Earlier this summer we learned that Petuluma, Calif. brewery Lagunitas was expanding to Charleston. The wildly popular Sonoma brand started in 1993 and after much success, Heineken acquired a 50 percent stake in the business. Now it’s opening a tap room in the building currently home to Southend Brewery. So what does that mean for the Holy City beer scene? Lagunitas’ marketing director Karen Hamilton answers our questions.
1) Why Charleston? Why did the company decide to come here?
We were looking for ways to learn from and become more connected to communities across the U.S. Tony Magee, who owns Lagunitas, was in town for a music event, walked down the street, saw this incredible building with a brew pub in it and went in for a beer and a burger. He felt an affinity immediately and through an even stranger set of events, we are now expanding to amazing Charleston.
2) Can you tell me what the Beer Sanctuary will entail?
It will be pretty much the similar space that it is right now, just Lagunitasied up a little bit. We are honoring all the events on Southend’s calendar that have been booked previously and will begin scheduling in non-profit fundraising events in the open dates soon.
3) What kind of makeover will the Southend building get before you reopen it?
The building is already beautiful so just a little change in decor.
4) When will the brewery open?
We’re shooting for end of September.
5) Charleston has a burgeoning craft beer scene and local beer enthusiasts are extremely supportive of it. How do you think Lagunitas will fit in or compete in this market?
We really would like to just become part of the party, the great beer scene that already exists in Charleston. We have much to learn there and are looking forward to creating new relationships and making new friends.
6) What kind of arrangement do you have planned for food service in the space? Will there be a chef on staff?
The kitchen will continue to operate with the same staff. There may be some menu changes but none of that has been decided yet. You’ll have to visit us in another month or so and find out.
7) Will you be brewing Lagunitas beer or Southend beer?
We may continue with a few of their recipes, again nothing’s been decided, but we do know that we will not be brewing any of our year round beers there — although we will have them on tap. And we will for sure be brewing some fun, unique beers there, only to be served on site.
8) What kind of people are you hoping to bring in? The area is a big tourist spot, is that who Lagunitas is looking to attract?
We hope to bring in locals and those visiting from other places. We have all kinds of clientele coming to our tap rooms in Chicago and Petaluma.
9) How many people do you plan to employ there?
Looks like about 90 right now.