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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

By the Beach Brewing to add to Wilmington’s growing industry

By the Beach Brewing will open by the end of May with five craft beers on tap at first before evolving to 14, and a few months thereafter it will incorporate a coffee shop as part of the venture. (Port City Daily/Shea Carver)

WILMINGTON — Coffee and beer: That’s the winning combination for a couple of healthcare workers making the switch from respiratory therapists to brewery owners.

Guy Gulutz and Kim Findley are in the midst of renovating a 4,000-square-foot warehouse and office space near Buffalo Wild Wings and Tex’s Bait and Tackle. They’re aiming to tap their first beer at By the Beach Brewing by the end of May and a few months thereafter incorporate a coffee shop as part of the venture.

READ MORE: A different vibe: Garden hideaway bar coming to 16th Street will welcome dogs, families

“We were planning on opening before Covid,” Gulutz said. “And when Covid hit, we put everything on hold.”

They had been on the hunt for a location when 104 Old Eastwood Road caught their eye on Facebook Marketplace. It was formerly a remodeling shop and glass works business.

“It was pretty perfect for us,” Gulutz said. 

Customers already were in place with a busy shopping complex nearby that houses Kohl’s, Home Depot, Hiro’s Japanese Restaurant and a Hampton Inn. 

The warehouse is large enough for the hand-crafted bar Gulutz and Findley are building in the taproom, as well as the barrel system they’re installing to create the beer.

A separate building once containing offices will be outfitted with bathrooms but also become the second phase of the business plan — a coffee shop. Once open, it will serve a variety of drinks and the entrepreneurs are in talks now with roasters in town. 

The lot also has an outdoor area, surrounded by trees, which will be fenced in, so people can bring their dogs. Overall the footprint can hold roughly 80 people indoors and out, which will be outfitted with a bar, bistro tables and lounge seating. Cornhole and other entertainment will be on site, and food trucks will be invited to park.

The brewery will start off with four or five beers before scaling up its 14 taps in the coming year. Gulutz is first brewing a pilsner, IPA, wheat beer, coffee stout and blonde stout, the latter of which excites him most.

“This area is very hop heavy, very IPA-based,” Gulutz said. “Personally, I love stouts — and no one in town is making a blonde one.”

The brew is created with lighter grains instead of black or chocolate malt. Coffee is added like a regular stout but it’s not ground.

“So you don’t get the color off of the coffee, but you get the flavor off of the beans,” Gulutz said, noting it has the same mouthfeel and taste profile of a normal stout.

“It was always a big thing for us to have the coffee,” Gulutz said. “And I utilize it in other beers besides stouts.”

For instance, he wants to do a coffee-and-cream pilsner. Experimenting is the fun part of the job, Gulutz said. He is toying around with having “Frankenstein Friday” every so often to launch a mystery beer and garner feedback from the public on what they like.

Recently he tested a blueberry-pineapple wheat beer for his stepdaughter’s graduation.

“Blueberries gave it a little sour kicker,” he said.

By the Beach will brew an apricot wheat beer first, a recipe Gulutz has tried out a few times already with much success. 

He first began his passion for brewing at his fiancée’s behest almost a decade ago, after they moved to Wilmington from Long Island. One Christmas, Gulutz said Findley asked if he’d like to experiment with beer-making.

“Coming from a science background, it interested me because it’s almost like a chemistry set,” he said.

Gulutz took classes at Wilmington Brewing Company and got his first beer kit, which eventually led to setting up a 5-gallon system in his home. The most he made for family and friends was 10 gallons; however, when he looked to buy the three-barrel system recently — which can produce more than a 100 gallons — he did a test run.

“I bought it from Good Hops in Carolina Beach when they upgraded,” Gulutz said. “The community is great — so friendly and inviting. Ten years ago breweries were just starting out in Wilmington and now it’s exploded — across all of North Carolina.” 

A Colorado-based Brewers Association found the Tar Heel State ranks in the top 10 nationally for craft beer production. The industry made a $2.8-billion economic impact in 2022.

In a separate survey, Wilmington placed on the top 10 list of best beer cities nationwide, according to SmartAsset.

The By the Beach owners want to eventually distribute their portfolio of sippers. The plan is to push out kegs to restaurants and bars first and possibly expand into a canning production facility.

“Our goal is in five to 10 years, when our lease runs out, we will be at a point where we could build our own facility,” Gulutz said.

By the Beach Brewing will open six days a week, likely from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Hours are still being worked out and when the coffee shop opens, it will serve the morning crowd too.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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