In 2001, an employee gave me a Mr. Beer kit as a Christmas Gift. I messed around with it, made a few batches for fun, and really never thought much about it. After purchasing a small farm in 2005, the basement of our house had a full kitchen. I turned the basement into a game room and nicked-named it Boxcar Brewery since I lived on Boxcar Rd. Home brewing became a hobby and my interest grew. I owned a custom swimming pool company and mostly worked in the Lake Norman and Charlotte area. The commute was always a nightmare and along with weathering the poor economy, I was wishing for a change. I wanted to figure out a way to make a living in Lancaster County, SC, work the farm, and still earn a living but nothing made logical sense. In 2011 we started a family and built a building on our property to operate the business for home. With a baby in the house, I moved the home brewing to my shop. I installed a natural gas line to a home built burner stand, built some larger fermenters and even built an air conditioned fermentation room. One day my father was helping brew some beer and he said, "I see this building becoming a brewery one day". From that point, I knew that a brewery could be an amazing opportunity. After all of the licensing procedures, Benford Brewing Co. became legal in 2012 with the hope of finding a new career path other than the swimming pool construction industry. Learning the rules and regulations day by day, Comer Distribution Co. in Rock Hill, SC agreed to carry my brand. I was amazed that they agreed and claimed that they could sell it. I brewed on my home built 55 gallon system and managed to keep a few local accounts, namely Grinder's Restaurant, my first account. Comer introduced our brand into the Rock Hill and Columbia, SC markets and accounts began to grow. I was hooked.
In 2013, I started looking into the possibility of expansion. Tin Roof Brewing Co, Baton Rouge, LA listed their brew house "For Sale" due to their expansion. I quickly made the decision to purchase their equipment and made the leap into a 30 barrel brew house. Every day, as many hours as possible, we worked to transition the shop into a brewery. I currently work and plan to continue to expand the brewery.
We currently serve North and South Carolina in the following markets:
Lancaster, Rock Hill, Columbia, SC - Comer Distribution; Greenville, SC - Greenco Beverage; Myrtle Beach, SC - Better Brands, Florence, SC - Crown Beverage; Charleston and the low Country, SC - Bear Island Distribution; and the entire state of NC is handled by Millennium Beverage, Charlotte, NC.
As this adventure continues, I am amazed by the enjoyment I have in producing a product that craft beer lover's can enjoy.
Thanks for everyone's support. Bryan O'Neal.