrboro has limited space, but thanks to the Steel String brewers’ passion for a local craft beer, they made it work through a unique business model. Perhaps these four friends are the last piece to the puzzle in finally offering Carrboro its own craft beer.