Oral history interview with Joel McClosky, 2018

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

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0:00 - Opening credits / interview introduction

0:42 - Background

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses his move to North Carolina and career teaching in Asheboro. he touches upon the state of the city upon his arrival.

3:06 - Initial interest in brewing

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses teaching connections, his home brewing past, and the alcohol referendum in Asheboro. He talks about meeting Andrew and Amy Deming, with Andrew the eventual head brewer and co-owner of Four Saints. He delves into his introduction to craft styles.

6:42 - Initial ideas for a brewery in Asheboro

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky tells us about their initial conversations around a beer-related business in Asheboro, the importance of the local area and economy, and early investigations into needs and costs. McClosky mentions the Great Recession and it's impact on entrepreneurship in the area. Pop The Cap is also touched upon.

12:51 - Asheboro alcohol legislation

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses some of the history of Randolph County related to alcohol, and the process through which Asheboro became a wet city in a dry county via a 2008 referendum. McClosky talks about where he had his first legal beer in Asheboro, and the importance of the larger community to the effort. He talks about Schmidly Bock, named after Steve Schmidly, who was involved in the effort to pass the referendum.

19:48 - Describing Four Saints Brewing Company

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses the idea behind and goals for the Four saints taproom, and their community focus as a third space. He talks about some of the diverse community groups who meet in the taproom.

23:43 - Naming the business

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky talks about the naming of the business, the specific patron saints of beer and brewing that were selected, and why. He also discusses the seasonal beers that Four Saints have created around their patron saints.

31:15 - Home brew and production recipes

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses the home brew recipes that they scaled up to production, including Stout One and Potter's Clay among others. He then leads into the earliest styles that Four Saints brewed, and why they were chosen.

36:37 - Using Kickstarter to fund the opening of the brewery

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky talks about using the crowdfunding platform to secure additional funding for opening the business. He discusses why they selected that route, both for business and marketing reasons, and the approach they took. He delves into the perceptions of crowdfunding a business versus the reality of making it happen, and how it helped demonstrate the viability of the idea. McClosky compares the brewing and funding environment when Four Saints opened to that of today.

45:57 - Comparing Asheboro in 2015 to today

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses changes in the town and community, and how the downtown area has developed recently. He talks about how the Great Recession affected the mindset of many local community members, and the growing support for local and craft businesses. McClosky relates stories about Four Saints customers trying craft beer for the first time, and the educational and community opportunities that it affords.

53:53 - Challenges in opening Four Saints Brewing Co.

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky talks about some of the challenges in opening a brewery in a hundred-year old building, and balancing time and financial constraints. He talks about how it affects family life balance and differing expectations.

59:26 - Helpful resources and people

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky talks about the members of the local community that helped guide them in opening Four Saints Brewing Co.

61:13 - Average work week

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Segment Synopsis: A discussion of how McClosky's responsibilities have changed as the business has grown and developed. He also touches upon the responsibilities of Andrew Deming, co-owner and head brewer. McClosky talks about the workload during the first 6 months of brewery operation.

64:50 - The benefits of community engagement

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses Four Saints' community partners, and how these relationships are mutually beneficial and can create a better community.

68:12 - Four Saints mug club

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Segment Synopsis: A discussion of the history and purpose of the Four Saints mug club, from its inception as a Kickstarter reward to it's current role as an annual community auction event. McClosky talks about and names some of the local potters involved in creating the mugs, community groups benefiting from the auctions, and how the mug club works to build more community.

77:49 - Four Saints Brewing Co. growth

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses potential expansion plans for production, distribution, and physical space, as well as some of the feedback he's received from customers. He touches upon the possibility of a kitchen space.

81:17 - The craft brewing industry today

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses what its like working in the craft brewing industry today, and how breweries work together in spite of being competitors. He touches upon the newness of the industry and legislation as well.

85:54 - Changes in the craft brewing industry

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses how the brewing scene has changed since he entered the industry. He talks about new types of people looking into opening breweries, and the impact that can have. He touches upon the development of different or esoteric beer styles, and the beer consumer looking more towards classic, good beers. McClosky details the culture of rare or event beers, and ways in which it can be taken to extremes.

91:46 - Future of the brewing industry

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses a renewed focus upon standard, classic styles of beer, such as amber ales and hefeweizen, as well as the exploration of older, historic beers such as gose.

93:38 - North Carolina beer

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses the uniqueness of North Carolina beer, and the pride that NC has in craft and local production. He delves into a number of local North Carolina ingredients used in beer, and how the range of ingredients stands out to him.

95:43 - The benefits of brewing guilds and alliances

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky details the importance of organizations like the Triad Brewers Alliance and the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, and what they contribute to the brewing industry. He discusses endeavors such as activism and legislative advocacy in relation to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, and the marketing and networking efforts of the Triad Brewers Alliance.

100:15 - Triad brewing culture

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses the unique focus upon standard, classic beer styles that stands out across the Triad area.

101:22 - Duties as president of the Triad Brewers Alliance

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky delves into his responsibilities as the president of the Triad Brewers Alliance, including event organization, planning, and networking.

102:42 - Triad Brewers Alliance events

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky goes into a number of events organized by the group, including food pairings, festivals, and brewery tours among other endeavors.

103:51 - The flagship beer of Four Saints Brewing Co.

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky goes into detail about the Omie blonde and the Potter's Clay amber ale. He also talks about customer input on beer options and availability, and how it reflects the larger market, with India Pale Ales as the given example. He discusses how this improves Four Saints as a brewery.

110:51 - Favorite NC beer not brewed by Four Saints Brewing Co.

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky talks about Olde Hickory Brewing, as well as their Imperial Stout and barrel aging program.

111:51 - Favorite Four Saints beer

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky selects Potters Clay as a favorite, as well as the seasonal rum barrel-aged stout and past "Devil's Advocate" experimental beers he enjoyed.

116:08 - History of the building

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Segment Synopsis: McClosky discusses in detail the 100 year history of the building housing the brewery and taproom, starting with its beginnings as a Buick automobile dealership, as well as the building's place in the community. He relates stories about things they found from previous building tenants while doing renovations for the opening of the brewery.

123:39 - Interview conclusion / closing credits


Richard Cox: Today is 10/24/2018, and we are at Four Saints Brewing Company in Asheboro, North Carolina. I am Richard Cox, talking today with Joel McCloskey, co-owner as a part of the Well Crafted North Carolina Project. So, if you could start, could you please say and spell your name?

Joel McClosky: Sure. My name is Joel McCloskey, that's J-O-E-L M-C-C-L-O-S-K-Y.

Richard Cox: And your actual title is?

Joel McClosky: CEO, co-owner.

Richard Cox: Co-owner. And, tell us a little about yourself?

Joel McClosky: Well, it all started a long, long time ago. The family is from Southwest Pennsylvania, they moved to North Carolina and started a family down here in Dunn, North Carolina. Once the children were born ... I'm the oldest of 1:00three, they wanted us to grow up around our family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. So we moved back up to Southwest Pennsylvania when I was five. And at five years old, going back up to living near Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh I told everybody that when I had the chance, I was gonna move back to Carolina because I hated Pennsylvania.

Joel McClosky: I don't know what my reasoning was at that point. But fast forward 20 something years, I was looking for a teaching job, and North Carolina was in a teacher shortage. And so I looked at it as kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and canvassed the state, and I got the teaching job down here. That's what brought me to Asheboro.

Richard Cox: So you're teaching in the Asheboro area?

Joel McClosky: Yes. I taught in Asheboro for 10 years. I taught in the the Pittsburgh area at an alternative high school for a few years. Was working just 2:00about three jobs to try to keep things together. Like I said, there was a need down here, and so I decided to take it.

Joel McClosky: Did a job fair up in Pittsburgh, saw a couple different places, Orange County, Mecklenburg County, Guilford County, and then Asheboro. And I interviewed in Asheboro and it just seemed like the right fit. Everything just kind of clicked. And at that time, Asheboro was completely different than what it is right now, that was 2004. So it was a dry city and county. There was no life, businesses were leaving, all kinds of stuff. At that time, I was live in Pittsburgh. And moving from the Pittsburgh area to a town that didn't have anything, being a 24, 25 years old was kind of rough.

Joel McClosky: But yeah, I taught in Asheboro City Schools for about 10 years. I 3:00taught fourth grade, fifth grade and did some instructional coaching too.

Richard Cox: Awesome. So, moving from teaching, how did you first become interested in brewing?

Joel McClosky: I didn't know how do it, actually it's connected to the teaching part of it, because I was teaching at an elementary school, my wife was teaching second grade, I was teaching fourth grade. We had just gotten married, so it was 2008. And we came back, we got married in August of 2008, that's when the referendum to pass alcohol in Asheboro happened, July 29th.

Joel McClosky: We left, got married. Came back. And it's kind all like it all was meant to be. Because alcohol was in Asheboro. And it was also that year that we met Amy Deming, who had just moved from New York, was teaching third grade. Her oldest daughter was in my wife's second grade class. So, second grade 4:00teacher, third grade teacher, fourth grade teacher connection with the kid. And Amy one day came in and basically said, "Hey, you seem like a pretty good guy, you and [Kristen 00:04:14] seem pretty cool. Will you hang out with my husband?

Joel McClosky: Who is Andrew, who is my now friend and business partner. He was working for Lowe's Hardware and basically working 12 hour shifts up in Greensboro. So we started hanging out. And at that point, I was just starting to discover craft beer. Up to that point, I was a High Life guy-

Richard Cox: About when was this year wise?

Joel McClosky: This was 2008. So about 2008 is when we met. So we started hanging out, and watching football games together and going to the gun range and shooting guns. And one day he said, "So, I brew beer." And I said, "Why didn't 5:00you start with that when we first met?" We could have been doing that all along? Not that you're not cool to hang out with and I like your family, but dude?

Joel McClosky: So, that's basically where it started. There were two other guys, Pete and Jonathan. And we would go over to Andrew's house and brew in the garage. Kristen would end up calling those our man days. We would go over to Andrew's garage, get there around 10:00, 11:00 in the morning, eat something and then start brewing. And when I say we started brewing, it was really Andrew was brewing and the other three of us were just sitting around going, "What are you doing now? What's that? Why are you doing that?", and drinking beer.

Richard Cox: Official taste testers.

Joel McClosky: Right, well yeah, well we were drinking the stuff other people were making at that point. And then when the brew day was done, we would throw something back on the grill, and we would drink what we had brewed the month 6:00before. And so it was in those conversations that we started talking about doing something in Asheboro and doing something around our county, and exploring different styles. And so that's where I moved away from those American Lite lagers to discovering stouts, and IPAs.

Joel McClosky: I remember the first IPA I had, I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever tasted, because it was just so bitter, and it was the first time I had experienced and unfiltered beer. So, there were these little floaties in it, and I was like, "I think something's wrong with this beer." So, an extreme neophyte when it came to what craft beer was.

Joel McClosky: That's really how the interest in beer got started. There's times where people will say, "You must have been dreaming about owning a brewery and doing this for years and years, and years." It's like no, it genuinely started in 2008, is where the beer exploration started, and then it was 2011, 2012 when 7:00the idea of actually doing something with it from a business sense, started to take shape.

Richard Cox: And how was that? Were you guys sitting in the garage and-

Joel McClosky: Well yeah, we had those garage conversations, you know, after two, three, four beers, maybe sitting at 7% or 8%, the conversations do take a bit of a turn. So ours became visionary, I won't say that far, but it would be really great if, you know? What if, this isn't here in Asheboro yet, it'd be nice if we saw something like this, and what would it do for downtown. You know, oh it'd be so much fun. We started looking into it and were extraordinarily naive, just from a cost perspective, what it would take. The necessities, the requirements for what it would take to open up a brewery.


Joel McClosky: At one point, we were actually talking about this the other day, at one point we thought we'd be able to open up a nanobrewery, like the brew space, in the basement of Jonathan's house. I mean, we had a real serious conversation about that. Measurements were taken. So again, extraordinarily naive.

Joel McClosky: So it was 2011, late 2011, there was a chili cook off back in Bicentennial Park. And it was put on by a guy who owned a local business, who wanted to do something. So by this point, it's been four years since alcohol's been in town. Some restaurants have come in. 2008 was also the great recession, which also saw a lot of businesses leaving, a lot of people losing jobs. There were people that were pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps and say, "I 9:00just lost this job I had for 25 years, I'm gonna open up a restaurant, or I'm going to open up a shop."

Joel McClosky: So we started to see some vitality coming back. There was a concentrated effort by our city officials and the chamber to bring life back to downtown. It was also that year that Forbes magazine, named Asheboro one of the fastest dying cities in America. And that really pissed off a lot of people in this town, because there's a lot of pride here. 60 minutes came to town, did a piece, you can still find it online, and it was really to counteract that idea of a dying town, and showing where their life was, where life was and how it was growing.

Joel McClosky: And so all of that was happening in four years. So it was like 2011, 2012. There was a chili cook off, and there was a little beer garden about probably 100 yards from our back door right now. And somebody had fenced in an 10:00area, they got a special permit, had a little beer wagon, it had three taps. Those three taps were Miller Lite, Bud Lite and Coors Lite.

Joel McClosky: So Andrew and I were standing in that beer garden, and we were looking at this event, and the event was local people, local organizations, local charities, local businesses, local produce, everything was local, every bit of it. And people are just ... there was life. And we were standing in the beer garden and holding these macro beers, and that's where we had our handshake moment, that we were gonna open up brewery in Asheboro.

Joel McClosky: Because what we saw was this town pulling into itself, doing everything it can to rise itself up after these tremendous job losses and this label being put on it. In our minds, the town deserved it. And we wanted to be a 11:00part of this new growth and this renaissance that we saw happening. So, we had a handshake moment, we said we were gonna open up a brewery, and that's where the conversation became more real. The research became more in depth, the questions became more precise, and realized what it was actually going to take right to make something like this happen.

Richard Cox: The timing of that is sort of interesting too, because you're mentioning 2008, and also because you're talking about a recession, which is interesting. Because there's two different things people will tend to talk about with opening breweries, when we talk to people. One of them is pop the cap, which happened around that same time, and the recession and people across the state even doing what you're saying, where people are losing their jobs and their getting back into local businesses and craft. So it's sort of interesting how there's a parallel there, that was happening here.

Joel McClosky: Oh yeah. Asheboro was a textile mill town, just like a lot of small North Carolina towns. There are still some major industries here, but when 12:00some of those left, there are some people, it wasn't expected. And it was like, oh we're safe, we're safe. And then, their legs were taken out from underneath of them, and deciding to do something about it. It was exciting to be a part of that, and see what our vision was for Four Saints, how it could have ... do you want me to just stop like that?

Richard Cox: No, you're fine.

Joel McClosky: To be a part of it and to be a piece of that fabric for the community itself.

Richard Cox: You said the city and county was dry, but it wasn't dry anymore by the time you were opening. Do you know anything about the process of the city and county?

Joel McClosky: Yeah, absolutely. So Randolph County is still dry, so the county 13:00itself is still a dry county. The townships, the cities, the incorporated areas, those are all wet. So Asheboro is wet, Randleman is wet, Archdale is wet. But if it's outside of the city or an incorporated area, it's dry still.

Joel McClosky: So it went dry in the 1950s, one of the reasons it went dry was, some of the local city officials and people of prominence and influence, believed that alcohol was playing part in crime, and that if they got rid of alcohol that would decrease crime, because that really worked in prohibition on a national level. So 1950s, it passed, Randolph County became dry. And then, as 14:00the years went on, some of the areas like Randleman became wet for off premise, but not wet for on premise. So when you came to Asheboro, if you wanted to have a drink, there was one restaurant in town that had a corking fee, the Country Club, being a private club. Other than that, if you wanted to buy beer, you had to go out of town.

Joel McClosky: So there were different referendums throughout the years. And the one that happened in 2008, was the seventh one that they had put through, that was worked. And what was different about that one was that it was more organized. There's a fella in town who, he passed away 2011? No '14, it was 15:00before we were open. But his name was Steve Schmidly, he was a local lawyer here, and he was very organized. He organized what was called the For Campaign. And the For, it was For Alcohol, but it was for the future of Asheboro. The idea that allowing alcohol sales was more about economic impact, restaurants coming in, potential more hotels, the tourism industry, because of the zoo and the other things that are around us. It was more about what it could bring to Asheboro, rather than, "I don't want to have to drive 15 miles to get a beer."

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: So, that group was very active, very vocal. It was one of the first times that entrenched individuals were willing to step out and say publicly, we need this happen. And before that, there was some of that, well if 16:00I step out and say I we want this to happen, what's gonna be the blow back? Will it impact my business, will it impact my circle of friends. And at that point it was a realization, something big needed to happen. And again, it happened in 2008, with the recession happening, and there was just hit, after hit, after hit. So being able to use that as a springboard and as a platform, really had an impact. And so it was just an organized grassroots effort to demonstrate that it was needed.

Joel McClosky: So the vote happen 7/29/2008, and we were out of town. But from what I understand, when they found out that it passed, there was a little party on the street there, you had it blocked off and people were celebrating. And it 17:00passed two to one, so it was a significant ... what's the word I'm looking for, the margin was significant.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: And at that point, people were trying to figure out why it was different, and it really was the community, the greater community, realizing that it just needed to happen. And so, at that point, by the time we came back from our wedding, we had our first beer in Asheboro at a place called The Lounge, which was on Sunset Avenue above the coffee exchange. And the first beer I bought in Asheboro was an IPA.

Richard Cox: Ironic.

Joel McClosky: Yeah, it was ironic. And it was, I want to say Taj Mahal or 18:00something, it was an Indian IPA, a genuine Indian IPA. It came with a full wrapper on the top. My wife and I joked that Asheboro gave us the best wedding present anybody could have. And we know it's not the case. But then after that, it's just ... you've got the restaurant The Flying Pig is open, because the owners of that restaurant said that they would open a restaurant when alcohol came to town, and they'll probably have it when pigs fly. And that's where their name came from. But it was neat to see that all transpire, because the community basically took their future into their hands, to make a difference, especially at that time era.

Richard Cox: That's amazing. And you have a beer named after this?

Joel McClosky: Yeah, actually we do. We have Steve Schmidly, his favorite beer was Shiner Bock. We told Steve that when the time was right, when we were able 19:00to do it, we would name a beer after him. It's really because of his efforts and his leadership along with him and his daughter Brooke, to really pull everybody together. So when you see Schmidly Bock out, if you see it on tap somewhere, the tap and the decal is actually the Four sticker, and unfortunately, it was developed after he passed away. But we have it every July 29th, to celebrate the passing of alcohol and the end to local prohibition, basically.

Richard Cox: That's awesome. So we're sitting in Four Saints. How would you describe Four Saints to people who are unaware of the brewery? What you do and the space, and where you are?

Joel McClosky: From a taproom perspective, we wanted to create a space that 20:00hearkened back to that old world pub idea. We're not a bar, number one. So when people say, oh, you guys working at the bar tonight? Well no, we're a taproom. And they go, how's that different? It's community oriented. The beer's here, our tagline is a great beer for great people. Andrew does an amazing job creating those beers and different styles. Traditional and nontraditional, and new styles coming out. There's some people that come in for the beer, but it's really a community space. We have people that, what's it called, the third home, or third stop, or you got work, home and the then the other place, third place or whatever that sociological name is. People come in after work, and it's that 21:00place to kind of shove off the day, and catch up. It's a place to meet with like minded people. It's a place to explore new music, or have a family reunion. We kind of do a little bit of everything. It's a place that we'd want to bring our family.

Joel McClosky: When we think about those old world pubs, people are like, "Oh yeah, we know places that do that." And it's more than the decor, it's that feel, that when you walk in here, you're walking into a place that is welcoming, regardless of your economic status, regardless of your political affiliation, regardless of any other type of orientation. You're coming in here and you're a person. That's what we try to generate to people, that it's just a welcoming place. The beer's here, and sometimes that's the cherry on top, you know. And 22:00sometimes those community spaces and those community groups is the cherry on top. We're all about just making this place that we call home, this greater place that we call home, better.

Joel McClosky: We've seen how we've been able to have that impact.

Richard Cox: And you do have a lot of group events in Four Saints and around?

Joel McClosky: We've got everything from just the zoo crowd just about every Wednesday night, there's a group form the zoo that comes in here. They're not talking about zoo stuff, it's just this is where they decompress, this is their place. We've got a group that is part of a larger organization, called Drinking Liberally. And it's people of a particular political mindset that they come in and sit down, and they're just talking about the local, regional and national news, and things of importance. We currently don't have a Drinking 23:00Conservatively, but we welcome them to come in. We have a group that just started a little bit ago, they call themselves Drinking Religiously. It's literally a priest, a rabbi, and you know. They come in with something they want to talk about. It's just a meeting place.

Joel McClosky: We've had artists doing drink and draws. We've had gamers who come in. Again, we have our larger community, we have the Four Saints Community inside of those. Our community, there's these smaller groups that in effect call this home, yeah.

Richard Cox: That's amazing. So how did you decide on the name Four Saints?

Joel McClosky: That's a great question. Going back to those days working and brewing in Andrew's garage, and those garage conversations, as you started to look at beer and if we wanted to open up a bottle shop, or a brewery, and trying 24:00to figure those things out. One of the guys that was part of that original four, his name was Pete. He's still one of our good friends, he's actually one of our bartenders right now. He's the kind of guy, when he gets into something, he gets into it. So he was doing some research and found there were four patron saints of beer and brewing. And someone said, four saints brewing, four saints brewery, it's got a good ring to it.

Joel McClosky: So we got online real quick to see if there was anything out there already called Four Saints. And in the alcohol world, there was nothing. There was no Four Saints anything. There was a Three Saints, there was a Four Friends, there was Four Roses, there's a lot of things around that, but nothing called Four Saints. And the only thing we could find was an old play called, 25:00Four Saints and Three Acts. And then a 1960s quartet called the Four Saints.

Joel McClosky: So being again 2010, 2011, finding something that was genuinely unique, you grab it. So we did, we trademarked the name. So that's where Four Saints came to be. And people ask, "Oh, there's four guys and it's because of that.", well no. And they're like, "Oh, well there's four main ingredients for beer, that's why." No. But we like that concept. "Oh, your taproom has four pillars, so that's where it came from. So everybody tries to find a reason. And the reality is, is when we look at that reasoning, it's we see these different layers, like yeah, it could of been, it could have been, but there's these four 26:00guys, Saint Luke, Saint Augustine, Saint Nicholas and Saint Wenceslaus, were all patron saints for beer or brewing for one reason or another. So they became our patron saints.

Joel McClosky: We're asked every once in a while, "Are you going to bring in more saints, are you going to create another beer?" And it's like, well then we'd have to change our name. So, we have our four saints. They're not the only saints that are associated with beer and brewing. They are four of the main ones, and the four that we chose. And each one is a patron saint for different reasons. So our fall saint right now is Saint Augustine. So they're seasonal, because we have beer associated with each one. So Saint Augustine's is a jalapeno smoked brown ale. We had that beer prior to the saint. And it was one 27:00of those days in the garage, it was a mistake. We were trying to do a smoked porter. There was a miscalculation in the malt mill, so the warp came off a little bit lighter than it should have. So instead of tossing it out, so like any good home brewer, what can we do with it? So Andrew had fresh jalapeno plants in his garden, and grabbed a couple, de-seeded them, put the fresh green jalapenos into the boil, made an extract with the seeds, put that in with the fermentation. So we had this beer that came out with this fresh green pepper aroma and flavor, smoke aroma flavor, a little bit of a tingle. It's essentially what that beer still is today.

Joel McClosky: So, we had the beer, and then when Saint Augustine came around, when we looked at his icon, it is a heart pierced by arrows, that's on fire. So 28:00when you think about a jalapeno smoked brown beer-

Richard Cox: There it is.

Joel McClosky: And there it is. So we put that out in the fall. He is a patron saint of beer, because in his younger days, he was all about sex, drugs and rock and roll, and having a good time. Had a change of heart, had his epiphany if you will. And when he was canonized, he became the patron saint of beer because whoever made that decision, basically said, you can't outrun your past, you drank a lot of beer, you're a patron saint of beer. Obviously he didn't have a yay or nay to that. But he's one of our saints.

Joel McClosky: We kind of look at it, it's kind of a life cycle for a lot of us. We have those days of drinking a lot of bad beer and just having heydays, and then we mature. It's taking on a different aspect and being on fire with 29:00whatever it is your mission or your passion is. So we kind of see it as a life cycle, just about like a lot of people.

Richard Cox: It sounds like the choice of the Four Saints is also very personal.

Joel McClosky: It is. Each one of them has their own little ... they have their reasoning for why they're beer and brewing. And as we have ruminated on them throughout, it's like yeah, we can see how this has a connection. Saint Wenceslaus is one of the easiest connections, because he was a Bohemian King, and it was during his reign that hops were discovered as an ingredient, to get away from the twigs and berries that were being used for bittering effect. Hops came in, and so they not only had that bittering effect, but they have that preservation effect, and it became a cash crop for that kingdom. During his 30:00reign, if you were found selling hops on the black market, or stealing hops, or sending hops across kingdom lines without permission, you were immediately put to death. Because it had such an economic impact.

Joel McClosky: So when he was canonized, it was, "You're our dude, like you kept hops here in Bohemia.", and so he became a patron saint. He was listed as a patron saint of brewers for that reason, because he was protecting ... not only was it an economic driver for his kingdom, but he was protecting that industry. So being that Bohemia is modern day Czechoslovakia, Andrew and I both have ancestral lineage back to Czechoslovakia. So it just so happened that he was one of the patron saints. My grandmother was first generation from Czechoslovakia, 31:00so that idea that one of the guys who's-

Joel McClosky: From Czechoslovakia, so that idea that one of the guys who's "looking out over us" is somebody from, who, it took care of our ancestors, it's fun to think about that.

Richard Cox: Yeah, it's pretty cool. You mentioned the Saint Augustine beer was one of the home brew recipes. Do you have any more hanging around still?

Joel McClosky: Oh yeah, yeah. The Stout One, which is our year round stout, was one of those original brews. It's called Stout One because we had two different versions. We brewed the same batch and in one batch we put vanilla beans, and the other one we didn't. So we're Stout One and Stout Two. Stout One had the vanilla beans. So when we would go out and sample with friends and family, it was "here's Stout One. Here's Stout Two." Over and over and over again it was, "do you have anymore of that Stout One? Do you have any more Stout One? Do you have any more Stout One?" That's the name. The Potter's Clay Amber Ale, I 32:00remember the day we named that at the garage because as the wart was coming off the red clay sitting right beneath of us and the wart, they looked almost identical. That's an easy one.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: The Belgian Dubbel, Genesis Belgian Dubbel, that has the name Genesis because when Andrew got started in home brewing it was because of his wife. It was their first Christmas together as a married couple. She didn't know what to get him, so she got him a home brew kit. So, she bought him a home brew kit and it happened to be a Belgian Dubbel home brew kit, and I'm not sure if that style of beer was his favorite because that's what he started home brewing with or if it was the reverse. From that home brew kit he started to develop the 33:00recipe, and once we got up to all grain, and when he got to all grain, still looking to create a Belgian Dubbel he did that at the garage. The recipe that is on right now for our Genesis, other than changes for size of production and some efficiency changes, that recipe is 90% the same.

Richard Cox: Wow.

Joel McClosky: Let me see what else here. The Peach Hefeweizen was a garage brew. Instead of listing them all. All of our year rounds, all of our original seasonals, which is a Double IPA, Peach Hefeweizen, Honey Ginger Pale Ale, 34:00Christmas Ale. Those four seasonals and these six year rounds are all from the garage.

Richard Cox: That's amazing.

Joel McClosky: We brewed a lot of home brew. We gave away a lot of beer. A lot. It was necessary to develop what we wanted to do. Past those recipes everything else, well no, there's a few others. As I'm going through them I'm like, "no, I got Belgian Stout started in the garage." Wow. A lot of 'em have been around for a while.

Richard Cox: That's great.

Joel McClosky: Actually I need to make a note of that. On our marketing materials and stuff like that. This was a garage beer.

Richard Cox: Yeah. That was great. A lot of times those tend to fall by the wayside as it grows into a business, so it's great to see a lot of that hanging around.


Joel McClosky: Those six original beers. The Blonde Ale, Hefeweizen, Amber, ESB, Belgian Dubbel and Stout. That's what we started off with, and we started with those maltier styles and we were told time and time and time again like, "what do you mean you don't have an IPA? What do you mean you don't have a Pale Ale? You're going to fail. You have to have an IPA." We looked at it from the standpoint there was already a number of IPAs and Pale Ales out there, and there were a number of fantastic examples here in North Carolina. What we weren't seeing were a North Carolina example of Belgian Dubbel. A North Carolina example of a strong Hefeweizen. Obviously they're out there now. At the time we weren't seeing them. So we wanted to focus on styles that we didn't believe had a great representation. We also, that had that maltier profile. Moving away from the hops. So we opened up with those six beers, and they're still some of our best sellers.


Joel McClosky: We do IPAs now. We do have those. At some point if you're in a business and you don't... If you choose not to listen to the market, you're going to have a bad time.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: And it's opened us up a little bit more from a creative process to the brewing to marketability side from the beer and the tap room, so. There's been some changes, but those six year rounds. Those are OGs right there.

Richard Cox: Yeah. That's amazing. That's great. So, just talk about opening Four Saints a little bit longer. You actually chose to use Kickstarter as a microfunding platform to fund the opening. Can you talk a little bit about the process and why?

Joel McClosky: Andrew and I, and our wives, when we realized there was a little bit more than we thought it was going to take. We had our initial investment and 37:00that initial investment there was the legal stuff we had to go through, and the planning parts, the architect, and those things. Those funds run out pretty quick. We had a lot of people in Asheboro, Randolph County, friends and family outside of Asheboro and Randolph County that after drinking the beer and listening to the vision like, "yeah, you guys gotta do that. Gotta do this. It's great. We'll support it." There was a lot of lip service and when it came time for us to take the next step we didn't have the funds to do it ourselves. Going to a bank they were like, "well you need some more funds in order to get more 38:00funds." I think every business deals with that at some point.

Joel McClosky: Kickstarter at that point, it was really hitting a crest. There were a number of breweries that were using it. It did seem easy. In reality, it was a lot of work. It was also a way for us, almost as a litmus test, to see those people in Asheboro and Randolph County who were saying, "do it, do it, do it, do it. We'll come, we're for it." To give them a chance to support the idea before there was actual physical space. These people that are telling us they're going to support it, will they really support it in a very real way.

Joel McClosky: We did a lot of studying with Kickstarter and what breweries did 39:00that worked and what breweries did that didn't work. Talking to a local North Carolina successful Kickstarter campaigns that weren't beer going, "hey, what did you have to do? You surpassed your goal by 50%. What did you do to make that happen?" Learning those best practices and then putting them into work for us, we created the Kickstarter campaign and it took off. We were running with it, and it was a full-time second job. I would come home from teaching and get home at 5:00 or 5:30 and eat dinner and from 6:00 p.m til 2:00 a.m it was answering emails, reaching out to different blogs, making sure the marketing pieces were right, scheduling events, being at events. There was a lot of boots on the 40:00ground. There was a number of people, and I think there still are, that think "Oh, we'll put it up on Kickstarter and people are just going to throw money at it." The reality is we were selling an idea.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: We had to get out there and talk about the idea. We had to create those relationships. We had to let people have a chance to actually try the beer to realize, "oh, that is my favorite stout I've ever had in my life. So if I give $10 to your Kickstarter campaign that's going to help you get this at a production level where I can get it all the time? Yes, cool. Here's $50."

Richard Cox: Yeah. Yeah.

Joel McClosky: It took a lot of work, and it was worthwhile because it forced us to get out there and to make those connections, and create those relationships and become embedded in the community before our doors were even open. It helped with financing so that when we went to the bank and did an SPA and said, "hey, 41:00here's how much we're looking for. Here's what we were able to generate with just an idea." It gave us clout. The rewards and those pieces were the fun parts of it. It certainly helped. We used Kickstarter to genuinely kickstart our business. We were fortunate that we hit that crest. We hit Kickstarter right at the time we did, because about a year or two after that breweries and Kickstarter they started to disassociate.

Joel McClosky: There were some breweries that were already in business and there already doing their thing that are using Kickstarter to try and get funds to do another, not to kickstart anything, but just some additional capital.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: That kind of left a bad taste in some people's mouths. There were 42:00breweries that had successful campaigns, but never ended up opening and people didn't get their rewards. This idea didn't come to fruition because it was "oh, I just need some money," like we thought we could open up a brewery in the basement of our friend's house. It kinda went away, and Kickstarter seems now to be more generated towards those artistic endeavors with art and music and gaming and not necessarily businesses.

Richard Cox: I was planning on following up with that because it's a very different environment both within Kickstarter and in the brewing industry itself then it was when you were opening so I didn't know if it still was quite the same fit it was.

Joel McClosky: Right. Looking at the brewing industry in 2012 and looking at the brewing industry in 2018. At that time it was, "lets start a brewery because we 43:00think it's going to be fun and we want to have our own business. We really enjoy this particular craft of what we're doing." And now you look at 2018 and you got people walking in who think, in some cases it's fact, going, "I've got a boatload of money, I want to invest in a brewery." That was not necessarily the case near 10 years ago. Breweries now seem more like an investment opportunity, whereas before it was "how is this going to work?" Even when we talked to banks, and were working to get a loan, breweries were viewed like a restaurant. Heavy upfront capital. There weren't a whole lot of examples. There wasn't a history. It was, "well if you're like a restaurant there's potential within three years 44:00you're going to fail. Within five years there's this percentage you're going to fail." Not understanding how brewing equipment retains its resale value.

Joel McClosky: After we opened, even two years after we opened. I'm sorry. Like 2014, 2015, after we had done the Kickstarter. We had secured our loan. We were working on our place. We had banks that were coming to court us.

Richard Cox: Really?

Joel McClosky: It was, "hey, you guys are opening up a brewery? Just want you to know we just started a craft beer program at our bank." From their industry it was oh here's a niche that we're not tackling in. These banks over here are funding brewery after brewery after brewery and it seems like it's a viable 45:00industry. Once banks started jumping on it now you have private investors starting jumping on it going, "well if the banks are hunting 'em, I should be hunting 'em."

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: Some breweries you see opening up now, and there's nothing wrong with it, that are gorgeous and large and they're in tip top shape from day one have some large investment funding behind 'em.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: We didn't have that opportunity. There's no grief or jealousy in that. I enjoy our story. I like how we started. It's interesting how it's changed. Where is it going to go in the next 10 years? Which is why we're talking about this, right?

Richard Cox: We'll get there too. So, swing back briefly to Asheboro. How would 46:00you compare Asheboro, because we've talked about what was happening with the recession. So let's talk about like if you compare Asheboro now to what it was back I think May of 2015 when you all opened. How has it changed?

Joel McClosky: As a whole, there is a recognition now looking at 2015 to now that what has been done has had an impact. Asheboro is not what they thought it was. I say that, because when were getting ready to open our doors. When we were working on this, we had friends, people that were community minded influential that would come up to us and pull us off to the side and say, "are you really 47:00sure Asheboro is ready for a brewery. I like you guys. You guys are great. Are you sure you want to do this, because it's Asheboro? Are you sure. I don't want you guys to put all this money and effort into something that's just going to fail because it's Asheboro."

Joel McClosky: Talking with some of the other owners of other businesses getting questions like, "are you sure you want to put in a high end restaurant right downtown Asheboro? Asheboro's not a high end restaurant. Nobody's going to come in here and spend $40 on a steak. Are you sure you want to put in a French Farmhouse Bakery? This is Asheboro. It's white bread and tomatoes. It's not baguettes. It's not a $6 a cup coffee kinda town." The reality is, is that it is. Every community is.

Joel McClosky: When we look at Four Saints, no a $5 beer is not for everybody. 48:00There's somebody who is out there searching for that $1.25 draft. Go for it. What we're seeing is that there's a greater population that is interested. They want the experience. With everything that happened in 08, one of the other positives I saw that came from it, was people weren't taking that dollar in their pocket for granted anymore.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: It was, "I had this job and I was making this amount of money, and I was set and everything and then it just went away. Now my money has more value because now I've got to start from scratch and I've re-realized how hard I have to work for that $10. Because I realize, I'm realigning my values with the value of my time and my effort. I want to be aware of where I'm spending this 49:00dollar. Where I'm spending this $10. I wanted to be in a place I know is tried and true. I want to support businesses that have a greater purpose other than their bottom line. I want to support local." With that we see that with the beer we have people that will come in here, of all ages, whether 21 or 81. They might come in and just have a beer, but this is sometimes their first stop of the night. Sometimes it's their last stop of the night. Sometimes it's that right after work, I'm coming in to have that beer. There's a number of them that will tell us, "I would have never thought about trying a craft beer."

Joel McClosky: We have people that stop in, especially on the weekends, "I just heard about y'all." "Where do you live?" "I live here in Asheboro." Okay, well I need to fix my marketing then, because you're just hearing about us now. Come in 50:00and say, "I only drink X, but I heard there was a brewery in town and I wanted to try it." They get to drink a beer, and like "what do you mean it's made right here?" It's like, "yeah, less than 50 feet away from you is where this beer was made." Then we get to explain why we're here, and that supporting community. Here's what we do, and then they start to talk with our regulars and realize that, again the beer's important it's our product, but it's through that that product we're looking to the larger landscape. It's fun to see those people who come now go, "it's cause of you that I like craft beer now."

Joel McClosky: One of my favorite stories with that is my wife Kristin was working behind the bar, a fella came in grizzled and gruff. He sat down and it was that story, "I'm from Asheboro. I hear Asheboro had a brewery. I'm a Miller 51:00Lite guy, but I had to at least come in here and say I tried a beer." And she said, "great, I'm going to suggest you start with our Blonde Ale. Omie blonde. It's light and crisp, not too malty not too hoppy. It's the right color. I'm going to give you one of those. Try it out." And so she served it to him. She walked away, gave him a chance to drink it. Came back, and still fairly grizzled and gruff, and he says, "That wasn't bad. A little heavier than what I'm used to. What's next?" She said, "oh, okay." And she poured him a Potter's Clay Amber Ale. Said, "here's our Potter's Clay Amber Ale. It's a little maltier, so it's a little sweeter. It's got a little bit of a hop bite on the back end. It is different, but not unapproachable."

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: Sat it down, walked away, came back. He seemed more grizzled. She 52:00said she prepared herself for the conversation. Just based off his appearance. From his look I should say, not his appearance, his look. And she says, "so what'd you think of that?" And he said, "that first beer you gave me, I liked. I liked that beer. The second beer you gave me. I loved." And she said he just immediately like melted and it's like that grizzledness went away and he had this new experience. Something he potentially would have made on his own.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: Went out making a choice at a restaurant or at a grocery store. He wanted to know more about the brewery, and he wanted to know about the beer, and how, why was it so different. How could it be? How has he been on earth so long and not tried something like this before. By the end of the conversation 53:00he'd had another Potter's Clay and told her, he said, "well I'm still a Miller Lite guy, but now I can say I like craft beer." And he's become one of our regulars. He comes in and he gets Potter's Clay, and he's become part of our community here. He's made some friendships here. He's met people that he didn't know before. Again, it's that piece of it. The beer was this new experience, this holy cow what have I been missing my whole life? But that's grown into something personal outside of the beer.

Richard Cox: It's that third place you were talking about.

Joel McClosky: It's the third place. Those are some of my favorite stories.

Richard Cox: That's a great story. Other than I think we talked about the finances of opening a brewery. What were some of the other challenges you faced in opening your brewery in a space that was already established, and a downtown 54:00that was just seeing growth?

Joel McClosky: The biggest struggle was the building's close to 100 years old. Anytime you decide to take something that's 100 years old and take it back to its bones in order to put some muscle and skin back on to it you find issues. There were numerous construction issues. Not with the construction company or anything, but just going, "oh, we didn't think we were going to have to fix that. We probably should, and oh, we didn't realize this was happening." So that was a big issue, because then that just ties back into the finance part of it, because it cost more to do the upfit in the construction, which then led to more time. Basically finding out that these kind of projects it's all about time and money. You're spending one or the other and making those decisions.


Joel McClosky: So there were a number of times where working with Andrew and we have a good relationship. We see things differently, which obviously causes some consternation from time to time. There were times he would was more interested in spending the time and doing it ourselves and I was more interested in spending the money so we could focus on something else. And vice versa.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: That part of it, which led to just stress. You're starting something new, both brand new into it, trying to figure it out.

Richard Cox: Lot of money involved.

Joel McClosky: Lot of money involved. Lot of time. Being away from home a lot. Both of us very fortunate to have the wives that we do, because the reality is, is that if either of our wives said no, we wouldn't be doing this. And our wives 56:00are two of our biggest cheerleaders.

Richard Cox: Support.

Joel McClosky: Support. Thank you. But also they're willing and ready and able to do anything that needs to be done.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: Because it's their business too.

Richard Cox: Exactly.

Joel McClosky: Their names are on the loan documents. They've sacrificed as much time. They've sacrificed as much as either of us. So sometimes there were those moments where it was you haven't been home in four days, because you're working at school and then you're coming home and eating dinner, and then you're hammering nails and doing stuff until midnight. So finding that balance was, and even in the beginning when we got open, finding that balance of home family life and business life and self and personal life.


Joel McClosky: I'd say the other things were other people's expectations. Certainly. Most of that was in a positive aspect of, "why aren't you guys open yet?"

Richard Cox: Ah. Okay.

Joel McClosky: "Why aren't you guys open yet?" Instead of having to say, "well. We didn't realize we were going to have to do this and now we have to get more money. And now it's this and this and this." People were interested and excited. The Kickstarter did a lot of that because there was ownership, "hey, I gave you guys $200 to get this up and running, why aren't you guys up and running yet?" Sometimes that was slightly wearing. Those individuals may not have been fully involved.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: And so having to realize and go "they did. They gave us $200. We need to explain that. We need to share that out." That sometimes was difficult. 58:00Made us step back and look at a couple things and make us better. The time and money and other people's expectations sometimes made things the most difficult. For us too, just being plum wore out. We were talking about it the other day, and we were laughing about how Andrew and I at different points and on different days fell asleep on our concrete floor. You know, working on a particular project, and I came around the corner and he's snoring away on the floor. I laughed at him and woke him up, and about a week a later I did the exact same thing. That was really it. Those were the hardest pieces, because we had the vision and we knew who we wanted to be. That stayed true. I can't say we ever 59:00deviated or didn't understand what we wanted to do and what we were striving to do. It was everything else. It was the stuff that we didn't have any control over.

Richard Cox: Right. Yeah. So you mentioned your wives.

Joel McClosky: Yes.

Richard Cox: Are there any other resources or people that you've drawn on to help you in opening and growing the brewery?

Joel McClosky: Everybody who was willing to listen. This community, and Asheboro is fantastic for that. We talked to a number of people to just kind of give us guidance and suggestions and learn about the community a little bit more. We have our lawyer, John Szymankiewicz out in Raleigh was a wealth of information. 60:00Our banker, James Goudy of BB&T was instrumental. Our landlord, Brooks Hedrick, his willingness to do what we wanted to do here, and his realization and his vision for this particular space. Our friend, Eddie Bernard, who runs his own business and is a wealth of knowledge and friendship.

Joel McClosky: The number of people that we put the call like, "hey, we need some help," and have 20 people show up almost at a moment's notice to pull down old drywall or bust out some walls or to tear down a roof. At some points it did feel almost like a barn raising.


Richard Cox: Yeah. Yeah.

Joel McClosky: We just said, "hey, we need help," and there were ready and able people that helped put this place together.

Richard Cox: How would you describe your average week? Don't get tired talking about it.

Joel McClosky: Wow. Yeah. Well starting out, when we opened our doors, it was essentially just Andrew and myself doing everything. When it came to the tap room we had some friends and family that came into pour beers, to help out just so we had some extra bodies behind the bar.

Joel McClosky: Andrew's brewing, at that time it was probably two times a week. He's now up to about four times a week brewing plus packaging. For me a Mondays, 62:00well for both of us, we're both here...

Joel McClosky: ... on Mondays. Well, for both of us. We're both here generally on Mondays through Fridays at least by 8:00 AM which is probably one of the things that surprises people still to this day. "Hey, can we come by and talk to you about this project that's going on at the city?" or whatever.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: And, "What time can we meet you?" How about 9:00? "Well, I don't want to make you come into work early." Good, you're not because I'm usually here by 8:00. "What? Why you at work at 8:00? Your taproom doesn't open until 4:00." You're right. There's other things that happens prior to that, so Mondays through Fridays is 8:00.

Joel McClosky: There's Mondays and Tuesdays for our administrative kind of days and sales calls, and then the rest of the week it's ... 8:00 to 5:00 working on the business side of things or doing deliveries or doing offsite events or any 63:00of a host of other things. It really kind of goes in waves where certain weeks are just slam packed with events or community things, brewery and beer-focused events, and community events or organizations that we're involved in, and then there's the times of being in here as one of the owners and walking around and talking to people as they're enjoying the taproom.

Joel McClosky: Some days are 16 hour days and some days are short 10 hours days.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: It's just the reality of it. In the beginning, that first six months I can tell you was a complete blur. Getting up and doing the work and then going out and doing the sales and then doing the deliveries and hustling back from deliveries to be here in time to open up the taproom. And open up the 64:00taproom, work until midnight, go home, be on the computer 'til three AM catching up on other stuff. Sleep 'til six. Take my daughter to daycare ... Kristen's off to school and then do it all over again.

Richard Cox: Yeah, wow.

Joel McClosky: I ... Andrew was doing some similar time frames and looking back on it now I'm not exactly sure how we did.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: But ... It got done. And so now we're fortunate that we have the employees and the staff employees to be able to take care of those things. So, we can focus on those larger big picture things that move the business forward.

Richard Cox: Right, excellent. So ... And this is one we've actually talked about a lot. But ... Which is your community partnerships and how you're embedded in the community. So, how do you, with those community partnerships how do you feel they benefit? Your working with the community benefits the community, as well as benefiting the business?


Joel McClosky: Oh, for ... It benefits ... We see it as being ... Partnering up with those organizations and the community organizations regardless of whether it's the soup kitchen, or family crisis center, or the partnership for children, or the AM-Vets. We're fortunate to work in an industry where we make beer. We're selling our product.

Joel McClosky: So, with that, we're not carrying any major issues. So, to be able to take some funds or some of our time and support those people and those organizations that are doing greater work than we're doing to help individuals and to help our community be healthier and stronger and ...


Joel McClosky: I wish we could do more. Knowing what the family crisis center does for abused women and children ... This is ... Beer doesn't matter. And it's helping them out. Knowing how the soup kitchen is feeding people that are struggling just to put food on their table. That's why our beer matters because we can help that.

Joel McClosky: Whenever we can, whenever we see a time where we're asking people to come in and spend their ... What's the word ... Their discretionary income on beer and entertainment and fun. To be able to take that and turn that around and take some of those funds and support somebody that's doing something great. It goes with that mission of great beer for great people.


Joel McClosky: So, we hope to benefit the community that way. It benefits us because we're ... It's part of that greater vision to have a stronger community. And so, when people come in and say, "Hey, I saw you guys did this, and this, and this. It's really great you're supporting community and I wanna support you guys because I know you're not just trying to pocket every single cent." There's plenty of businesses out there that are doing everything they can to pocket every single cent. And our goal has never been to be riding around in Lamborghinis and private jets. And anybody who gets into beer because of that reason is way off target.

Joel McClosky: We wanted to create a better community and so we do that by being that third place. We do that by supporting those groups and organizations and then that gets played back into us as, we are not just a business, we are a 68:00community partner. And that's our mission, to be the community partner.

Richard Cox: Right, and perhaps tying into that, is that one of your traditions is the Four Saints Mug Club.

Joel McClosky: Oh, yeah.

Richard Cox: So, can you tell us a little bit about what that is and how it got started, with your prop.

Joel McClosky: That wasn't intended but yeah. When we did the Kickstarter campaign, one of the pieces, one of the reward levels that we saw consistent in the successful campaigns was a mug club. And so we wanted to create the mug club and ... There was obviously plenty of glass mugs, there's metal mugs, there's all kinds of different ways to make it stand out.

Joel McClosky: And as we were thinking about it that here in Randolph county, 69:00it's nationally known for its pottery. The pottery ... A lot of the potters were ... That was a group of people we got to know through the beginning stages when we were going out and doing events and meeting people in Randolph county.

Joel McClosky: One of the things that we heard a lot from potters was, we create these pieces that are meant to be functional and people put them on their shelves and they collect dust.

Richard Cox: Yes.

Joel McClosky: I had one potter tell me if you ever buy a pie plate from me, you better damn well make a pie with it and not just put it up. And there are pieces that are meant to be decorative and aesthetic. But most potters create pieces that are meant to be used because that's the tradition of pottery. It was practical.

Joel McClosky: So, when we started thinking about that and talking to potters. Why don't we use ... Why don't we ask the potters about making mugs for our mug 70:00club? And so, we threw the idea past somebody, I genuinely can't remember who it was, and they suggested we start with a fellow named [Howe Pue 01:10:14]. He owns New Salem pottery in Seagrove. Actually, no it was Chris Julian, suggested Howe. Chris was the guy who did our website and did some design work for us.

Joel McClosky: Chris suggested we talk to Howe because he's a potter and he was one of his good friends. So, we went down and we met with Howe and took some beer and just sat around and talked about the idea and what we were looking to do. Explained the mug club that we wanted to have. Mugs that we put numbers on. John Smith would be mug 32 and his mug would live here, and so when he came to Four Saints he could come in and hopefully at one point we'd remember what his number was.

Joel McClosky: But he said, "I'm part of the mug club, my mug is 32." He gets to drink his beer out of a potted mug. And Howe said, "Well, that's a great idea. 71:00How many mugs do you need?" I said, "Well, we were looking for about a hundred." He said, "I ain't doing a hundred mugs." He said, "I'll do ten."

Joel McClosky: So, great. He goes, "You need to go talk to Michael Mahan from the Ground Up Pottery. Go talk to him, tell him I sent you." So we went and talked to Michael Mahan and shared the idea. "Yeah, I'd love to do mugs, how many do you need?"

Joel McClosky: "Well, right now we need about 90."

Joel McClosky: "I ain't doing 90 mugs. I'll do ten." So, we got passed around from potter to potter and ... At one point one of the potters, Mark and Meredith Haywood of Why Not Pottery said, "Hey, how about instead of you guys going to talk to everybody individually, how about we have a party, you guys bring some beer, you could talk about what you guys are looking to do, talk about this mug idea, and see if any of the potters there are willing."

Joel McClosky: "I'll do three." "I'll do five" And ... And so, we had ... We 72:00ended up with 120 mugs total, about 63, 65 of them went through Kickstarter. And so at a $200 level you got a mug and we chose the mug for you. At $250 you could actually come in and choose your model. Which one you wanted. And so ... That initial set I think we had, 12 to 15 different potters. Some of the ones I've already mentioned plus Great White Oak, Ben Owen Pottery, which is, he's a world renowned potter. They all are renowned in their own right.

Joel McClosky: Let's see, who else did we have? I could name them all if I looked at them. But ... So, we create the ... And so ... That was one of the 73:00Kickstarter rewards. So people had the mugs, and ... When we were getting ready to open, about a month before we were getting ready to open, we need a capital infusion. We needed some money and we needed it fast. So, we had these extra mugs out.

Joel McClosky: And so, we put it out there, here's the rest of the mugs. And by that time there were people that didn't know about the Kickstarter campaign and now they were able to get their own mug. And it's done a couple of things. One, and first and foremost, we get to showcase one of Randolph counties parts of pried. One of the things that makes Randolph county what it is.

Joel McClosky: And so we have all these pottery mugs up there. Especially people on their first time in, they wanna know about the mugs. Tell me about the mugs, 'cause it's something that's different than in other places. There are some places that do have pottery mugs in their bar, but they're all the same mug. And 74:00whether or not that it came from a mass produced something or other, I couldn't tell you. But we have all these different styles, all these different looks.

Joel McClosky: And so then we get to share the good news about Seagrove. And say, "Where you from? You from Durham? You like pottery, you obviously asked about that. Which one do you like best?" "I like that one." "That one's from Bulldog Pottery. Here's their website, you could learn more about them and we've had potters who've said they've had people that come through, say they've seen the mugs at Four Saints and they wanted to see what else they has. Or they didn't realize that there was this community and ...

Joel McClosky: So, we get to tell more about our greater community of Randolph county. Plus, it's pretty. It draws attention and what it's done in here as a third place. Now, we have people that identify, you're one of us, you're one of the mug people because you have a mug, I have a mug. Who did your mug, mine's 75:00done by this. I like how yours ... And so it's kind of created a bit of exclusivity, which is what the mug club was meant to do in the first place.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: And it's probably one of our top, frequently asked questions. How do I get in the mug club? And we keep it exclusive. So, every anniversary we do a live auction. And so we commission potters that we haven't had here and don't have on the wall yet and ask them to make mugs for us. And it's your style, however you wanna do it.

Joel McClosky: And we'll get those mugs in, we bring in an auctioneer and we do a live auction. And with that live auction, part of the proceeds go, we give back to the Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, the Randolph county honor guard, and 76:00family crisis center. And so it's using this thing that people are coming in and spending discretionary income on something that we can then turn around and say, to the Randolph county honor guard, which is an all volunteer group of veterans that go around and provide last rights to veterans across North Carolina. Because there's no state organization that does it.

Joel McClosky: These guys will do three or four funerals and travel from Statesville to Reedsville, wherever in a day, and their paying for their own stuff. So, to be able to say, you guys are doing something, again, greater than what we're doing. Here's how we wanna be able to help out your mission. So, we do that, and every once in a while there's somebody that comes through.

Joel McClosky: It's somebody we get to know that, celebrated or not, are doing 77:00something amazing.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: And we wanna be able to say, we see what you're doing, we see your impact. You belong on the wall. So, this one is actually from the Ground Up, this is Michael Mahan's. And I chose it because he did all the FS's, all the Four Saint pieces, he did this all by hand. And so, you can genuinely say with every piece of pottery up there, that even if it's the same style, every piece is unique. Because it might be a little more squat, it might be a little more whatever.

Joel McClosky: But that one just kinda, I like the color too. So ...

Richard Cox: Awesome, okay. So, here's a broad question for you about your business. How do you see Four Saints growing in the future.

Joel McClosky: More beer.

Richard Cox: More beer?

Joel McClosky: Yeah, I mean, that's really the long and short of it. We are 78:00currently working on expansion plans to grow our production, to grow our brick and mortar space, and to grow our distribution.

Richard Cox: Wow.

Joel McClosky: We are looking at next door and ... We currently have the lease on that space, we currently have plans on that space. Right now it's financing-

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: Is the big hold up. Pardon me. We're looking to put in a canning line, additional cold space, additional dry storage space, and then a small food truck like kitchen.

Joel McClosky: One of our ... Two of the biggest things that people ask about here is, where can I sit outside? And we're landlocked, we're building locked, we don't have that. And currently don't have an easy opportunity to make that 79:00happen. People ask about the roof.

Joel McClosky: We've got a lot of, there's a lot of steam pipes that are going up through that roof from the production facility and from the brewhouse, and we're not gonna tinker with that. Food is the other one. So, we're not looking to do full brew pub, and not a full kitchen, like you might see at full-scale restaurant.

Joel McClosky: But taking ... The idea of taking a food truck kitchen and taking it off its wheels and setting it back there to give some versatility, to be able to have some food on site. That's another big piece. And it's a big piece because it's gonna require a partnership with somebody, because I have no intentions of running a kitchen.

Joel McClosky: I ... We sometimes struggle making sure we've got milk at home. And our daughter will let us know when we don't have milk at home. So, I'm not gonna try and worry about if I've got enough spinach leaves for the potential 50 80:00people or whatever.

Joel McClosky: So that piece of it, which wouldn't be able to do that, would increase the amount of fermenters that we have in the back, to increase that production. Which would then increase our distribution. Our current plans from day one were never to go past North Caroline. Maybe one day we'd be Murphy to Manteo, but the more we look at it just being ...

Joel McClosky: The opportunities in the triad, in the triangle where we are. We've got a good foot hold. There's still plenty of opportunity out there that we haven't even brushed across yet. Not even to mention Charlotte.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: So, even within just an hour and a half of here, there's still a lot of opportunity. So, to get to statewide. That brings in the whole question of potentially going with a distributor, that type of thing.

Richard Cox: That's a whole other conversation you could have.

Joel McClosky: That's a whole other conversation, so ... So, that's it. It's 81:00growing those pieces and then ... We see ... Especially putting in a kitchen, we can see that. Certainly growing the business that's happening here. And ...

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: So, that's what we're seeing that happening.

Richard Cox: So, what's it like working in the craft brewing industry today?

Joel McClosky: It's fun. And that ... And it's fun in the regards that it's ... That competitive brotherhood and sisterhood that you hear ... It may have come up in these conversations before, but knowing that I'm in ... Easily in direct competition with somebody like Paul and Linda Claire out of Deep River and knowing that we're potentially vying for the same tap handles, vying for the same shelf space in bottle shops.

Joel McClosky: A week and half ago I sent Lin a message and said, "You guys do 82:00this really well. How?" And she emailed me back within 24 hours going, here's what we do.

Richard Cox: Oh, wow.

Joel McClosky: And so, it's this realization that yeah, we are competing but when we look at the larger picture. We need to work, we do have to work together. For survival against the bigger corporate giants.

Joel McClosky: And for the namesake of industry. It's a craft industry. It's small. If you come to us and we talk about how much we're about this community, and you go to the next brewery and they talk about how much they're about community, and talk about the next brewery and they're all about community. But we don't work together as an industrial community. It's almost hypocrisy.

Richard Cox: Right, right.

Joel McClosky: We're all working to make it better for each of us. So, that ... I can tell you being a teacher. There were times I went to a teacher and said, 83:00"Hey, you do this really well how do you do it?" "Well ... I can't, I'm not gonna share, I created that, I'm not gonna ..."

Joel McClosky: I'm just trying to teach these kids and you do great, this is amazing, I don't know how you do what you do. "Well ..."

Joel McClosky: So, there's ... Coming from that kind of ... And it wasn't everybody it was ... But it's ... The willingness to share ideas, the willingness to work together, when you collaborative ideas, collaborative efforts ... It makes it easy to work. And our ... Matt, who's our sales rep. There's sales reps from other breweries that will call him up and say, "Hey, by the way in case you didn't know there's a new place opened up, here's the contact, here's what they're looking for. You guys have a great version, you guys have a great hefeweizen. They're looking for one."

Richard Cox: Oh, wow.

Joel McClosky: And Matt does the same. Or ... And that's just, again, just 84:00another example of how people work together. And we see breweries though that will need ... They'll be looking for a particular amount of grain because something happened and I need 50 pounds of this, who's got it? Oh, we've got it. Come and get it, just get me back some time in the future.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: And so that makes it easy working in the industry. When you're looking at the industry itself it's still being fairly new on the larger scale of things. There's still a lot of what's okay, what's not okay, we can talk about the legislation parts of it. We could talk about the enforcement parts of it.

Joel McClosky: And how ... For me, seeing how some of the rules and laws that are out there that are meant to protect the small guys from the big guys, are rules and laws that have a negative impact on what we can do.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: And to be able to get a better, to be on a more even playing 85:00field, simply because we don't have the same funds as certain big guys do.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: Watching it day in and day out of who's doing what and which breweries are signing with partnership agreements that become buy-outs that become ...

Joel McClosky: It's a constantly changing landscape that ... Trying to describe that to certain people that aren't in the industry, going why does that matter? Here's why it matters. Here's why it matters they are no longer craft beer. Here's why it matters that they're making this decision and how it has potential to effect us.

Joel McClosky: So, it's constantly changing, staying informed is sometimes difficult.

Richard Cox: I'm sure it is, yeah. And how would you say all this has changed since you first went into the business?

Joel McClosky: Which part?

Richard Cox: Just ... the brewing scene broadly. As broadly as you can I suppose.


Joel McClosky: The ... I think it's mainly from ... I see a lot of who's getting involved in the business. Because there are again, as mentioned earlier, there's big bucks coming in. Because it's seen as an investment opportunity. There's people that are getting into brewing because ... And not ... Immersing themselves maybe as much as they should in standard practice. And putting out not necessarily the best product.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: And I'm not just talking about here in North Carolina. I'm talking about all over. And so, that has some potential to have a negative impact because then it's, well, if that was craft beer then ... People have a tendency to generalize. If that was craft beer and I didn't like, then that's 87:00craft beer, probably not gonna like it.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: The ... wackiness with beer styles ... I won't name anything in particular or specific because ...

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: I just ... But, some of the things that are being done with beer, in some ways is ... I think it's detrimental. I am starting to see the ... The general beer drinker is starting to go, yeah, I've had that. And it was what it is. But what I'm really looking for is just a ... I'm looking for a good beer. That was fun, I'm not gonna drink a lot of that. But I want a good beer.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: And so the ... The general beer drinker is starting to come back 88:00to this, I just want good. I don't need fun. I want, I need good.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: And I think it goes back to that value of the dollar. Here's this beer and it's aged and this and sat on this and infused with that ... And they can give you eight ounces for 12 bucks.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: Versus here's a beer that you're gonna drink over and over again and it's gonna satisfy every need you have.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: And you're not gonna have to worry about anything else other than it just being a refreshing drink and its five bucks. There's a difference and again with those wackiness of beers and those intensities of beers and the marketing and the FOMO, the fear of missing out. Creating ... Creating that secondary market. And creating things where people are ... And I didn't even 89:00realize it was a thing. But beers that are so hyped.

Joel McClosky: We're one of the ... When people go to that release day there's signage up that says no home brewing equipment is allowed in. Because people are taking ... I didn't realize those existed. People would go in and it's one per ... One ten ounce pour per person and it's 15 bucks. And they're taking that pour and they're pouring it into half ounce vials or ounce vials and capping it to take it off premise. To sell into the secondary market, to monetize it.

Joel McClosky: So, I spent 12 bucks on this and now I'm gonna sell you this half ounce that you couldn't get for 12 bucks or more of now a flat, warm beer that doesn't match anything what the brewer-

Richard Cox: Intended.

Joel McClosky: Intended. So, that part of it, again. It's when things go to that 90:00kind of an extreme.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: That it's easy for other people to make a joke of what we spend 70, 80 hours of our week doing. So that piece of it is kind of ... Those extremes. I've not heard about before and learning about them now, it's just that ... That makes it, it can make it difficult.

Joel McClosky: Every once in a while, people go, "Did you hear about this? They use this in their beer. Why would anybody do that?" I don't know. I don't know how it works. But it worked for them, that's fine.

Joel McClosky: I explain to people, for us. We like to focus on beautiful beers. There's sexy beers, there's beautiful beers. It's fun to take the sexy car for a 91:00ride every once in a while, it's fun to go on that date with that sexy person, but usually there's a whole lot more there that you don't wanna deal with.

Joel McClosky: And that beautiful person, that beautiful beer, it's something you wanna come back to, over and over again because you can count on it. It's solid, it's standard, it's satisfying. Yeah, beautiful beer, more than sexy beer.

Richard Cox: That's well said. So ... Do you see that fun to good that you were talking about as one of the ... Maybe where you hope or think you see the brewing industry going over the next three to five years?

Joel McClosky: The ... the what? I'm sorry.

Richard Cox: I guess, where do you see the brewing industry going over the next five years or so?

Joel McClosky: I think, over the next five years, I see it going ... People ... There's starting to be a focus again on just standard styles.


Richard Cox: Yeah, right.

Joel McClosky: I ... The number of times with our, and using our amber ale as an example. People say, "Oh, it's hard to find a good amber." That's a standard style that's been around for a long time.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: We're seeing ... hefeweizen is a style that's been around for a long time. And again, that beautiful beer aspect. There's certain things that have been around for centuries and generations for a reason. Style never goes out of style.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: And so ... I think there'll be some more exploration of ... genuinely classic styles. So you're starting to see Rogan beers starting to pop up. It's this old German style beer that kinda disappeared and nobody's really doing. The old's gonna become new again. Gose is a perfect example.

Richard Cox: Gose is.

Joel McClosky: Berliner Weisse's are a good example. Instead of ... I see the 93:00industry instead of going-

Joel McClosky: Instead of ... I see the industry, instead of going how much further can we push the envelope-

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: Going what hasn't been done in a long that we can make our own? Westbrook brought their gose out, people went crazy for it and now hose's are everywhere. It is a benefit to everybody because again, a standard style, classic style, that is refreshing, and it's enjoyable, it has its place. And of course every style isn't going to be experimented with, but I think there's going to be a focus on what was once standard, and bringing that back.

Richard Cox: Yeah. Great. And is there anything that you see as unique about Southern beer and North Carolina beer?

Joel McClosky: I'll speak to just North Carolina in general.

Richard Cox: Sure, yeah.

Joel McClosky: I don't know another state that loves itself as much as North 94:00Carolina, and I mean that in a good way. There's that pride, in NC Made, NC Local. Growing up in Pennsylvania there was no campaign about Buy Pennsylvania. There wasn't anything that, accept for coal I guess. You had Wisconsin and their cheese, but coming down here, I moved here in 2004, this idea of this North Carolina pride, and it's from North Carolina was unique to my experience. I see that going into those other industries, and going into the beer industry and focused on North Carolina, the number of breweries I see myself drawn to, they're interested and using those local ingredients. I know it's a standard idea in craft beer itself, but it's nice to see that, that there's a want to go 95:00"What's our North Carolina heritage? What can we use from around here?". We're seeing persimmons and grits and local pumpkins and the peaches. I don't see that when I go to Pennsylvania, to visit family, I don't see that out of Pennsylvania beers. I see it out of North Carolina beers. That focus on being local genuinely, and that pride, genuine pride, I think is what separates North Carolina from some other states.

Richard Cox: Great. So we'll talk about brewers guilds and alliances.

Joel McClosky: Sure.

Richard Cox: For a little while. What do you see as the benefits of these types of organizations, like the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and the Triad Brewers Alliance?

Joel McClosky: North Carolina Brewers Guild, when we first started getting up 96:00and rolling, it was, I had a difficult time seeing what the purpose was. With like any other kinda organization, with the right kind of leadership, to put it on the right path, the North Carolina Brewers Guild now is, it's that voice in Raleigh for us to keep our industry top of mind. That idea, oh they just make beer, like right we make beer, but we have genuine economic impact, there are jobs being created, there's the tax revenue that's being created. To just push it off as "well, they just do this", you're right, in comparison to some other industries. However, we have a place at the table, because we are putting into the state coffers, multiple times.


Joel McClosky: Helping our industry to get that credibility as a genuine industrial force in North Carolina, the Guild has been fantastic at that, from a marketing standpoint, doing things like the Public House at the State Fair. Working to become part of this state-wide tradition, and to create and put craft beer in their as part of that state tradition, because it is North Carolina made. It's focused on small business, and mom and pop shops for lack of a better term. The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild is top-notch.

Joel McClosky: The Triad Brewers Alliance, being a part of that is, as a marketing component, to say to anybody in craft beer, yes Raleigh has a great 98:00brewing scene, Asheville has a great craft brewing scene, Charlotte has a great craft brewing scene, but here we are in the Piedmont Triad, and because of our geographical, because of how we're spread out, it's tough to market that. So coming together and saying, here's a group of 19 breweries and a cidery that want to bring people in, to demonstrate the good things that are happening here, makes sense. It makes sense from being able to do collaborative events and potentially cooperative purchasing.

Joel McClosky: From that marketing standpoint, going look if you're going from Raleigh to Charlotte, and you're going to Charlotte because you wanna go see some of the breweries down there, you're gonna be driving past a couple of really good ones, you need to make a stop. We've got some great breweries here 99:00in the Piedmont Triad, and so being able to give everybody a collective voice, it matters. And it matters from the number of people who come and sit at our taproom, or sit at Natty Greene's taproom, or sit at Proprietor's taproom, or sit at Foothills taproom. To be able to say that we have a collaborative effort, and you need to go see these guys too, it makes sense.

Richard Cox: And you see that marketing push as the primary mission of the Triad Brewers Alliance?

Joel McClosky: Yeah. It really is. Because it's so spread out, it creates some difficulty in having one voice. In Asheville, it's certainly more sophisticated, because they've been around for so long. But they have the Asheville Brewers Alliance out there, they market and people know Asheville as a beer destination. 100:00That's that main component, whether it's people from in state or out of state, it's where they stop.

Richard Cox: Beyond that geographical range, I suppose is a good word for it, how would you describe the Triad brewing scene as different or unique?

Joel McClosky: The Triad brewing, I see it more focused on, I can't even say that...no. There's a a lot of focus on standard styles, there are a few outliers in individual beers, but overall it's not hey how funky can we get? It's lets make good beer. Lets make beer that people will come back to, over and over again. So you see amber's and wheat beers, goses and stouts. It's not a bunch of 101:00beer aged on crazy amounts of things, it's just a pretty standard repertoire, and I think that's a good thing.

Richard Cox: It is, absolutely. And you are the current president of the Triad Brewers Alliance, so what duties does that entail?

Joel McClosky: Lots of emails. Right now, it's putting together some signature events, getting out, creating opportunities for people to gather and experience all these breweries in one space. It's also about creating the...getting the breweries to know each other.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: I don't often get to go up to Elkin, to Angry Troll, so the Triad 102:00Brewers Alliance, it's an easy excuse to communicate, for lack of a better...to put it that way. It's a reason to communicate with other breweries.

Richard Cox: Right.

Joel McClosky: That we may not have an absolute need to every time, so creating those relationships between these breweries that maybe spread out, to create other opportunities, or just friendships.

Richard Cox: Absolutely.

Joel McClosky: And relationships. Those two things, it's trying to find ways to grow those relationships, in the breweries themselves, and then with the people coming to visit our breweries.

Richard Cox: Right. What are some of the events that the Triad Brewers Alliance puts together?

Joel McClosky: We did the past two years working with downtown Greensboro, last year was a Taste of the Triad, where different breweries partnered up with different restaurants, and created one-off beers, to be partnered with small 103:00tastes from these different restaurants, to create a food and beer experience. We're looking at potential...a beer fest, not just another beer fest. We're throwing around some ideas of how to make that happen. We're looking at working with Tap Hopper Tours and getting tours really focused on Triad breweries, and making that work and not to spread it out, to get down here to Asheboro, to get out to Saxapahaw, to get up to Elkin. Those are some of the things that we're working on right now. So busy.

Richard Cox: What would you say is, these are the fun question, what would you say is Four Saints flagship or signature beer?

Joel McClosky: Wow. Our two best sellers are the Omie Blonde and Potter's Clay 104:00Amber. Which again speaks to those pieces earlier, it's not our bandwagon dealing with IPA, it's these two styles. They're two that have been around with us since day one, and whether here in the taproom, or in distribution out to restaurants and bars and bottle shops, those two beers are solid and those are the two beers that Andrew brews the most. We didn't come out saying this is our flagship. Most people think since we're from Randolph County, the Potter's Clay is our flagship, but taking it off of the market, and what our customers, and what our fans drink the most of, I'd have to say those two. Hands down.

Richard Cox: That ties back to what you were saying earlier, about you didn't start with IPA's. Which is what most people would assume.

Joel McClosky: Yeah. We do have IPA's now. Right now, October 24th 2018, we've 105:00got six IPA's on tap, which is erroneous. It's kinda got out of hand. We didn't have an IPA on, and that first three months of being in business, we're the new brewery so people came in and sat down and looked at the menu and went "Where's your IPA?" "We don't have one". "How do you not have one? Well I drink IPA's, it's what I look for. What's your hoppiest beer then?" The mantra, the maxim actually, of the customer's always right, is not about give me what I...gimme, gimme, gimme. It's more what the market's asking for.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: So if you own a shoe store, and everyone comes in looking for green shoes, you should put some green shoes on the shelf.

Richard Cox: Yeah, right.

Joel McClosky: Cos that's what the customer's looking for. So we decided our 106:00first IPA was a session IPA, so it was kinda, pouting a little a bit, "we're not gonna put out an IPA, we're gonna put out a session IPA". We called it You Asked For It, so that was the name of the IPA.

Joel McClosky: What we realized was from a brewing standpoint, from an artisanal perspective, brewing different styles of beer, whether it's a blonde ale, an amber ale, or an IPA, is going to help Andrew become a better brewer. There's different techniques, there's different ways of doing things. It gives him an opportunity to expand his brewing knowledge. From an artistic standpoint, it also gives him an opportunity to try something different, try something new, experiment with different types of hops.


Joel McClosky: What we did then was we decided to have an IPA, but not a standard IPA. It was basically like once a month, we would have a different type of IPA, so black IPA, red IPA, white IPA, Belgian IPA, rye IPA. It was let's have fun with the style. Then that worked out really well. Our customers in here, or out there, were like "We like this one, we can't wait to try the next one". As Andrew's become more efficient in brewing, and then brewing more, we sometimes see some overlap in IPAs, like right now.

Richard Cox: Did that tie in with your Devils Advocate experimental series you do? At the beginning?

Joel McClosky: The IPA's didn't. But the Devils Advocate series, that's where 108:00some of the beers, where they've been born from. Not necessarily the IPAs, other than, the brut IPA is one of the ones we have on. It's the newest, trendiest style, so Andrew brewed a pilot batch of that. That was our Devil's Advocate for one week. And the pace at which it sold that week told us, hey we should go ahead and make that as a production batch, so we do. We have that as a production batch. There are beers that we've tried on the Devils Advocate series out of fun, sometimes tongue in cheek, like taking our pumpkin ale and adding coffee and vanilla and some more spices to it, and calling it Yoga Pants Latte. We put that on, as quickly as it sold, we're gonna be doing that as a production batch this year. But not every Devils Advocate makes it to that label.


Joel McClosky: Going back to the IPAs, the proliferation of it is, we put a new IPA on and the one that was there before, which we may only have couple sixtel's of left, now gets forgotten. That's not the new IPA anymore, I want the new IPA. And as the brewing process goes, he's planning them out, and sometimes there's that overlap, then creates that "Oh, that's the old IPA". It's still tasty, it's still in date, it still has everything it needs. They kinda cannibalize each other. Because now instead of just having an IPA, having multiples causes issues. It's just like if we had five different stouts on, they would do the same thing to each other. But people, the IPAs have won awards.

Joel McClosky: When he puts his mind to brewing a particular style, he does the research, he does the learning to know how to do it well, using what he's 110:00already done, applying it to a new style or new version. I say it often, I've told him, sometimes he makes my job really easy, because the beer that he brews sells itself, and I'm pretty sure that he's a time traveling wizard, because when he decide he want to do a gose, he did a gose, and it nailed the first time. I'm very fortunate to be in business with him, and I'm really glad he's one of the owners so, I hopefully don't have to worry about him walking away to another brewery. It's definitely having fun.

Richard Cox: What would you say is your favorite beer not from Four Saints?

Joel McClosky: Good question.

Richard Cox: North Carolina beer.

Joel McClosky: Favorite North Carolina beer. I am a big fan of Old Hickory, 111:00always have. Their imperial stout, just flat, straight imperial stout, not on raspberries and barrels and all that, is one of my favorite beers. It's just a good, solid representation of that style. I enjoy what they do with their barrels, with Daniel Boone and Seven Devils. They've got barrel aging on lockdown, and so when we created our barrel aged beers, our bourbon aged Pending Grace, they were kinda the standard that we held ourselves too. Does this match up to what Old Hickory's putting out? Old Hickory's easily one of my favorites.

Richard Cox: So what's your favorite Four Saints beer? What's your favorite baby?

Joel McClosky: Thank you for putting it that way, it is tough picking, and a lot 112:00of times it's a matter of what mood am I in. But for me, Potter's Clay and Stout One. Those two originals, I go back to them all the time. It's fun to be somewhere and people go "what are you drinking?' And I'm like I'm drinking the Potter's Clay. "Really? Why aren't you drinking that new beer you just put out?" Cos this is the one, those two beers are two of the first that started it, and we put them out there because we loved them, you know. And I know for Andrew, Omie, the blonde ale, is one of his favorites. It's one of simplest beers, it's straightforward, it doesn't have all the hoppiness, it doesn't have all this and that and the other, it's just a great beer.

Richard Cox: Is there anything that's gone away, maybe from the Devils Advocate 113:00series or wherever, that you personally really liked and miss? That maybe didn't catch on for some reason?

Joel McClosky: I'm thinking through all the beers that we've done. I can think of beers that we've done that I don't know if we're gonna be able to do again.

Richard Cox: But that you really enjoyed?

Joel McClosky: One of the best beers that we've done, that I know we're gonna be able to do again, if we can catch lightning in a barrel again, the rum barrel aged stout that we did last winter. I've got one can of it left at home, and I'm terrified to open it.

Richard Cox: Yeah.

Joel McClosky: Because it's my last one. Not because I'm gonna pour into vials and stuff. That beer, that was one, the first time I tried it, I was like this 114:00may be my absolute favorite beer that we've ever done. And it's just because of the way that those rum flavors and the spices from the rum played with the stout, because it was just our Stout One, it wasn't an irregular stout, it was our standard stout, which is one of my favorite styles. And the way all those flavors merged together, just created an elegant experience. That one, hopefully we can, I say finding the rum barrels, its finding the right rum barrels, at the right price, so that we're not having to charge an arm and a leg.

Richard Cox: Sure.

Joel McClosky: But Devils Advocate wise, we've done so many. As our website gets, we're gonna be updating our website, I'm gonna have one of the pages dedicated to all of the Devils Advocate's that we've done, to be able to go back and kinda take a walk back in time. The first one we ever did was sweet potato 115:00pecan casserole. It was a pilot system beer, a brown ale base, that we used local sweet potatoes and local pecans with and added a little bit of lactose to it, to kinda get that marshmallow effect in there. The creaminess. That was the first one that we ever did, and it was good, but didn't pass muster to take it to the next level, but walking back through my calendar I can see, oh yeah I remember we did that one, we did that one and we did that one, and it's been fun.

Joel McClosky: So I wanna put that out there for everybody to be able to...because we have people come in and be like "Alright, so you guys had a Devils Advocate last year...". Okay, I need more information.

Richard Cox: We had about 52 last year.

Joel McClosky: Yeah, you get some cases. Yeah, we had 52 of them last year, so 116:00let's bring it in.

Richard Cox: That's all I've got.

Joel McClosky: Okay.

Richard Cox: Is there anything you'd like to add?

Joel McClosky: Oh man. No. We never got the history of the building.

Richard Cox: What was the building originally? A hundred years old right?

Joel McClosky: It's about a hundred years old. The family that owns the building built the building. Brooks Hendrick, who's our landlord, his grandfather is the one who built the building. It was originally built as a Buick dealership, and this space we're sitting in right now was the showroom floor.

Joel McClosky: In that time, early 1900s, you ordered your car. They'd have two to four models sitting right here, and you'd walk past the windows on the 117:00street, window shop, go ooh I like, I wanna go take a look at that Buick, and you would go upstairs. This part of the ceiling above us here, wasn't here. So you would talk to the salespeople, you could look down onto the floor from upstairs, and then they would bring you down so you could actually sit in it, perfect sales technique, once you touch it, it's yours kinda thing. And you'd order your car, walk away and then however long later, your car would come in on the railroad, which is back here by Centennial Park, basically came in like an erector set.

Joel McClosky: Everything past these posts was the assembly floor, and so the car was actually put together here. When your car was done, they would get I touch with you, however they did in 1910, send a messenger boy, or call you up 118:00or send a letter or whatever. And you'd come and get your car, and you would roll it down this alleyway, that's behind us, the floor still slopes, it still has the concrete bumpers, so you didn't run into the wall. And you would drive away on Fayetteville Street, ten mile an hour. The envy of all your friends with your new Buick.

Joel McClosky: Once cars started getting put together complete, and you needed a car lot, because people expected to come in and buy a car and walk away, or drive away with it, this became a mechanic shop, cos it was already set up where the cars are put together. There were a couple gas pumps out front. After that, it became a Western Auto Parts store, which was kind of a catch-all. You had auto parts, but then there was also a little bit of everything. It was one of the only places in Randolph County, or the only place in Randolph County, where 119:00you could buy Schwinn bicycles. It was the Western Auto Parts store, there's still a large amount of the population here in Asheboro that remember that. When we first opened, people would come in and they'd kinda GPS themselves here in the taproom, and go "I think this was where I was standing when". You know, my dad brought me my first bike, or when I came in with Uncle Billy and he helped me find fuses for my car, or mom came into buy this.

Joel McClosky: It was the Western Auto Parts store up until about the mid-eighties. And people remember coming in here and buying skateboards, and that kinda. It was almost like a Walmart before Walmart, just kinda everything was here. After that there was a Scratch n' Dent grocery store, there was a pool 120:00hall upstairs at one point. When we were pulling down the ceiling, Andrew and I were doing it, pulling down the old sheet rock, and just disgusting-

Richard Cox: Hundreds-

Joel McClosky: Decades of stuff up there. We kept hearing these little pings on the floor, and just thought it was nails or screws or whatever. At one point pulled stuff down, looked down, and there's a coin on the floor. Picked up the coin and it was a quarter from 1942, and so he and I just looked at each other and we're like "how many pings did we hear?". A lot. So we stopped pulling down, and we just had this pile of dust and everything, whatever, so we started pulling through it, and came away with just about two handfuls of nickels, quarters, dimes, all pre-1945.

Richard Cox: Wow.

Joel McClosky: So we started asking about it. Somebody said I think that's where 121:00there was maybe a pool hall upstairs. We said it to one guy, we mentioned it, he goes "That must have been where my dad used to go to play pool". We started looking around, and the gum wrappers, double mint tea berry, Beemans, Ritz cracker labels that were packaged in Raleigh, Camel cigarette packs, Coke caps with the cork on them, Pepsi caps with the cork on them. As we started talking, I still have all this upstairs and ...

Richard Cox: Oh wow, that's great.

Joel McClosky: The intention was at some point we'd put in a shadow box and just show off, but talking to people, were like oh yeah you were a Coke guy, or you were a Pepsi guy. You were a Beemans guy or a Double Mint guy. You were a Ritz guy or a Nabs guy. Imagine this pool hall of guys standing like, he drinks 122:00Pepsi, we don't talk to him.

Richard Cox: Smoke everywhere.

Joel McClosky: We found a couple cigar stubs. We found a pool cue. Found an old popcorn box from the Carolina Theater, which is two doors down. So the pool hall was there, then it was a Mexican bakery, it was J and R's Mexican bakery. When I moved into town, that's what it was. After the Mexican bakery left, it became a veteran's craft shop. And now it's a brewery.

Joel McClosky: So with Brooks and his dad, who at this point, I think he's 96, still as sharp as a tack. It was the idea that we wanted to bring this building back almost to, not to light, because there was always something happening here, but bring it back to what it was originally intended, where this is the 123:00showroom, and that's production. Bud's dad is the one that built it, and for him to see it come back to life and become a significant part of the community again, he's enjoyed. And Brook's has enjoyed that because his dad and him, they own it and we'll see where things go from that. This building's been part of the community for a while. I think it was waiting for something to help cement it again, in the present.

Richard Cox: Awesome.

Joel McClosky: So.

Richard Cox: Thanks man.

Joel McClosky: Absolutely.

Richard Cox: Appreciate it.