Carolina Brewing Company was the great idea of two brothers, John and Greg Shuck, and a friend, Joe Zonin. In 1992, we were living in Seattle and home brewing beer in our basement. John picked up a job working at a local brewery (Maritime Pacific) while Joe & Greg worked second shift at a credit agency and brewed beer third shift, into the wee morning hours. We got great feedback from friends and strangers (some really strange), and armed with enthusiasm and confidence, we decided that we could open our own brewery. With nothing tying us to Seattle and 10 small breweries in the Seattle area, we decided to look East for an untapped market . We wanted an area that had little competition, was a good place to live and had people and a strong economy that would be supportive of a local brewery. After traveling throughout the SE, we decided on Raleigh.
In 1993, the three of us moved from Seattle to Raleigh and started writing a business plan. While we worked in and frequented many bars and restaurants in the area, we finished writing a business plan, and pitched the idea to local banks. We also scouted warehouses and found an opportunity in Holly Springs to design the building we needed to be a brewery before it was under construction. In 1994, with financing secured from one bank and a whole bunch of friends and relatives, Carolina Brewing Company was founded and the equipment was ordered.
1995 saw the tanks arrive, test batches brewed and, on July 3, 1995, the first kegs of our tasty liquids, Carolina Pale Ale, were delivered to 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. Later in 1995, Carolina Nut Brown Ale was introduced. We added seasonal beers in 1996, a bottling line in 1997, and the IPA in 2005.
A great moment was when we brewed our first beer over 6% abv in 2006. We bottled Old 392 Barleywine (9.3%), named in honor of the NC bill that allowed breweries to brew beers with higher alcohol content. Since then we have made a Russian Imperial Stout, Imperial India Pale Ale, and raised the ABV on our WIGGO! and Spring Bock. Our business was close to home in the surrounding 5 counties and we grew a big market share to make CPA one of the best selling beers in the Triangle.
In 2011, after 16 years as head brewer, John Shuck decided to leave CBC. Greg and Joe wanted to ensure that whoever bought his share of the business loved good beer and could work and care for the brewery the way John had. We didn’t have to look far. Mark Heath and Van Smith were long-time fans of CBC and worked as part of the volunteer bottling crew and brewed on occasion. In August 2011, they joined Joe and Greg as partners in CBC. They have added new energy, new ideas and a determination to grow the CBC brand beyond the Triangle. All it took, 3, (now 4) livers and a Dream.
VegTip: Vegan-friendly brewery.