Breaking: New brewery planned downtown Greensboro

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by Eric Ginsburg

It’s happening again; we’re getting another brewery.

There are still details to finalize, but at this point the plan is pretty firm, and the owners hope to close on the property by the end of the month.

Mike Rollinson, the head brewer for the Natty Greene’s pub downtown Greensboro (not the company’s larger brewing operation across from the Greensboro Coliseum), pursued an idea like this before and it didn’t pan out, but he’s willing to talk after more than a year because he is confident the plan is going forward.

Rollinson — who learned to brew at Natty Greene’s and who has been there for close to a decade — will open Joymongers Brewing Co. with Jim Jones and his son, Brian Jones, not far from where the city’s newest brewery opened last spring.

It will be so close, actually, that it’s basically across the intersection.

Joymongers is in the process of closing on a 1/3-acre property owned by Guilford County at the corner of Smith Street and Battleground Avenue at the northern edge of downtown. It’s not far from the Greensboro Grasshoppers stadium or developer Roy Carroll’s planned hotel and high-end apartments. But it’s even closer to Crafted: the Art of Street Food, Deep Roots Market, Smith Street Diner and Preyer Brewing.

It’s also right next to two apartment complexes, the Greenway at Fisher Park and Greenway at Stadium Park, owned and developed by Jones’ family. That intersection of Smith Street, Eugene Street, and Battleground is slated to be reconfigured to be more pedestrian friendly, and will include a very small park directly in front of the planned Joymongers location.

“It’s just kind of a nexus of all those things coming together,” Jones said.

A drone photo shows (clockwise from bottom left) the edge of Preyer's lot, Deep Roots' lot, Joymongers site, downtown and the Greenway Apartments at Fisher Park.
A drone photo shows (clockwise from bottom left) the edge of Preyer Brewing, Deep Roots, Joymongers site, downtown and the Greenway Apartments.

There isn’t a building currently on the site — Lomax Construction will build the brewery and taproom, and Jones said they hope to break ground for the one-story 5,000 square-foot building on Nov. 1.

The building will be split evenly between the brewing facility and the taproom, and will include a small stage and a beer garden-type patio on two sides facing the street. Garage doors that roll up in warmer months will face the patio, Jim Jones said, and he’d like the brewery to be seen as a small music venue. There will also be permanent power set up for food trucks, and the owners would like to work out a delivery system with nearby restaurants.

Joymongers hopes to be open in the late spring.

The brewery will include a 10-barrel system and Joymongers will offer 15-18 of its own beers on tap. The plan is for 1/3 to be year-round, 1/3 to be seasonal and 1/3 produced in small batches, maybe only 100 pints each, Rollinson said. The beers will mostly be ales — as opposed to lagers — and will run the gamut style-wise, he said.

Rollinson plans to provide something new every week rather than focusing on large batches, and the partners don’t have an interest in widespread distribution. While they’d be happy to have kegs of Joymongers beer at local bars, the partners have no packaging plans at all.

Jim Jones and Mike Rollinson
Jim Jones and Mike Rollinson

For Rollinson, it’s long been a dream to open his own place. There are numerous reasons the idea is attractive to Jones, including synergy with his adjacent apartment complexes, but he said part of it is that he’s “just terrible” at retirement. The seed has been in his mind for four or five years already, but the chance to work with his son — who currently works at an insurance benefits firm — and Rollinson is part of the impetus for Joymongers as well.

And the location couldn’t be better, he said, adding that there is a “tremendous amount of energy on the northwest side of downtown,” especially in that immediate area where the Downtown Greenway will be.

“Greensboro needs more destination corners,” Jones said, adding that he hopes the area will become the kind of place where people can walk, park or take an Uber and spend an entire evening similar to “the” corner of Walker and Elam in Lindley Park.

Jones added that working with the city has been a “very positive” experience so far, and that Newbridge Bank — which is handling the financing — has been “fantastic.”

Depending on the timeline of the planned Mansfield Brewery, Joymongers will either be the fifth or sixth brewery in Greensboro. Read more about local breweries — incuding Joymongers — in the next issue of Triad City Beat in print and online Wednesday.