Charlotte craft beer brewer: So much has changed, so fast
Two of Charlotte’s favorite food groups will be joining forces in the fall – beer and barbecue.
Sauceman’s BBQ is leaving its location at 228 West Blvd. and moving to Sugar Creek Brewing Company.
Sugar Creek will shut down its limited menu kitchen in August, and Sauceman’s BBQ will take over the brewery’s kitchen area.
The new Sauceman’s will reopen in October, according to Sugar Creek’s co-owners Joe Vogelbacher and Eric Flanigan.
“We’ve been big fans of theirs for years,” Vogelbacher said. “They’re our neighborhood place.”
Sauceman’s West Blvd location will close Sept. 1 before its relocation to Sugar Creek at 215 Southside Drive.
Vogelbacher said the brewery’s event space will stay open and the brewery still plans to host private parties and weddings.
Sauceman’s BBQ owner Adam Rappaport said he’s excited to share a location with the brewery.
“Everybody knows beer and barbecue go pretty well together,” he said. “They’re gonna focus on Belgian brews; we’re going to focus on world-class barbecue.”
The Sugar Creek menu will no longer be offered starting in mid-August as the kitchen undergoes renovations, but Vogelbacher said the brewery will continue to provide food options for guests – likely in the form of food trucks.
Focus on beer
Vogelbacher said the brewery is excited to close its kitchen and spend their time exclusively on beer.
“Frankly, our focus is on making beer,” he said. “That’s all we care about — making the best beer we can.”
Flanigan and Vogelbacher have plenty of beer projects in the works. The brewery hosted the North Carolina premiere of “Beers of Joy,” a documentary featuring Sugar Creek, in June.
The pair are working with IBM and Bosch to improve its brewery with Artificial Intelligence – connecting equipment to sensors and learning ways to improve beer quality.
The brewery will also be getting into the canning business, beginning in August. Flanigan said people seem to prefer drinking beers out of cans instead of bottles.
“With us offloading the restaurant stuff, it’ll definitely open us up to new (projects),” Flanigan said.
The Observer has reported that Sauceman’s BBQ’s current spot on West Boulevard was sold in January for $2.5 million to a company affiliated with Beacon Partners.
Plans for that property include an eight-story building with a possible rooftop restaurant and an outdoor plaza, according to The Observer.
“We wanted to stay in the South End area,” Rappaport said. “We’ve been aggressively looking for a new home for the last year.”
Flanigan said the move is an opportunity to help another local business stay local. Sugar Creek’s location on Southside Drive is just 2.5 miles south of Sauceman’s.
The brewery is working with Liquid Design, a Charlotte architecture company that also worked on the U.S. National Whitewater Center, to transform their limited kitchen area into a 1,000-square-foot kitchen.
That kitchen will be an upgrade for Sauceman’s BBQ, which will be moving from an 800-square-foot kitchen.
The brewery will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week once Sauceman’s moves in, Flanigan said.
Rappaport said Sauceman’s plans to stay true to its menu.
“We might tweak it a little, but we’re looking to bring our staples with us,” he said.