It won’t be long until the first commercial beer brewed right here in Wilkes County will be poured into a frosty mug and served to a thirsty patron. It’ll be liquid history paired with a pretzel or two.
That momentous moment is looming this fall and will take place at TwoBoros Brewery in downtown Wilkesboro. Brewery owners Seth and Grayson Cohn and brewmeister Trey Church are putting the final touches on getting their own beer ready for public consumption.
Trey tells me he’s been crafting beers that have working titles of Autumnal Brown Ale, Good Gold Almighty Belgian Trippel and Hoppy Ass Pale Ale. If the name of that last one made you blush, please remember that TwoBoros’ mascot is a donkey.
The TwoBoros crew is also planning a golden ale, and last week asked its Facebook audience to help name it. Over 100 suggestions came pouring in, most of which were serious (“Golden Eagle Ale”), but there was also some comic relief (“CrowMania Golden Ale”).
Also in that thread, TwoBoros made reference to a forthcoming hard cider made with Golden Delicious apples grown on the Brushies. They also mentioned a gluten-free pineapple India Pale Ale, an “Olde Wilkes” lager and a “Wilco” blonde ale.
The brewery is waiting on the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to approve those first three beer labels before they can serve the beverages to the public. Once that governmental approval is secured, Seth Cohn informed me that he will announce a big event for the brewery’s first official tapping.
If you’re an observant person, you might have noticed that something would soon be literally brewing in Wilkesboro when a ton of Briess malted grains arrived outside the TwoBoros doorstep on Sept. 19. If you’re having a hard time envisioning what a ton of malt looks like, try picturing a small sedan on the narrow sidewalk outside the brewery.
On Sept. 25 Trey and Seth produced their first “wort,” which is basically beer that has all the inert ingredients added—grains, malts and water—but hasn’t fermented yet. That’s when yeast enters the picture, breaking down sugars to create the alcohol content.
TwoBoros started taste testing those first beers—in their naturally uncarbonated state—on Oct. 29. After getting Trey’s seal of approval, the TwoBoros gang began the kegging process later that day. Dozens of kegs were filled that day and the following.
Trey disclosed to me that the most surprising thing about commercial brewing is the paperwork required. Not only that, but he noted that “we can be audited by TTB at any time.”
When pressed to choose his favorite among the inaugural set of beers, he couldn’t do it. “I am proud of all of our beers. I’m happy with the way they turned out.” A more diplomatic answer could not have been given.
About a year ago, it appeared we had a race developing in the quest to be the first commercial brewery in Wilkesboro (or Wilkes County, for that matter) serving its own beer. Both TwoBoros and Great State Brewery in Wilkesboro announced plans that they would be crafting and selling their own beers by late spring this year.
Both operations got heavily delayed by the partial government shutdown of 2018-19. Lasting 35 days, it was the longest in U.S. history. Then an unfortunate series of events led to the dissolution of Great State, which had planned to brew inside Sonny Church’s Brushy Mountain Water Company building off Curtis Bridge Road.
The good news is that another local meadery and winery, Stardust Cellars, has just re-opened the former Great State taproom area, and brewing beer may still be in the cards inside the building.
So, the “race” has turned into a one-horse contest, but regardless of who breaks the tape first, it’s encouraging to see local entrepreneurs making good, adding jobs and fuel to the local industrial engine.