The popularity of craft breweries is on the rise in North Carolina, and Chapel Hill and Carrboro aren’t immune to the trend, with a few new breweries planning to set up shop in Orange County in the next few months.
Tim Harper, the owner of Carrboro-based Starpoint Brewing, has been doing this a little longer than some. But after toting kegs of his brews around in the back of his Subaru to his clients, he’s ready to work with Mims Distributing Co. to take his company and his brews to the next level.
Online Editor Paige Ladisic chatted with Harper about the distributing contract, what it will mean for Starpoint Brewery and what we can expect from the Carrboro brewery in the future.
The Daily Tar Heel: Tell me a little about this distributing contract with Mims Distributing Co. What could it mean for Starpoint Brewing? How will that change your production?
Tim Harper: It will cause us to make more beer, because Mims has lots of accounts. Probably behind Harris, the most. They only service nine counties, so we’re limiting our production to just locally, but we’re so small that it’s actually a good thing.
Basically, they came out and tried the beers and liked them, and then they decided they wanted to go with us. So, that’s what we started doing. They came and picked up all of the beer I had, and we’ve gotten new tanks ready and they’ll come pick those up next Monday. They’re trying to just take care of my existing accounts right now to find out what the demand really is before they start opening up new accounts. They want to make sure they can get everybody what they want.
I had talked to them a long time ago when I started. We all assumed I was too small, but they just assumed they liked the quality of what I was making, so they decided to go ahead and give me a contract.
DTH: What was your production and distribution like before?
Harper: For the first six months, it was me and a minivan. Then I signed up with a little wine distributor, and they did it for about a year, and then they wanted to focus more on bottles, which is not really the best thing for me. So, we parted ways.
Then, my minivan broke and I had to get a Subaru. Then, I think I contacted Roger (MacKay, Mims’ vice president of sales) from Mims to talk about distributing, because a lot of the people I distribute to said that they were one of their favorite distributors to use. And that’s the reason it came up. I talked to a lot of guys, but I liked the Mims guys, because the brands they carry are great brands, and the people from some of those brands have been very supportive when I first started out.
DTH: What does the future hold for Starpoint? What are you looking forward to? Any kind of exciting plans on the horizon?
Harper: Well, I still work at the University, I have a full-time job working on doing help with the support of Sakai. So, I do this mostly on the weekends. What it means for me is I need to buy three more tanks, and I need to hire somebody to work a day or two during the week to keep up with the basic demands with just a local area.
The plan has always been, in about to years or so, to build a bigger brewery in a commercial location, and basically increase my production about 400 percent. So that’s what will happen at that point, I’ll have a real tap room and all of that.
I’m not interested in taking over the world or even all of North Carolina, so we’ll see what happens.
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