It’s hard not to feel at home drinking inside a house, but make no mistake – Crafty Beer Guys is part showroom, too.
Shawn Richards and Kristian Pederson opened the popular bar and bottleshop inside an old bungalow in downtown Huntersville in June of 2013. While it’s now a popular hangout for lovers of craft beer and fine wine, the space was initially built to showcase their work building bars and installing draft systems.
Prior to opening the bar, the pair specialized in constructing custom bars for restaurants throughout the Charlotte area. As their reputation as specialists grew, many reached out to Pederson – who had no shortage of experience as a founder or co-owner at popular bars like Courtyard Hooligans and Valhalla Pub and Eatery – to ask technical questions about draft installations.
“We found out that there was not a company in Charlotte that specialized in draft systems specifically,” Richards said. “No one had anybody to call, so they’d call Kristian and ask him to help. The need kind of presented itself to us and we just took advantage of it.”
The two threw themselves into studying draft systems, and were soon certified by Micromatic, a leading supplier of draft beer equipment. They began installing draft systems in bars and restaurants around town, and it didn’t take them long to land a big client.
NoDa Brewing founders Todd and Suzie Ford had ordered their beers at an area restaurant, only to find them undrinkable. The fault wasn’t in their beer, but in the dirty lines it passed through before reaching their glasses. The Fords partnered with Crafty Beer Guys to ensure the draft lines at all of their accounts were cleaned every two weeks, in accordance with recommendations from the Brewers Association.
Several other breweries have signed on since. Crafty Beer Guys now cleans for eight distributors and 17 breweries that add up to more than 12,500 taps in bars and restaurants across North Carolina. The business now boasts 72 employees working in offices in Asheville, Charlotte, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Wilmington. This week, Crafty Beer Guys announced its acquisition of Durham’s River Draft Services, which offers many of the same installation and maintenance procedures.
Over the past three years, the business has grown alongside Charlotte’s craft beer industry. Much of its success comes from working with brewery owners, who have clear expectations for how their beers should be served outside of their breweries.
“The industry as a whole in Charlotte was demanding better equipment, better cleaning schedules and so forth,” Richards said. “A lot of that has come from what the breweries are demanding about how their brands are demanding as well.”
And for their part, Richards and Pederson are able to in turn educate their clients as to the benefits of quality parts and regular maintenance.
“It’s been a lot of education on our part and the people that we represent, both the breweries and distributors,” Richards said.
Much of that education takes place out in the field at the accounts Crafty Beer Guys services, but their Huntersville bar can still play the part of showroom to anyone interested. The shop is managed by Chris Westgard, one of a handful of Certified Cicerones (think sommelier, but for beer) in the Charlotte area. Westgard handles residential installations for the company and also teaches brewing classes. If you want to know the inner workings and technical specifications that go into serving a proper pint, he can help.
Or, you could simply enjoy a beer from the bar’s 16 taps, confident it’s passed through the cleanest of lines.
Event of the week
Biergarten Furniture Reverse Auction at OMB
When: 10-11 a.m. Saturday.
Where: 4150 Yancey Drive.
What: If you’ve ever wanted to build a German biergarten in your backyard, now’s your chance: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is upgrading the furniture in its biergarten, and they’re auctioning off some of their old furniture for a good cause. Full sets of tables and benches start at $50, with prices dropping in this “reverse auction” every hour should they not be purchased at that price (the brewery does expect most of them to go quickly). If you purchase a table, you must be prepared to take it with you prior to the brewery opening. Purchasing a full set also gets you a gift card for a beer at the brewery. All proceeds will benefit 24 Hours of Booty.