Though he’s a co-founder of a brewery, Andrew Durstewitz doesn’t lack for self-awareness.
“We won’t just build, as I put it, yet another damn brewery,” says Durstewitz, chief executive officer of D9 Brewing Co.
Over the years, the Cornelius-based brewery has turned down several potential projects, says Durstewitz, but this week they have announced plans to build a brewery in uptown, with another possibly to come to Optimist Park.
“When we look at any location, what we’re trying to make a judgment on is whether we can provide a unique value to the craft beer community,” Durstewitz says. “If the answer is no, we’re not going to do it.”
When he and his team looked at the space uptown at 650 E. Stonewall St., they liked the idea of having a beer garden within the Interstate 277 loop. But with just 900 square feet of space, they knew installing a large brewery wouldn’t work. Their solution was to install a five-barrel “outdoor brewery” in the beer garden that’s visible through roll-up doors when open to the public.
Visitors to D9 Brewing - The Pavilion at Uptown will be able to enjoy one of the brewery’s beers while watching the entire process, all while taking in scenic views of Charlotte. The location will feature a concert pavilion and a lounge that will serve not just D9’s beers, but coffee from Davidson’s Summit Coffee as well.
The brewery has also entered into a “due diligence” stage in hopes to bring D9 Brewing - The Fermenteria to 954 N. Davidson St. in Optimist Park. Plans for that location, which could open next year, call for a rooftop bar up top, a speakeasy-style bar below, and — in between — a focus on all things fermented.
That extends not just to beer, but to food as well. The brewery wouldn’t be a restaurant, says Durstewitz, but would focus on small plates of fermented foods like kimchi, bread or a Reuben sandwich, piled high with fermented sauerkraut.
D9 Brewing Co. has undergone several expansions at its Lake Norman location over the years, where it is on track to produce 11,000-12,000 barrels of beer in 2019. Those are impressive numbers, especially considering the brewery’s origins as a nanobrewery. These two new locations are something of a return to D9’s roots.
“I think it’s also very important to not let go of what got us here,” Durstewitz says. “We’re putting small five-barrel locations in each system. Half of the draft lineup will be brewed by that location, for that location.”
The Optimist Park location in particular would be an extension of the brewery’s sour program, with a focus on mixed-fermentation and open-vat fermentation. You can expect a diverse mix of one-off and core beers at the uptown location as well. That location will now be uptown’s only brewery, as Charlotte’s long-running Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery closed its doors last month.
Breweries, even well-known ones, are closing around the country, but brewery openings still outpace brewery closings. For Durstewitz, survival in an ever-changing industry hinges on providing value to craft beer drinkers while constantly innovating.
“I think people see us as an innovation brewery,” Durstewitz says. “We see ourselves as an innovation brewery. I think the idea of big breweries is over. The idea is that we want to have smaller locations in communities where we believe we can bring value.”