by Eric Ginsburg
Friends held down a sign-in table to the side of a tent behind Turntable in Jamestown while several others answered questions at the merch booth. Two more squatted in front of a projector positioned a few feet from the stage, and a sizzling sound emanated from the grill nearby where another friend manned the brats.
There is clearly a strong group of people pulling for these guys.
It was the first big event for XII Tribes Brewing Company, three guys from High Point who hope to start production in about a year. They’ve held a few smaller events, starting with one at co-founder Josh Stegenga’s house last December, but this time there’s a sizable turnout for what is essentially a coming-out party.
The gathering Oct. 18, which doubled as the launch for XII Tribes’ Indiegogo fundraising campaign, spilled out of the tent to a nearby fire pit, and many of the attendees rotated regularly through the line to try each of the six XII Tribes beers on tap.
The guys branded each of the five year-round beers with a witty name, including the Wing Man, the Young Buck and the Romancer. If people had been ordering the drinks from brewer Kent Lain by name instead of by type, it might’ve been difficult not to chuckle.
Lain, a self-taught brewer, pulled beers from a tap tower created out of a used sunglasses rack and reached into a cooler for the pumpkin-spice seasonal. He’s a hops guy, which is why the imperial IPA — called the “Deluge” — is his favorite of their beers.
Jordan Keiper, the third member of the XII Tribes team and the co-owner of the Tavern in Old Salem in Winston-Salem, couldn’t make it out that night. But the Stegenga and Lain had plenty of help. Lain stayed behind the bar, set up on the back porch of Turntable, for most of the evening while Stegenga spoke from the stage and mingled with guests.
The guys are looking at the old Lyle’s Chevy building in High Point but don’t have anything nailed down yet. They’re hoping to bring in $50,000 with the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to add to $100,000 from an investor, which would put them halfway to their total projected cost, Stegenga said. If all goes well and they can qualify for a loan, he hopes they’ll open their doors in early 2016.
There’s a lot to do in the meantime besides raising funds, but considering how early they are in the process, XII Tribes has already accomplished a surprising amount, designing a logo and glossy posters of the future beer labels, producing merchandise and high-quality promotional videos. Oh, and they’re making beer.
The most impressive beer overall on tap that night may have been an espresso stout, called the “Judge,” made with espresso from Foster Hobbs in High Point. Even for someone who dislikes coffee, the beer smelled enticing and was satisfyingly flavorful and complex.
Still, the wheat and pale ales moved quickly, and there didn’t appear to be a crowd consensus on a favorite. Instead the stream continued to flow towards Lain, though the pace slowed after the first hour, as co-workers, friends and excited supporters asked for more of every beer in XII Tribes’ budding catalog.
Visit twelvetribesbrewing.com to learn more about the brewery.