Meet the Maker: Robert Poitras of Carolina Brewery
by Ryan Norris
Beer enthusiast, die-hard Tar Heel, and the founder of Carolina Brewery
Robert Poitras is dyed in the wool of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. An avid fisherman, he has a deep love for his home and community. His entire family is spread throughout the coastline in places like Wilmington, Beaufort, and the Outer Banks itself. Poitras is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate whose blood runs deep as a Tar Heel, as his parents and grandparents both met at the university.
Poitras began his beer journey when he traveled to Switzerland in 1993 and was entranced by the craft choices localized to each town along with their own individually crafted glassware. Shortly after this eye-opening experience, Poitras moved to San Diego and again discovered abundant craft beers that emulated what he had seen in Europe.
This gave him the dream and vision to open his own brewpub that would be a great meet-up spot and game-day hub for a regular local crowd with a cheerful atmosphere in his old stomping grounds. Pursuing this path forward, he opened Carolina Brewery in 1995 on the iconic Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, making it the oldest craft brewery in the Triangle. In 2007 a second location was opened in Pittsboro with even larger production goals in mind.
When it came to the food on offer at the brewery, Poitras envisioned that it would perfectly match his artisanal beer—nothing too fancy but simple and delicious. Every dish is made from scratch using carefully grown and raised ingredients from around the region. With his craft beer he focuses on a clean and crisp product that uses only the best ingredients. Carolina Brewery uses top-of-line processes, such as reverse osmosis, which controls the baseline water quality and ensures a consistent flavor and mouthfeel across all products with pinpoint accuracy.
This dedication to only providing the absolute best beers and food has paid off tremendously. Carolina Brewery has received four different national brewing awards among countless local ones over the years, and its craftsmanship is renowned throughout the Southeast. It has grown so much, in fact, that after the Gold Medal Great American Beer Festival in 2006, Carolina Brewery became a distribution beer company in addition to a local brew pub.
All this can be attributed to the tireless hours and work Poitras has put into his baby, combined with a willingness to go against the grain and keep the gas pedal on the floor, even through tough times like Covid-19. Poitras never forgets his roots, though. Carolina Brewery always gives back to the community by sponsoring the NC Coastal Federation’s events and donating to Outer Banks Forever, which gives money to improve and preserve the Outer Banks’ federally funded national parks for the enjoyment of generations to come.
In Poitras’ own words, anyone who is in for some fishing, some grilling, or just some companionship over good beer is welcome to come check out Carolina Brewery. It’s an embodiment of the South’s traditional values of hospitality, family, and friendship, and all are welcome.