Sudsy stories dominate headlines in 2015

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by Eric Ginsburg

What a year for beer.

This calendar year began strong as Triad City Beat broke the news in January that an outfit called Brown Truck Brewing planned to open in High Point during the summer, which would mean eclipsing the slow-moving XII Tribes to become the Third City’s second brewery. That story, actually written by our Senior Editor Jordan Green, remained as the most popular booze-related article we published in 2015.

But even though this Barstool column does incorporate a wide variety of subjects — folding in a sommelier as well as dive bars this year — beer news dominated the charts.

In second place, we broke the news that Wise Man Brewing would actually be opening in downtown Winston-Salem rather than in Greensboro as initially planned. Construction is underway for the facility on the north end of Trade Street next to Ziggy’s. (We also broke the news this year that the longstanding music venue would be closing in early 2016 — hat tip again to Jordan Green.)

And ranked third in page views for booze articles on our website, we broke the news of a planned beer garden in downtown Greensboro, run by developer and Pig Pounder Brewing owner Marty Kotis.

I’m pretty happy to see all of the Triad’s three cities represented in the Top 3, especially in the reverse order of population size. That should tell you something about people’s thirst for sudsy stories.

Also interesting is the fact that Brown Truck has yet to open, Wise Man is still coalescing, and though Kotis said the beer garden could open as early as summer 2015, it’s looking more like no sooner than summer 2016.

In other words, the three most popular booze articles we ran are about anticipation and intentions. And that continued with the fourth most read piece (unless you count a pretty interesting news story that Green wrote this year about illegal liquor houses in High Point, which is a fascinating story) about the possibility that Greensboro’s first brewery might skip town. Late in the year, and farther down the list, we broke the story that the Greensboro City Council would offer Natty Greene’s a sizable economic incentive grant to move into Revolution Mill. The deal is still being finalized.

Have suggestions for overlooked spots, underexposed talent, unexplored angles or tips about planned venues in 2016? Email me at [email protected].

Numbers 5-7 on the list don’t deviate from beer, either. In order: We broke the story about the planned Joymongers Brewing (a facility that is flying up from the dirt), took readers on the first visual tour of Preyer Brewing and were the first to tell you about the planned Mansfield Brewing. All three beer companies are in Greensboro, and Preyer opened in the spring.

A significant number of these stories were not first printed in our Barstool column, but as part of our larger commitment to covering such culturally significant news. That’s not to say that the column isn’t popular; pieces about the Black Lodge, Quanto Basta, the Whisky Box and Sutler’s Spirit distillery official opening — all of them in Winston-Salem, I might add — all did incredibly well online. And so did the news we broke about Greensboro Distilling signing a new lease to open downtown next door to Gibb’s Hundred Brewing beginning in early 2016.

This column touched on other aspects of booze as well, ranging from a Fourth of July cocktail recipe to interviewing the local host of a beer podcast. I researched and explained sake, slipped inside of a mysterious West Market Street Yacht Club, and interviewed members of the Society of Bacchus, a longstanding but secretive men-only wine club. I offered drinking tips for college kids, a guide to drinking in your twenties and wrote about people like Melt Kitchen & Bar’s beerman Charles Jones.

The Black Lodge
The Black Lodge

I found new favorite bars in each city: the Black Lodge in Winston-Salem (runner up Luna Lounge), LaRue in Greensboro (especially the shrub drinks, followed by the Library room at Gia), and Lulu & Blu in High Point.

Last year at this time I suggested 2015 would hold a biker joint, honey wine and a hotel bar in this column. I didn’t deliver any, though all are still on my list, because too many things both old (like Swaim’s dive bar in Winston-Salem) and new (like NC Beer Month or Salute Wine Festival) stole my attention. I hope you’re okay with that, and that I’ve been able to bring you a sense of wonder and newness to your backyard.

Rather than guessing at what I’ll write about or tipping my hand, let’s just say it will be more of the same but, you know, different.