The History: Not One, Not Two, But Three Companies

Raleigh Brewing was founded March 9th, 2013 by Patrick and Kristie Nystedt. They opened a 20 barrel production facility and taproom off of Neil St. in Raleigh. At the time they were both working in corporate America and like many craft brewery owners they started as brew-at-home hobbyists - raising kids and spending weekends sharing their homebrew concoctions with neighbors. 

“We basically had an Irish pub in the bottom of our home. One of our friends was a restaurateur and he saw potential in our beer.”

Kristie has a background in finance and Patrick was a pilot. They never considered starting a business, much less a brewery. But, once they began considering the possibility, they realized they wanted to go all in. That meant no investors.

“We knew we wanted to make sure we could make our own decisions quickly and not always based on returns. We wanted what we made to go back into the business. We were very committed to that.”

Keeping in mind that this was 11 years ago they also saw the growth potential of the craft beer industry in the state and so they came at it with a three pronged approach. From zero to one hundred. The Nystedts didn’t just start one business, they started three: Raleigh Brewing Company (which at the time was only the facility on Neil St., Atlantic Brew Supply (e-commerce and retail supplier of homebrew equipment), and ABS Commercial Supply (manufacturing and selling large stainless steel equipment to other breweries). That seemed like such a brave, big swing and Kristie assured me that it indeed meant leaning fully into discomfort. 

“I knew enough to know that there was a demand. This was back in 2010 and I could see that there was a sea of unbirthed breweries and I knew that the West Coast sort of owned the stainless steel brewing equipment market and they were driving the price.”

Three beers being cheers'ed by hands in the beer garden of Raleigh Brewing Distro in Smithfield, NC.

They could see the future of the home and commercial brewing industry in NC, and along the East Coast, and they wanted to be on the supply side of things as well. The West Coast was getting their stainless steel from China, but when Kristie went to seek out her own Chinese manufacturer she knew ABS would be looking for a family-owned business doing really well in kitchen manufacturing with reputable welding quality. 

“Then, we taught them everything they needed to know about making stainless steel brewing equipment. We wanted the over-all steel quality first and then, because my husband is an engineer, we knew we could combine forces to create designs and processes that would create top quality equipment but at a lower price.” 

They believed in it so much that they executed the three prong business plan with all of their own money. And of course, over a decade later it’s easy to look across the state and see they were right about the growth of craft beer. They also made a few other critical decisions: they only sold to people they knew and were well connected with, they stayed true to their lower pricing model and quality standards, and they kept the ABS brand small and purposeful even as the market boomed.

At the same time, they started Atlantic Brew Supplies; the homebrew supplies business. They did and do ship hops, yeast, grains, and equipment all over the US. The symbiotic nature of the business model makes so much sense it’s shocking in its simplicity. Homebrewers do sometimes become craft brewery owners. And craft brewery owners don’t just need BIG equipment, they also often need small batch supplies. So the supply businesses are very intertwined. And, then, there’s Raleigh Brewing Company. It all makes the Nystedt’s not just brewery owners, but brewery builders in a way - from garage small batches to major craft beer makers. 

More About Raleigh Brewing

Now 12 years in, the production facility on Neil St. is at 6,500 barrels. They opened a satellite taproom in Cary in 2020 and then, of course, they just opened the JoCo “Distro” location at the end of 2023.

Raleigh Brewing offers several different styles of beer and a variety of approachable beer options from craft beer connoisseurs to the average light beer lover. From the beginning they have approached brewing with variety in mind, offering several different styles. But they’ve also kept in mind that they don’t just want to appeal to craft beer enthusiasts but also other types of drinkers. There are styles that liquor drinkers or wine drinkers would like for instance.  

A beer being poured at Raleigh Brewing Distro in Smithfield, NC.

“The styles that we brew are the styles that we love, but at the end of the day the consumer speaks. We try to pay close attention to demand and changes in consumer taste preferences.” 

Kristie says she feels lagers are picking up as well as Italian pilsners; going into the Summer season always lends itself to lighter beers picking up in the market. She maintains that you have to be versatile, you have to listen to the numbers.

“Because we have a small batch brewing system as well we can have passion projects like sours and more unique types of beer, but still make larger batches for styles that speak to the consumer. Just because we feel really passionate about smoked lagers, 90% of the market isn’t going to be.”

You’ll also find Raleigh Brewing beer at most grocery stores in NC and on-tap around the state. 

What You’ll Find at the Distro 

I asked Kristie what I ask a lot of our new partners, “why JoCo?” Her honest answer was that she had been on the lookout for a permanent home when she found out Double Barley was interested in exiting their space.

“I wanted to buy a commercial space for our production facility. There’s also lots of variables in leasing and after 10 years I was sick of putting money into other people’s buildings. I had been looking for a space where I could safely put our production. ”

Other than a taproom and outdoor patio space which serves the public, Raleigh Brewing has been able to use their Wilson Mills location to relocate and grow their production and distribution capacity. Hence, Raleigh Brewing “Distro” as a name for the locale. 

“Both my husband and I are from small towns and being in a more rural space isn’t intimidating to me. It actually felt comfortable to be here. For me this is about a long-term sanctuary, something that allows us to put something in a community that is still growing and does still need more places for people to come together. But, at the same time allows us to have a space that we own where we can continue to create value and have a safe place for our production facility.” 

Raleigh Brewing Distro is indeed a place of gathering with friendly bar staff, a pet-friendly patio, a live music schedule, and even a private event space - we're so excited to welcome them to JoCo and the Beer, Wine, & Shine Trail. In addition, order food prepared fresh from in-house restaurant Chelsea Cafe. Lastly, don’t love beer but still want to hang out with your craft beer loving friends? The Distro has tons of options from wine to seltzer to a quality bourbon selection! Visit the website,, and follow The Distro on Instagram for event information, plus the live music and food truck schedules. Be on the lookout for the monthly “Smoke Out Party” BBQ event offered through the cafe!

The interior of the taproom and bar of Raleigh Brewing Distro in Smithfield, NC.