Aug 14, 2023 - Food and Drink

Catawba permanently closes its massive Charlotte brewery

Catawba

Photo: Emma Way/Axios

Catawba Brewing Co. has permanently closed its massive Charlotte location after more than six years in the Belmont neighborhood.

“Thank you for the years of support,” a note on the door reads.

Why it matters: The closure news Monday came without any notice, former employees said on social media. And the news comes less than a week after the brewery closed its Wilmington location under similar circumstances, according to former employees.

What they’re saying: “Someone from HR and the director of retail operations came in this morning and let us all know that the taproom was closed, effective immediately, and that none of us had jobs,” former general manager MaryAnn Anstine tells Axios. She says they had fewer than 24 hours’ notice and were told they would not receive severance.

  • We asked Catawba’s parent company, Made By The Water, why they fired all of Charlotte’s employees if plans are to move to another location off the light rail. The response from their brand and product manager was: “I’m not at liberty to speak on anyone’s employment status.”
Catawba
Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Context: In 2021, Made By the Water —a holding portfolio of Wiregrass Equity Partners that also owns Oyster Citybought Catawba from the Pyatt family, who founded the brewery in 1999, per the Charlotte Business Journal. Made By the Water merged with Faubourg Brewing last year, WSOC noted.

  • Catawba closed its facility in Morganton, its original home, last year and moved production to New Orleans, WSOC reported. CEO Alexi Sekmakas told Nola.com that the decision was made because the demand for beer outgrew its capacity.

Flashback: Catawba Brewing invested $1 million to open its taproom and production facility in Belmont in 2017.

  • The 10,000-square-foot taproom had two different bars and a full bottling line. It was set up to ferment three times as many barrels as its Morganton location, Axios reported when it opened

What we’re watching: Made By The Water is searching for a smaller taproom in the Charlotte area and is targeting a spring or summer opening date, as CBJ first reported.

  • A statement from Made By The Water elaborates that they’re relocating to a spot off the rail trail.

The intrigue: Catawba joins a growing list of Charlotte breweries that have closed suddenly. In February, Bhramari closed its South End and Asheville locations because of “circumstances beyond our control,” according to an Instagram post

Zoom out: Catawba’s White Zombie wheat beer is one of the most recognizable brews in the state — whether it’s at a sports bar, grocery store or football stadium.

  • Now, the brewery’s only remaining taproom in North Carolina is in Asheville.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Aug. 18 to include the response from Made By The Water. 

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