Norse Brewing Company coming to Wake Forest
From the hammer-wielding Thor, to the raven-flanked God, Odin, Norse mythology has been studied in high school and idolized in recent blockbuster hits by Marvel movies such as The Avengers series and History Channel’s Vikings.
But now, a new brewery coming to Wake Forest plans to bring hints of Scandinavian and Norse folklore into what will be aptly named, Norse Brewing. “Norse encompasses the whole thing, and we can play on names like Thor, Valhalla and gnomes,” says Norse Brewing’s co-founder Chris Jorgensen. “Even our logo, Yggdrasil, is the Viking tree of life.”
Jorgensen, along with his wife, Jenni, and veteran brewer Brad Wynn, plan to bring new life into the already growing streets of downtown Wake Forest. The historic area of Wake Forest has been buzzing with hip stops such as its latest restaurant, Bodega Tapas, Wine and Rum. White Street is also home to evening jaunts such as Tonic Social Club, Unwined on White, Sugar Magnolia Café and the town’s first brewery, White Street Brewing Company.
A brewery has been on the Jorgensen’s minds for the past several years – a brewery that was already thriving with a current revenue stream. But they found out that many of the breweries already had a different strategy than what the couple wanted. “We didn’t want to do distribution,” says Jenni. “We wanted to be a self-sustaining pub that we could sell our beers to our local community.”
The couple feel that many breweries around the state and across the country have lost their way. As Chris says, “Craft and micro breweries were all about serving their neighborhoods, similar to the German biergarten.” And goes on to say that many breweries today only desire to grow larger and larger and cash in on big money.
With no success in finding an existing brewery to purchase, the couple in October of 2018 decided it would be best to build a brewery from the ground up. But then a miracle landed in their lap in the form of the closure of La Foresta Italian Café off Brooks Street in Wake Forest.
“This was just perfect,” says Jenni. “I love Wake Forest. I love that it is in our backyard, and the support we’ve got from our friends is just overwhelming.”
Located on Brooks Street, just one block down from the main strip, Chris, Jenni and Brad hope that the development coming along downtown will only help them thrive and fit right into the community. With several new developments coming to the vicinity, downtown Wake Forest will become even more of a local destination.
“When we first moved here, there wasn’t much here,” says Chris. “But now there are a lot of good places, where you can stay here and have fun for the night without having to go into Raleigh.”
And with bringing in veteran brewer, Wynn, the brewery can start off with a bang. Wynn, who has been the brewer at Raleigh’s Big Boss Brewing Company for over a decade, will be the experience that is needed for the freshman brewery. After his stint with Big Boss, Wynn has spent his time helping re-define the beers at Boylan Bridge Brewpub, which has now seen new ownership come into town as the newly re-named Wye Hill Kitchen & Brewing.
But in the near future, Wynn will be leaving Wye Hill to devote all his time to Norse Brewing.
“They are all aware of what I’m doing,” says Wynn. “I’m being as professional as I can. I’m helping them along with the transition.” Wynn will leave behind the recipes he has crafted for Wye Hill and looking forward to his new path in Wake Forest, which he calls home.
Norse Brewing Company will start off with a 7-barrel system, turning out as many unique beers as possible. As Wynn likes to say, “I don’t like doing anything more than a few times. We can always use stuff that’s in season, so that will constantly change. There is this ancient yeast we’re going to be using that is actually Viking yeast (named Kveik), and it’s been around forever,” he says.
In the words of Big Brother’s Julie Chen, with Norse Brewing Company, you can expect the unexpected … but you can still look forward to traditional beers such as American-style IPAs.
But just don’t expect those cliché beer titles such as Thor’s Hammer IPA or Loki’s Lager, even though the trio isn’t quite ready to divulge any beer names. “We’re not ready for a list of names quite yet,” says Chris, but says that many names are being solicited to them by friends, neighbors and even some local police officers.
Besides beer, Norse Brewing will serve up many small bites at first, leading up to lunch and dinner items in the future. Swedish meatballs, sandwiches and flatbreads, as well as cheese and charcuterie will be the first items to see the light of day when the brewery opens in November.
With many ambitious plans, Norse will have a maximum capacity of roughly 330 based on its 5,000 square feet of space – which will include a 40 person bar, a covered deck, seating in the brewhouse and a downstairs bourbon, rum and tequila specialty bar.
“Downstairs will have a completely different vibe,” says Jenni. “It’s going to be a little more ‘adult’ downstairs, and feature some beer offerings that are different from upstairs. It will have a mystique about it, which will give you a reason to go down there.”