Olde Mecklenburg is expanding into the suburbs

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Charlotte’s biggest local brewery, said Monday that it plans to open a new brewing facility in Cornelius. But the size of that brewery depends on changing a state law governing beer distribution.

The brewery will be located in the 51,000 square-foot building formerly occupied by MacLean Curtis, which moved its manufacturing facilities to Mooresville last year.

OMB is one of dozens of breweries that are pushing to change a state law that limits the amount of beer a brewer can produce each year before they must hire an outside distribution company. Breweries that make more than 25,000 barrels of beer annually are required to sign a contract with a distributor, who serves as a middleman handling delivery and sales.

Last year, OMB brewed 21,000 barrels, pushing it closer to the 25,000-barrel cap.

OMB, based in Charlotte’s South End, said it has purchased the building and will build a new brewery in Cornelius while preserving the existing building. OMB co-founder John Marrino said the new property will allow them to expand production. A timetable for the new brewery’s opening wasn’t available Monday.

“We are extremely excited about this property,” said Marrino, in a statement. “We have a long-term commitment to the Charlotte region and we believe that this site will allow more Charlotteans to experience OMB and our beers first hand.”

Real estate records show OMB paid $3.1 million for the property, which totals nearly 25 acres and includes the wooded area across from the industrial building, in a deal that closed Jan. 31.

If the legislature lifts the cap during its 2017 session, OMB will spend $7 million on the Cornelius expansion, including more brewing and wholesale options. The company would hire more than 100 people, Marrino said in a statement, in addition to the 133 currently employed in Charlotte.

If the law doesn’t change, however, the brewery will build only a smaller facility with a beer garden.

Local officials in Cornelius praised the expansion.

“We are excited that Olde Mecklenburg Brewery chose downtown Cornelius for an expansion,” said Chuck Travis, Cornelius Town Mayor. “I think it is going to be a great re-use of the former MacLean Curtis building, that will add to the downtown culture of our town.”

OMB has been expanding its South End brewery and beer garden, on Yancey Road, which has seating for over 1,000 people in its indoor and outdoor areas. The company won approval in September from Charlotte City Council to build another addition, expanding its buildings and outdoor gathering areas.

“This is a great amenity to the growing old town Cornelius area,” said Ryan McDaniels, executive director of Lake Norman Economic Development, in a statement.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo