Over a Pint: Ancillary* Fermentation

Sean McKinney is co-founder of Ancillary* Fermentation.

Sean McKinney is co-founder of Ancillary* Fermentation.

By Dathan Kazsuk

The Raleigh-based pop-up brewery, Ancillary* Fermentation, has caught the beer scene on fire, both here in town and aboard. And the brewery shows no signs of stopping anytime soon!

Recently, the online beer blog, Hop Culture, added Ancillary to its “15 Best Breweries to Watch in 2019.” And to us here in Raleigh, it comes as no surprise. Being relatively young, Ancillary only has 4 releases under its belt – with a new collaboration with Burial Beer Co., set to be released this Sunday. It can be said that the crew at Ancillary have found how to make beer “hip” again. That’s due in part to its unique pop-up taproom releases, charitable giving and phenomenal IPAs

Triangle Around Town recently caught up with Ancillary* Fermentation’s co-founder, Sean McKinney, and asked him a few questions about this new endeavor. Below are excerpts from the interview.

How did the whole concept of Ancillary come about? This came about for a lot of different reasons. Mostly it came about when a few of us were having lunch together. It came about for a way for us to have fun. It was something a little different. It was our way of trying to do something different in the beer industry. So much of the industry right now is very monotonous – it feels pretty much the same. This was a way for us to change things up and shake it up a little bit.

Related Story: Bond Brothers wins best new brewery in America.

And who is Ancillary* Fermentation? Ancillary is myself, Whit Baker, Andy Schnitzer, Topher Fulton, as well as Stu and Dave from Fortnight are also part of the company.

Stu and Dave are Stuart Arnold and Dave Wilkinson of Cary’s Fortnight Brewing. They’re involved in the project due to the fact that your beer is made and canned there, correct? Yes, we needed a place to make beer and Fortnight provided us the opportunity and some tank space for us as well as the canning line. A lot of this was us trying to start a brewery on the cheap. I mean, really. In all reality breweries are expensive. And starting out with a brick and mortar takes a lot of capital for that. For us, this was a way for each of us to chip in a little bit and see what we can do with it.

Sean talks about why the brewery decided to take the trendy pop-up approach:

Your latest pop-up is coming on Jan. 27, and it’s a collaboration with Asheville’s Burial Beer Co. How did you guys team up with them? Being a part of the beer community, and traveling to different beer festivals, we were able to meet Doug and Jess and Tim, who upon opening up their new facility reached out to a bunch of local breweries and asked to do a collaboration. They’ve reached out to Trophy, Brewery Bhavana and myself. It’s amazing. It’s a dream. It’s Burial!

Your first release was titled “Cat’s Out of the Bag.” What was the story behind that name? That came from a lot of us at Bond sitting around at lunch. And one day somebody talked about starting a cat meme brewery. It was really funny, and then, all the puns ensued. But shortly after, somebody was like, ‘Well, what if we actually did start a brewery?’ And then the next thing you know, we’re sitting down with Dave from Fortnight, and then we hired a branding and marketing agency. They quickly shot down that we should be strictly a cat-themed brewery – which was very smart. So, the first release was giving a nod to that conversation, which was having a cat meme brewery. We named the first beer, Cats out of the Bag, as sort of a ‘We’re here!’. It was a little spark that started it all.

Now that the brewery has been received with open arms here in the Triangle, do you see a future where Ancillary will indeed have a brick and mortar taproom? Yes. There has been talks about a brick and mortar. It will be the means to continue growing as a business. Having a space that people know they can come to and buy a few beers. We’ll still do events, but they won’t be monthly, they’ll be more quarterly.

If you pick out a location, what would be your ideal town? We’re looking in downtown Raleigh. Mostly because it is where most of my connections are based. I’ve grown up and worked in downtown for so long – that’s where I feel most comfortable. It’s also a place that I want to give back to. I’ve worked there for so long, if I can give something back to people would just be cool.

Want to have your brewery profiled in our Over a Pint series? If so, please contact us at TriangleAroundTown@gmail.com.