By Victoria Bourne
After two months of social media posts hinting of impending change at Suffolk’s Brick & Mortar Brewing Company, the word finally came out this week that the brewery – in name at least – will be no more.
The city’s first brewery has been relaunched as Nansemond Brewing Station. The new name comes with a new brewer – Chris Richards of Portsmouth’s MoMac Brewing Company will brew at Nansemond as well — and new beers, according to a press release and managing co-owner Jennifer Siebert.
The brewery reopens officially Sept. 14, but a sneak peek tasting is planned for Saturday during Taste of Suffolk, weather permitting. Nansemond Brewing will be set up in a courtyard off North Main Street.
“Chris brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will only exceed all craft beer lovers’ expectations,” Siebert said, via email Tuesday.
He replaces Dave Stacknick, who helped launch the brewery as head brewer and co-owner in 2017. In a texted statement Thursday, Stacknick said the brewery has experienced operational complications from day one.
“This has been quite an extraordinarily stressful and tiresome effort.”
Due to increasing financial responsibilities, he and his wife, Rachel Stacknick, have had to sell a parcel amount of their shares in the brewery. He is now focused on finishing his engineering degree and she has returned to working with a real estate company.
The brewery is getting a second chance that companies don’t see every day, Stacknick said.
Siebert and her husband Scott Siebert, the other managing owner, have been with the brewery since its inception. They are Suffolk residents and will direct day-to-day functions.
Otherwise company ownership remains in the hands of a group of local investors who also have a stake in MoMac, according to the press release.
The brewery’s new name hearkens back to Nansemond County, which became part of modern-day Suffolk after a 1974 merger, and one of city’s most iconic landmarks, the Seaboard Railway Station, which dates to the late 1800s and now operates as a museum.
The now former Brick & Mortar opened on St. Patrick’s Day 2018 in a one-story, early 20th-century brick building on East Washington Street from which Chalmers and Ford automobiles were once sold and serviced.
Inside not much will change, Siebert says, save for some cosmetic alterations with the rebranding. The 10-barrel brewhouse remains. A new outdoor beer garden, for which the brewery received a $15,000 grant from a city business launch competition, should be completed by reopening.
Seven new beers will debut this month with styles ranging from pale ale to stout; a raspberry hefeweizen and New England IPA will hit marks along the way. None of the Brick & Mortar beers will return, Siebert said.
Hours, which had been truncated to three-days a week during the transition, will be bumped up to five days – Tuesdays through Saturdays, closed Sundays and Mondays. Any lingering Brick & Mortar gift cards will be honored indefinitely, Siebert said, but the mug club was suspended and there are no plans to resurrect it under the Nansemond Brewing Station banner.
Siebert said they’re excited by this next chapter and grateful that people have hung in with them throughout the changeover. When asked why it took so long for the relaunch to be announced, Siebert said “transition simply takes time.”
“You know it’s the oldest story in the book. Sometimes people go into business together and it just doesn’t work out. After (Brick & Mortar) experienced some operational challenges, our ownership group decided collectively that the best path forward was to rebrand.”
A collective decision was also made to rename the brewery “in order to move forward on a positive path with a fresh start,” she said.