The trio behind this NoDa brewery has snagged a prime space for its second location.

Protagonist will expand with a 15,000-square foot taproom and brewery in South End. 

It will take over the space on Southside Drive currently occupied by Great Wagon Road Distillery and Broken Spoke, making it neighbors with The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Sugar Creek Brewing.

Construction is slated to begin in March and be completed in late summer, Mike Salzarulo says.

He and childhood friends Ryan McKillen and and Ryan Owens are behind that venture. Their love of craft beer kept the friends connected over the years and led them to launch the Protagonist brand in 2019. Their first 1,700-square-foot location — dubbed “The Clubhouse” — opened in NoDa in May.

Protagonist Clubhouse opening today in NoDa

Protagonist Clubhouse opened its doors in May at the corner of North Davidson Street and East 35th Street, offering not just its own selection of brews but also collaborating with other breweries as well as featuring guest beer on 22 of its taps — with a goal of helping educate customers about beer.

Initial plans called for a second brewery in the Optimist Park neighborhood across from the light rail’s Parkwood Station. Salzarulo says the trio decided to postpone those plans when Great Wagon Road became available.

“The original idea was to build something like this. We love the atmosphere of a larger building,” Salzarulo says.

Great Wagon Road Owner Ollie Mulligan said the distillery is moving to take advantage of the new law that went into effect in September allowing distilleries to sell unlimited bottles from the facility and sell mixed drinks there as well.

He declined to disclose additional details at this time.

Salzarulo says the South End space allows Protagonist to share its brews and experience with more people.

Expect the multiple gathering spaces to include a mezzanine and customer-facing barrel-aging room as well as three bars. There will be a 5,000-square-foot patio for games and live music. A full kitchen will serve pizzas, including options by the slice.

An 15-barrel brewhouse will be operated by brewer Jeremy Claeys, formerly in charge of Asheville-based Wicked Weed Brewing’s research and development program. That increases capacity to as much as 8,000 barrels when maxed out.  

Protagonist currently operates a two-barrel nanobrewery.

“We really honed in our brand, but you can only do so much on a two-barrel system,” Salzarulo says.

The larger space opens the doors to creativity. Think everything from Belgian-style beers to IPAs as well as a barrel room for aged brews and sours.

“We can do anything,” Salzarulo says. “You have to find that balance of what you like and what you want to introduce people to, with what people want.”

Advanced Cicerone Christopher Westgard will guide those efforts as Protagonist’s beverage and education director.

Will Whitley with New South Properties represented Protagonist in the deal. Roby Construction is the general contractor.

view original article via Charlotte Business Journal