The East boasts a burgeoning craft brewery business

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina is becoming a destination for beer lovers.

Beer tourism brings thousands to the state every year. It’s created 10,000 jobs and, according to the Economic Development Partnership for North Carolina, has an annual economic impact of $1.2 billion.

Giving away free beer may not seem like a good business practice for an up and coming brewery. But that’s exactly what the owners of Uptown Brewing Company did recently during a charity golf outing at the Greenville Country Club.

“[It’s] a great opportunity for us to spread our brand name and get people familiar with Greenville’s craft brewery,” commented Benjamin Self, co-founder, Uptown Brewing Company.

Craft brewing is a growing phenomenon in North Carolina, one that started right here in the east.

Weeping Radish Brewery opened in Manteo back in 1986 and moved to Currituck County in 2005.

In 2006, the number of breweries stood at 26. Now, there are more than 170 microbreweries across the state, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Uptown Brewing will be Greenville’s first full-production brewery.

“We think that Greenville deserves a high-quality product that’s centrally located; someone, something, some beer that they can call their own.,” explained Self. “That’s who we want to be.”

Self spent a year and half working at the Duck Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville. That brewery and Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston are two of the east’s brewing success stories.

As bottles roll down the production line at Mother Earth, one of the brewery’s co-founders said he never imagined his business becoming so popular.

“Not at all. Not at all,” he acknowledged. “I mean, we were just opening a brewery to make a beer that we loved.”

And plenty others love it, too. So what advice does he have for up and coming breweries?

“Well, I would say, number one, make good beer,” said Stephen Hill, co-founder, Mother Earth Brewing. “Make beer that somebody wants to come back and have again. And just use social media as much as you can and get the word out.”

It’s a philosophy shared by Self and the guys at Uptown Brewing.

“If you make a subpar beer or a beer that isn’t consistent, they’ll go somewhere else,” said Self. “They’ll buy another six pack and they’ll never think about you again.”

Uptown Brewing aims to open in the 400 block of Evans Street in November. Twenty-five miles to the south in Kinston, Hill commented that the more breweries there are the merrier.

“You have a restaurant here and a good restaurant opens next door, it just makes both of them better,” said Hill. “I’d love to have another brewery in Kinston. I’d love to have ten more breweries in Kinston because it makes it a destination. It makes people want to go there for more than just one reason.”

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