A 21,000-square-foot former industrial space at 101 Airport Road that also housed a film studio will be redeveloped as a new brewery if all goes according to the new tenant’s plans.
Ryan Kurlfink, founder, president, and brewmaster of the recently formed Propagate Brewery Development Group, has leased the space from Sykes Workman Leasing LLC to open the group’s inaugural concept, Think Tank Brew Lab, which is named for Kurlfink’s desire for customers to seriously consider the quality of the beer they’re used to drinking and also for the experimental nature of the brewing process he plans to use.
John Parker of Broad Street Partners, who also worked with Fireforge Crafted Beer to find their soon-to-open Washington Street location, brokered the transaction.
“People along Laurens and Gower are starved for things to do,” Parker says.
The Airport Road location, with high ceilings and enough space to accommodate hundreds of people, has direct access to the expanded Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail, on which Kurlfink plans to capitalize by providing grab-and-go snacks and drinks. Along with 20-plus brews Kurlfink says Greenville hasn’t yet experienced, Think Tank Brew Lab will offer a full food menu and wine, similar to other larger brewery concepts, such as Sierra Nevada in the Asheville, N.C., area, which he calls his “favorite place in the world.”
Included with the property is more than 1 acre of urban forest and green space, which will be used for an expansive biergarten, stage, and outdoor games and events. A second-floor event space with a second bar and stage is planned with views of the trail, biergarten, and brewery.
“After more than two decades brewing and traveling the country designing and building craft breweries, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to settle down and build the brewery of my dreams,” Kurlfink says. “This property offers everything a community-focused craft brewery could ask for and more. Selecting this site and bringing it back to life as headquarters for Greenville’s homegrown Think Tank Brew Lab was truly a no-brainer.”
Kurlfink, a Greenville resident and former Blue Ridge Brewing Co. assistant brewer and eventually brewmaster from 1995-2005, studied brewery science and engineering at the University of California, Davis before medaling in the World Beer Cup in 1998 in the tropical/foreign stout category. He was director of craft brewing systems for SMT Brewery Solutions from 2012-17 and became the business development director for Probrew/Techniblend in 2017.
During his time traveling the world, setting up tank systems for breweries, Kurlfink completed more than 54 projects, from the start-up strategy and facility design to installation and brewer training.
Propagate Brewery Development Group was formed by Kurlfink to bring like-minded, local investors together who are interested in financially supporting the craft beer movement but cannot operate a brewery themselves. Think Tank Brew Lab is the group’s first project, but Kurlfink hopes there will be many more.
Kurlfink says Bob Hiller, owner of Blue Ridge Brewing Co. and his former employer, should receive all the credit for starting the craft beer scene in Greenville, and he plans to continue that legacy at Think Tank Brew Lab.