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LIBATION NATION: D9 Brewing Co. aspires to be 'Unquestionably Original'

Scott Hettig, head brewer and general manager of the new D9 Brewing Co. at 425 N. Main St., says patrons often race to save a seat in the street-facing tables as soon as they step in.

“I would say it’s one of the best selling points,” he says. “Other than the beer, the location and this building is what sells.”
D9, the fast-growing seven-year-old craft brewery originally from the Charlotte area, sank $1.7 million into the purchase and renovation of the old Swanson’s organ and piano space, stripping the interior walls down to original brick, installing new flooring and making the town’s only Main Street brewpub a showcase.
Like a lot of brewers, D9 founder Andrew Durstewitz and a partner started modestly.
“Ten years in his garage, two years in my garage and two years in a little commercial garage where we just gave away free beer because we didn’t have a permit,” Durstewitz said during D9’s grand opening earlier this month. “Then we decided in 2014 to build a real business. We’re the seventh largest brewery in North Carolina and the 11th fastest growing on the East Coast.”
Durstewitz, who has a broad and varied background in software development, health care and human resources, boasts a record, according to his LinkedIn profile, “of engineering transformative and complex software solutions focused on customer needs and sustainable operational improvements.”
He has built a multilayered complex that includes a development company, Iconic Holdings, that buys and renovates properties for new brewpubs and a distribution network that reaches 14 states. Usually, when he scouts a new location, he spends time kicking the tires and considering other options. He shed those details when his developer summoned him to look at the Main Street storefront here.

“I usually have to spend time walking around the building,” he says. “I used to go down to Greenville (South Carolina) all the time for business. You can sit there on the street and talk to people as they walk by. This town needs that kind of vibe because it’s got that culture already here. That was my big plan. I want that garage door, I want those seats up front.”
He recalls his first visit, when “I went upstairs and the whole second story shimmied back and forth.” The developer renovated the upstairs for an Airbnb.
“We put a lot of love into this building because we thought this really could be something special,” Durstewitz adds. “I think you can see it turned out really, really well. We put a ton of money into this, wanting to invest in the community.”

D9 opened two other brewpubs the same day it opened its Hendersonville taproom, April 15 — one in uptown Charlotte and one in Newton.
“This brew system can only fill half the tap lines,” Durstewitz says. (There are 15 tapes.) “D9’s a bigger company so we can fill the other tap lines with our core beer. If we came up here and we didn’t have our sours, people would be like, ‘Where are your sours?’ We’re known for them. We can’t produce them here. This is not a sour brewing facility. We have a sour brewery in Newton, North Carolina, and we bring it up here.”
As head brewer, Hettig’s job is to discover the beer the Hendersonville patron wants and then develop recipes, Durstewitz says.
“Those beers will only be here,” he says. “But if he finds a beer that the community loves and it takes off, we’ll scale it to the R&D facility and put it statewide.”
Durstewitz takes pride in liberating local brewers to tailor the product to the community.
“Our model — we’re able to run these breweries a little bit more lightly (in a way) that gives all the power and control to the head brewer,” he says. “So he doesn’t have any oversight and control coming in from us. We’re trying to support him and have him build the identity of the local business. The only thing we say is our motto is ‘Unquestionably Original’ — just be original. That’s the thing that D9 Brewing Co. was built on.”
D9’s hours are 2 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1-8 p.m. Sunday. D9 also operates Main Street Coffee from 8 a.m.-noon.