Your New ‘Hoppy’ Place

Noah Goldman, CEO and brewmaster of Check Six Brewing Company, stands in front of the door of what will be Southport's first local brewery, located at 5130 Southport-Supply Road SE.

Noah Goldman, CEO and brewmaster of Check Six Brewing Company, stands in front of the door of what will be Southport’s first local brewery, located at 5130 Southport-Supply Road SE.

I remember the first time I ever tasted beer. I popped off that top like a boss—OK, let’s be honest, I had a bottle opener and it took me a couple of tries. But 12 minutes later, the first thing I did was take in the smell. The full-flavored aroma bit me in the nose and I very carefully brought it to my lips and tasted it for the first time. I can imagine my face looked somewhat like a toddler who just tried their first lemon.

As the years have gone on, I have developed a much friendlier taste for the bubbly beverage and discovered my likes and dislikes in a pint. Just in time for my changing taste buds, Southport is launching a brewing company that will be popping its top off early next fall.

I sat down with Noah Goldman, the CEO and brewmaster of Check Six Brewing Company, and my first question was about the brewery’s name.  I could only imagine how many times Goldman has been asked this—and that number will only double as soon as the doors open. Sure, you can go on their website and read that version, but it is always more fun to go to the source.

“Check Six? It’s a military term: As the Air Force uses it, it means look behind you, 12 o’clock being in front of you, and 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock being to your right and left. Other military branches use the term, ‘I’ve got your six,’ meaning they have your back,” Goldman explains. “Tim Hassel, one of my partners and the co-founder of Check Six Brewing Company is a Lt. Colonel in the Air Force and an F-16 fighter pilot. We had already decided that the theme would be early aviation; all we had to do was come up with a name. Tim’s wife, Wendy, came up with ‘Check Six.’ We all thought it was a great name. The logo looked good and it would beg the question, “What does Check Six mean?” That was the whole idea behind it. I guess it works—you asked, didn’t you?”

Well played, Goldman, well played.

The CEO, originally from New York City, grew up and spent most of his adult life there while vacationing in North Carolina for the last 25 years. He and his wife retired to Southport about four years ago and found their forever home. “Every time someone comes down here to visit us, they fall in love with this place and want to move here,” he chimes in. “Southport is a great location for a brewery; everyone we talk to can’t wait for it to open and, as far as I know, there is no other brewery in Brunswick County, so we will be the first.”

Venturing to small-town Southport to open a business that has never stepped its toes into this area has to be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Goldman says that in a town like Southport, it is the support of the people and the atmosphere that allow businesses to continue to open their doors each day.

“There are 112,000 people living here in Brunswick County, not including the summer vacationers, and we have no brewery! So, why not a small town, why not Brunswick County and why not Southport,” Goldman muses. “There is plenty of growth potential available here. People will travel to find great beer, and we just love this place.”

I guess one could say Goldman’s family is full of beer connoisseurs. Before Goldman starting brewing, there was his cousin Norm Weiss, who is also on the board of directors. Weiss started homebrewing back in 1990, and after a few years trademarked the name “Coney Island Brewing Company.” Weiss set out to find a location for his beer in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York but was unable to secure adequate financing and, as a result, his plans were never executed.

In 2005, Goldman and Hassel decided to try their luck at brewing, which led to a small “brewery” in Hassel’s garage, then moved to the laundry room and, eventually, to a small home brewery building in the basement. With the help from Weiss’ equipment and recipes, Goldman and Hassel had a “hopping” good time in the basement concocting recipes. Encouragement came from family and friends to open a microbrewery was the oil for the turning wheels in their minds.

Kersting Architecture developed this sketch of the bar concept for Check Six Brewing Company.  A high-top communal table is also part of the conceptual floor plan. Image courtesy of Noah Goldman

Kersting Architecture developed this sketch of the bar concept for Check Six Brewing Company. A high-top communal table is also part of the conceptual floor plan. Image courtesy of Noah Goldman

In 2011, Goldman retired and moved to Southport, and just this year he has finally found the proper location and financing to make his dream come full circle. Check Six Brewing Company is undergoing construction right now at 5130 Southport-Supply Road SE, in the Dutchman Plaza Shopping Center.

Although it may seem like a science experiment from the outside, Goldman assured me that making beer is as easy as a twist-off cap.

Malted barley is added to hot water; this releases the sugars that are contained in the barley. This sweet sugary solution, now called “wort” is boiled. Hops are added for bitterness, flavor and aroma.

The wort is then cooled to the proper temperature and yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. The yeast causes the sugars in the wort to ferment; this releases ethyl alcohol and CO2.

When this fermentation process is complete, a small amount of sugar is added to the “beer” to provide extra carbonation, and then the beer is bottled.

After letting your newly bottled beer age for a while, it is then ready to drink!

“It truly is not that difficult and it is fun,” Goldman confirms. “You can actually make pretty darn good beer right from the get-go; it’s the technical science side that scares some people. Beer making is an art as well as a science, and as you start to grasp the technical side of this and apply the rules, you become a better artist.”

If you are more of a visual learner like me, Check Six Brewing Company will be offering tours of the brewery to see how the process works. They will also offer a flight which will include four taster glasses of beer for free to anyone who takes one of their brewery tours. “Our trained servers will be glad to offer advice on which ones to try based on what the customer likes and dislikes,” he affirms.

With a plethora of wine shops and wineries in North Carolina, a brewery will be a different taste for the citizens of Southport and vacationers passing through. Check Six Brewing Company will be making ales mainly and have anywhere from 10 to 12 recipes on hand that they believe the public will enjoy.

When it comes to beer, I normally stick to pale ales and ciders—but I told Goldman I would be willing to step outside of my comfort zone and tempt my taste buds to new flavors.

Dugan’s Chocolate Irish Stout, Wright Flyer Cream Ale, Brass Ring American Ale and Handley Page 1600 were the top contenders adorning his list that he felt I should give a fair sip. All of Check Six’s products will be made on location. The idea is to keep it fresh and local. “We will also try our best to source as many of the ingredients that we use from farmers located right here in North Carolina.”

Goldman and I agreed how so many times people say they just don’t like beer because they initially had one that was maybe too bitter and never tried to sample something different.

“To me, it’s like saying, ‘I don’t like music.’ What they should really be saying is, ‘I haven’t found a particular beer that I do like!’ With all of the great craft beers and beer styles being brewed in this country now, somebody is brewing exactly what they will like—they just haven’t found it yet,” Goldman maintains. “So I would tell them to keep trying, it’s out there, I promise!”

On Check Six Brewing Company’s website, folks can read about the featured beers, upcoming events, beer gear, the history and last but not least, the contacts, or as I like to call them, the “beer crew.”

“What do a retired electrician, a fighter pilot, a Q.A. assurance coordinator and a sales specialist have in common? The answer… BEER!” Goldman is the CEO of Check Six and along with all of his other responsibilities he also sweeps out the place. Tim Hassel is Goldman’s best friend and Co-Founder of Check Six. Michael Goldman, the CEO’s son, has been helping Hassel and Goldman brew for years and also lives in Southport. Wendy Hassel is the brainstormer behind all of the decorating. The new taproom designs are her baby. Cathy Goldman, Goldman’s wife, handles sales and marketing and has been adorned with the title of “Minister of Hopaganda.” Norm Weiss is Goldman’s cousin, inspiration and beer judge. It was their grandfather who had a brewery in Brooklyn, NY, in the 1920s.

“That’s where it all started I suppose,” Goldman shares. “He lost his brewery and his house our families lived in in a card game in the 1930s. But that’s another story—stop by the brewery some day and I’ll tell you about it.” Hassel and Weiss still live in New Jersey but both will be retiring soon and moving down to Southport.

The brewery is under construction, but Goldman anticipates opening in early fall of this year.

The brewery is under construction, but Goldman anticipates opening in early fall of this year.

Goldman is keeping his fingers crossed for everything to be complete by the early part of fall and will have a soft opening around that time. He tells residents and visitors to keep track of the website for further details on what is to come. “As for what we are planning, that is a secret right now. But I can tell you that it will have something to do with a pig, and, of course, beer.”

You can view all of the information listed in this article along with upcoming events at Check Six Brewing Company’s website www.checksixbeer.com.

One Response to Your New ‘Hoppy’ Place

  1. cathy says:

    Great Job Noah Goldman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine