Since opening in 2012, Salud Beer Shop in NoDa has established itself as a killer Queen City beer destination. In a recent move that will further cement their place in the heart of the local beer scene, they’re now (legally) brewing their own beers in-house.
Charlotte, it’s time to meet your newest (and smallest) brewery. Salud received its brewery permit in November, and its first creation is now pouring.
The origins of the Salud as a brewery concept go back to 2014, when owner Jason Glunt began talks with a pair of local homebrewers on setting up a nanobrewery. They aren’t called “nanos” flippantly; each Salud brew session yields but one barrel of production, a whopping 31 gallons. Compare this to Birdsong, NoDa, Olde Mecklenburg, or Triple C — each of their original systems gave at least 10 barrels.
Don’t write this project off because of its size or because of a perceived “homebrew” aversion. The brewers, system and setup are anything but typical. The two principal brewers behind this project, Denny Deaton and Shawn McBride, have combined brewing experience of more than 30 years. The system, a stainless steel set of Blichmann kettles, is not your typical garage warrior’s equipment. The brew stand, crafted by Terry Bopp of Crafted Metal Designs, shows the same care he’s exhibited in building other similar-sized setups for Birdsong, Free Range, and Triple C.
“We’re taking beer seriously,” said Jason Glunt, owner of Salud Beer Shop. “We’re not just putting anything out. I want people to look at us as a brewery, not a joke of a one-barrel thing at a bottle shop. I don’t care what size (system) it’s on, good beer is good beer.”
If anything, the smaller size is a positive, says Deaton. “(The system) will give us a lot of flexibility and freedom in terms of batch size and brewing various styles.”
“It’s all about experimentation,” Glunt elaborates. “Since we’re so small, we can get some crazy hops that other people can’t get because they can’t get a huge contract of them. I can go to NoDa’s Farmers Market and make a beer.”
The initial brewing focus will be on saisons and wild ales, styles that are easily fermented at warmer temperatures. With the brewers’ personal drinking preferences running the full spectrum, expect eventual forays into further styles.
Brewing will essentially be done by committee, for now. Per McBride, this is because “most of us that are currently involved are working full time jobs and juggling families. The good news is we also plan on doing several split batch beers that will allow us to showcase a particular hop, yeast or other ingredient. This will allow us to offer a diverse number of beers.”
The inaugural in-house Salud brew, “Finnish Line,” was tapped just days ago. The style of beer, Sahti, dates back to the 9th century and is rarely found from larger beer producers. Talk about brewed the hard way: “The mash tun had juniper branches (that had actual juniper berries on them as well) at the very bottom during the entire mashing process,” McBride said. “This really helped infuse the juniper into the beer.” Oh, but it gets better. “I also smoked some of the malt with juniper twigs and berries and juniper berries were added during the boil to further infuse more juniper flavor into this beer.”
Don’t expect more of the same from Salud’s brewing team. “With the exception of a few house beers, we’re planning to keep the taps fresh with new experimental beers as ideas come to us,” says Deaton. “I really like to develop recipes around food and some of my favorite dishes, so look forward to plenty of culinary riffs coming from me.”
McBride adds, “I am a huge fan of American beer styles as well as sour/wild ales so most of what I brew will fall into those two broad styles of beer. Our approach at Salud is to brew experimental non standard beers, as Jason wants to offer his patrons beers that are both exciting and unique.” Also in the works: a barrel-aging and sour program.
Jason Glunt sums the project’s scope up nicely. “Basically, we’re just trying to make beer that we like to drink, and hopefully other people like it too.”
Judging by that first beer I’ve had from them, I’d say they’ll do just fine.