Editorial: Hillsborough business brews victory

May. 23, 2013 @ 01:07 PM

Erik Myers didn’t expect to win.

The CEO of Mystery Brewing, whose company was one of three competing during a recent episode of CNBC Prime’s “Crowd Rules,” thought another company would win the hearts of the show’s panelists.

And, along with their hearts, $50,000 for capital investment.

In a follow-up interview video on the show’s website, Myers said it was “really surreal and surprising and wonderful, actually” when he heard them announce that the fledgling brewery in Hillsborough had won.

“It was really nice to see that vote of confidence,” he said.

Indeed. As The Chapel Hill Herald’s Laura Oleniacz reported last week, the company can certainly use the money. Mystery Brewing started with a $180,000 bank loan and help from five friends who invested.

It’s heartening to see a promising small business in our own backyard earning national attention.

The CNBC Prime show, currently in its first season, explores what participating small businesses are doing wrong and right with their operations.

His brewery got its start in February 2012 in a part of a business complex that used to house a textile mill. Mystery Brewing sells kegs and growlers to bars and restaurants. The company also serves beer in its own taproom at 230 S. Nash Street, just down from Hillsborough BBQ Co. and The Depot at Hillsborough Station.

“There was always the possibility that maybe we were doing a lot more wrong than we thought we were, and we were going to get completely lambasted on national television,” Myer said.

Instead, he got a boost in confidence and capital to carry Mystery Brewing forward. He said he plans to use the money to pay down debt as the company continues to bring in more revenue. Soon, it might break even.

Plus, he wants to invest in new equipment and expand brewing capacity.

It’s a growing industry, according to the Brewers Association, whose website reports that craft brewers provide an estimated 108,440 jobs in the United States. The industry grew in volume by 15 percent and by 17 percent in dollars in 2012 compared to 2011. In 2012, the association reports, craft brewer retail dollar value was estimated at $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion the year before.

The timing of the win for Mystery Brewing couldn’t be much better.

This weekend, the company celebrates the grand opening of the taproom, with live music, new beer and food trucks.