The management of Boondocks Brewing taproom and restaurant of West Jefferson are quietly preparing a grand re-opening this spring that promises to ruin dinner and drinks in Boone for Ashe County.
“We want to do something special for Ashe,” said General Manager Jared Yelton.
Beginning in March, with a new menu of world-class pub food, and wall of beer taps backing a new wraparound bar, Boondocks will give locals a good reason to hang around town of an evening.
And with an evolving business model now increasingly focused on sourcing foods from area producers to pair with N.C. craft brews and wine, the locals will be eating and drinking locally.
“Our goal is 30-plus beers on tap,” said Yelton. “I don’t think people in this area know what’s going on with craft brews. It’s just exploding right now.”
Boondocks will be serving a selection of N.C. brews. “Oregon is number one in number of craft brews, North Carolina is number two,” Yelton said.
The beer selection will rotate regularly, he said. “When people come in, they won’t know just to expect.”
There is even talk of dedicating two taps for Ashe County craft brewers who want the public to sample their wares, said Executive Chef Dan Cannon, and beer making classes may be in the offing.
And, as the name implies, Boondocks Brewery will begin brewing their own beer sometime in April, Cannon said. “All of our papers are filed…once we get the permit in hand, the next day we will be brewing.”
Gary Brown, owner of Boondocks, has been a craft brewer since the mid-1980s. But, he said, “I’ve been brewing with Ashe County water for a year and a half.”
As brew-master, Brown plans to offer three beers he has been perfecting for over a year now: Three Top Three-hop IPA, Deep Gap Dark IPA and Peak Pale Ale.
Then, Brown, Yelton and Cannon want to serve Ashe County’s own and only commercial craft brews with as much local food as they can find.
“Everyday I’m learning more and more about local resources available that people don’t even know about,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff out there.”
Cannon said Boondocks currently uses hydroponic red oak leaf and Bibb lettuce from Bob McKenzie, pork from Rose Mountain Farm, beef from Ripshin Farms — all three Lansing producers — and lamb from Mountain Memories Farm of Elk Creek, Va.
“One of the things Dan and I have been working on is pairings,” Yelton said. “Our number one focus right now is pairing local beer with local foods.” Beer pairings will be available sometime in February, offering diners a taste of well-met local flavor.
When Boondocks opened on Aug. 1, 2012, taking over the restaurant space and customer base of Fraser’s — a community favorite for 13 years — the first order of business was not to run off the regular crowd with some bold new vision. But Brown, Yelton and Cannon definitely wanted to take things a new direction.
“At first there was a lot of worry,” said Cannon. “People want the place they’re used to…we didn’t want people to get culture shock.”
But so far, Brown said, community response has been enthusiastic, and word is getting around. “We’re getting more people from Boone and Blowing Rock…looking for good food and beer.”
“I’m elated with the response we’ve gotten,” said Brown. “It’s nice being embraced by the community.”