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New brewery headed to South End

Helped by redefined zoning laws, a new brewery is preparing to open on South Mint Street, joining the growing ranks of Charlotte’s craft beer makers.

Unknown Brewing Co., headed by craft brewery veteran Brad Shell, hopes to have part of its tap room operational by August and hold a grand opening in October. The brewery will go into an existing building at 1327 S. Mint St.

The building is 22,500 square feet, and Shell plans to have a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot tap room with 12 taps up front for customers.

“We feel Charlotte is just this booming market,” said Shell. He plans a private groundbreaking to start work on Unknown Brewing’s building this weekend.

Unknown Brewing will have a 30-barrel production system. Each barrel is equivalent to two kegs.

Last month, City Council passed new zoning rules to make it easier for breweries to open in mixed-use and transit-oriented development areas, such as South End. Previously, new breweries had only been allowed in industrial areas. Shell helped lead the push for those rules.

Shell, an Atlanta native, has worked at breweries including Georgia-based Terrapin Beer Co. and Oregon-based Rogue Ales.

He started at Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Co. 10 years ago, Shell said, after leaving a job at a home furnishing store where he was “folding duvet covers and listening to Michael Bolton all day.”

“Not that there’s anything thing wrong with duvet covers or Michael Bolton,” he added.

Unknown Brewing will join a roster of independent breweries in Charlotte that now includes NoDa Brewing Co., Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Triple C Brewing Co., Birdsong Brewing Co., Heist Brewery and Four Friends Brewing.

Shell thinks the Charlotte market still has plenty of room for a new brewery. Portland has 45, Shell said, and he believes each new brewery helps create more of a culture around local beer – and more demand.

“The margin for growth is there,” he said of Charlotte. “I think the question is going to be, do you make good beer?”

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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