Barstool: JuggHeads

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by Eric Ginsburg

They came in for a pint, but they stayed for two.

The two friends, who live 25 feet away from each other just up the road a stretch, pulled into the lot in a loud, white flatbed truck hauling a pontoon boat behind it. The driver, a heavyset man in his mid forties, was headed to High Rock Lake for Memorial Day weekend, which most people would say started in about 90 minutes when the clock struck 5 p.m. that Friday. In exchange for some help fixing up the boat, he bought his neighbor — a younger, scrawnier guy who would join him at the cabin the following day— a couple of beers before hitting the road.

The friends with thick country accents aren’t the usual clientele at JuggHeads, but then again, the growler shop and bar on Country Club Road in Winston-Salem may be too young to have established what counts as normal yet.

SONY DSCThat day, May 22, marked one week since the converted gas station opened as a bottle shop on Winston-Salem’s west side. If it were two people celebrating a relationship rather than a business, the owner joked the couple would be out acknowledging the occasion with a dinner at Chili’s.

There were few options for the boat owner — who called himself a redneck at one point — and his friend — who Redneck called “ass clown” after reading a draft beer option listed as Ass Clown toasted oak IPA — in the area before JuggHeads opened. Break Time Billiards & Sports Bar on Jonestown Road had been their only choice if they didn’t want to drive downtown, they said.

JuggHeads, with its expansive copper bar, unfinished wood and a couch that could swallow a person aimed at a large TV on the wall opposite the bar, is more than just a growler fill place. Unlike the Beer Growler planned on Robinhood Road, this is also the kind of room where someone could sit down and order a pint, and maybe stay awhile.

SONY DSCBy around 4 p.m. that Friday, a couple and two friends sat in chairs on either side of the front door, looking out over the parking lot that is mostly shaded by a leftover awning from the gas station that has been painted with the beer business’ logo and name. In front of them, a customized cornhole set waited to be used as classic rock blared from the house speakers.

JuggHeads is committed to North Carolina beers, especially the little guys, with about two-dozen on draft from breweries like Nickelpoint, Brüeprint and Lenny Boy. The list included a jalapeño pale ale from Birdsong, a beer that lacks heat but undeniably tastes of the hot pepper, and Natty Greene’s Tiller, a harder-to-find white IPA from the Greensboro powerhouse. Raleigh Brewing’s Hell Yes Ma’am, a Belgian-style golden ale and the highest gravity brew that day at 9.2 percent, is almost creamy and dangerously good at masking its alcohol content.

SONY DSCAnd not only is there actually a brewery named Ass Clown in the state — from Cornelius, where Sen. Thom Tillis lives — but the tap handle at JuggHeads has a functioning red clown horn affixed to it.

Not long ago a place like JuggHeads or a legal business called Ass Clown Brewing would’ve been inconceivable, but both phenomena are proliferating quickly. Growler stores are rising in popularity locally, as evidenced by venues such as Gate City Growlers.

And who knows? Maybe Redneck and Ass Clown will become regulars at JuggHeads, where flights are a pithy $5. Or maybe it won’t be long before outlying areas of the cities, including Country Club Road, are ripe with choices.

Visit JuggHeads Growlers & Pints at 4843 Country Club Road (W-S) or JuggHeadsgrowlers.com.