Blue Blaze just got its green light.
With a building permit now in hand, Blue Blaze Brewing has released drawings of its plans for its 8,000-square-foot warehouse at 528 S. Turner Ave, beside the Savona Mill. As it stands today, the nondescript building is relatively empty; but in the months between now and a late spring or early summer opening, co-founders Craig Nunn and Sven Giersmann, as well as head brewer Steve Turner, will be quite busy.
Outside, the industrial building will gain character through a wood awning over the entrance (with a silo coming in later, when they have a need for more grain). Large windows will be installed on both sides of the building, with the street side looking into the 15-barrel brewhouse and a row of fermenters.
Inside, plans call for beer garden-style tables and seating for around 125 between the main level and a new mezzanine. Behind the bar will be 22 taps (two of them nitro) pouring a variety of beers, with Blue Blaze putting its own spin on American, German and English styles. Core beers will include an altbier, amber, milk stout, black IPA and Dortmunder lager, with more than 10 additional recipes on top of those. Most of Blue Blaze’s beers will fall below 6.5 percent ABV.
In neighborhoods like South End and NoDa, it’s all too easy to visit several breweries in a matter of hours. Here in Charlotte’s “West End,” however, that’s not the case.
“We know it will be a destination,” said Nunn. “People will have to want to come out this way.”
There have been instances of breweries bringing new businesses to an area, though. When The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery opened in an industrial area off of Old Pineville Rd. in 2009, it was the only real draw in that corridor. Now, the brewery is neighbors with another brewery, two distilleries and a bar, with a cidery coming soon. Many think the area surrounding NoDa Brewing’s North End brewery could see similar development.
There are also cases of breweries breathing new life into old mills. Twenty years ago, the Southend Brewery and Smokehouse played a big part in the Atherton Mill revitalization project. The developers behind the Savona Mill revitalization will use the Atherton Mill project from the 1990s as a template. Right now, the historic mill is boarded up and in need of repair.
Blue Blaze’s building isn’t in the mill itself, but they could be seen as an anchor tenant that would bring in additional tenants and businesses. And while the area lacks these complementary businesses that abound in other neighborhoods, Nunn believes the neighborhoods themselves are not so different.
“It’s NoDa 10-15 years ago. This community was looking for something to validate what they’ve done,” said Nunn, referring to the hard work put in by residents in Seversville and Wesley Heights. “We were expecting a few naysayers, but it’s been one big fat hug.”
In addition to wanting to put down roots in a welcoming neighborhood, Nunn and Giersmann also wanted to be close to a greenway. Lovers of the outdoors, they named the brewery after the blue blazes which mark side trails on the Appalachian Trail.
“We really wanted to be on the greenway,” said Nunn. “It wasn’t a requirement, but it was a really nice thing to have.”
The Stewart Creek Greenway stretches from just across the street to uptown, a span that can be walked in 15 minutes. By bike it’s even quicker, and Blue Blaze will take advantage of this by using custom Bullitt bicycles to deliver kegs.
The greenway should help Blue Blaze bring its beer to others, and hopefully it’ll help bring others to its beer, too.