Get ready to raise a glass as Thirsty Skull Brewing nears its opening this fall
Words and Photo by Hannah Lee
Siler City‘s first and only brewery came about simply – thanks to alcohol. “It’s how most great ideas happen,” says Brandon Russell.
He and his father, Steve Russell, founded 580 Craft Beer, the first retail craft beer bottle shop in Pittsboro. They were approached by longtime homebrewer Eric Stevens and beer aficionado Christopher Hackney to launch Thirsty Skull Brewing in 2018. It wasn’t long before the idea had legs, and the four co-owners acquired the former Cackalacky building at 915 N. 2nd Ave. early last year. They began renovation of the space in September 2020.
Inside the taproom’s orange and gray walls, 16 taps will pour traditional brews – think Pilsners, India pale ales and lagers – all of which were originally concocted by head brewmaster Eric, who has extensive homebrewing expertise and experience working with major breweries in the Raleigh area.
“Getting the taproom has been the biggest step up for us,” Eric says. “Not having that has been really tough the last couple of years.” Once furniture arrives, the taproom will seat up to 30 people inside with additional seating outdoors.
Despite the wait for a storefront, the microbrewery was named a favorite locally crafted beverage by our readers in the 2021 Best of Chatham poll. Locals can typically find Thirsty Skull beer at The Modern Life Deli & Drinks, ODDCO, Fair Game Beverage Co., 580 Craft Beer and House of Hops. Its brews have become a mainstay at notable Chatham events like Summer Fest and PepperFest. And the inspiration behind its distinctive logo – a skull with a mouth ferociously wide open – came from North Carolina folklore about a giant, muscular man who claimed to be “tougher than a train” and would perform feats of strength in exchange for a drink.
“Obviously, that didn’t work out too well,” Eric says. “The train ran over him, but the ghost story goes that his skull can be visible on the railroad tracks. … We just thought it was a great name. It lends itself well to what we’re doing.”
“Everyone’s always thirsty for beer,” Chris laughs. “And everyone has a skull.”