Fortnight Brewing, Cary’s first brewery, opens

aspecht@newsobserver.comFebruary 23, 2014 

— David Pierce loves craft beer, and he had been waiting months to finally walk through the doors of Fortnight Brewing Company.

Last week, the Cary man tried some samples.

“Delicious,” Pierce said after tasting Fortnight’s blonde ale.

“Mmm, very good,” he said of the English ale.

Then he tried the porter: “Oh, that’s terrific.”

Pierce walked out the door with a half-gallon jug in each hand.

“You don’t see a lot of breweries focusing on English ales,” Pierce said. “I’m pretty pumped about it and have been telling people at work to come by.”

That’s music to Stuart Arnold’s ears.

“Yes, another convert!” Arnold, Fortnight’s president, cheered.

Fortnight is Cary’s first brew pub. It’s also the first brewery in the Triangle focusing primarily on English beer.

For now, Fortnight is mostly relying on social media and word of mouth to draw customers to its bar at 1006 SW Maynard Road.

The company’s investors are confident business will pick up quickly, and Fortnight’s 24,000-square-foot building reflects their optimism.

“Cary is an untapped market,” said David Urben, the commercial real-estate agent who found Fortnight’s Cary site.

The brewery is surrounded by residential subdivisions and is less than a mile southwest of downtown Cary.

On the outside, the brewery is nondescript. On the inside, it has high ceilings, bar stools, booths and even a couple of leather chairs.

Stuart, 48, has brewed beer recreationally since he was a youngster in Maltby, England. He was inspired by his grandfather, a forager who used to make his own wine.

The fermenting process “fascinated me,” he said.

The malt, hops and yeast in most of Fortnight’s beers come from the United Kingdom.

Water is the only ingredient that comes from America – and the owners even considered changing Cary’s water profile to match that of English towns Burton upon Trent and Yorkshire.

“But in blind taste tests we didn’t notice any significant differences to ones brewed with unaltered Cary water,” Arnold said.

English beer tends to be more malty than hoppy, and some – like Fortnight’s English ale – have a lower-than-average alcohol content.

It’s usually served at warmer temperatures than American beers, though Fortnight serves its brews on the colder side.

Most English beers take two weeks to craft, hence the name Fortnight. It’s a delicate process, one that takes experience.

That’s why Stuart hired Derek Garman, who formerly worked at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery in Charlotte, as head brewmaster.

Fortnight is already getting some good feedback. At a recent meet-up party, a customer forecast success after surveying the room.

“He said, ‘This place is gonna be a hit and you know why?’ ” Stuart recalled.“ ‘Because no one is texting.’ 

New brewery in Holly Springs

Locally owned breweries have been popping up throughout the Triangle.

Bombshell Beer Company recently opened at 120 Quantum Drive in Holly Springs. Three women – Ellen Joyner, Michelle Miniutti and Jackie Hudspeth – started the business.

Bombshell offers a German pilsner, pale ale, IPA, and porter. It also plans to offer specialty beers like jalapeno, lemongrass and coconut.

The brewmaster, Stephen O’Neill, specializes in traditional German beers. The Polished Pilsener is Bombshell’s standby.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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