Big Ugly Brewing Co. will open its new 6,000-square-foot brewery and taproom on Aug. 4 in Great Bridge.
It's an expansion of the city's only brewery and taproom, currently housed in a strip mall just down the street. The new spot at 845 S. Battlefield Blvd. will be triple the size of the current one and will allow Big Ugly to double its brewing capacity.
To say the two families behind the brewery – the Childers and the Lantrys – are excited about their new space is an understatement.
"It's going to be a little harder to miss," said Aaron Childers, one of the co-owners.
No longer will the brewery be afraid of running out of beer in its taproom, said Michele Lantry, one of the owners.
Right now, they can only brew when the taproom isn't open, which is limiting. In the new space, the tanks can run even when customers are sipping on a beer. Plans to hire an assistant brewer are also in the works. The owners want people to realize they're in a working brewery.
This larger space matches the original vision of what the owners wanted for their brewery – the older one was never meant to be permanent.
Big Ugly broke ground in November on the new space and soon will start moving, which means closing for about two weeks, starting July 22.
Inside the new, larger facility is a lot of space for tables, brewing equipment, a large cooler and a long L-shaped bar that will add 12 to 15 more feet to the existing one. But it will have familiar touches from the existing taproom, such as co-owner Jim Lantry's Volkswagen bus and co-owner Shawn Childers' vintage motorcycles made into seats. Jim Lantry alluded to bigger plans for the bus down the road but kept them under wraps for now.
The biggest change, other than more brewing capacity: actual outdoor space.
Huge glass garage-style doors will roll up to lead customers to a large patio with two gas fire pits with room for outdoor games and food trucks. Some of the chairs outside will be made from recycled barrels and benches from truck tailgates.
A brewing tank covered with early supporters' names will move to the new location, where a wall will display bricks bearing messages from about 150 people who supported a Kickstarter campaign for the new space.
The number of taps will double to about 20, allowing Big Ugly's gluten-reduced beer to be available more often. And there's more space for aging beers in rum barrels from Outer Banks Distilling and bourbon barrels from the Speyside Cooperage distillery in Kentucky.
Over time, Big Ugly has made more than 50 different brews, but couldn't keep each batch on tap for long because of the smaller capacity, co-owner Aaron Childers said. Now that won't be an issue.
They expect tourists to stop on the way to and from trips to the Outer Banks because the brewery is just a half mile off the Chesapeake Expressway.
On the back side of the brewery, there's room for a large cooler, which will be handy for Big Ugly's distributing arm, Pretty Ugly. There's also space for festivals, farmers markets and other large events right on the property.
"The thought of being able to do more is so exciting," Childers said.
(This article originally appeared in the Virginian-Pilot on July 9, 2018)