Cary, NC- Stuart Arnold and his partners are passionate about beer, specifically about making good beer, and they will be opening the first Cary brewery, Fortnight Brewing Company, very soon on SW Maynard Road in Cary if all goes according to plan.
Arnold, who grew up in England, and his partners, plan to make and sell craft beer with a distinctly English flavor. The aim is to replicate the flavors he remembers from growing up and visiting the local pubs. Three main brews will top the bill, an English ale, a porter and an English bitter ( a style of beer higher in alcohol and more complex than a typical American beer).
CaryCitizen visited their future location on Maynard Road where the walls are up, the drums are installed and the kegs await the first batches to be made on a commercial scale within our town limits.
A Little History
I met with Arnold and his marketing partner, Mo Mercado, to learn how the idea for Fortnight evolved.
Stuart Arnold explained that 2-1/2 years ago, as a home brewer with a passion for English beer, he had an idea to take his home brewing to the next level. As he started with one set of partners, he met Mo Mercado, an account manager for All About Beer Magazine, who was also trying to launch a brewery, called Billy Goat. Neither of those unions panned out, but Arnold and Mercado joined forces. When they hooked up with friend David Wilkinson, an Englishman and engineer by trade, they knew they could bring the plans to fruition.
As they started to think about sites to build, they met up with Dave Gardner, a serial entrepreneur. He in turn introduced the group to commercial realtor Dave Urban (the 3rd “Dave” in the group) who helped them land the site. They were eventually joined by father and son of Bob and Will Grezcyn as the 6th partners.
Going Big From the Start
Like most NC craft brewers, their original idea was to start small and grow based on limited funding. Arnold pointed out that most brewers run into problems when they need to expand. Equipment becomes unsatisfactory, space quickly becomes limited and these forces can actually keep a company from growing.
Instead of looking at initial 5,000 square foot spaces, Arnold stated that Urban challenged them with ” if I can find you the right location, how would you like to partner so we can buy it?” Then they found the long empty warehouse on Maynard – formerly E Bounce and before that Grand Slam. They bought the 20,000+ sq ft space, with an option on the adjoining property. It easily houses a gigantic chiller, 4 large conical kettles that make the beer, hundreds of kegs and a large pub area. They are also sub-leasing out 5,000 sq ft of the space to a home brew supplier, Mark Cook.
Double the Tanks
One of the key reasons the team will be able to grow the business and crank out beer capacity is they went ahead and bought four of the kettles that make beer. Many brewers make due with only two. In doing so, smaller breweries can only work on one type of beer at a time. With 2 vats, brewers have to send the beer back to the fist tank for the 3rd step in the beer making process, and then back to the 2nd vat for the final step.
Fortnight will be able to keep beer moving forward with one step per tank (4 tanks, for 4 steps) until fermentation and carbonation. This allows them increased efficiency and capacity.
The Secret Recipes
Speaking of recipes, Arnold is a tad nervous about taking what he currently is brewing in his garage and increasing the recipes for these large batches. He knows there will be adjustments, and willing takers to taste the trials. The duo showed me around the “kitchen” area of the massive warehouse where they will be making their “big Soup.”
While there, I learned more about beer making than I thought possible. Did you know hops don’t grow well in our climate? They are looking into varieties through NC State, but for now will import hops from England for the taste and style beer Fortnight is going to create.
What’s in a Name: Fortnight
Another fact: their beer takes approximately 2 weeks to make, hence their name: Fortnight.
The Fortnight Brewers started making announcements in social media this past spring and already have a strong following eager to see the location come to life. With a few delays along the way (they had hoped to be open this September) they should be open before we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.
Story and pictures by Lindsey Chester.