Greensboro’s newest brewery feels more like Jake’s Billiards than Preyer Brewing, the nearby brewpub within crawling distance of Joymongers.
The expansive indoor seating, packed front patio full of beer lovers at picnic tables and fast movement behind the bar recalls the popular Spring Garden Street bar despite the lack of pool or food and a décor that is decidedly more denim than sportsy. And the clientele leans preppier than the racially diverse and slightly younger crowd often found at Jake’s, not far from UNCG’s campus.
But other than the fact that beer is brewed on the other side of the wall, it feels like night and day between Joymongers and Preyer. Or better put, winter and summer.
That’s how someone — my apologies, but I forget who — put it to me when comparing the two LoFi neighborhood breweries on the north side of downtown Greensboro, and it’s stuck with me. Preyer’s aesthetic feels more like a winter hunting lodge or a cozy yet upscale living room. The plentiful floor-to-ceiling windows at Joymongers — some of them garage doors like the one at Preyer — and patios flanking two sides make it a great open-air location, ideal for long summer afternoons and evenings.
I wonder if it’s more outward-facing orientation — as opposed to Preyer’s which turns more inwards towards the bar and through internal windows into Crafted — will make Joymongers view a little bleak come wintertime.
But in some ways, Joymongers is more prepared for bad weather than any other brewery in the city, and almost the Triad, thanks to considerable on-site and dedicated parking that will allow you to skip a trudge through snow or rain. That level of parking is likely the envy of any downtown business owner, especially in the increasingly packed slice where the brewery exists.
More importantly, Joymongers — the fifth brewery to open in the Gate City — is already making fantastic beer.
This comes as no surprise, considering that Mike Rollinson who previously ran Natty Greene’s downtown brewing operations helms Joymongers’ production, churning out high-quality beers that are true to form. Rollinson plans to add considerable heft to the brewery’s arsenal, which currently includes about a dozen brews, but for now Joymongers’ beers are straight-up, no-frills satisfying creations that hold true to what each specific style should taste like.
These are not the sort of beers that Budweiser takes aim at in its commercials mocking craft beer. Instead, Rollinson is — at least for now — putting out more everyman, accessible brews that, besides the Hefetrit hefeweizen, are merely named for their style such as American IPA or kolsch rather than something like Mr. Mizzle’s Magical Elixir (no offense, Small Batch, but you get my point).
The strangest thing about Joymongers is its sign — standard blue-lit lettering by the front corner along Smith Street reads “brewery” while more stylized metal letters say “Joymongers” a good distance to the left. The different font and size is one thing, the gap between the words another and the arguably less important illuminated word and less visible name just bizarre.
Far more visually appealing is the painted sign with the company logo along the brewpub’s southern wall, a grinning and almost devilish face that recalls the No Fear logo popular in the ’90s. Several other decorations inside are also ready-made for Instagram photo shoots, too.
Joymongers doesn’t currently offer flights, but patrons can try samples or order half pints to get a better sense of what the area’s newest brewery has to offer. I’ve tried five so far over the course of three separate visits, twice retreating to the side patio for some quietude with a friend and bringing the light and enjoyable hefeweizen with me.
I haven’t been disappointed by a beer here yet, especially appreciating the Belgian strong ale my last time in, and given the caliber of Rollinson’s brewing prowess, I expect that isn’t going to change.
Visit Joymongers Brewing at 508 Battleground Avenue (GSO) or at joymongers.com.