Pineville’s first brewery, under renovation construction and scheduled to open in February, is coming in hot.
Spanning two stories on the backside of the Golf Village building, Middle James Brewing Company will boast 24 taps, lunch and dinner 7 days a week, 15 TVs and a projector, an 830-square-foot room for private parties, a shaded deck overlooking the putting green, Par 3 and range and an outdoor beer garden.
The brewery will be located at 400 N. Polk Street, just south of Interstate 485, in a building that was once a golf shop and then a darts and billiards hall. The space was empty for several years until business partners Michael Smoak, Andrew Viapiano and Shannon Wallace took over.
With the addition of the new spot along the arterial road where Pineville meets Charlotte, the trio is determined to up the social game for nearby golf range visitors, car dealership service department customers or post-workout Crossfit athletes.
“There are a bunch of good breweries in Charlotte,” Smoak said. “There wasn’t anything over in this area. We wanted to be on this side of 485.”
In fact, in order to make room for Middle James, the Pineville Town Council made changes to its zoning rules to allow for micro-breweries (breweries that produce fewer than 25,000 barrels) to be developed in community shopping districts. Prior to Middle James’ pitch to Town Council in October 2017, the town did not have a classification for small-batch beer production. Middle James was granted approval if they also did at least two of the following: bar/tasting room, event/outdoor space or restaurant/food option. Check, check — and check.
Rotating taps will offer 8 beers at all times, with choices including IPA, pale ale, lager, Kölsch, pilsner, barrel-aged stout and Hefeweizen. Other taps will offer red, white and rosé wine, Prosecco, cider, sodas, kombucha and potentially cold-brew coffee. Sour beers will eventually be brewed as well. “We wanted to offer a good variety for people that like all types of beer,” Viapiano said. “We’ll keep it new at all times.”
Viapiano and Smoak have a history with beer — in fact, it’s how they met. Smoak won the 2016 Cheers Charlotte Radio Capture the Crown Homebrew Competition, and Viapiano was a judge. Viapiano is originally from Burlington, Vermont, and Smoak and Wallace are from Myrtle Beach, where they grew up together.
Wallace is in charge of the kitchen, where executive chef Perry Saito will prepare upscale menu items including Pulled Duck Totchos, made of pulled duck confit, tater tots, melted gruyere, green salsa, sour cream and sweet pepper jam; an MJB Cobb salad, prepared Pittsburgh Style with chopped iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, cheddar cheese, a boiled egg, and buttermilk fried chicken breast, topped with shoestring fries and green goddess dressing; but the real MVP will be the corned beef, Saito said.
“The corned beef quesadillas will be unique. We’re going to have the standard Reuben as well. We’re going to utilize some of Andrew’s beers when we cook the corned beef, so it will be unique to what we do.”
The business partners, who all have children themselves, said Middle James Brewing will be family-friendly, with kids’ meals and drinks. It will be a place for sports fans, broadcasting soccer, football, basketball and others. Breakfast with a breakfast beer during soccer games is a definite option, Viapiano said. Eventually, a volleyball court may become part of the outdoor beer garden.
In a corridor with retailers flanking the busy thoroughfare on the way to the interstate, Viapiano said neighbors are excited to see something social filling the once-empty space.
“This is a growing community here,” Viapiano said. “A lot of people are coming to Pineville. We thought it’d be a great place that doesn’t have a brewery to fill the need.”