Local Leaders Tour Chatham County Industry

PITTSBORO, NC – March 28, 2017 - A dozen local leaders joined Chatham Economic Development Corporation for its annual Chatham County industry tour on March 21, 2018. The tour focused on craft beverage manufacturing and featured Carolina Brewery, Starrlight Mead, Fair Game Beverage and Chatham Cider Works.

Beginning at Carolina Brewery, director of brewing operations Jon Connolly led the group through the facility’s brewery and canning operation. Carolina Brewery, which opened its Pittsboro location in 2007, recently invested in new canning and refrigeration equipment to keep up with distribution demand. Connolly shared insight about changes in the craft beer industry, business challenges and how Carolina Brewery adapts and continues to grow.

The tour continued to Starrlight Mead, where Ben and Becky Starr shared their business story. The Starrs, who started as homebrewers, opened their Pittsboro meadery in 2009. Their mead flavors – all made with North Carolina honey – have become so popular that the husband and wife team is expanding to a new, larger facility at The Plant in Pittsboro, expected to open in fall 2018. The Starrlight Mead team is looking forward to expanding its brewing capacity to keep up with demand.

The last tour stop was the Chatham Beverage District at The Plant, home to Fair Game Beverage and Chatham Cider Works, and soon, Nazz’d Brew Works and Starrlight Mead.

Fair Game Beverage, a distillery and winery, incorporates many North Carolina flavors into its products, including apple, sorghum and honeysuckle. Bob Armantrout led the group through the production facility, explaining the different beverages and their origins, showing off new gift crates featuring locally-sourced products and sharing plans for continued growth.

At Chatham Cider Works, Maureen Ahmad and her husband Jim Crawford shared the story behind their new cidery. Describing it as a hobby that got out of hand, Maureen and Jim talked about sourcing only North Carolina apples – including from a family orchard – and their plans to expand production as sales and distribution grow.

Chatham Economic Development Corporation would like to thank everyone involved in this year’s tour. We appreciate our local businesses for sharing their stories and our tour participants for taking time to learn about a growing industry sector in Chatham County. Special thanks to Dwayne Copeland at Carolina Brewery for the extra hospitality with delicious hors d’oeuvres.

March 28, 2018