With two new taprooms / restaurants, a product launch, fresh branding and expanded distribution routes all expected to be complete by the end of 2023, Southern Pines Brewing Co. is taking its pursuit of hoppyness to new heights.
The Product Launch: Southern Pines Spirits
Since the 2014 founding of its production brewery and taproom on Air Tool Drive, Southern Pines Brewing Co. has grown to become one of the largest craft beer producers in the state, and added a second taproom on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Bennett Street.
This April, the brewery adds a sister brand called Southern Pines Spirits, with the debut of a line of canned cocktails in flavors that have been in the works for over a year. The flagship lineup includes a Tropical Citrus Run Mai Tai, Classic Lime Bourbon Sour, Blackberry Rye Smash, Grape Vodka Transfusion, Bourbon Kentucky Buck and a Cucumber Basil Gin and Tonic.
“The ‘why’ of what we’re about is to create and foster community, and we do that through continuously reimagining the craft beverage and hospitality experience,” owner and co-founder Micah Niebauer says. “Why not keep evolving, and using the equipment and talented people that we have to enter into new market sectors?”
Canned cocktails have been on Micah’s radar since November 2021, when he first heard that North Carolina legislation may eventually allow distribution beyond ABC stores. Rather than immediately install a still, he secured a federal distillery permit and sourced white-label spirits from distilleries. Then, he and his team started the “hard work” of creating a lineup of flavors that weren’t too sweet out of a can, yet sweet enough that they held their flavor when served over ice.
Creating the cocktails was a sort of Willy Wonka science. To find the perfect flavor, Micah’s team mixed up the components by hand, canned their creation, and sent it to a Kentucky company that extracted the flavor compounds, mixed up the flavor additive, and sent it back for approval. The SPBC team would taste it and send their notes back to the company — rinse and repeat, for 12 months.
Now, Micah is ready to carbonate and can the cocktails in the production brewery. “We have all the equipment to do them in house, and we have a huge competitive advantage over almost every distillery in the state if these start to go into grocery stores. They don’t have distributors, they don’t have retail relationships, they don’t have canning lines.”
But, don’t look for Southern Pines Spirits where you get your solo cups and toilet paper just yet. Until the laws around canned cocktails change, you’ll be able to find them at local ABC stores, or purchase and consume them from the Air Tool Drive location — or at the two new SPBC taprooms slated to open this year.
The New Taprooms
ICYMI, two new taprooms are in the works — Southern Pines Brewing Co. on Hay Street (Fayetteville) and what Micah is calling The Buggy Factory by Southern Pines Brewing Co. (Carthage). So named to pay homage to the town’s heritage and the history of the Tyson & Jones Buggy Factory, the building will include an outdoor beer garden and covered seating area with a lawn that can house concerts and events.
Both locations will include a restaurant, which will legally allow the new canned Southern Pines Spirits cocktails to be served. For now, you won’t be able to order them at the Pennsylvania Avenue location.
The Brand Refresh
If you can recognize a Southern Pines Brewing Co. can by sight, you know the brewery has always been product-focused; now, you’ll be able to instantly recognize all the brewery’s cans of beer and cocktails by the S.P. name, in a green oval.
With all the change comes a core IPA, Giggle Switch. Some may recognize the name as a limited run that debuted in 2022.
“With the limiteds we try to make a statement,” says head brewer Steve Anchor. “I almost try to get Micah to say no.” The original super-hoppy, super-high ABV brew has been scaled back to a hazy IPA that’s a little more balanced, to debut along with the brand’s refresh.
The refresh was a “big investment on our part,” Micah says, “but we also felt like we’re at a huge inflection point as a business, not just being Southern Pines Brewing Company but a beverage company that’s also now going into multiple states.”
Oh, did we not mention that distribution is expanding to South Carolina? Also, there’s that.
“It’s bittersweet to have some of our designs go away, but as our business keeps moving forward we really feel like this is still tying us to the community,” Micah says. “It’s all about Southern Pines at this point. Regardless of the product in it, our brand is Southern Pines. We’re excited to make this move and we feel it’s an awesome time, with all the things happening in the world and in ours.”