The word “geek” has never been correlated with beer in my mind, but Beer Geeks has such a nice ring to it — and rhymes with the adjacent Food Freaks burger establishment — that my husband and I, geeks ourselves, had to try it. Located on Hanes Mall Boulevard in west Winston-Salem, it’s a step removed from holiday traffic, although you’ll want to take Jonestown Road to get there this time of year.
When we visited on Dec. 11, the place was quiet — just the way we like our bars. Allagash White, a Belgian-style wheat from Allagash Brewing Co. in Maine, headlined the draught list. The bartender said it’s always on tap, and a keg typically disappears within two days; others last around five. I was impressed that half the beer list — four of the eight taps — hailed from Four Saints Brewery, located in Asheboro, and they were only $5 each for a 13-ounce pour.
I opted for the homegrown Hoots Morning Stout, a kick-in-your-mouth delight that’s double local, as it’s brewed with espresso beans from Krankies Coffee in Winston-Salem, too. I’d like to try the Sonoma bourbon-barrel cider sometime, as well as the cans and bottles from throughout the state, including Bombshell’s black ale and Granite Falls’ Scottish brew.
My husband caved for the Foothills Frostbite IPA — dark-roasted and delicious on tap, although it can also be found at other bars in the Triad, including the company’s own brewpub and taproom. Later, he switched to the Four Saints’ Belgian-style dubbel, which had no heft and was disappointing, but not nearly as much as the un-remodeled bar area.
A few years ago, this building housed Brew Nerds, a coffee shop with lots of windows and such a stark, white interior that it felt like an episode of “The Jetsons.” We like dark bars where we can disappear into a corner, and that seemed impossible here.
That is until we took our drinks to the adjacent building that feels part barn and part garage. A wood-burning fireplace flanks one wall, as does a giant flat-screen TV. The fire gives a homey effect, but the warmth comes primarily from heaters hung from the ceiling. If you’re lucky, snag the faux leather seats and couch, and you’ll feel like you’re in your own living room.
Most of the customers that day were intent on scarfing burgers from Food Freaks, which they ordered at the outdoor walk-up. It’s a step up from the former Kernel Kustard, a frozen custard shop, thanks to menu variety and the new indoor seating in the barn/garage.
Three of the walls are garage doors, and I could imagine them rolled up in summer, picnic tables moved out onto the concrete patio, the lights strung between buildings shining like lightning bugs.
For now, I’ll take a slow Sunday, a pint of something dark and the hope that the Panthers can crawl out of the hole they’ve dug themselves into.