The four-year process of bringing 13 Stripes Brewery from concept to reality when it opens May 13 in Taylors Mill has been a family affair for the seven partners.
Aside from being related to each other by blood or law, as some of them are, they’ve been busy creating the next generation of brewers before this one even got off the ground: As of June, their collective number of children will reach 21. It was 16 when they started.
“We are incredibly family-friendly,” says Kenworth Reeves, Jr., co-founder and partner responsible for sales and marketing, and father of two boys, two girls, and one surprise on the way. “We want this to be a place for kids to come, too.”
The evidence supports that sentiment. On the same day the brewery received its certificate of occupancy, tricycles and a red plastic kiddie bucket swing accessorized the rustic industrial aesthetic.
Those additions are clearly not the norm for brewery décor but perfectly representative of these seven friends and business partners whose children have spent nearly as much time in the construction zone as they have.
It’s easy to imagine toddlers pedaling around on the wide-open concrete floor while their parents quite literally built out the 8,000-square-foot warehouse space by hand.
Hand-built and varnished wooden tables branded with the 13 Stripes logo now fill up much of that open space, with leather sofas and a bar faced with salvaged corrugated metal sheets taking up the rest. Robbie Andrews, partner and project manager, designed and built the tables and bar along with many other features in the building.
The 10-barrel brewing system lining the exterior wall was manufactured by Deutsche Beverage Technology in Charlotte specifically for 13 Stripes. For opening day, the customized system will brew and ferment five varietals if everything goes according to plan: a milk stout, IPA, pale ale, wheat ale, and pub ale with another four within a few weeks.
The menu will also include what they’re terming a “Rations Board” with locally sourced meats and cheeses and bread from SC Bakeroom.
Three of the seven partners are now full-time employees — Aaron Robinson, director of operations; Jeremy Bailey, head brewer; and Michael Robinson, co-founder and brewer. As business ramps up, they plan to add to that number.
Other partners are Jason O’Neil, “master of many trades,” and Brandon Andrews, CFO.
In keeping with the emphasis on family, the members of 13 Stripes view their foray into the Upstate’s growing brewery scene as joining a close-knit community rather than a competitive industry.
“They’re all super friendly,” Reeves says, referring to their comrades who own other local breweries. “It’s not typically dog-eat-dog.”
Aaron Robinson says, for example, he’s spent time with other breweries discussing their recipes and asking what could be seen as proprietary information.
“Any brewery will share their recipes,” Robinson says of the local players. “We’ve asked many of them every aspect with no problem.”
Reeves says they’ve discovered breweries to be a fun peer network where every one supports each other.
“It’s like an arts village, like the mill,” Reeves says. “One artist’s studio wouldn’t be nearly as cool as if you had 40.”
Head brewer Jeremy Bailey chimes in, “The more people that start drinking craft beer the better.”
Opening festivities on May 13 will include six food trucks (three each for lunch and dinner), a ceremony with the Sons of the American Revolution at 11 a.m., live music from local musicians, a family-friendly DJ, and the The Wünderbus photo booth along with caricature artists.
Planned hours of operations are Monday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, noon-midnight; Sunday 1-8 p.m.