As a brewery that utilizes both wood and stainless steel, Wooden Robot Brewery is aptly named. The moniker is also a nod to the brewery’s passion for both tradition and innovation, which extends to the metal-and-wood aesthetic of the South End taproom.
Expect more of the latter at The Chamber by Wooden Robot Brewery, which will soon open to the public in NoDa (416 E. 36th St., Suite 100). Wooden Robot is the latest to join the brewery-rich neighborhood — and for founders Dan Wade and Josh Patton, it’s been a long time coming.
“We honestly always wanted to be in NoDa,” Patton says. “When we were looking for our original location, we were looking at Plaza Midwood, South End and NoDa. It’s an area Dan and I enjoy visiting and spending time in. It has a reputation for being an arts district, and it just has a cool, funky vibe.”
That funky vibe will serve as the perfect backdrop for the funky beers coming out of The Chamber. The new space will not have a brewery of its own, but instead will house a variety of wooden barrels and foeders (think larger barrels) dedicated to aging beers with wild yeast and other ingredients to create beers with varying degrees of tart, funky or sour character.
Wooden Robot has focused on these styles since opening, but space — and in some cases, time — limited how many of these beers they were able to produce.
“We were always just limited by capacity,” Patton says. “The turnaround times on those beers are so much longer than clean beers for the most part. You just can’t generate a ton of volume that way. Having the wood vessels in NoDa will make that a lot easier.”
A huge production facility this is not, though, and Patton has no plans of ramping up the production of core beers or flagships. Instead, The Chamber will allow the brewery to rotate through new wild or sour offerings, while also increasing production of its popular sour beers like Galactic Nexus and Thicket As Thieves (sour ales re-fermented with raspberries and blackberries, respectively).
“We just want to be able to do them more often,” Patton says. “We still also want to maintain that aspect of being innovative and doing new stuff all the time. It’s not really a certain brand that we want to grow, we just want to continue to grow across the board. The idea is that we want to build and showcase that side of our portfolio at NoDa.”
The brewery currently has three 30-barrel foeders at its original South End location, two of which will be moved to The Chamber. Wooden Robot has also purchased seven 40-barrel foeders, which are currently being produced by Foeder Crafters of America.
Rows of barrels will separate the downstairs tasting room from the production space. While there’s no brewery, there will be plenty of beer making going on. At the South End location, Wooden Robot will brew all of the wort — the sweet, yet-to-be fermented beer — and then truck it over to The Chamber in food-grade totes. Wort then meets wood, either in barrels or the much larger foeders, and is later introduced to wild yeasts, mixed cultures, fruits or other ingredients.
There will be some overlap between Wooden Robot’s two locations as far as draft offerings go, but there will also be several unique to each location. Between two bars downstairs and a rooftop bar, The Chamber boasts 56 taps with the ability to have 24 unique beers on at any given time.
“We want to create a different experience there, but also be recognizable as Wooden Robot,” Patton says. “Our brand is all about contrasting wood and metals, so you’ll still see those elements in place.”
And the name? That’s a nod to the fact that The Chamber will be a place for storing and aging, but also a nod to “36 Chambers,” the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album.
“We have a lot of Wu-Tang references in our beer names, and that’s kind of their seminal album,” says Patton, who also notes that the new brewery is located on 36th Street.
The brewery is currently waiting on permits before it can open, but will soon announce their opening information on its Facebook page.
Event of the Week
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery has a full lineup for dads this weekend as part of its Father’s Day Fest, which runs Saturday and Sunday. Activities include a chipping contest, a stein hoisting competition, prizes, live music and special menu items. The brewery will offer a $29.95 buffet lunch on Sunday, which includes a biergarten mug and offerings that include roasted prime rub, cut-to-order sausages, brunch items and more. 4150 Yancey Road.