Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood will see its first brewery open later this year when Phil Buchy opens Legion Brewing at 1906 Commonwealth Ave., in the building that housed Brodt Music Company before it closed in 2013.
Buchy signed a lease on the space last October and is awaiting his building permits. He has a lot of construction ahead of him before he can even think about brewing, though fortunately he’s no stranger to either industry.
“I’ve been building all my life, and homebrewing since the ’90s,” said Buchy, who worked with Rodgers Builders for eight years on projects such as the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and UNC Charlotte’s football complex. But he also recently served as a contractor for The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s new space, and before that he helped The Unknown Brewing Co. get its certificate of occupancy.
Buchy has now decided to build a brewery of his own, though it was a decision years in the making. He first considered it in 2008, before the recession. He came close to following his dream in the years since, but it wasn’t until his friend and business partner Newton Craver approached him that he finally took the plunge.
Before doing so, however, Buchy and other brewers had attended Charlotte City Council meetings seeking a microbrewery text amendment that would allow breweries in additional districts. This amendment passed in 2013, giving breweries more freedom to build in nonindustrial zones.
Later that year, the Brodt Music Company – which had occupied the building at 1906 Commonwealth Ave. for 60 years – shut its doors. In a building that once held instruments and rows upon rows of sheet music, Buchy will soon be installing a taproom and tanks.
“It was made for it,” Buchy said. “It is perfect for a brewery.”
That doesn’t mean that Buchy plans to dispense with the building’s history. The iconic Brodt sign atop the red brick building will stay put. Other nods to the brewery’s previous tenant will include sheet music displays and an old upright piano.
“We have our own brand, but we’re going to be paying homage to those who came before us,” Buchy said.
Removing the drop ceilings in the back half of the building revealed the full height of what will be the brewery, allowing tanks to stretch all the way up to the barrel roof. Beneath that roof, Buchy will install a 15-barrel brewhouse upon which he will craft “American-style beers with local and seasonal influences.” He plans to have 15 unique beers on tap when he opens, which he hopes will be this summer.
The taproom is on the street level and will be accessed from the front of the building, where there will be an outdoor patio. Past the taproom will be an area overlooking the brewhouse on the lower level. Buchy will add a mezzanine in the back, and there are several small rooms on this lower level that could serve perfectly as natural cellars in which to age beer in barrels.
Buchy is quick to note the plethora of nearby dining options and has no desire to compete with his neighbors (The Diamond is right across the street). He does plan to install a small prep kitchen that will offer elevated bar food such as oysters, cheeses, charcuterie, pretzels and more.
Event of the Week
Brawley’s Black and Blue Pre-Party
WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday.
WHERE: Brawley’s Beverage, 4620 Park Road.
Tickets for this Saturday’s sixth annual Black and Blue – an intimate festival of rare beers put on by Brawley’s Beverage – sold out within hours. If you were one of the many to miss out, I have the next best thing: On Friday, Brawley’s Beverage and Cheers Charlotte (a local beer podcast) are throwing a pre-party. Brewers and representatives from the breweries attending the next day’s festival will be on hand to talk about their beer, and – knowing Michael Brawley – I’m sure there will be some great beers on tap.