With 69 breweries operating or planned in the Triangle region (according to the local BreweryMap.com), any new one has to differentiate itself—by its beer or branding, its story or team or funding.
Bull Durham Beer Co., opening soon at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, is aiming for all of those things. A good story—it’s the first brewery nationally to operate within a minor league ballpark. Good beer—state-of-the-art equipment and experienced craft brewers promise that. Strong branding completed after a national search for an agency. And the financial backing of a family and company committed to supporting, growing and making profitable the craft beer industry in North Carolina.
But the big vision is to make Bull Durham Beer into a profitable and recognizable brand with distribution far beyond Durham and production taking place in the Rocky Mount Brewmill, serving as a case study for how to build a craft beer company from scratch into a successful regional or national brand.
When the Brewmill opens, the plan is to house up to 10 startup craft brewers, brewing courses offered through Nash Community College, and other financial, legal, branding, sales and marketing help, so breweries can get started for a fraction of the cost as is typically required. One brewery, called Koi Brewing, is already lined up for a subsidiary property, also owned by Capitol. And several homes once occupied by textile millworkers are under construction now—the hope is that they’ll be rented by brewers at the Brewmill.
A portion of the main building will also be used for larger scale production for breweries like Bull Durham, as they grow and distribute cans or bottles both around and outside of the region. Additional space at Rocky Mount could be occupied by very large brewers over time.
But at least for now, Bull Durham Beer has the attention of Wolfrum and team. He believes the combination of top-of-the-line equipment, an experienced brewing team, a unique home in a ballpark and a sound and authentic brand give it a chance “to make it big”.
“It’s a little bit like these ball players who made it to a Triple A team—playing for the Bulls sets you up to make it to the majors,” Wolfrum says. “That’s like here too. We’re making sure that if we can, we will succeed.”