“I don’t even know how I ended up here,” says Wesley Mickler, as I make my way around a stand of rare zines on the second floor of a brick Victorian-era townhouse on Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street.
It was June 30, and a crowd of about 250 had gathered for Ancillary* Fermentation’s (the asterisk is part of the title) eighth pop-up and the release of the traveling conceptual brewery’s new beer, DIY, an IPA blended with cashmere, mosaic, and El Dorado hops. The free event—called “House Party”—had taken over a long-vacant former single-family home next to the remains of the now-shuttered Allen’s Automotive. Built in 1875, it’s now listed as commercial real estate with an estimated value of $1.3 million.
Like other partygoers, Mickler had found out about the event on social media. He’s as bemused as I am by our opulent surroundings—an ultra-cool vibe that’s more Brooklyn than Raleigh.
Each Ancillary* pop-up has a theme that corresponds with a beer release. There’s been a sixties party, “Altered Perception,” at a church that featured a magic show, a VR headset, and a metal band; another at an abandoned gas station near a Char-Grill called “Second Hand,” which was decorated like a used auto lot and had antique items for sale from Father and Son.
With “House Party” launching a beer called DIY, tonight has a roll-up-your-sleeves kind of attitude. The air conditioning is broken in the room where local bands—Jenny Besetzt, Dim Delights, and Black Surfer—are playing. There’s a room with house plants for sale; another is covered with vintage rugs. There are visual art installations on old TV sets that scramble the Ancillary* logo. Pony kegs flow, a DJ spins, an eclectic mix of Triangle artists and professionals spill out into the courtyard—and by the end of the night, several men and women strip naked and dance with wild abandon.
These almost-but-not-quite-monthly parties, usually on Sundays, started as opportunities for service industry types to let loose after long weekends—and beer lovers to try something unique while braving a possible Monday hangover.
“Beer brings people together,” Ancillary* co-founder Andy Schnitzer tells me a week later. He’s inside Standard Beer and Foods in Raleigh’s Person Street district, which he’ll open this fall with business partner and head brewer Whit Baker. Schnitzer and Baker are two of the four co-owners of Bond Brothers Beer Company in Cary, one of the best-regarded breweries in the Triangle.
They started Ancillary* a year and a half ago, Schnitzer says, because they wanted to “diversify and try something ancillary to what we were doing.” They partnered with Stuart Arnold and David Wilkinson, the president and vice president, respectively, of Fortnight Brewing in Cary, where Ancillary* is brewed, as well as Topher Fulton, a former bar manager at Bond Brothers, and Sean McKinney, who does sour blending there.
Ancillary*’s concept is “not really being done anywhere,” says Baker, who is studying for his master Cicerone certification. Everything brewed at Ancillary* is a co-fermentation, meaning he’s using two or more yeast strains at a time—something “almost no one in beer is experimenting with,” he says.
At Standard, Schnitzer and Baker say, the focus will be pairing beer with food.
“The places you’re typically seeing are production breweries with a food component in mind,” Baker says. “Here, we are brewing beer onsite to pair better with the food. That gives us a lot more freedom to dial in a specific dish or ingredient with food.”
There’s a good chance that Standard will offer some of Ancillary*’s notoriously hard-to-find juicy IPAs and stainless sour beers. Ancillary* produces only thirty barrels for each release. The pop-ups get some, as do a few local bottle shops and restaurants.
There’s no set frequency for Ancillary’s pop-ups, either; the next one is tentatively sometime in August. Meanwhile, you can catch the brewery’s next co-release, Boats, a lime IPA made in collaboration with Flying Machine Brewing Company in Wilmington, on July 13, for a fundraiser benefitting the Cape Fear River Watch on, you guessed it, a boat.
Contact food and digital editor Andrea Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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