Restaurant News & Reviews

Can the small Lower Left Brewing Co. make a big impact in crowded Lower South End?

Lower Left Brewing Co. in Lower South End will have a soft opening starting Tuesday, Aug. 6, with a grand opening Sept. 7-8.
Lower Left Brewing Co. in Lower South End will have a soft opening starting Tuesday, Aug. 6, with a grand opening Sept. 7-8. Courtesy of Lower Left Brewing Co.

The Lower South End area will welcome its newest brewery when Lower Left Brewing Co. holds its soft opening starting Tuesday, Aug. 6.

The brewery is located at 4528 Nations Crossing Road, making it neighbors with The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Brewers at 4001 Yancey and Sugar Creek Brewing Co., GoodRoad Cider Works, Great Wagon Road Distilling Co., The Broken Spoke, Queen Park Social and Doc Porter’s Distillery.

“We will now be the smallest brewery in Lower South End by a pretty big margin,” says Alex Shoenthal, the brewery’s head brewer and co-owner.

The taproom, which was remodeled with reclaimed lumber and corrugated barn roofing, is about 900-square-feet — room for around 60 people. The brewery itself is a bit bigger, with enough space to accommodate a 7-barrel brewhouse and five 5-barrel fermenters.

That might be small compared to some of the brewery’s neighbors, but it’s a considerable jump from the volume to which Shoenthal is accustomed. Shoenthal started homebrewing around 2004 (if you don’t count him helping his dad homebrew in the ’90s), and has since made a name for himself over the years by winning a number of high-profile homebrew competitions.

Though the bulk of his experience is at the homebrew level, this isn’t his first time going pro. Shoenthal manned the pilot system for Rivermen Brewing Co. in Belmont, which just this past week shut its doors. For the past 15 months, however, he and co-owner Tim Curtis have been building out the brewery in the “lower left” corner of Lower South End.

Shoenthal and Curtis met at a good time. Both were pursuing their dreams of opening their own breweries, and Curtis was already developing a business plan and arranging financial backing.

While Shoenthal appreciated the styles he was brewing, it didn’t take long for him to start pushing the envelope outside of traditional styles. He started brewing beers that, at first, sounded like there was no way to make them work. His “dessert sours” could have easily been a disaster, but Shoenthal found a way to pull seemingly disparate flavors together into perfect harmony.

“I’ve always had a knack for making it work,” says Shoenthal, citing beers like his key lime pie sour. “You can taste the graham cracker, you can taste the vanilla. It’s not just a one-dimensional sour beer. It tastes like you just ate a piece of key lime pie.”

The taps at Lower Left Brewing Co., then, will include a mix of traditional and experimental styles, with a heavy focus on IPAs. And while one of the brewery’s year-round beers will be Juicy McJuice Face, a hazy IPA that Shoenthal’s been brewing since 2014, he wants to avoid being pigeonholed as a brewery that only makes IPAs (especially when it comes to New England-style IPAs).

“Everyone’s so focused on the trendy and what’s new, and what can you sell for twenty bucks a four-pack,” Shoenthal says. “People have forgotten about some of these styles. They’re super-tasty, super-refreshing and you can have more of a couple of them.”

The other two year-round beers will be Laser Shark, a West Coast IPA, and Participation Award, an American blonde ale. You can taste the three year-round beers and two more — Walter, a Belgian white ale, and Strawberry Shortcake Kettle Sour — at the brewery’s soft opening on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Shoenthal and assistant brewer Erika Woodcock-Ellertson (formerly of Long Live Beerworks in Rhode Island) will be busy brewing additional styles for the brewery’s grand opening weekend of Sept. 7-8, when they hope to have as many as 10 different beers on tap (along with live music and food trucks). Expect the rest of the brewery’s lineup to change often, with a focus on more stouts and porters when the weather starts to cool. The brewery will also have prosecco and cider on tap, as well as Shoenthal’s non-alcoholic sodas.

The brewery will be open seven days a week: 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Before the grand opening in September, however, they will be closed on Mondays.

Event of the Week

Resident Culture Brewing Co. will release two new beers when it opens at noon Saturday. The brewery describes Disco Baby as a “mash up IPA,” as it has elements of both the hazy New England IPA and the more bitter West Coast IPA. The IPA, which is brewed with Amarillo, Citra and Simcoe hops and comes in at 7 percent, will be available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans for $17.99. Mouth Wooed is a 6 percent ABV kettle sour, brewed with a trio of fruits: raspberry, key lime and blood orange. Four-packs of Mouth Wooed will be $16.99.

The TIN Kitchen food truck will be parked outside. Noon to 11 p.m. 2101 Central Ave.