Thursday, May 26, 2022

Sneak peek: Flying Machine Brewing’s massive and ‘ambitious’ brewery

In addition to sheer size, Flying Machine Brewing’s taproom will feature a two-story outdoor patio overlooking the cross-city trail complete with views of the Anne McCrary Park lake

With over 16,000 square feet of two-story space, Flying Machine Brewing Company means business -- with plans for every square foot of space. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
With over 16,000 square feet of two-story space, Flying Machine Brewing Company means business–with plans for every square foot of space. (Port City Daily photo/Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON—The sprawling Flying Machine Brewing Company building on Randall Parkway looks big, but you have to go inside to get a true sense of scale–that’s when you realize the team behind the brewery means serious business.

Related story: Flying Machine Brewing Company confident long journey to groundbreaking ‘worth the wait’

Right now, much of the inside looks like an empty warehouse with over 16,000 square feet of space; but founders Grant Steadman and David Sweigart have plans for it.

“This wasn’t an accident,” Sweigart said, gesturing to the open space. “This is the size we wanted to hit our sweet spot of creativity and quality without worrying about expansion down the line.”

Flying Machine Brewing has what Steadman calls “an ambitious roll-out” planned: 15,000-18,000 barrels of beer annually, a barrel-aging program, canning and distribution across North Carolina and neighboring states.

 “We won’t approach that barrelage year one of course, but we feel we can comfortably reach that capacity in this facility one day,” Steadman said.

From right: Founders David Sweigart and Grant Steadman, Brewmaster Carl Cross, and Quality Assurance Manager Dean Moore. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
From left: Founders David Sweigart and Grant Steadman, Head Brewer Carl Cross, and Quality Assurance Manager Dean Moore. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)

The Brewhaus

According to Head Brewer Carl Cross, the brewery plans to hit the ground running.

In addition to the massive brew-room, Flying Machine boasts a sizeable barrel aging room. Capable of holding over 300 barrels, the barrel room alone is the size of some local breweries.

“We want to have some barrel projects going from day one,” Cross said. “Some of these will take two years, or more, but some closer to three to four months. But we want to be ready to roll some out, we don’t want to be waiting two or three years to have one ready.”

As seen from the brewery's sizable cold storage facility, Flying machine plans a canning operation, with brite tanks for storage behind that, and brewing tanks at the far end of the building. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
As seen from the brewery’s sizable cold storage facility, Flying machine plans a canning operation, with brite tanks for storage behind that, and brewing tanks at the far end of the building. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)

There’s also space in the brewery for a canning operation. It won’t be operating on opening day, Cross said, but it’s planned for the near future.

To help handle the production load, Cross will be joined by assistant brewer Matt Wiley. Wiley was described as something of a wunderkind by Sweigart; the young man left the United States at 18, apprenticing in the United Kingdom, and then–since he was still too young to find work back home–traveling four continents, working at breweries. Wiley eventually landed a job at Magic Hat, where he’s been brewing for the last several years.

“That’s definitely something we’re going to get into relatively soon, we want people to be able to come by and grab some beer–and of course to have it at all the local bottle shops,” Cross said.

Perhaps an obvious concern, given the scale Flying Machine’s operations, is quality. To that end, Cross is joined by Dean Moore, who will handle “QA”- quality assurance.

Moore comes to Flying Machine after working as the Microbiologist for California’s Stone Brewing, frequent ranked nationally and internationally as one of the best around. It’s also one of the largest craft breweries around. Thus Moore’s job, making sure quantity doesn’t trump quality.

“I really got to get my hands into everything at Stone,” Moore said. “Being involved in QA at a brewery that size, where it was really important, that’s really what I want to do here.”

For right: Founders Grant Steadman and David Sweigart, Dean Moore. This is the future home of Flying Machine Brewing's quality assurance and experiment beer laboratory. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
From left: Founders Grant Steadman and David Sweigart, Dean Moore. This is the future home of Flying Machine Brewing’s quality assurance and experiment beer laboratory. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)

Moore’s gig comes with the best real estate in the brewery, his test lab. The facility is where Moore, with help from Cross and Wiley, will have the chance to both experiment and assure quality. It also comes with the brewery’s best view.

The Taproom

Flying Machine Brewing's taproom will have 22 taps and plenty of room at the bar. (Port City Daily photo | Courtesy Flying Machine Brewing Company)
Flying Machine Brewing’s taproom will have 22 taps and plenty of room at the bar. (Port City Daily photo | Courtesy Flying Machine Brewing Company)

Flying Machine Brewing’s taproom will feature a two-story outdoor patio overlooking the cross-city trail complete with views of the Anne McCrary Park lake. Instead of running tap lines to the patio area, which might allow beer to warm up in transit, the outside bar will have its own refrigerated tap system with about 10 beers on tap.

The inside taproom has a long bar with space for 22 taps fed directly from the brewery’s sizeable–and expandable–cold storage room.

Despite the bar’s considerable size, there’s still room for a game area. Think bocce, shuffleboard, cornhole – sports you can play while holding a beer in one hand, as Cross put it.

It will also house live music in its 173-seat taproom.

The brewery will bring in Grant DaSantos as director of retail operations. Sweigart said DaSantos was a natural choice, as he was responsible for building Highland Brewery’s facility from a small taproom to a full-scale operation, including a multi-level concert and event venue.

DaSantos will carry out retail operations with the help of the brewery’s tap room manager.  While this position has been filled, the founders have yet to announce her name.

Sweigart said the feedback from neighboring developments has been positive, with nearby residents looking forward to being able to take the city’s cross-city trail to the brewery, which will have racks for cyclists.

Coming this fall

Pictured above: This aerial view shows the Flying Machine Brewing Company building, with the cross-city trail and nearby lake. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy Instagram and Flying Machine Brewing Company)

With major construction largely complete, Flying Machine Brewing Company is moving towards finishing interior construction and, of course, brewing.

There are a lot of moving pieces involved in setting an opening date, but Sweigart said the brewery is comfortably aiming for a fall opening.

“We’re really excited to show people what we’ve been working on – we feel this is something unique in Wilmington,” Sweigart said.

The Flying Machine Brewing Company is located at 3130 Randall Parkway. For progress updates and other information, you can check out the Flying Machine Facebook page.


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001

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