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Wake Forest’s new brew: Downtown’s next brewery drawing from Nordic roots

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WAKE FOREST — “We are a modern Viking community of all peoples.”

So begins the credo etched into stone in Nordic runes in front of Norse Brewing Co. in Wake Forest. The brewery’s owners say it isn’t just talk — catering to a diverse community will drive everything they do when they open their doors later this year.

“Viking culture is very inclusive,” said owner Chris Jorgensen, who was born and raised in Denmark. “You could be fighting each other in a bloody battle, but when the battle was over, no matter who won, everybody would always get together around the big table.”

Jorgensen and his longtime friend, local brewer Brad Wynn, decided two years ago to run their own brewery. Their first plan was to buy an already-operating business, but when they weren’t able to find one for sale that met their needs, they decided to open Norse Brewing in downtown Wake Forest.

The friends have lived in Heritage for about 15 years, they said. They’ve noticed explosive growth downtown in recent years. After the owners of La Foresta Italian Cafe on Brooks Street retired in June, Jorgensen and Wynn bought the property and began renovations.

An opening date has not been set, but the partners say they are shooting for early to mid-December. The brewpub will include a restaurant, full bar and event space, along with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Wynn has been in the brewing business for 24 years and is an owner of Big Boss Brewing in Raleigh. Wynn said he is eager to create craft beers, particularly lagers, with Nordic-inspired ingredients such as a Norwegian yeast known as kveik.

“We have a myriad of ideas and flavors that people are used to but aren’t always highlighted,” Wynn said. “So we get to take that Danish twist or Norse twist and use it in a way people are familiar with but haven’t seen how we are going to do it.”

Those same ingredients — including spruce tips, pine and juniper — will be used in the kitchen to create pairings with beers, Wynn said. Wynn said Norse Brewing will also offer American-style IPAs, ciders, wine, liquor and cocktails.

“And everything in between,” Wynn added.

The idea to offer more than beer goes back to Norse Brewing’s credo Jorgenson said.

“What we’re trying to do here is build an atmosphere that is inclusive of everybody, meaning we have something for everybody,” Jorgenson said. “If you don’t feel like drinking beer today you can still come in with your friends that want beer — because our beer is going to be really good, I guarantee you of that.”

Norse Brewing Co. will be a block from White Street Brewing Co., downtown’s other beer maker. With other late-night eateries and offerings, including spots like Unwined and Tonic, Jorgenson says Wake Forest is becoming a place that can attract weekend nightlife.

“When we moved here if we wanted something to hang out and entire night, we had to go to downtown Raleigh. You don’t have to do that now,” Jorgenson said. “I think we can help downtown or Wake Forest in general keep people here from moving on to another town, to another place. Let’s keep our community together. Let’s keep it here.”

Norse Brewing is currently hiring bartenders, cooks, dishwashers and servers. To apply, visit www.norsebrewingco.com and click on “Employment.”


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