Brewery, cocktail bar and barrelhouse bolster options

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It’s been a good week for boozehounds.

In the last seven days, Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing opened on North Trade Street in downtown Winston-Salem, not far from Wise Man and next door to Broad Branch Distilling. Then Joymongers — the biggest of the new craft brewers in Greensboro — announced it would open a barrelhouse in the Camel City, making it the first Triad brewery to set up shop in multiple local cities (Natty Greene’s used to operate a Raleigh location). To top it off, LaRue kicked off its cocktail joint Rue-Bar this week in the space formerly occupied by Blue Martini.

Any of these developments would be newsworthy on their own. Indeed, my colleague broke the news about Joymongers’ expansion on our website a couple days ago. But in context, it becomes all the more impressive.

Fiddlin’ Fish became Winston-Salem’s fifth operating brewery, adding a high-ceilinged, open-format pub with a big patio to the mix. Food trucks like Baht Mobile provide the noms, leaving the brewery to focus on the variety of beers it’s already pouring. The bar itself is among the nicest around, and ample seating options make Fiddlin’ Fish a great spot to bring a four-legged friend or group of coworkers after hours.

Years ago, I argued in these pages that Foothills should’ve opened a brewpub in Greensboro. Joymongers is doing one better, by covering two Triad cities but offering a unique experience (rather than a duplicative one) in each. It’s incredible how much beer Joymongers is able to move out of its downtown Greensboro taproom alone — its beer is only available on site — which makes the prospects for the barrel and pub operation in Winston-Salem promising. Head brewer Mike Rollinson and company don’t sacrifice an ounce of quality for their quantity, making these beers easily among the most enjoyable and consistent in the region.

And it’s about damn time that Greensboro boasted a couple true cocktail bars. People have raised their eyebrows when I mention Rue-Bar is cocktail-forward and won’t be serving up bar food, but this is exactly the kind of establishment that I revel in during trips to cities like Durham and Charleston. It should make a great complement for its relatively new neighbor, White & Wood, a fast favorite for people who appreciate a well-crafted cocktail and charcuterie board.

Based on my experience at LaRue, familiarity with Trey Bell and Greg Schammel, and a quick walkthrough of the new space, I’m expecting something along the lines of Durham’s Alley Twenty Six. It will fit well with 1618 Downtown up the block, and the redone seating will make Rue-Bar a comfortable spot for small group outings or double dates in particular.