Brewery Profile: Natty Greene’s Brewing Company

by Kevin on March 10, 2012

Natty Greene’s Brewing Company:

Location: Greensboro, North Caroline
Founded: 2004
Twitter: @ natty_greenes

Brewery Description:

The early 1990s – the beginning of the first craft beer era in America. It was also a time when Chris Lester and Kayne Fisher, sitting together as underclassmen at UNC-Greensboro drinking NattyBo’s (National Bohemian for those unaware), dreamt of one day brewing their own beer and selling it to everyone. Fast-forward to 1996: Lester and Fisher combined their talents – one with a knack for business and the other a thorough knowledge of the restaurant industry – and took ownership of what was then called Spring Garden Bar and Grill. The popular UNC-Greensboro location was renamed Old Town Draught House and their career in bar/restaurant ownership was underway. At that time, not a lot of craft beer was available in the Triad, so Lester and Fisher sought to combine great food at a great value with interesting and unique craft beer offerings you couldn’t get in the area. Their idea was a success. In 1998, the pair branched into Winston-Salem, opening First Street Draught House … pretty much a clone of the Old Town concept. Their third establishment, TapRoom, opened in 2002 and stuck to the owners’ gameplan – high-quality food at a fair value in a relaxed, local, neighborhood bar atmosphere and a focus on offering great craft beers from around the U.S. Having been successful with three bars/restaurants, Lester and Fisher decided that 2004 was the year to take the next big step, acting upon that dream from college; to open a brewery and make their very own beers. There was no reason why they couldn’t brew the same beers they were bringing in from beer hotbeds out west like Oregon and Colorado. And, with the booming trend toward revitalizing downtowns – and Greensboro wanting to spur the growth of their own – Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co. was born in a renovated c.1895 three-story building on the corner of Elm and McGee Streets in what was once known as Hamburger Square. An instant hit, the Pub keyed on brewing quality, full-flavored, great tasting beers in a variety of styles – a logical choice for a brewpub. Where Natty Greene’s succeeded even further is in its menu offerings. Rather than skimp on portions or serve the standard “bar food,” Lester and Fisher brought their restaurant expertise to the table and created a high-quality, affordable selection of appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees that have customers raving equally about the beer as well as the food. Lester and Fisher made sure that their brewpub would appeal to the widest range of people, as well. With a first floor restaurant (including a bar) and a separate, second floor pub, Natty Greene’s caters to families looking for a meal, business people and co-workers meeting for lunch/after work gatherings and partying people out for the night. That successful brewpub quickly grew into local distribution of a small subset of Natty’s beers. Once available outside of Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co., the distribution network rapidly expanded and within two years, Natty’s had more than 100 accounts with as many as four Natty’s taps pouring fresh, locally brewed craft beer from the boys in downtown. The two owners realized an expansion was necessary to keep up with demand, and, eventually grow the brand. In April 2006, a second brewing facility was opened to create a production brewing system, and with the extra benefit of enough space to add a bottling line. Six months later, Natty Greene’s Brewing Co. bottled beers hit the store shelves with four core brands available in six-packs. Just as fast as the rest of the process had accelerated, Natty’s in its bottled format was as big a hit with consumers just as it had been in the local restaurant/bar scene. Within the first three months, the Natty Greene’s label was the number one selling beer six-pack in all Harris-Teeter grocery stores – outpacing all national and other craft brew brands. Over the next three years, both bottle and draught distribution expanded across the Triad and into northwest North Carolina. Never ones to rest on past success, Lester and Fisher branched out to the Raleigh market in March 2010 with the opening of the second Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing Co. location at 505 W. Jones St. in the Powerhouse Square/downtown area. In late-2010, to keep up with growing demand and prep for taking the beers statewide, the production facility/bottling plant underwent a transformation taking capacity from 6,000 barrels (1 barrel = 31 gallons) to more than 20,000 barrels. Lester and Fisher have guided what once was a college dream into a well-respected and recognized brewery with statewide distribution in both draught and bottles and two high-volume, successful brewpub locations as anchors. As one would expect, the pair continue to refine and expand the overall Natty Greene’s brand and continue to dream big for what the future has on tap –

Flagship Beers:
Wildflower Witbier
Southern Pale
Guilford Golden Ale
Buckshot Amber Ale
Old Town Brown Ale

Limited Beers:
Red Nose Winter Ale
Black Powder Imperial Stout
Cannonball Double IPA

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