Local News

N.C. beer industry overflowing despite bad economy

Posted June 19, 2009 11:41 p.m. EDT

— The economy has been tough on many businesses, but one North Carolina industry’s cup is overflowing – the beer industry. New breweries are opening, and more are on the way in the state.

In his spare time from his job at Cisco, Steve Kramling and two partners pulled together equipment and created Lonerider Brewing Company in a Raleigh warehouse.

“We are living the dream,” Kramling said.

Lonerider Brewing Company opened in January, despite the bitter economy. It is one of a handful of new Triangle breweries to open in the past couple years.

While consumers may hold back on other purchases, Kramling says his beer, Shotgun Betty, is moving and the company is growing.

“We have had some success here even in the hardest of times,” he said.

Sean Lilly Wilson said he hopes to add his own flavor to the Triangle beer scene with his unique Southern tastes.

“We think there is an opportunity to create a beer that goes with barbecue,” he said.

Wilson’s brewery, Fullsteam, should open at the end of the year. Fours years ago, he helped lead a charge to lift a state cap on alcohol content allowed in craft beers – from 6 percent to 15 percent. Wilson says relaxed laws have helped to encourage the recent growth in the Triangle.

“Craft beer is an affordable luxury,” he said.

To drum up business, many local breweries have free tastings and tours.