Roll up the garage door of the white, brick building at 151 S. Stewart St. in Monroe, and a sea of furniture greets you. Tables, chairs and headboards, all in different states of refinishing, and at their feet a layer of dust.
If Dustin Gatliff has his way, the building will furnish Southern Range Brewing next spring.
The homebrewer of six years had been looking to open a brewery for some time. He thought the 3,000-square-foot building in historic downtown Monroe would be the perfect spot for a brewery, but the landlord wasn’t prepared to start the necessary construction.
Not wanting to miss out on the property, Gatliff leased it this past summer knowing he could use the space to house his furniture-refinishing business, which recently outgrew his home garage.
“I rented it for the brewery, but knowing that I could still work out of it,” said Gatliff.
While Gatliff hasn’t yet started building the brewery itself, he has acquired a two-barrel electric brewing system from Rivermen Brewing Co. out of Belmont. A system of that size can produce about 62 gallons of beer at a time and would qualify Southern Range Brewing as a nanobrewery.
Gatliff was inspired to go the nano route after seeing smaller breweries like Barking Duck Brewing in Mint Hill and Burial Beer Co. in Asheville.
“I was like, ‘These guys are opening breweries about as small as you can get,’” Gatliff said.
One advantage of brewing on such a small scale is that the brewery will be able to cycle through a variety of styles, rather than brewing larger batches of a single beer. Of course, Gatliff will have to brew more frequently on a smaller system than some of his peers with larger systems might, but he’s eager to experiment and see what will appeal to the residents of Monroe, who have not so much as a craft beer bar to call their own.
To start, Gatliff plans to offer a Kölsch, an oatmeal stout, a pale ale, IPA and double IPA.
“I’m an IPA guy, so there will probably be a lot of experimenting there,” he said.
Gatliff considered opening a brewery in Charlotte, but fell in love with Monroe’s historic downtown after moving to the city. And the City of Monroe has been just as enthusiastic, he said.