A New Bern brewery is expanding its services beyond the traditional hops and yeast to bring new flavors to local residents.
Located in its brand new building at 1030 Pollock Street, Brewery 99 has been serving local beer enthusiasts since it first opened the doors at its original white cinder block building in Artisan Square off of Broad Street in 2015. And while the familiar smells of stouts, lagers and pale ales still linger in the air, other sweeter aromas are also noticeable.
Those new scents come courtesy of the recently opened Brewery 99 bakery, which in addition to cinnamon rolls, coffee and tea also offers pepperoni rolls. The bakery opens daily at 7 a.m. and turns out baked goods during business hours.
Owner Pete Frey said the combination of good beer and good food had been on his mind for years.
“I was a baker before I was a brewer,” Frey said. “I’ve got a lot of restaurant and bakery experience. Then I started the brewery and learned right away that food trucks are unreliable. And food is a great thing to have when you’re drinking, so that was always in the back of my mind.”
Frey said he sees the bakery as the first step towards what he hopes will be a more food-inclusive future for Brewery 99. He said he took steps with the design of the new building’s kitchen to make sure that future is possible.
“Someday if we ever want to be a full on restaurant with a fryer and grills and all that stuff you have to have a grease trap, which we added, so we’re ready for the future if we get that far,” he explained.
Frey said he hopes Brewery 99 can also act as an incubator kitchen for new restaurants in the area.
“If someone wants to start a business in this neighborhood or in this town, we could work out an agreement where they could use this kitchen,” Frey said. “If anybody ever takes me up on that I’m going to save the rent money and give them a two-year lease. If they do start a business in this neighborhood, I will give them all their rent money back to start their business.”
Having outgrown Brewery 99’s original space, in 2021 Frey moved to another location on Pollock Street that sits beside the current business. The site is now used exclusively as a production facility.
“It had a roof that was caved in and was full of mud and trees,” he recalled. “We brought that building up to code and built a lean-to and that was our bar for about three years.”
With his business continuing to grow, Frey purchased more property and constructed the new building, which was finished last May.
To celebrate nine years in business, Brewery 99 will hold an anniversary party on February 23 beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event will feature all you can eat oysters and one beer of your choice for $27. There will also be food from Tanja’s Hella Fat Food Truck and live music courtesy of the Hanging Chads.
Participants can choose from the more than 30 beers now on tap at Brewery 99, which also serves wine. Since moving to the new location, the business has expanded its beer options, with new selections of gruit beers, which are brewed without hops, a new Chaos Agent imperial stout and a High Four Belgian quad, among others.
According to Frey, Brewery 99 now turns out almost 200 barrels of beer a year. The kegs are kept chilled in a walk-in cooler that he said is unique to the new building.
“You won’t see a walk-in cooler like this anywhere in this town. Most bars get the little kegs and they put them underneath their taps and they’re constantly going in and out,” he noted. “So, these sit there in the cold, which actually conditions the beer, which a lot of beers don’t get to experience. It improves the quality and we’re able to have a larger offering of beers too.”
Frey said he is in the process of doing modifications to the production building facility that will enable Brewery 99 to turn out even more beer in the future.
“Our brewery can grow 400% to 500% more beer in the next six to eight years,” he stated. “The city and county are growing in population. This whole neighborhood has changed immensely since I moved here.”
Looking back to his own early experiments with home brewing, Frey, who formerly worked for Hatteras Yachts, said he feels “astonished” with the success of Brewery 99.
“I had no idea that any of this was going to happen, I was just making some beer,” he said. “When I worked at Hatteras I would go home for the weekend and it was just me and my girlfriend, I had no friends. And now look, I have all these people in my life now. It’s wonderful.”
By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.