Award-winning local brewery to close

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Alex Cason Photography

A small group of friends gathered inside Three Spirits Brewery on Old Pineville Road on Thursday night. Lee Dickerson heard that the three-year-old brewery is closing this weekend, so he gathered his people for a night out.

They chilled at the southwest Charlotte brewery about 9 p.m. on Thursday to reminisce and talk with owner/brewmaster Tabu Terrell. Along with Dickerson’s friends, couples and other patrons from as far away as Fort Mill stopped in to say goodbye and buy growlers.

Terrell wouldn’t comment for this story, but the closure wasn’t a surprise to regulars. Last month, the Charlotte Business Journal reported that the property was for sale. Three Spirits Brewery confirmed its closing on Twitter on Tuesday.

When the 12,000-square-foot brewery opened at 5046 Old Pineville Road, the area was kind of no man’s land. In some ways, it still is. Charlotte’s hottest brewery scene rings the Uptown area, from NoDa to Plaza Midwood to South End. Three Spirits is between Woodlawn Boulevard and Tyvola Road. It’s off the grid and has that kind of vibe. Loyal patrons say Terrell didn’t create a brewery like every other one, with the same types of beers and events. He brewed what he liked then tested on patrons. He called it “comfort” beer.

It worked, considering his Red Moon Rising won a silver medal at the NC Brewers Cup last year.

Terrell is a risk taker. He quit his job as an emergency room doctor and turned his hobby into a business. Oh, and he happens to be a black man in a business that is overwhelmingly white. The fact that Terrell was gutsy enough to buck the craft brew stereotype is what made barber Danny Sims want to work there.

Sims cuts Terrell’s hair and said he always wanted to be a bartender.  He said Terrell gave him a chance. By the way, Sims bucks stereotypes himself — he is a white dude who cuts hair at a black barbershop. So naturally, when the black guy (Terrell) decides to open a craft brewery, Sims wanted in.

“I was happy because I got to be a part of it,” Sims said.

Photo by Tonya Jameson
From left, Kyle Rine, Danny Sims, Tracy Ugone and Becca Rine.

He takes pride in the fact that he and the other staff built real relationships with patrons.

“Danny, Tracy, Tabu are family,” said Kyle Rine, 24, of Fort Mill. “They know their customers. They serve them better than any other place I’ve been.”

Rine and his wife love that the bartenders remember their names. When the Rines walk into the brewery, there’s an Ain’t No Hop Steppin, Southern Bliss or new beer on the bar.

Richard Peacock, 46, and his wife admittedly said they hadn’t been to Three Spirits in a few months, but says the bartender still remembered his name on Thursday. The Peacocks live off Nations Ford Road and started going to Three Spirits because it was close. They returned for the atmosphere.

Three Spirits has a roomy feel with a couple of big leather chairs and big tables. It’s dark like an English Pub. It’s not full of tables crammed together. It’s the kind of place to enjoy a beer and a conversation without shouting over the music. Then there’s the fun stuff like the Prince tribute parties, music bingo, and cardio funk. That’s a bit of a different lineup, compared to the live music and yoga that dominates most activities at breweries.

“People get caught up in what’s trendy in this town and miss out on a lot of cool things,” Peacock said.

Sims puts it this way: “Some people are just too smart and they’re ahead of their time. (Tabu) was the Prince of the Charlotte beer scene.”

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