Though beer may have been its start, music has always played a major role in Burial Beer Co.’s aesthetic.
“I think it’s evident to most people that music is very much an inspiration for what we do at Burial,” says co-owner Tim Gormley.
Not only does it inform the company’s branding and packaging art, Gormley continues, “but we also think a lot about what the soundtrack to our taproom experience sounds like.”
Since launching the brewery in 2013, Gormley and fellow co-owners Doug and Jess Reiser have enjoyed steady growth with the 2019 addition of its Forestry Camp location, as well as two satellite taprooms in Charlotte and Raleigh.
And with the brewery’s 10-year anniversary around the corner, Burial continues to expand its footprint and diversify its business model. On Saturday, June 24, the company will host Anno X, an outdoor beer and music festival, at Forestry Camp from noon-6 p.m., combining its passions for booze and tunes.
The four nationally touring acts performing at Anno X illustrate Burial’s eclectic approach to music. Automatic, an all-female, post-punk/no-wave trio from Los Angeles (featuring drummer Lola Dompé, daughter of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins) opens the festival with a 1 p.m. performance.
Brooklyn-based Black Marble, the atmospheric, electronica-focused project of Chris Stewart, follows at 2:10 p.m.
Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter Zola Jesus, who skillfully combines dark wave and art rock into a hypnotic swirl, takes the stage at 3:20 p.m.
And the event’s closing act, Beach Fossils, brings its shimmering dream-pop sound to festivalgoers at 4:45 p.m.
Along with music, Anno X will showcase 12 new releases to commemorate Burial’s 10-year anniversary, including One of Us Will Bury the Other, a Mexican-style lager done in collaboration with Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing. The Forestry Camp kitchen will serve items from its menu.
“Ultimately, we hope attendees have a multisensory experience that ends up being joyful, memorable and full of connection with like-minded lovers of craft beverage and live music,” says Gormley. “Additionally, we aim to deepen or solidify attendees’ understanding of the inherent connection that our brand has with music. That connection has been there since day one and has been building through the years.”
Indeed, music has been an integral component of many previous Burial events — from bands and DJs at its flagship South Slope brewery to the annual Burnpile Harvest Fest at its Forestry Camp facility. And this experience with live music, says Gormley, makes the company’s next venture a “natural progression.”
In early 2021, Burial purchased its latest property at 10 Buxton Ave., immediately north and adjacent to its South Slope brewery. The $2.2 million purchase price was merely the start of a major investment for the company; remodeling the 11,000-plus-square-foot space was necessary to transform the former Asheville Hardware location into the city’s newest live music venue.
In anticipation of both Anno X and the new music venue (its name yet to be revealed), Burial hired Bryce Fanich last fall. Formerly the general manager at The Grey Eagle, Fanich has been a crucial addition, says Gormley. “Bryce has a deep understanding of what it takes to run a music venue,” he explains. “He has that connectivity to bands, and he knows how band and tour management works.”
Gormley adds that his own tastes in music run toward “heavy, dark and psychedelic.” But he emphasizes that the new venue’s approach to booking will cast a wider net.
“We’re always striving to be an inclusive company and brand,” he says, citing Burial’s expansion into making wine, cider and nonalcoholic beverages. “And that approach applies to music as well; the new venue will host a broad variety of genres.”
More than music
In addition to music, Burial’s expanded location will house a bottle shop and rooftop patio bar. And because the new space will serve, in part, as an extension to Burial’s existing South Slope facility, Gormley says that he and his team “don’t feel a lot of pressure to have [live music] shows every day.”
He estimates that once it’s up and running, the space will host four to five shows each week. The rest of the time, the building at 10 Buxton Ave. will provide plenty of indoor space for beer-drinking patrons.
“There will also be a food concept in that building,” Gormley promises.
Burial management hopes that the new venue will be operational and open for business in October, but no official date has been announced. In the meantime, at its Forestry Camp facility, Burial will host a live music show in August as part of the inaugural AVL Fest as well as a hip-hop showcase the following month.
While celebrating the 10-year mark, the Burial team remains focused on the future.
Gormley says that he and the Reisers have been fine-tuning their “five-year vision.” Currently, Burial has been handling its own distribution with a fleet of box trucks and refrigerated vans. “But we’ve reached this impasse,” Gormley explains. “There is a demand out there. People want our beer at places that we can’t get to — even within the state — without a dramatic growth of our distribution model.”
Concrete decisions on distribution plans have yet to be made, but Gormley says that Burial’s looking for ways to expand production as well as grow the number of taprooms it operates.
But one thing is unlikely to change. “Our plan is to stay independent,” Gormley says.
And music, he adds, will remain a major part of the mix.
“Having been a local business for 10 years, it’s very important to us collectively to offer a platform for local musicians,” Gormley says. “We’ve made a lot of relationships with people who make music in this town, so shows featuring local artists will be a big part of what we want to do.”
Furthermore, he adds: “This opportunity will push the long-standing interplay that music has with our brand and our goal of creating immersive experiences to the next level. We will curate with the goal of being inclusive, touching many genres, but always filtering through a lens of transcendent, experiential immersion in soul-shattering sound.”