Beer Scout: Ginger’s Revenge adds South Slope Lounge

TWO OF A KIND: Ginger's Revenge owners Cristina and David Ackley keep their big year going with the opening of their South Slope Lounge in late August. Photo courtesy of Ginger's Revenge

Earlier this summer, shortly after celebrating five years of operation at their Riverside Drive brewery and taproom, Ginger’s Revenge co-owners Cristina and David Ackley informed their staff that there would be a “special release” in November. While the crew wondered what kind of creative alcoholic ginger beer might be joining their lineup, the Ackleys soon revealed their surprise answer: Cristina is expecting the couple’s first child in the fall.

Before the baby’s arrival, the Ackleys will also welcome another taproom into the mix. Slated for a late August opening, the South Slope Lounge is at 32 Banks Ave., in the former Wehrloom Honey and Meadery space.

“We’ve been talking about a second taproom location for years,” David says. “Our taproom at the brewery is not walkable, so it’s been on our minds for a while to figure out a situation that can get more walk-in traffic. And when we saw this one become available, we jumped at it.”

Lounge lizards

The Lounge can fit around 80 people and will have 17 taps, pouring Ginger’s Revenge’s year-round beers, rotating seasonal offerings — including Cucumber Lime Basil Peppermint (summer) and Caramelized Fig & Vanilla (winter) — and small-batch beers available exclusively in the tasting room. Among the other options are nonalcoholic beverages, rotating guest taps of traditional beer and eventually draft ginger beer cocktails, made possible by recent changes to state laws.

The new location, says Cristina “will allow us to do some playful things that we haven’t had the tap space to do.”

Visitors can access the Lounge on Banks Avenue through the doors between Buxton Hall Barbecue and Catawba Brewing Co., or via Buxton Avenue in the alleyway behind Green Man Brewery’s Dirty Jack’s taproom. Since the space was already a tasting room, converting it to meet Ginger’s Revenge’s needs has involved minimal work. The Ackleys kept the drawers from beehive boxes that the previous tenants installed and had the walls painted teal in honor of Lime Agave, the guitarist in the fictional band that adorns Ginger’s Revenge’s branding.

“We envisioned a space where ‘Ginger and her band’ would go to hang out after band practice, giggle a little and be creative,” says Tammy Combs, tasting room manager. “Lime Agave is known to play well with others and is our Siren of Soul — and as a team we decided who better to be the inspiration for our South Slope Lounge? She is a total vibe.”

Consistency crew

As is the case at the Riverside Drive location, the Ackleys will carry bar snacks from fellow local producers such as Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn and Roots Hummus. Patrons are also welcome to bring in food from the growing number of neighboring options, including such recent additions as Harvest Pizzeria and Green Man Eats, which opened Aug. 18 in the former French Broad Chocolate Factory & Tasting Room.

With the growth, the Ackleys are looking to distribute Ginger’s Revenge products outside North Carolina — eventually in cans, though considering the current aluminum shortage, they’re sticking with glass bottles for now. The Lounge also offers the ability to expand programming, adding more intimate options like seminars and singer/songwriter performances while keeping amplified concerts at the Riverside space.

The expansion is especially notable for a business that started out as a two-person operation. Though David is coy about whether he envisioned Ginger’s Revenge being this successful when he first started making ginger beer at home a decade ago, or even as his products began attracting a following at Just Brew It and other homebrew festivals, the Ackleys’ belief in their alternative beverage has proved them to be nothing short of visionaries.

“We definitely saw the potential,” he says. “We were paying attention to the beer industry and had seen what hard cider was doing. We felt like we had an opportunity in that group to create something different.”

In doing so, the brewery has become known as a welcoming place where craft beverage consumers can have a memorable experience — a reputation that’s at the core of the Ackleys’ goals for the Lounge.

“David and I both have long backgrounds in customer service. We see it as that interaction with someone is your opportunity to make their day better, and all of our team members embrace that,” Cristina says. “Having an inclusive space feels really important for us. We say ‘No matter your beverage persuasion,’ so that even people who don’t drink [alcohol] have cool options.”

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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