Pittsboro’s newest drinking hole: BMC Brewing

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PITTSBORO — BMC brewing, the newest addition to The Plant on Lorax Lane in Pittsboro, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony last Sunday, finally opening two years after its owners set out to join the local beverage scene.

“It was really hard waiting,” said John Rice, who founded the brewery with his wife, Carmen, and serves as master brewer. “But it is what it is. We know the state’s been doing the best it can. And whereas the impatience, of course, was there, it’s fine now. It worked out all right.”

More than 30 people attended the brewery’s unveiling at 2 p.m., over which Mayor Jim Nass presided. Dozens more cycled through the building throughout the afternoon to sample the diverse menu.

“The Plant really embodies what Pittsboro is all about,” Nass told the News + Record, “and it’s exciting to see BMC open their doors and offer another great place for people to get together.”

The grand opening was a long time coming for the Rices. John got his start in home brewing more than 30 years ago — long before the craft brew boom of the last decade. He made his career as a pharmaceutical researcher specializing in drug discovery, cell biology and yeast physiology, but commercial brewing was always the dream. After years of deliberation, he decided in 2019 it was finally time to ditch his career in research and pursue his lifelong passion.

Then came COVID and plans started unraveling.

“It’s obviously not how we expected this to go,” he said.

But he and Carmen are fixed on the brewery’s future, despite its tumultuous start.

“I feel good about it,” Carmen said. “I mean, we want this to be a great local joint where people just come and hang out, where they come often and they don’t have to stay long. But this is the place to be — The Plant is the place to be — and we’re excited to be a part of that.”

The Brewery’s opening drink lineup includes 16 offerings, most of them John’s own brews. While hot weather persists, he’s partial to Mendel’s Dominant Recessive Kolsch, which honors the father of modern genetics, Joseph Mendel, according to BMC’s website. The German-inspired ale features a traditional yeast tempered by North Carolina-sourced hops and grain.

“The kolsch is the best right now,” John said. “It’s not too heavy — it’s got a nice crispness to it that you can drink in the heat.”

In cooler days to come, Carmen’s favorite will be the Uisce Móna Beilgeach, she said, derived from a Gaelic phrase meaning “bog water.” The Irish Stout is strengthened with Belgian candied sugar and fermented with Trappist yeast. BMC also partnered with Chatham Cider Works, one of The Plant’s veteran establishments, to produce a hops-infused cider and a coffee cider available at the brewery.

“For whatever people like,” John said, “we should have something to match their style.”

BMC also sells an assortment of cookies, a specialty from which the brewery derives its name: “Bite My Cookie.” And they’re not your run-of-the-mill baked goods.

“We take grain we use to make the beer and we dehydrate it and dry it out and then grind it up into flour,” Carmen said. “It’s part of our sustainability. We don’t want it just to go to farmers to feed their animals or the compost, we wanted to try to do something useful. A lot of breweries make dog biscuits, but we started using it for cookies at home with our home brew and thought it was really interesting. The cookies have a really good flavor.”

The Rices hope their cookie menu will signal to visitors that BMC is not just a bar, but a destination for the whole family.

“We want everyone to come out and have a good time,” John said. “We’re really happy to have this opportunity to be at The Plant because we wanted the outdoor space and we wanted to be able to have people wander into the woods and sit in the shade if they want, or outside there at the picnic tables, not just have to be inside. So this was really perfect for us. We’re really excited and we really expect it to take off.”

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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