A look at the Facebook page for Hugger Mugger Brewing advises readers that the brewery’s existence is “not to be believed.”

That’s a fitting description for a company bearing the name “hugger mugger,” a colloquial phrase which characterizes secrecy, confusion and disorder.

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But Facebook descriptions — and more than a year of swirling rumors about Sanford and the craft brewing industry — aside, Hugger Mugger’s existence is to be believed. Owners Tim Emmert and David McComas began the process of moving into the building at 229 Wicker St. in late June.

And while an extensive renovation is in store over the next few months, the duo hopes to open what would be Sanford’s first craft brewery before the year ends.

“We want to brew beer and we want to brew good beer,” said Emmert, who is currently general manager of the Sandhills Farm To Table Cooperative. McComas is currently a brewer at Fortnight Brewing in Cary.

The owners of Hugger Mugger Brewing are in the first stages of extensive renovations to the building at 229 Wicker St., where they hope to open by year’s end.
According to Emmert, the brewing operation will take up several thousand square feet in the back of the building, which went up in the 1940s and served as a storefront for several years before becoming a pool hall in the early 2000s. The front of the business will have a bar and tasting room with “16 or 20” taps, offering various craft beers ranging from those currently popular – stouts, IPAs and sours – to types Emmert described as “experimental.”

Also in store are extensive renovations to the area behind the building, which will be converted to a beer garden complete with hookups for visiting food trucks.

Emmert doesn’t have a firm opening date. He told the Rant in April that he’d be happy if he was open by Nov. 1, but noted this week that renovations must be complete before equipment comes in, and equipment has to be set up and tested before any brewing takes place, and then there’s about six weeks of actual brewing to do before there’s any beer to sell.

And while the taproom and beer garden are expected to be the primary draws, Hugger Mugger is also eyeing distribution and even looking at partnerships with other places which offer craft beer, both in Sanford and beyond.