In his seven years as a home brewer, Sanford native Mike Stec (pictured below) developed about 25 beers that he thought more than just his friends and family deserved to enjoy. On July 25, they got the chance, when Mike quit his job as a government employee and opened Camelback Brewing Co.
Both the brewpub and its beers are inspired by the area Mike was born and raised, celebrating the history, culture and geography that make up Lee and Chatham County. Local woodworker Chad Gofrey even reclaimed driftwood from the Deep River to create the one-of-a-kind taps and coasters in the pub.
The first successful beer recipe that Mike created during his home brewing days, the Brick City Amber, is always on tap. Over the years, he has refined the recipe into what it is today — a smooth and enjoyable amber, similar in style to Red Oak or Fat Tire. Craft beer gurus and novices alike enjoy this favorite, and if you want to start with any of the Camelback beers, this sentimental staple is the one.
The eight taps occasionally include guest spots from Bombshell Brewing. And there might be a collaboration between Camelback and fellow Sanford brewery, Hugger Mugger Brewing, in 2019.
Head that way now and you’ll find an IPA in the growingly popular New England Style, as well as the West Coast style; a cream ale (another great introductory beer after the amber), a stout and a pale ale. All are named to reflect the Sanford area or the people that inhabit it. The R3 Cream Ale is symbolic of kayaking down Sanford’s Rocky River Ride (aka R3).
The C.O. Stanford’s Secret Stout is named after railroad engineer Col. Charles Ogburn Sanford, who the city was (obviously) named after; but as the story goes, no one has ever seen a photo of him.
Once a solid lineup of beer was created, Mike brought head chef Randall Yow on board, who created a European reflection on a pub menu, complete with bratwursts, a Reuben, London Broil and plenty of found cabbage throughout the menu.
You’ll find live music performed by local artists every Saturday night, trivia Wednesday night and rotating specials for brunch every Sunday morning, like a Monte Cristo sandwich or a special brunch brat. Come for the beer and food, stay for the tour — Mike is happy to walk you through the back of house.