A brewery project three years in the making will celebrate its grand opening this weekend.
Flying Machine Brewing Co., founded by longtime friends Grant Steadman and David Sweigart, is a 17,000-square-foot facility that will feature two outdoor patios and a large taproom with an indoor bocce ball court.
Brewing primarily on a 20-barrel, three-vessel system, each member of Flying Machine’s production team has an extensive professional background in the craft beer industry. Head Brewer Carl Cross studied British Brewing Technology and specializes in lower alcohol by volume (ABV), dry-style beers.
“What makes us different is the number of lower ABVs we brew,” Sweigart said. “We plan to create a lineup that is approachable to a wide range of customers, including lighter beer drinkers, which we feel is something unique to this region.”
Sweigart said the brewery will have six to eight standard selections, and that the market will dictate these flagship beers.
The production team, which also includes Assistant Brewer Matt Wiley and Quality Assurance Manager Dean Moore, will utilize a single-barrel pilot system for small-batch brewing and experimentation, and they have built a dedicated area for a barrel-aged and sour program that will begin shortly.
“We have dedicated a large area of the facility to experimental brewing, which we’re really excited about,” Steadman said.
With 22 taps in the main taproom and an additional 10 on the lower outdoor patio, Flying Machine plans to offer 15 to 20 of its beers at any given time. There are two nitro taps and two beer engines for traditional English cask-style beers. The draft list will be projected on a large wall in the taproom, allowing it to be updated as often as necessary and making it accessible to customers from any vantage point.
The brewery will also serve wine and kombucha and starting a week after the grand opening, a full coffee program.
“Being located on the Cross City Trail, we plan to open earlier than most breweries, and create a place for those biking, running or walking on the trail to gather for coffee in the earlier part of the day,” Sweigart said.
With 25 tie-ups for bikes, Sweigart and Steadman said they hope to encourage access from the trail.
While Flying Machine will be distributing kegs to local bottle shops, bars and restaurants, its first priority will be supplying the taproom. The brewery will utilize crowlers, 32-ounce cans that can be filled onsite, instead of growlers, and expects to have a full canning operation up and running within the year.
“Our main goal with distribution is to be able to reach people across the state and ultimately increase beer tourism in Wilmington,” Sweigart said.
The Flying Machine brand is a nod to North Carolina’s first flying machine, and the production team, along with Retail Manager Grant DaSantos and Taproom Manager Martha Parke Jones, try to stay on brand as much as possible with what Sweigart describes as a “diluted steampunk” theme that’s represented throughout the brewery.
“The whole idea is to develop an innovative approach to brewing and create a unique experience for the customer,” Sweigart said.
Flying Machine Brewing Co., 3130 Randall Parkway, will open at 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with food trucks throughout the weekend. Following opening weekend, the brewery will open at 9 a.m. seven days a week.
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