It was safe to say that a newly opened Charlotte brewery’s short list of challenges might include optimization tactics like serving taproom guests more efficiently, keeping high-demand offerings in steady supply and balancing a weekly schedule that appeals to regulars while attracting new customers. Now add a complete 180 to your operating model and that’s the evolution of 15-week old Devil’s Logic Brewing.
With its location at the intersection of Midtown and Elizabeth, the former American Billiards retail building has been completely refurbished revealing a beautiful exposed brick taproom to go with a newly constructed private event space along with a ground, mid-level and rooftop patio. Clearly, the Devil’s Logic experience is meant to be enjoyed at the source considering spirited debate among friends and friends to be is the inspiration behind the brewery’s name.
When we met with co-founders Greg Grueneich and Brian Wallace shortly before their QCBF 2020 debut, our conversation, naturally, centered around the taproom experience guests could expect to enjoy upon visiting Charlotte’s newest brewery – especially with patio weather set to arrive in the not too distant future. Little did we know what the future would actually hold, and instead you can enjoy a taste, to-go, of the Devil’s Logic beer and food menu until a traditional taproom visit can be experienced. The toughest part, we’ll warn you, will be to resist hanging out on the premises.
Just two months and change from opening your taproom doors, and after making a strong impression at QCBF 2020, the governor’s office orders all non-essential retail, dining and taprooms to close to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. To go orders aside, does it feel like you’re back in the planning phase getting ready for your grand opening and how are you using the downtime to plan for your taproom experience once social distancing restrictions are lifted?
Greg: Honestly, it feels like we never left the planning stage. Opening a brewery is a treadmill of conquering the next challenge coming at you. In some respects, we felt optimistic going into this event because this is the mindset we have been in and we were still working to define ourselves. Having only been open for 10 weeks when this occurred, we were still figuring things out, this event just changed what we were focused on and pushed us into expanding into areas that would have taken much longer for us to explore under normal circumstances.
We are also using this time to improve customer experiences when we are able to welcome everyone back. We are currently having a couple of new murals painted within the taproom, building out shading elements for the rooftop patio, and preparing to begin canning for taproom sales. We plan to have all of these in place so we can hit the ground running as soon as we are free to do so.
Pedro Carvalho (Devil’s Logic head brewer): how has your approach changed under strictly to-go sales with respect to the styles you’re brewing, ingredients you’re ordering and packaging?
We had actually just brewed a German Pilsner we really liked before the mandated taproom shutdown, so we decided that it’d be a good time to brew another lager and give it enough time in the fermenter. Since we just brewed a few hoppy beers, we’re in good shape on on that end and we’ll brew those recipes again based on demand. While the taproom’s been closed it’s also given me time to focus on other projects like dialing-in our pilot system. I’ve been working on new recipes that I otherwise would not have had the time to focus on.
When it comes to our mantra of offering “clean, crushable beers” the goal is always to have the freshest beer possible for our customers. Right now, we package beer in kegs and crowlers, but we’re evaluating the possibility of bringing in a canning line to package a few of our brands.
Brian: your background in high tech audio and video integration is suited for enhancing community gatherings, business groups and more. How are you adapting that know-how to deliver a “virtual taproom” experience that builds a following before you’re able to reopen your doors?
I’m currently working on putting together a lineup of brewing industry related debates, live tastings, live brewhouse drone racing and a couple other events over the next couple months. In some cases we will be using our 360 degree video conference capabilities in our event space as well as a second video conference unit that we will send out to the other venue we are conferencing with for a more immersive experience.
Part of our brand revolves around sincere debate, identification of logical fallacies and promoting growth through exploration of topics that make many people feel uncomfortable. Once everything starts to return to a sense of normalcy, we will be hosting in-person debates with real-time polling and other interactives to keep things interesting.
You’ve had a kitchen as part of your design plan from the beginning of your building’s up-fit. What are some of your top recommendations for orders that customers can enjoy at home?
The Korean BBQ Short Rib sandwich has got to be the go-to. It’s a monster of a sandwich with slow smoked beef short rib, Korean BBQ sauce, country coleslaw, sambal aioli, and micro cilantro. You can’t go wrong with this.
Tommy, our chef, was also able to take a number of our entrees – such as our Favolosa; a spicy eggplant, artichoke cream and Genoa salami flatbread, and also our Pork Belly Banh Mi – and reinterpret them into sandwiches and flatbreads that transitioned well for delivery and carry-out options. This also pushed us into delivery on our own as well as teaming with Postmates to reach the community.
Bonus question: With your brewery located just footsteps from the CPCC campus, of-age students, staff and faculty scored an awfully attractive amenity. Macros aside, what was your go-to college beer?
Greg: definitely Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Brian: I actually went to CPCC, pre-Olde Meck however. I was a fan of local craft then and stocked my fridge with Highland pretty regularly.
Pedro: I was fortunate to go to college in San Diego so there was a lot of craft offerings. When I drank craft beer I’d drink Stone and Ballast Point.