Craft brewing has come to Concord


Brew master and part owner Jason McKnight works on the tanks that will be moved into Cabarrus Brewing. Photo: Marty Price

By Marty Price. The craft beer industry, with breweries large and small operating in most of the major cities across the nation, has started another trend.  Smaller towns and municipalities are changing their zoning laws to encourage them.

Concord became one of the most recent when they made a text amendment to their Unified Development Ordinance last June to allow breweries to operate tap rooms on the premises. This allowed High Branch Brewing Co. to be the first to pour a Concord craft-brewed beer, for sale in a tap room, on Nov. 20.

Concord Mayor Scott Padgett felt the time was right. “It fits perfectly with the way our population is changing now. This is something that is very desirable for many people,” he said.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of young people who are deciding to stay here and not move away or they are moving here,” said Padgett. It used to be that you went to Charlotte for a hip place to hang out.

“There’s no reason that you have to leave Concord and Cabarrus County.  We pretty much have everything here, it’s a full service city,” the mayor said.

The demand for these tap rooms is real.  T.J. Creighton, founder of High Branch Brewing Co., reported that during the opening night at his tap room in Gibson Mill, he and his wife, Maureen Creighton, sold between 600 and 700 draft beers to a steady crowd from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

None of this would have been possible when Steve Steinbacher and his seven other co-owners began Cabarrus Brewing Company in 2014.  It was their efforts that guided the zoning and planning department in making the amendment that allowed for these breweries to operate—with tap rooms— in the city limits.

Mark Thompson and Steve Steinbacher, manager/ part owner of Cabarrus Brewing Co. Photo: Marty Price

Mark Thompson and Steve Steinbacher, manager/ part owner of Cabarrus Brewing Co. Photo: Marty Price

Also setting up in the Gibson Mill complex, in the old finished goods warehouse—which consists of 15,000 square feet—Steinbacher said they hope to open their tap room in early March.  As construction of the offices, bar and brewing area continues, part owner and brew master Jason McKnight is working to get the fermenters and nano-sytems—smaller batch fermenters—ready for production.

“There are different recipes, but it comes down to four basic ingredients—barley, yeast, water and hops,” said McKnight.  Acknowledging that each brew master uses their own additional ingredients for flavor, he stresses it isn’t a competition.

“We’re trying to create a synergy for breweries around here and be a destination for people who would like to check out different breweries,” he said.

“I love craft beer.  I have been a 20-year resident of Cabarrus County and Concord.  I’m thrilled to be doing something like this in our own back yard,” said Steinbacher.  His group looked around the area at other locations, but picked the Gibson Mill location for its historical importance to the community.

Steinbacher said that they plan to use as much of the area’s history as possible while building their brand.  Having already invested between $1.3 million and $1.4 million in the brewery, the group wants to embrace the locals.  The bar will eventually have 24 taps. He is currently researching how to turn some of the old cotton spindles found at the mill into tap pulls.

“We intend to use textile terms and local landmarks in the names of our beers,” he said.  Six beers are planned for their opening but have named only one so far:  Reed’s Gold Ale was named for Reed’s Gold Mine.  The other five beers that are scheduled to be ready for March will be a light beer, an amber ale, an IPA, an English brown and a stout.

In addition to the 24 taps in the future, they hope to be canning product in the next six months to a year.  Steinbacher said that the cans will allow them to place small stories about the community on the beer to educate others about the history of the area.

“It’s not the Steve and Jason Beer Company, it’s the Cabarrus Brewing Company,” he said.  “It’s your beer, from here.”


No comments yet.

Post a Comment