When Townes Mozer moved Lenny Boy Brewing into South End four years ago, people thought he was crazy.
“Everybody was like, ‘What the hell are you doing over there?’ ” recalls Mozer, who founded his kombucha business in 2012.
The area was still fairly industrial, not yet dominated by so many apartment buildings and new businesses. While Lenny Boy and its neighbors at Sycamore Brewing now pull a good crowd from these buildings, Mozer wasn’t counting on that when he moved in. After a few months brewing his kombucha out of a commercial kitchen in Asheville, Mozer was after one thing: space.
He found it at 2224 Hawkins St. The space was small, but far larger than what he was accustomed to in Asheville. It allowed him to ramp up the production and packaging of his kombucha, and in 2014 Lenny Boy expanded into the space next door, where John Watkins started brewing organic beers (Lenny Boy is still the only certified organic brewery in the state). Residents from the newly built apartments stopped by for beers, kombuchas and alcoholic kombuchas that Mozer calls “wild ales.”
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But just as so many are moving into the area, Mozer is moving out. This will be Lenny Boy’s last weekend of business in this taproom, as the company is again in need of space.
And once again, Mozer has found it. The grand opening for Lenny Boy’s new brewery and taproom at 3000 S. Tryon St. is set for Sept. 10. Large bay doors lead into 31,000-square-feet of warehouse space, compared with just 5,000-square-feet at the old spot. The production space is split between separate rooms for beer and kombucha, both visible from the taproom. Outside are 85 parking spaces and a patio space, something the brewery didn’t have at the old spot.
“This place checked off everything on our list,” says Mozer. “We did a week’s worth of work at the old spot in a day here. It’s a lot more efficient in producing it, packaging it, distributing it. Everything is just way more efficient.”
The taproom is almost four times as large, and its 29 taps will feature Lenny Boy’s kombucha, wild ales and beers, as well as ciders, wine and cold-brew coffee from other producers. Given the wide range of beverages they produce, there were often one or two things left off of the old taproom’s 14 taps.
The increased production will help supply the taproom and let Lenny Boy pursue additional local accounts if it wishes, something Mozer hasn’t been able to focus on for the past six months. The brewery now will be better able to keep up with demand for core beers like its Burn Down Brown, Life in the South Lager and Citraphilia IPA, the brewery’s best-selling beer.
Those beers and more will be brewed on a 10-barrel brewhouse that belonged to Birdsong Brewing before Lenny Boy moved into a bigger brewery. Lenny Boy’s first brew on the system was a Hoppy Saison brewed in collaboration with Birdsong called Crosstown Traffic.
The taplist for the grand opening will include that one and many other kombuchas and beers, some that have been set aside for the occasion.
“We’ve got a lot of heavy hitters in here,” says Mozer. “We’ve saved a bunch of kegs of old stuff as well.”
Look for beers like Breakfast in Heaven, Lenny Boy’s barrel-aged coffee stout; a Berliner Weisse with muscadines; Phantom Vibrations, a saison fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces; a bourbon barrel-aged Doppelbock; and Burn Down For What, which won Best Organic Sour at last year’s National Organic Beer Competition.
One of things Mozer is most excited about is Lenny Boy’s new Crowler machine, which will allow the brewery to fill 32-ounce canned growlers for people to take home. This will be operational for the grand opening on Sept. 10, which will feature live music, games, yoga, food trucks and more.
But before then, you can close out the original taproom this weekend. Lenny Boy will tap a few special beers and kombuchas there as well, and will offer 15 percent off the brewery’s old glassware, stickers, hats and t-shirts this Saturday and Sunday.
Event of the week
Mecktoberfest Release at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
When: Noon Friday.
Where: 4150 Yancey Drive.
What: We last saw Mecktoberfest in mid-November, when sightings of the fall seasonal are rare. Fortunately, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery had reserved a few kegs to celebrate after the beer won the German-style Märzen category at the European Beer Star International Competition the month prior. Staffers poured out rounds of half-pints at the brewery to celebrate beating the Germans at their own game. Now, one of Charlotte’s most popular seasonal beers returns this Friday at the brewery, where it will be tapped at noon. Look for bottles to make their way to area grocery stores and bottle shops next week.