KANNAPOLIS — Three friends, all veterans of the United States military, are the catalysts of what is expected to be a booming downtown Kannapolis revitalization project.
The veteran-owned-and-operated Old Armor Beer Co. celebrated its opening Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a festive party.
Kyle Lingafelt, Stefan Perrine and Richard Bradley began brewing together in 2016, and then a year later formed Old Armor Beer Co.
“(The military is) what made us who we are,” Perrine said. “Everybody was very different when they joined the military. For me, it’s led to a degree, a master’s degree, a brewing degree, business, partners and friends. It’s what made my life the way it is.”
After searching for locations, Lingafelt, a Cabarrus County native, sold his buddies on opening the brewery at 211 West Ave. in Kannapolis.
“We brewed together, got the idea going and then when we moved back out here to North Carolina, it was about trying to find a building,” Lingafelt said.
Downtown Kannapolis is in the revitalization stage.
West Avenue Streetscape was recently finished. The brewery is right next to VIDA, the new, mixed-use district now under construction.
The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, the Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, will be the center of the Sports and Entertainment Venue.
Plus, more restaurants and retail shops are anticipated to be moving in.
Old Armor Beer Co., which has taken over the former Rotary Building, is owned by two Marines and an Army paratrooper.
They spent deployments in Afghanistan and earned master’s degrees in business administration at the University of Southern California.
The military veterans designed and renovated the Old Armor Beer Co. to resemble a classical appearance that reflects World War I and the 1920s era.
“What we got here is a World War I-themed brewery,” Perrine said. “We have the whole East Coast style in the front and the West Coast in the back, where you can actually drink around the equipment.”
They have 16 beers currently on tap, with about 100 more locked in their minds for future rotations.
On Friday, Old Armor Beer Co. released its Cherry Porter beer. Live music was played for patrons from 7-10 p.m.
On Saturday, the brewery released an Orange Creamsicle Ale, along with live music.
The brewing company hosted a soft open Jan. 21 before officially opening the next day.
Old Armor Beer Co. often has food trucks on site and will work with other restaurants moving into the area.
“We are with some close friends, working on a project we’ve been working on for about 2½ years,” Bradley said. “The fact that we finally crossed the finish line, I think we are really happy and excited. The outreach from the community has been amazing.”
With the completion of the walkway between the VIDA Apartments and the brewery, a beer garden will open, adding more space for patrons to relax, unwind and enjoy the events planned at the brewery and in downtown Kannapolis.