People and Places: Local Oak Brewing Co.

People and Places

WINTERVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The beer business is burgeoning in eastern North Carolina. In fact, two new breweries are set to open soon in Winterville.

One of them is Local Oak Brewing Co., located at 2564 Railroad St. in downtown Winterville. Local Oak is a nano brewery according to owner Benjamin Self, who says they operate a three-barrel house with four, six-barrel tanks.

But Benjamin doesn’t run the place alone. It’s a partnership with his wife Amy. “We actually went on our first date in a brewery. So it was pretty fun,” said Amy Self.

That first date came back in 2012. But before Benjamin’s love for Amy came his love for craft beer. “I would have to say it started back in 2007, 2008, back when I was working at a little tiny brewery called Good People in Birmingham, Alabama,” said Benjamin.

Eventually, the Selfs ended up in eastern North Carolina, with Benjamin first working at The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville. Then he helped launch Greenville’s Uptown Brewing Company.

But in early 2019 the Selfs decided they wanted to branch out and do it themselves. “The inspiration that we came up with was, go really small,” Benjamin added.

That means you won’t find Local Oak in restaurants, bars or grocery stores, only at their Winterville taproom. But Benjamin says going small allows them to get creative. “Yeah, if it’s interesting enough and our customers are passionate about it, we want to make it,” added Benjamin. “That’s one of the freedoms that is allowed to us by being so small and taproom only is we get to brew the things we really care about, that our customers really care about.”

But besides the beer, there’s something else just outside of the brewery that Benjamin and Amy hope customers love, a huge courtyard featuring a towering, decades-old oak tree. “That is the crown jewel really of our property here. We love our little building here and it’s going to be a great taproom, but people are going to want to be sitting at those picnic tables under those tree branches,” says Benjamin. “They can bring their dogs and just have a low-pressure, nice evening out and just enjoy craft beer.”

And as the beer business grows across the country, the Selfs say they’re excited about the track they’re on together. “Even though I’ve started two before we had other people to kind of share the workload, that’s no longer the case. It’s me and her the whole way,” said Benjamin. Amy added, “It’s exciting but scary. We’re just excited to be able to share the beer that we’ve been working on for the past few months.”

Local Oak Brewing Co. is expected to open for business at noon on Saturday, December 14. It’s a day Benjamin says he’s been looking forward to. “My wife and I are incredibly passionate and single-minded about this place and we think it’s going to be something truly special.”

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