Neil Gimon is no stranger to adversity.
He and his wife Anita have had plans to open a brewery for five years. They spent the last year and a half searching for a location. When they found it, nine banks turned down their request for a loan. They had to change the name of the brewery due to another brewery having the rights to a similar name. And in late 2014, Neil was diagnosed with (and later beat) prostate cancer.
Neil Gimon pours a pint at The Dreamchaser’s Brewery in Waxhaw.
But now, after all of this, the Gimons are set to open The Dreamchaser’s Brewery in Waxhaw Saturday, May 21. They probably could have opened elsewhere sooner, but the two had their sights set firmly on the small town in which they have lived for 14 years.
“If we were just looking just anywhere, it would have been easier,” said Anita. “But we knew we wanted to be here. It’s an under-served community. And it’s a community that will appreciate it. We love this little town.”
Their long search for a location eventually ended at 115 E. North Main St., in the heart of the historic downtown and just steps away from the wooden bridge that arches over the railroad tracks. While the building housed a gym most recently, it was once home to the town’s volunteer fire department.
“The firehouse really just ended up in our lap” said Neil. “We just grabbed it and ran with it. The volunteer fire department have been fantastic landlords.”
“We wanted people to remember what this building was originally,” said Anita. “It was an important part of Waxhaw.”
Many of the beers will be based off of recipes that Neil brewed during his 20 years as a homebrewer. Scaling those recipes up will be Skyler Lachenmayr, the head brewer at The Dreamchaser’s Brewery. Lachenmayr graduated from the Niagara College Teaching Brewery and interned at a brewery in St. Louis (Lachenmayr and his wife moved to Waxhaw from southern Illinois).
For its grand opening Saturday, The Dreamchaser’s Brewery plans to have on five beers:
– Another Ale in My Coffin, a pale ale
– Stout! Stout! Let it All Out, a dry Irish stout
– Footbridge IPA, based off of one of Lachenmayr’s award-winning recipes
– Red Rider IPA, a honey red IPA
– The Booty Brew, a honey wheat pilsner
The Booty Brew will be brewed in partnership with the 24 Hours of Booty, a race that Neil participated in for many years before he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The brewery will donate a portion of the proceeds of each Booty Brew sold to 24 Hours of Booty all year long, and they also plan to hold a fundraising day in June.
Having lost friends and family members to cancer over the years, the race has always been important to Neil — but last year especially so.
“That was the first time where I really acknowledged that I was a cancer survivor,” said Neil. “It’s a very humbling experience. I don’t want to die saying I could have done this, or I should have done that. This was the dream for a while.”
Just don’t be surprised if the Gimons have to change the brewery’s name again. After all, they’re no longer chasing the dream. They’re living it.
The Dreamchaser’s Brewery will be open from 3-9 p.m. on Thursdays, 3-11 p.m. on Fridays, 12-11 p.m. on Saturdays and 12-9 p.m. on Sundays.
Photos: Daniel Hartis