The Triad’s first brewery opened in Salem in 1774 — long before Salem was paired with Winston, long before Greensboro came to be, long before there was even a Triad.
Greensboro didn’t get its first brewpub for another 216 years — and it wouldn’t be until 2004 that one opened and stuck around for a while.
A new online project by UNC-Greensboro Libraries — Well Crafted NC — documents the history, culture and business of North Carolina brewing with a focus on Greensboro. This digital project is now live online, and it gets its official launch Saturday afternoon at a downtown brewpub.
“Brewing is a really — I don’t want to say fashionable — but it’s in a golden age, a renaissance,” said Richard Cox, one of the project’s three creators.
The project documents the state laws that have governed both beer and brewpubs. There’s a timeline of key dates in North Carolina brewing history, starting with the opening three centuries ago of Single Brothers, a brewery in Salem (now Winston-Salem).
The project details the taverns that opened in downtown Greensboro in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Cox has counted close to 20 during that period. Two of those early bars — the C.C. Shoffner Saloon and, later, the J.R. Stewart Saloon — occupied the same building as Little Brother Brewing, where Saturday’s launch party will be held.
The centerpiece of the online collection is made up of the company archives of five current Greensboro breweries — Gibb’s Hundred, Joymongers, Little Brother, Natty Greene’s and Preyer. UNCG librarians collected photos, posters, logos and labels from each brewery and recorded video interviews with the company founders.
Cox said he’s talking with four other local breweries about including them in the library’s collection.
The project grew out of another UNCG Libraries project called Hop Into History. At monthly pop-up events at Gibb’s Hundred, librarians would show off items from the UNCG archives and answer questions from curious pub patrons.
After a while, Cox said, the librarians wondered if someone was documenting the history of Greensboro’s brewpubs, which are growing quickly in both number and size.
The answer was no, so the librarians decided to do it.
Three UNCG Libraries employees did the research and built the website for the Well Crafted NC project: Erin Lawrimore, the university archivist; David Gwynn, the digital projects coordinator; and Cox, a digital technology consultant.
“Corporations have archives,” Cox said in a recent telephone interview. “Small businesses like this don’t, and they don’t have the means to do it. …
“If we don’t do this,” he added, “(this history) would vanish.”