LoneRider roll-out rescheduled due to inclement weather. The new date is Tuesday, January 27th - still at Brixx in CH. Brewery tours still on schedule to begin Friday, Jan. 23rd.
Last week the Indy published an article on the state of local beer culture in the Triangle. The article expressed some serious negative feelings toward Raleigh’s participation in the brewing scene, including a suggestion that the soon-to-open Boylan Bridge Brewpub was merely a solution to a real-estate problem for owner Andrew Leager, an implication that Big Boss is suffering from an identity crisis, and that the closure of Greenshields – how many years ago was that? - somehow implies a general lack of enthusiasm for local beer in Raleigh. While the article attempted to maintain a positive tone, the undercurrent of slander against Raleigh’s beer culture is hard to ignore. Even the main focus of the article – LoneRider Brewing Company – seemed to take a position secondary to the Indy’s dismissal of the Raleigh beer scene.
If our neighbors to the Northwest are feeling hostile toward our beers we need not fear, for the LoneRider is easily interpreted as a vigilante defender of Raleigh’s brewing cred.
Partners Sumit Vohra, Mihir Patel, and Steve Kramling are certainly ready to adopt the renegade role implied by their name. With all the great local beers in NC it might seem tough to make a name for a new brew, but CEO Vohra sees the strong competition in the brewing industry as a good thing and says “it only serves to make us focus more on our product.”
Focus and attention to quality is definitely important, but it also doesn’t hurt to fill a largely neglected niche. The trio back up the rebellious persona of the LoneRider by offering a traditional hefeweizen (a rare find in NC) as their anchor product. They intend Shotgun Betty - a zesty hefeweizen with a bold banana character and strong notes of clove and sweet herbs – to serve as a transition beer for people unfamiliar with more flavorful craft brews. Shotgun Betty is bursting with flavor, has a thick creamy head that stood up through the entire length of our brewery tour, and is a definite departure for the average domestic beer drinker. Even so, this hefeweizen is one of the most refreshing and drinkable beers I’ve tasted and has a clean, crisp, citrusy finish.
Next in line for the fermenter is Deadeye Jack porter which was unfortunately not ready for tasting when we visited the brewery. The two beers will debut January 27th at Brixx Pizza in Chapel Hill, and from there will be moving into a number of other venues around the Triangle. There are no immediate plans for bottling, but growlers will be available direct from the brewery.
LoneRider is located off US70 at its intersection with I-540, and is a serious labor of love on the part of Vohra, Patel, and Kramling. They have spent the last year renovating their space – a former furniture auction-house – and assembling the brewery with equipment salvaged from the now-defunct Mad Boar Brewpub in Myrtle Beach, SC. Since they moved into the building they have been faced with numerous challenges (Vohra and Patel related with a look of weary pride the story of how they dug out the floor to a depth of twelve feet in order to install reinforcements necessary for supporting the fermenter vats). A year seems like an amazingly short time-frame given the fact that only brewmaster Kramling had any prior construction experience, and that all three held full-time jobs outside the brewery during the renovation.
LoneRider will be open to the public for brewery tours on Friday evenings beginning January 23rd at 6:00pm. Check out their website at loneriderbeer.com for more information.
All photos by NewRaleigh.com