Raleigh brewery buys Bull Durham Beer, but plans to keep it in the ballpark

Ballpark brewery Bull Durham Beer Co. has been sold to Raleigh’s R&D Brewing, but the beer isn’t leaving the stadium.

R&D Brewing announced Thursday it had purchased Bull Durham Beer, which is owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co. Capitol Broadcasting also owns the Durham Bulls baseball team. 

Bull Durham Beer is notable for brewing its beer inside the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, located on the concourse behind home plate, adjacent to both peanuts and Cracker Jack’s. Bull Durham Beer’s flagship brew is its kolsch, found throughout the Triangle in bright blue pint-sized cans.

“There are few breweries in this country with as unique of a setting and history attached to them as Bull Durham Beer,” R&D Owner John Glover said in a news release. “We see a tremendous opportunity to take this iconic brand and combine it with our brewing industry expertise to make Bull Durham Beer a household name for craft brew.”

R&D Brewing opened in 2017 and began distributing beer in the Raleigh market, showing up on tap at bars and festivals and through can releases. The company said it plans to change little about the way Bull Durham operates, continuing to brew inside the stadium and keeping the brand alive. Tate Little will remain Bull Durham’s head brewer.

“It was just one of those things, our team had a relationship with their team and we’re excited about combining our forces,” said R&D Brewing director of marketing Rachel Peterson in a phone interview.

R&D now brews its beer off of Capital Boulevard near downtown Raleigh, but Peterson said the brewery hopes to find a larger production facility by next year.

Bull Durham Beer also opened a taproom called The Bullpen just outside the ballpark, but it is not included in the sale, according to Peterson.

The Bullpen was initially a partnership between Bull Durham Beer and Heavenly Buffaloes chicken wing restaurant, but the Bullpen later chose to craft its own menu. Last year The Bullpen stopped serving food and drinks to the public and transitioned into an events space. 

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.