Fullsteam Brewery_NCIF Loan
Location: Durham, North Carolina
Years in Business: <10 years
NCIFund Role: Line of Credit, Equipment Acquisition, Refinancing
Sector: Craft Beer Brewing; Value-Added Agriculture
Impact: Job Creation, Strengthening Food Economy

Fullsteam crafts Southern-inspired “plow-to-point” beer, using local, seasonal ingredients like paw paws, persimmons, pears and pecans. In a post-tobacco era, Fullsteam is enlisting neighboring farmers, foragers and agricultural entrepreneurs to help build a Southern Beer Economy, one pint at a time.
Fullsteam doesn’t use local ingredients because it’s fashionable, but because the company wants its customers to fall in love with native Southern flavors.  And so they have: Fullsteam’s sales have increased from just over 2,000 barrels in 2011 to 4,800 in 2015. Along the way, its stable of fine, craft-brewed beers has picked up honors from the James Beard Foundation, the Good Food Award, Southern Living and Garden &Gun. Yahoo Travel named Fullsteam one of the five coolest craft beer tours in America. Equally important, it’s been named Durham’s Best Local Brewery five years in a row.

In North Carolina alone, people drank 33 million gallons of craft beer, but only 8 million were produced in the state.  Nationwide, the craft brewing industry is growing by more than 15 percent a year, and 17 percent in North Carolina.  

The Opportunity

Breweries are a capital-intensive business, and Fullsteam got its start with the help of early investors and a Small Business Administration loan. To increase its production capacity as demand for its beer grew, the company later received several loans from a  regional lender. 

As the company continued to expand, it outgrew its existing banking relationship.  In 2016, NCIFund lent Fullsteam funds to acquire kegs and provided a much-needed line of credit. Then, in 2017, NCIFund helped Fullsteam put together a new refinancing package, which saved the company about $100,000 a year in debt service payments, and increased the brewery’s line of credit so that the company could bulk-order its cans, saving an additional $63,000 a year.

Along with a new canning line installed in mid-2016 that provided cost-savings of $75,000 a year, NCIFund’s loans are allowing Fullsteam to expand its distribution to more than 200 stores in North and South Carolina. Local food trucks make a lot of visits to Fullsteam and, starting this summer, the brewery is launching a full kitchen for its family-friendly tavern.


To date, the company has provided jobs to 25 people, and the jobs pay well.  Fullsteam is one of 29 local businesses in the Durham Living Wage Project, a program that seeks to raise wages for service workers and certify businesses that pay higher than minimum wage.

Fullsteam was a pioneer when it located its taproom and manufacturing facility in an economically disadvantaged section of Durham in 2010 (check).  Now, Durham’s Central Park is thriving, with restaurants, a 450-person concert venue, and a mixed-use project featuring 246 luxury rental apartments and retail space all within walking distance, offering residents new employment opportunities.

Visit the Fullsteam Brewery website