Orange Owned brewery making its mark in Winston-Salem

An Orange Owned business in the Triad is rising in popularity among craft brewery enthusiasts. Those in the pursuit of hoppiness have found it at Winston-Salem’s Radar Brewing Company, launched in January 2020.

Aaron Wall (’98) is the founder, co-owner and head brewer at Radar, which has quickly carved out a successful distribution footprint in North Carolina and established its tap room as a Triad destination.

Wall and co-owner Eric Peck opened the brewery at the dawn of an unprecedented pandemic, timing that presented unique challenges. They originally intended to open the taproom to patrons, then work their way up to an external distribution operation. But the pandemic required “agility from a business perspective.”

“Our opening certainly went from a high of finally reaching the milestone of getting everything ready and being met with a lot of enthusiasm to going into shutdown with COVID and only being able to offer beer [externally],” Wall said.

“I invested everything, so to speak, in this project and didn’t know what was going to happen. But at the same time, it forced us as a company to accelerate things in our business plan we didn’t see happening for two to three years. We weren’t anticipating canning and distribution right away. We were really wanting to leverage the tap room business model supported by events and community involvement.”

Wall, a mass communication studies graduate at Campbell, was able to sustain through the unexpected challenges of Radar’s initial launch.

“Thank you, Campbell, for my marketing and PR background in that instance,” he said. “Having a distribution footprint, by and large, involves sound marketing strategy.”

The past two years have “felt a little more normal,” with 2023 being the business’s “best year so far,” Wall said. Patrons love to come to Radar to experience the outdoor beer garden, intentionally designed to have an “old world” feel.

Throughout the week Radar offers events like live music, bingo, trivia and yoga classes.

“Truly, the brewery scene in America is as much about experience as the availability of unique beers,” he said. “And we have a really good team of people that make that positive experience happen for us.”

Still, beer drinkers come for the beer, and Radar has a sustainable brewing operation designed for consistency in taste and variety in flavor.

Radar was designed as a “smaller scale” brew house with multiple tanks in its cellar that allow for variety. The brewery typically averages between 10 and 15 beers in house, with a couple new releases per month.

“We also have a number of core beers that we seasonally keep on, so while there’s new things coming out, there’s also things that have just really proven to be favorites of our customers,” Wall said. “As a brewer, I like to focus on Belgian styles in particular, so we offer a good a good variety of Belgian beers at any given time. We do a number German lagers and I think that we’re really good at the American styles, which are the big, bitter, hoppy India Pale Ales. It’s definitely a blend that is meant to keep up with what our customers want.”

Radar’s flagship is its west coast style IPA, “Reflection,” which won “Best American IPA” at the North Carolina State Brewers Guild Awards.

Wall’s time at Campbell and the connection he still has with the University is a “near and dear element” of his life. He was ecstatic that his brewery was the 2023 Winston-Salem host for the Alumni Association’s Welcome to the City, an annual event which connects alumni of all generations back to their alma mater and fellow graduates. This year, Welcome to the City was held June 8 at local hotspots in Raleigh, Charlotte, Wilmington, Richmond and Radar Brewing Company in Winston Salem.

“To have alumni here in my home city and business was an honor,” Wall said. “I certainly hope that we host another [Welcome to the City]. It is flattering to say the least.”

Radar Brewing Company is one of hundreds of small businesses that has benefited from registering as Orange Owned through the Alumni Association. Click here to search the Orange Owned registry or register your own business.