Eola Beer Company set to open next week

New brewery, restaurant will be local and fresh
Jul. 23, 2014 @ 09:22 AM

The old Lenoir bus station on Harper Avenue has sprung back to life in recent weeks, with interior walls coming down and new equipment going up, transforming the building into what its owner hopes will be a first-rate gastropub.

It’s the future home of Eola Tavern, a restaurant and brewery that owner Stephen Loe said will focus on everything local to produce high-quality food and beer. He plans a so-called “soft” opening this weekend and a grand opening next week.

Loe, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., said Eola will feature 12 beer taps to feature beers from crafter breweries, and once his own brewery gets up and running in a few weeks, there are 12 more taps for those beers.

The food will focus on Cajun and Southern American influences, and both the food and beer will make use of fresh, local ingredients, including malts and hops grown in North Carolina and produce from the Lenoir Downtown Farmers’ Market just a couple blocks away.

Beer is something of a family tradition for Loe, whose father, Robert, has been homebrewing for at least 40 years. Stephen Loe grew up with it, and today has a few gold-medal winning beers on his brew list — a pale ale and a porter — that he plans to roll out at Eola. He also hopes to expand his brewing and distribution business, Eola Beer Company, getting his beer distributed from Charlotte to Asheville.

Among his plans are having a specialty burger each month and monthly beer tastings featuring discussions on the beers’ flavor characteristics, why and how it tastes like it does, to “deconstruct it,” Loe said.

Loe has high hopes for his brewery, with plans for as many as 150 different beers annually and a high-tech growler-filling machine in the restaurant that ensures no oxygen gets into the bottle during filling, making the beer stay fresh longer.

Eola will sell homebrewing equipment as well.

Though he’s nearly ready to open, Loe said improvements to the building will continue. He has the equipment to open a distillery arm, making small batches of vodka, gin or whiskey, but is undecided about doing that.

Servers, chefs and cooks are still needed, and any interested can contact Eola via Facebook or at eolabeer.com.