Queen City Brewers Festival scheduled an overtime shift with the guys at Triple C Brewing Co. After an impressive showing at North Carolina Brewers and Music Festival, which featured their flagship Light
Rail Pale Ale, an IPA and smoked porter, it was time to see where the brewing will take place and pepper
Head Brewer Scott Kimball and owners Chris Harker and Chris Murphy with a few questions in advance
of their official opening later this summer.
The anticipation of setting up your brewery and producing that first batch has to be exhilarating and
maddening at times. How have you been envisioning beer drinkers enjoying Triple C brews – at a bar,
in your tap room, or perhaps a growler to go?
[Chris Harker:] Well I know I’ll be spending a lot of time in the tap room, but for me it’s going to be a
thrill to see our tap handles in the bars. Naturally, that’s where we want people ordering and talking
about our beers. Plus we made them just a little bit taller than the standard tap handle so they’re
sure to stick out (laughing). One other neat differentiator is that they’ll have a magnet face so bars can
simply peel off a label and replace it with a new one when featuring a different style. We also have a
damn cool logo (laughing).
With the number of Charlotte breweries mushrooming in recent years, what will be some
differentiators Triple C brings to the Charlotte beer scene – or is it a matter of becoming a part of a
growing and welcoming community?
[Scott Kimball:] Speaking to our beer styles, no, I’m not setting out to brew something totally different
to fill a void or niche. Our approach is pretty simple, and you’ll hear basically every brewer say this,
which is that we’re going to brew what we like to drink and beers we think most everyone will enjoy.
We’ll cover the spectrum of American styles. Our primary yeast strains, an American Ale strain and an
English Ale strain, will be the foundations for our beers. You can count on a Belgian style for a seasonal
and I’ve got plans for a bit of barrel-aging too – we certainly have the room! (Points to the massive space
adjacent to where the brew house will sit.)
[Chris Harker:] Overall, we’re not looking to bring hardline differentiation to the Charlotte brewery
scene, but I think our location is a differentiator. With the Light Rail in walking distance and two brand
new apartment complexes underway, we’re fortunate to have a killer facility that has already seen nice
growth around it. But all in all, we’re so excited to be coming into the local industry that is, as you said,
welcoming and to see breweries like OMB and NoDa be so successful at the things they do best is all
that we can hope for too.
[Chris Murphy:] Speaking of growth, not sure if you saw them on the way in, but we have a dedicated
hop garden which is well on its way. It’s going to take some patience and good fortune, but ultimately
we’d love to brew a batch (standard size) of beer that is made exclusively with the hops we’ve grown
right here at the brewery.
What is the most significant adjustment you’ll need to make when going from 5-gallon batches to
brewing on a 15bbl system?
[Scott Kimball:] The most significant aspect is efficiency with our grains. This is a brand new brew
house from a manufacturer I’ve never used before so adjustments will need to be made. We’ll have
our target gravity with our first beer, and I expect the first beer to be a very good one, but adjustments,
improvements and efficiency are a continuous part of the process. Taking experience from my first
brewery job at Old Dominion Brewery on a 50bbl system and most recently on a 3.5bbl and 10bbl
system at the Eddyline Brewpub in Buena Vista, CO, I’ll go with my gut and the help of some software
when I brew our recipes at Triple C.
What are the aspirations for Triple C’s geographical distribution and what are your plans for bottling
[Chris Harker:] The progression is pretty straight forward; we’ll bill ourselves as South End’s brewery
first, get more and more established as one of Charlotte’s breweries and ultimately if we get to
distribution throughout North Carolina, we’ll be very happy with that.
[Chris Murphy:] The Charlotte-area is going to be our immediate focus. We’re going to explore
distributor options for South Carolina as that’s clearly in our footprint too, but again, for the near term
you’ll see one of us in a branded truck making the deliveries to your favorite spots around town.
[Scott Kimball:] As far as packaging goes, I was around a cannery at my last job and at Old Dominion
we bottled but I’m personally a big proponent of canning for a variety of reasons: they’re more
environmentally-friendly, less expensive to transport, they cool faster and you can take cans where you
can’t take glass, which is important to me since I’m usually out and about on my bike or hiking. All that
said, I’m also looking forward to bottling some nice barrel-aged beers, and to have flights of those down
the road will be very cool.
If you could visit any brewery in the world, what would it be and why?
[Chris Harker:] Founders. Their beer is so solid and I know I’m going to get a quality beer every time I
[Chris Murphy:] Lagunitas. I’ve always enjoyed good beer, but it was probably Lagunitas that brought
my passion for craft beer to the level it’s at now.
[Scott Kimball:] I’d have to say it’d be a German Brewery tour, is that a legal answer (laughing). That’s
really the birthplace of brewing and it’s been a dream trip for me for so long.