My name is Jess Faucette. Don Baker and I opened the doors of Alternative Beverage in November of 1973 as a “beverage store” in a converted gas station with an investment of $4K. Besides gas, we sold everything from Budweiser to Chateau Lafite Rothschild. When the gas crisis of ’73-’74 happened, we had gas lines over a mile long. We were so successful at marketing our business model that we became one of the 10 largest retailers of wine and beer in North Carolina in less than a years. On our first July 4th in business, we were given the keys to two (2) delivery trucks and a van full of beer. When they picked the trucks up, we had sold all the beer except for 1 bay of Old Milwaukee. We were the “source” for beer in Charlotte.

In 1975, we lost our lease on our first location. While we were looking for a new location, I was able to buy out Don’s stake in the business and relocate to South Blvd.

In 1977, after getting about 3-4 calls asking about beer making supplies, we started stocking ingredients just before Christmas. Nothing sold during that holiday season so I had learn how to make beer in order to be able to sell the stuff. I hired an Englishman by the name of Mike Waker, who had been brewing in England before coming to the states. He taught me everything he knew and we started designing recipes and changing how beer making was being done.

Beer making had consisted of a can of hopped malt and two (2) to five (5) of sugar. No hops were added at any time. The results would have been a cidery beer that lacked any hops detection besides bitterness. We substituted three (3) of Dried Malt Extract (DME) for the sugar, adding cracked specialty malts to enhance the flavor, aroma and color of the beer and adding aroma hops at knockout for hop character. The quality of the beer improved immensely and so did out kit recipe sells.

By ’79, we had closed our “beverage store” and moved into a warehouse off Minuet Lane where we could concentrate on beer and wine making exclusively. We ran full page ads in Zymurgy and our mail order business became top notch.

Around ‘79 to ‘81 we started a homebrew club called the Lagerheads. That club eventually changed its name to Alternative Brewers. As it became more of a social (drinking) club, I had to back away from it because of my concerns about liabilities. Mike moved on in the early 80’s. After a period of time, the club changed its direction and changed its name to The Carolina Brewmasters and became one of, if not the best home brewing clubs in the country.

The 80’s and 90’s are a little fuzzy but we moved from a warehouse location to a retail location on Freeland Lane. Everything was not all roses and champagne, we had some tough times during the 80’ and 90’ that had me second guessing myself at times. Even having a couple of employees steal my mailing list and recipes and branched off on their own to open a competing operation at a time when I was over extended didn’t stop us. We persevered and forged through the obstacles thrown at us. Learning as we went and coming out ahead.

In 2006, I was able to buy out the store started by my former employees though they had long been removed from ownership.

In 2007, we lost our lease in Charlotte to redevelopment so we moved to our present warehouse location in Belmont in September of that year.

In October of 2008, we re-opened a store in Charlotte in space cut out of the Sleepy Poet Mall.

In June of 2011, we opened a store in Mooresville. It was a good location but the overhead absolutely killed any chance we had at being successful.

In June of 2016, we relocated the Charlotte store to our present location at 3911 South Blvd. In September of 2016, we relocated our Mooresville location to our present location in Cornelius.

It’s now 2019, we have recently resigned our lease on South Blvd for an additional three (3) years. Our lease in Cornelius is up for renewal very shortly but I have lost so much money with our ventures to the North that I don’t know if I want to continue beating a dead horse. Time will tell.

I will be 71 this year and I don’t know how much longer I will want to work. But each day that I work, when I am in contact with customers getting started in beer or wine making for the first time, I draw off their new found excitement and it renews my spirit and desire to serve them so they can fully achieve their goals. There are over fifty (50) breweries and wineries in the Charlotte marketplace and I can’t help but think that Alternative Beverage has had some impact in this area. I take great pride in the number of our former employees that have been very successful as professional brewers in the Charlotte market and beyond. I can’t even venture to count how many of our customers have turned their hobbies into successful brewery and winery professions. Now, I can’t wait to talk to the next person wanting to get started in these wonderful hobbies or the next customer beaming with pride about the beer or wine that they have brought in to sample.

This has never been a job for me, it has been and I hope will always be a love that keeps me active and seeking new horizons. If you are interested in these hobbies, me and my staff will be there to help you.

1500 River Dr, Ste 104
(704) 825-8400