It’s the final hours at Preyer Brewing, and there’s nowhere to sit.

Couples nursing the final dregs of the brewery’s drafts occupy the cushy, swivel chairs, and the high-top bar tables are swarmed by large groups of friends taking it all in, one last time.

Even the
seating by the bathrooms is taken.

Everyone
wants to be here to see the beast to the end of its life.

When
Preyer opened up in 2015 in downtown Greensboro, it completed a trifecta —
along with Gibbs Hundred Brewing Co. and Pig Pounder which both opened in 2014
— of businesses that kicked off the craft brewery scene in the Triad’s largest
city.

Little
Brother, South End, Joymongers, Oden — none of them existed yet. The only
purveyor in town was Natty Greene’s until the likes of Preyer and others showed
up.

The brewery announced on Facebook on Feb. 5 that they were closing at the end of the month. 

“We want
to thank the incredible community that has supported us — our dedicated
employees who have become lifelong friends, our wholesale partners, our
regulars, and anyone who has ever joined us for a pint,” wrote the owners. “You
have all changed our lives for the better and we hope that a small piece of
Preyer Brewing lives on in us all.”

On
Saturday night, customers chat and down their beers, ciders and wines like
usual. Some carry six packs to go as souvenirs, vestiges of the
soon-to-disappear standby. Spotless glasses line the shelf behind the bar,
ready to perform their sole duty. Tomorrow, they’ll have to find a new life.
Several beers on the paper menus clasped to wooden clipboards have been crossed
out.

One of
the last remaining offerings, the Lunsford Robust Porter is rich and dark, with
notes of chocolate and a hint of smoke — bittersweet.

Behind
the bar, Jeff and Donna move swiftly around each other in a dance, as they
serve up draft after draft. Chris, whose hair is pulled back in a petite man-bun,
goes around the brewery whisking up empty glasses, making sure things are neat
and orderly.

Charles
Jones, a former Preyer employee who worked here for about three years, makes
his rounds, hugging friends and former customers while wearing his old Preyer T-shirt.
He works at Potent Potables now, after leaving Preyer in 2018, but came back
tonight for a last round.

A few
hours earlier, during a huge rush, Jones and Jennie Savage, another former
employee, joined the others behind the bar to help out.

“We’re all family,” says Sara Manchester, an employee since 2016. “This place is family.”

In the
corner, Calder Preyer, one of the owners, stands next to an illuminated fridge
full of canned goods, surveying the lay of his land. He wears a blue plaid
shirt and a baseball cap with a mesh back. He waits alone at the end of the
bar, counting down the final hours.

The place
is his baby. It’s been his anchor and commitment for half a decade. 

In a
tweet from Feb. 5, Preyer stated that he was “burnt out” and was looking
forward to having a job where he could clock out and not take it home with him.
He also said that “building relationships through making beer was always the
highlight.”

“I’m glad
that everyone came out tonight to have a good time,” Preyer says as he leaves
the building just past 10 p.m. “I appreciate all of the support we’ve had over
the years.”

There’s
this idea of a third place — somewhere other than your home or work where you
spend a chunk of your life. For some it’s the local coffeeshop or restaurant.
For others, it’s a local bar. For many, over the last five years, it’s been
Preyer.

And even
though no one knows what’ll replace the brewery, it’s impossible to ignore the
impact that Preyer has had on the landscape of the city. Without it, neither
the beer scene nor the downtown scene in Greensboro would look the way it does
now.

Manchester
recalls that on the first night the brewery was open, she danced on the bar
with one of her friends.

Tonight, surrounded by friends who have become
family, she waits and bides her time, drinking, talking, waiting for the right
moment to hoist herself up onto that bar one last time.

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