Bellying up with Barking Duck Brewing Company

“This is awesome, it’s like my garage at home except there’s a bunch of beer and my wife’s not here nagging me.” Barking Duck co-owner and brewer Josh Carl, quoting one of his Mint Hill brewery’s first customers.

If you visited D9 Brewing Co. during their humbling beginnings in a cozy industrial unit, you’ll get an almost identical view when you visit the Barking Duck Brewing Company in Mint Hill. Owners Josh Carl and Jake Reynolds are grateful to be operating their 1-barrel brewery on top of full-time jobs at US Airways. Jake handles the bulk of the brewing operations while Josh manages the business side of the brewery.

The two friends were often joined by Josh’s barking, sniffing golden labs during homebrewing sessions giving them the “Barking” part of their brewery’s name, and the duo spent many hours brewery-planning at Duckworth’s Grill and Taphouse giving them the “Duck”.

QCBF made a recent trip to Barking Duck to try a flight at Mint Hill’s finest brewery.

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Barking Duck is Mint Hill’s first brewery. Tell us about your experience finding a location and is your plan to remain in Mint Hill for the long term?

Josh:  I started the search in Pineville because that’s where I live, but quickly found the real estate prices to be pretty ugly. Now that we’re established in the Mint Hill community, we truly feel like we’re becoming part of the community so it’s where we want to stay. Whenever I’m driving, I’m constantly scanning buildings for what could be our brewery’s next home.

Jake:  It was actually Aaron from D9 Brewing who tipped us off about this spot because he lives in Mint Hill. The town has been super receptive about our brewery’s opening and potential for expansion in the future. What started as “why in the world did you guys pick Mint Hill to open a brewery?” has quickly changed to, “why in the world aren’t there more breweries in Mint Hill?” We consistently hear our customers say that it is amazing to have a brewery in their town.

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You’ve cited Ass Clown and D9 as breweries that helped you with some pointers as you got started. What was the most helpful piece of advice they gave you?

Josh:  Grow organically. Those were the two words that Matt [Glidden, owner/brewer Ass Clown Brewing Co.] told us to swear by. He bought a 15BBL system thinking he’d scale his beers up to much bigger production and I’m pretty sure his equipment is for sale on Craigslist. Knowing who you are as a brewer is going to influence how or how quickly you’re going to grow.

Jake:  Don’t overextend your production capabilities. Andrew from D9 shared some lessons his brewery learned when they participated in so many festivals and events coming out of the gates. At one point they didn’t have more than a couple types of beer to serve out of their their taproom. Festivals are great for getting your name out there and to support a good cause, but you also have to be prepared for taking care of business on the home front. When we sold out of all of our beers the day we opened, we knew we had to be better prepared.

Barking Duck was one of the featured breweries in 106.5’s “12 Days of Craft-Mas”. Before that you sold out all of your beer at your grand opening. How have you been successful in getting the word out about your nanobrewery?

Josh:  Like a lot of breweries, social media has been our go-to for getting the word out. I’d like to be out at more events, meeting people and promoting our brewery but there’s only so much time after I finish my other job or spend time with my family.

Jake:  It’s really been a lot of good old-fashioned word of mouth advertising. Making the rounds at places like the Carolina Beer Temple and other breweries and introducing people to Barking Duck is something I really enjoy doing. Plus, whenever I’m out and about you can be sure I’ll be sporting my Barking Duck Brewing t-shirt [laughs]!

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Barking Duck’s first-ever tap takeover at the Carolina Beer Temple)

Your beer lineup is pretty diverse including a Belgian Amber, which is not too common. What is your favorite beer to brew and what are some future styles/flavors we can expect?

Josh:  Hands down my favorite beer of ours right now is our new Barking Dead Black IPA so no surprise it’s also my favorite beer to brew. Before that it was our Halfsies Double IPA.

Jake:  Well, I’m a big dark beer fan and it was the Vanilla Coffee Stout I brewed for my wedding a couple years ago that really jumpstarted the idea of opening a brewery. I got a couple of kegs from Ass Clown to go with some of my homebrew and over the course of the reception I kept hearing from friends how much they liked the Coffee Stout from Ass Clown. I’d tell them that beer was made on Josh’s back porch; it’s mine [laughs]! Yep, that was the light bulb moment for starting a brewery and I’ll keep brewing tasty dark beers.

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