June 15, 2017
Ten years ago, 21-year-old Dominican-native Dairelyn Guzman met a young Jason Glunt from Charlotte. Dairelyn moved to Statesville directly from the Dominican Republic and, after they initially met, Jason would make the trek many nights to and from Statesville to Charlotte to spend time with Dairelyn. They did what most young couples do: frolick around the city, although Charlotte was a different landscape back then.
Both worked in the service industry when they were first dating, and there was very little awareness for craft beer in North Carolina at the time, as Governor Easley had just signed House Bill 392 into law, lifting the 6% ABV cap to 15% in 2005.
When Jason and Dairelyn moved to NoDa five years later, like many Charlotteans do, Dairelyn took a job at the bank. “I hated it, I mean I really hated it, and Jason would always tell me, ‘don’t worry, one day you’ll be able to quit,” she said. Jason also took a shot at working in the corporate world at Vanguard, and quickly realized it didn’t suit him. He developed a fascination for craft beer, first being enamored with Sierra Nevada. It was after he returned to a job as eeZ Fusion & Sushi when his entrepreneurial spirit really took off. Jason started taking mental and written notes of breweries, distributors and the logistical strategy for opening up his own place.
Months before Salud Beer Shop came to fruition, in 2012, Jason and Dairelyn found out they were expecting their first child. After the birth of their newborn baby, three weeks after the opening of Salud, Dairelyn still worked her full-time job, and helped out at Salud.
Although some may think that opening a craft beer bottle shop in NoDa would be a sure-shot idea, Jason and Dairelyn were barely confident in the success of the business. “There were maybe two bottle shops at the time, one was Common Market and then Brawley’s, and that’s all there was,” said Dairelyn. It was a great decision for Jason, as Dairelyn openly admits at the time she wasn’t fully comprehending the venture. “I’m glad he took the leap of faith because I’m not much of a dreamer.”
Two years later, after the explosion of the craft beer scene in Charlotte, Jason and a few homebrewing friends started experimenting making sour beers on a nano brewing system and would showcase their funky creations at festivals like Brawley’s Black and Blue. It wasn’t until 2016 that they started thinking about the possibility of finding a tap room and expanding the operation. After looking at a couple locations in the NoDa, Villa Heights, and the Belmont area, Jason received a call in October that the space above Salud (previously Wine Up and Upstage NoDa) was available. They moved in on the deal and received the keys to the space last December.
They quickly assembled the team enlisting friends, Brittnie and Ben Derrick for the wooden tables and design aesthetics, longtime employee Jamie Jollie to work on the bar and structural upfit, and Nick and Jessica Garris to spearhead original artwork for the opening. But the process didn’t come without a major hurdle. In early April, a shop vac filled with sawdust somehow caught fire and the new space literally went up in smoke. “It’s like one of those nights you never want to remember. He (Jason) got a call from the owner of Boudreaux’s telling him the upstairs of Salud was on fire. He drove super fast over to the shop, and he couldn’t get in because there were like five firetrucks around the building, so he thought that the whole place was gone,” said Dairelyn.
Despite the setbacks and sacrifices that most business owners face, Dairelyn and Jason are as relieved as they are proud of Salud Cerveceria. The open floor 3100 sq-ft space is a canvas for friends, loyal customers, and creatives boasting 14 taps made from recycled skateboards by wood craftsman Larry Reaves. They will also serve prosecco, nitro coffee (Trade and Lore from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and collaborative beers with Burial, Fonta Flora, and Free Range. Head brewer, Adam Glover, formerly of Fonta Flora, is expected to concoct a wide-range of selections. Dairelyn plans to help name the beers and is eager to take Glover to the Dominican Republic to explore and introduce ingredients and flavors of her childhood.
The entertainment programming will be laid back and will feature their current Wine Down Wednesdays sampling sessions and game nights by Jake and Danielle Bock of Draft Mechanic, a Charlotte-based podcast connecting board game enthusiasts and craft beer lovers. The hours will be 7 a.m to 10 p.m during the week and 9 a.m to midnight on weekends.
The story of this brewery has been an unforeseeable one, an arduous process and journey. One thing we know, is Salud Cerveceria will be very welcoming like their name suggests. Oh, and Dairelyn was able quit her job at the bank last year, so Jason kept his promise, salud to that!
Shot and edited by Brandon W. Sabi for CLTure.