Divine Barrel Explores Community, Art of Beer

​To Gavin Toth, beer is art and community. It’s why he and his partners, Ben Dolphens and Scott Davis, wanted Divine Barrel located in the arts district of Charlotte — NoDa.
“Taprooms are community centers​ … this is the new church, it’s a place for people to meet and have fellowship, bring their kids and dogs​,” said Toth, who is a co-founder and the brewery’s General Manager which opened in March of 2018​.​ “We wanted to support the community in that way. Just how NoDa (Brewing) does it with all the outreach they do.
“We’re at a much smaller scale at this point. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to collab with us. They love us. We love them. It’s cool to see how tight this community is. It’s way different than the restaurant world where I came from. There was a lot more competition rather than cooperation.”
Divine Barrel is one of the newest additions to the neighborhood, located just across the street from Bold Missy Brewing and is the northernmost of the seven area breweries in the NoDa district.
“NoDa, OMB​ [Olde Mecklenburg]​, Birdsong​ ..​. ​they’re the original three of starting the craft beer scene​ here,” he said​. ​“​You’ve seen a lot of growth because Charlotte has a lot to grow just in this area. In this NoDa area​ … ​​there’s a lot of room for collaboration in 2.2 miles.​”
Those collabs have included a Witbier with Free Range to help benefit Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers charity.​
“That’s awesome and anytime there’s a fundraiser involved, especially if it’s something that’s directly helping out our community, we’re in,” Toth said. “At this point we’ve raised just around $5,000 for local charities.”
With a name like Divine Barrel, one could think it would be just a wood-aged brewery, but Toth said a true flagship beer has yet to emerge. What they do think is happening is a flagship style, like a fruited Berliner Weisse. But within that style will be changes. Also, winning a silver medal for their Gratzer at GABF in 2018 showed that they can put out a quality brew that can help educate the public on types of beers available to try.
“It’s cool to have that feeling of, ‘Wow, we brought a little bit education to the beer scene in this area,’ because no one else is doing a Gratzer, especially on a regular basis,” Toth said. “For us the fruited Berliner Weisse was the biggest surprise. The fruited items just flew off the shelf and we have people asking about when Cadillac Rainbows and Ice Cream Paint Job will be back.
“I guess we probably should. So we’re calling our flagship a fruited Berliner Weisse. We’ll always have that and they’re going to be heavily fruited and they’re going to be really smooth. And it’s just kind of a different thing to call a style a flagship.”
​Projections for the year have been good, but Toth wants “butts in seats​.”
“[We want] to get people in the taproom and see what we really spent our lifeblood on​,” he said. ​
The brewery’s just getting to the point where they could ramp up production enough to have a couple of canned releases, just enough to sell from the taproom.
“Yeah, we want to pick up a few accounts here and there, but then we don’t want to be saying, ‘Crap we can’t even keep up with the taproom all the time,’” he said.
Balancing between what it’s purchased and what it think it should have purchased is one of the struggles with a new brewery. Toth feels the three owners are lucky they came from three different backgrounds — Toth in restaurants, Davis in financing and Dolphens in beer.
“We are able to bounce off each other and we kind of think of different ideas,” he said. “It lessens those ‘Oh shit!’ moments. I’ve been in the restaurant industry since I was 15 so it’s going to be 20 years next year. You have ‘Oh shit!’ moments and then you have those moments where you’re like, ‘Well I just gotta figure it out.’ So we do a lot of well I just gotta figure it out.
“We still want to sell more beer. With our can release we’ll go into a few of the bars in the area, bottle shops and whatnot. It’s figuring out what’s next.
“What other events are going to bring people in here. That’s where we want to sell more beer is fundraisers and cool music. Things that bring the art into Divine Barrel besides just beer.​“​

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