Justin Brigham has built many things in his life, but this is a first.
He and his wife, Sarah, have spent the last year turning what used to be an old automotive garage into a brewery. Sycamore Brewing, at 2161 Hawkins St. in South End, will have its grand opening 2-9 p.m. Nov. 1.
Justin comes from a long line of craftsmen, which has helped when trying to figure out how to assemble steam pipes, wrestle glycol lines or dig trenches. Justin’s father was a residential homebuilder, and the two worked alongside each other for many years. When Justin and Sarah got married in 2008 and returned to Charlotte, he and his father built the couple’s home in Waxhaw.
Now the Brighams have sold that home to build their brewery. Justin’s father kept building, though, contributing the picnic tables you’ll find in the brewery’s beer garden – pea gravel below them, lights strung above. And this past Father’s Day, Justin and his dad hauled 2,500 pounds of poplar from Pittsboro. That wood now graces many of the brewery’s walls.
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Outside, they painted a bold red over the existing brick. But inside, the brown bricks making up the wall behind the taps were cast by Justin’s grandfather, a ceramic engineer. You can even see a single brick bearing the Brigham name on a shelf in front of the wall.
If it was Justin’s job to oversee the build, it was Sarah’s to oversee the design, to ensure everything works to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere. She succeeded. The taproom is modern and inviting, with myriad shades of cream and brown between both the wood and the brick. The copper bar is especially striking. Behind that bar is a large chalkboard, two TVs and 20 taps.
Justin started homebrewing after working in a grain elevator at Coors Brewing Company. He will brew alongside Jordy Smith, a homebrewer for many years who – before joining the Brighams – worked at Charlotte’s Alternative Beverage, a local homebrew shop.
Rather than distributing their beers all over Charlotte, the Brighams will keep most of it in house so they can offer a wide variety of styles.
At the grand opening, they will have their first five batches on tap. Southerly Oat Pale Ale and Peak Farm Pale will be core beers for the brewery. The other three don’t yet have names, but expect a strong extra special bitter, a blonde ale brewed with lemongrass and a cream stout brewed with smoked malt.
More styles will come as soon as they build up the pipeline, and they will have wine on tap as well.
Sycamore Brewing is behind Atherton Mill on the other side of the light rail, a 2-minute walk from the East/West Boulevard station.