Koi Pond celebrates third anniversary
By William F. West
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
Eric Ghiloni makes no secret of his criticism of the offerings by American commercial beer companies.
"It's bland and boring to me," the head brewer at Koi Pond Brewing Co. at Rocky Mount Mills said.
So Ghiloni, with nudging from his friends, started brewing his own beer.
"And I just fell in love with it. You could be more creative with flavors and styles. And you could make beer that you liked," he said.
That was about six or seven years ago. Ghiloni noted that back then, "I was just a typical back-porch home brewer."
Ghiloni said because he was making more beer than he could ever drink, he started sharing his product with friends and asking for their opinions.
Word got out and Deborah Sperati and her husband, Matt, both local attorneys, would provide notes to help Ghiloni make his beer better.
What happened next was a hobby turning into a desire to try to wrap a business around it.
"It all started so casually — and kind of just snowballed," Ghiloni said.
Eventually, Ghiloni became the founder and with the Speratis one of the owners of Koi Pond Brewing Co., which on Jan. 3 marked three years in business.
Koi Pond celebrated Saturday with beer, food and music for customers.
Ghiloni said one factor behind opening Koi Pond in 2016 was the craft beer scene had hit throughout the land "like a ton of bricks."
He also said he was "absolutely" influenced by Asheville's revitalized central business district. Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than any city in the nation.
"We've got a family connection in Asheville that allows us to go back and forth," Ghiloni said. "And craft beer is what elevated Asheville to its state as kind of the East Coast mecca for craft beer."
Koi Pond was the first tenant at Rocky Mount Mills. Ghiloni said it has been a neat feeling for him and his team to watch the Rocky Mount Mills campus grow.
"When we first opened up, the parking lot wasn't even paved," he said.
Ghiloni recalled Koi Pond opening at Rocky Mount Mills was a case of a meeting of the minds with Capitol Broadcasting Co. and being in the right place at the right time, as well as wanting to get in on the action.
"From day one, we have seen great potential in what that property could do to revitalize Rocky Mount," he said.
Ghiloni said his customer base is primarily local on weekdays but on weekends, travelers comprise anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of his business.
He cites being just off U.S. 64 and being approximately five miles from the U.S. 64 interchange on Interstate 95 as factors.
"Craft beer folks are pretty tenacious about looking for the next destination," he said.
Ghiloni emphasized Koi Pond works to purchase as much as possible from farms in the Twin Counties.
He pointed out Koi Pond was awarded a gold medal at the State Fair Brewers Cup for using strawberries purchased from a farm approximately six miles away from the brewery.
"Not a lot of brewers go through the trouble of processing, I want to say, 30 or 40 gallons of strawberries by hand because they were local, but it’s going to give you the flavor of the dirt you walk on," he said.
Koi Pond patrons had kind words for the business on Saturday.
Roxana Langloss said she enjoys the atmosphere.
"It's great — down home. People are real. It's easy to talk to people,” she said. “And my husband really enjoys the beer."
Jason Pittman of Nashville said he has been a Koi Pond patron since day one and said the atmosphere is like a neighborhood bar.
“Everybody knows everybody,” Pittman said.