This small Raleigh distillery hopes to open in late 2018

Dead Oak Distillery's Eric Lloyd, Michael Stagner and Corey Brinkmann.

Dead Oak Distillery's Eric Lloyd, Michael Stagner and Corey Brinkmann.

By Dathan Kazsuk

There are roughly 52 distilleries in the state of North Carolina – and a lot of these distilleries are becoming household names such as Brothers Vilgalys, Durham Distillery, Raleigh Rum Company and Top of the Hill.

And later this year we should be introduced to another local distillery right here in Raleigh. Dead Oak Distillery is a new venture crafted by three guys – Corey Brinkmann, Eric Lloyd and Michael Stagner. Their mission is to make high-quality spirits made with the best ingredients the Tar Heel State has to offer.

If the name Michael Stagner sounds familiar. It should to the local beer community. Stagner is the owner/brewer of one of the state’s smallest micro breweries, Sub Noir Brewing. We all know his love for sour beers, and it shows with beers such as Cassis, DJ Camino, Violet Beauregard and the Flanders Red ales. But now, Stagner will venture into spirits, and start making Vodka with Brinkmann and Lloyd.

Let’s go back to the summer of 2017, and the charity event, Hops for Hope. This event, on its second year, raises money for Children’s Flight of Hope, a nonprofit that helps children with medical issues who can’t afford to pay for the flights need to get them to a hospital. This is where the concept for Dead Oak Distillery came to fruition.

“The event pairs local Triangle companies with local Triangle breweries to compete for worthy titles and accolades,” says Brinkmann. Their team, the Punky Brewsters were able to land two trophies that afternoon. The beer, called Brewnicorn, was an imperial cream ale that was made with Cotton Candy Grapes and the glasses were rimmed with teal sugar and gold flakes. It won the People’s Choice and Most Creative award.

Related Story: Brewery Profile – Sub Noir

Elated with the hard earned victories, a conversation struck up between the three – the idea of using a small open space adjacent to Sub Noir to start a distillery. And that's exactly what is now in motion. “We are in the very early stages of understanding the laws and licensing, renovating the space and acquiring the equipment needed to craft our first project,” says Brinkmann.

But where did the name, Dead Oak, come from? Brinkmann states that the name actually started as a small group of whiskey drinkers that would gather on occasion to share aged spirits. “At the time it was known as the Dead Oak Society,” he says. “Dead Oak referring to the oak barrels that most spirits are aged in, and is a nod to Raleigh as the City of Oaks.”

Dead Oak is still in the very early-stages, but more details will develop as we get further along in the year. “We are eager to get engaged with the local craft distilling community and working with North Carolina’s ABC.”