Indiana natives find Lenoir ‘A Very Welcoming Town,’ move here, and establish Liquid Roots Brewing Project
By Michael M. Barrick firstname.lastname@example.org
LENOIR, N.C. – During the summers of 2002 and 2003, Taylor Brummett, then a college student, drove the Blue Ridge Parkway. He immediately fell in love with the North Carolina mountains and resolved then to someday settle somewhere along the Parkway in the Tar Heel State.
It took a while, but Brummett has realized his dream. Taylor, along with his wife Katie, and Katie’s brother and sister-in-law, Tommy and Jamie Brubaker, moved to Lenoir late last year and opened Liquid Roots Brewing Project at 1048 Harper Ave. NW.
In a recent interview, the four Indiana natives cited Lenoir’s people, energy and natural beauty as reasons for choosing the town to raise their families and launch their business. Katie is 38, Taylor 37, Tommy 36, and Jamie 33.
While their Grand Opening is scheduled for March 30-31, the family business has already earned quite a following and has become a gathering spot to enjoy a great beer while listening to live music and the spoken word during Wednesday’s open mic night; listening to some of the region’s best musicians on Friday and Saturday night; playing family games on Tuesday evening; or, see what “Kick the Keg” specials are available on Thursday evenings. They’re closed on Sunday and Monday.
While they don’t serve food, there is a food truck – A Taste of Culture owned by Seth Nash – that is parked on their property on their busiest nights.
Sharing his thoughts about why the business is off to a solid start, Taylor said, “Life’s all about relationships. Lenoir’s people are awesome.”
Katie added, “With music, it’s been crazy. There are so many musicians.” Consequently, between booked acts on Friday and Saturday, and those that meander in on open mic night, there is a wide variety of music available for everyone. Virtually every form of American Roots music, as well as some world music, has already been heard on the small stage occupying a corner near the front door.
Taylor added, “There is an insane amount of talent here. That is something we are very proud to be part of.” He continued, “People are coming to us. The energy is building. The town has given us energy, and we are cycling it back out. We have already made lots of friends.”
Jamie echoed that sentiment, sharing, “In three months of living here we made more friends than while living in Tennessee for two years.” Tommy added, “You can’t go anywhere without running into people you know.” Taylor summarized, “Lenoir is a very welcoming town. Everybody’s been welcoming.”
Still, the decision to choose Lenoir was not inevitable. Every attempt at starting a business in Indiana fell through for one reason or another shared Taylor. “So, I started hunting around on the internet for towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.” After watching a UNC-TV program featuring nationally acclaimed Lenoir-based folk artist Charlie Frye and seeing how close Lenoir is to the Blue Ridge Parkway, they decided a visit to Lenoir was in order.
Taylor said, “We were trying to decide if Lenoir was a place we’d want to live and raise our children.” The first day they visited was a Sunday. “We thought no one lived here. Then we learned that Lenoir is just quiet on Sunday,” recalled Taylor. So, they hung around, visited local businesses and attractions during the week. Impressed by Lenoir’s energy and welcoming people – and a suitable location – they made an offer on the building they now occupy and moved their families here.
It wasn’t a tough call. Jamie shared, “We all love the mountains. We’re all small-town people too. It just works.”
As much as there is to enjoy in and around Lenoir, right now they’re all a bit busy, as the Liquid Roots Brewing Project is an “all hands on deck” endeavor.
Taylor is the brewer, or the “beer nerd.” He shared, “I’ve been a jack of all trades. But brewing is the rabbit hole I went down. I like making things from scratch and things that people enjoy.” He first tried brewing about 15 years ago, set it aside for a season, then picked it back up about 6 years ago and has consistently worked on learning the trade. Though he is self-taught, he credited a brewery in Sparta, Tenn. with allowing him to learn all he could from them. Jamie said, “We call him a mad scientist.” Tommy added, “Taylor’s beer is so good, it would be crazy not to do it.”
Katie handles special events, marketing, music, office duties and whatever else is required. Most recently a stay-at-home mom, she said adjusting to a busy business has been a challenge.
Jamie, a nurse in a local hospital, says, “I just show up and say I’m here. What project needs my work?”
Tommy is the self-described utility man. Technically the bar manager, he shared, “Anything I can do to get Taylor’s beer off and running is what I’m all about.” Katie, nodding towards Tommy, said, “Look at that face. That’s the face you want behind a bar.” Jamie added, “He never gets angry.”
The business, said Taylor, “Allows us to express who we are. There is energy and community built into the brewery scene. It’s a legitimate gathering spot for the people in Lenoir to enjoy.” He noted that they are fortunate to be able to build on what is already here. He said, “We want to supplement what’s here.”
Katie called it an extension of home and Tommy said that, “It’s cool to see people establish friendships over beer and conversation.”
Though they started the business to brew their own beer, they have started out as a taproom while they were awaiting all the appropriate licenses, which they’ve gotten. Taylor said, of the business name, “One of our friends suggested we not use the name because it sounds like we’re not finished. Well, we’re not. We’re always growing.”
Indeed, though they had a soft opening getting to know the community, their Grand Opening is scheduled for March 30-31. Several food trucks and bands are scheduled for the two-day event. Their families will also be in town to help.
First, though, a St. Patrick’s Day celebration will be held this Saturday, March 16. Mark Galleshaw will be performing traditional Irish music, and J.J. Hipps and Darren Bryant will also be performing. There will also be a foot truck rodeo with three food trucks.
Opening as a taproom has proven beneficial, shared Jamie, “We are getting to know the beer that people enjoy. There are a lot of craft beer fans.” Taylor added that the knowledge they’ve gained will help them in the transition of replacing some of the guest taps with their own brews.
So, while they still have a way to go, they are also pleased with where they are. “We’ve heard it’s a lot like Cheers, and that’s exactly what we want to hear. We want it to be like sitting around the kitchen table,” said Jamie.
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Note: This is part 1 of a 2-part article. Part 2, about Open Mic night at Liquid Roots, will be published tomorrow.
© Michael M. Barrick, 2019.