Uwharrie Brewing in downtown Albemarle to have its grand opening Saturday

After years of work and preparation, history will be made this weekend as Albemarle’s first brewery opens to the public.

Uwharrie Brewing will have its grand opening 2-11 p.m. Saturday, complete with a ribbon cutting with the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce.

It will be Stanly County’s third brewery, after The Brew Room and Buzzed Viking Brewing Company, which both opened last year in Locust. Uwharrie is housed in the 9,500-square-foot brick building behind City Hall on North Third Street, which used to be the old Fire Station 3.

Uwharrie Brewing is behind Albemarle City Hall on North Third Street.

Owner Colton Baker said he is excited about his role in bringing the first brewery to Albemarle.

“I just think it’s great for the growth,” he said. “It’s something that’s been needed. A lot of people have been asking for a brewery for close to a decade now at this point.”

“This is a groundbreaking moment for downtown Albemarle,” said Albemarle Downtown Development Director Joy Almond. “Not only is Uwharrie Brewing building on the fun, positive atmosphere in our district, but also adding the element of small manufacturing that has proven to be a strong economic driver in other communities.”

The spacious interior includes several rows of wood tables, along with a wrap-around bar made of reclaimed wood that can seat more than 15 people and a pool table to the side. There are also tons of outdoor seating next to the three large bay doors.

In the back are 10 silver fermentors of varying sizes used to brew the beer. Fermentation takes anywhere from two to six weeks, Baker said, during which he can produce up to 310 gallons of beer.

Though he will only introduce four beers during the grand opening — pale ale, red ale, blonde ale and coffee beer, he plans to have 13 beers on tap in the future, including IPAs, lagers and a variety of light and dark beers. He also will offer ciders, seltzers, root beer and wines from local vineyards, which will be available during the grand opening.

Baker will also offer large to-go half-gallon black mugs, known as growlers, with the Uwharrie Brewing logo emblazoned in yellow.

People can take home their beer in large to-go growlers.

He has been busy brewing his beers over the past few weeks in anticipation of the opening.

“It was nice to get back to brewing beer again,” he said. “It was nice to get back to my roots and make that product again.”

Pint of beers will cost only about $5 to $6, though specialties might be a littler pricier, Baker said. Five employees will initially be hired, though the number will probably increase.

Uwharrie Brewing’s opening is aligned with the debut of “Social Saturdays,” a campaign created by the Albemarle Downtown Business Alliance, a group of business owners that formed last year to better promote the downtown area by having live entertainment, food trucks and extended hours for many businesses during the last Saturday of each month.

Several food trucks will be positioned by the brewery. The Tomahawk Throwing Range will have a mobile booth and Joy Almond will perform 8-10 p.m. as part of the group Joy and the Gent. Baker plans to offer live music and other events, including yoga, going forward.

Baker, who recently moved to downtown Albemarle with his fiancé, spent much of the past decade working at breweries in the western part of the state, learning the ins and outs of the business.

Having been familiar with Stanly County, as his family owns a property on Lake Tillery, Baker, 31, enjoyed the area but noted there simply was “not a lot to do when we were out there,” especially for enjoying craft beer. He set about to change that.

“I’ve always been wanting to open my own brewery,” Baker said last year. “I really wanted to hone my craft a little bit and I think running a larger brewery kind of helped me to do that.”

Baker always had a goal to open his own brewery.

Baker would like to sell his products wholesale to local restaurants and grocery stores, many of whom have already reached out to him.

Albemarle City Council approved a performance incentive agreement in the summer of 2021, where it agreed to transfer over the property deed of the firehouse to Uwharrie Brewing in exchange for the business planning to invest $1.1 million over 10 years and create more than a dozen full-time positions.

At the time of the agreement, annual sales were projected at $575,000 in the first year, with an increase to $1.6 million by the fifth year. The economic impact of Uwharrie Brewing over 10 years was projected to be more than $7.2 million.

Although there have been many ups and downs over the past two years, Baker is grateful to introduce people to his passion, which is making high-quality beer.

“It’s been quite a journey,” he said. “Honestly, looking at it now, I would like to say I would do it differently, but now that I see this building and everything, I really have just loved being here.”

Baker plans for the brewery to be open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 2 p.m. to 11 p.m on the weekend. It will be closed on Tuesdays.

Uwharrie Brewing will be open six days a week.