Beer Scout: Boojum Brewing debuts new pub

REVIVING THE LEGEND: A copy of a 1961 painting of the legendary Boojum by artist Cordon Bell graces the wall of the creature's namesake brewpub in Waynesville. Pictured, from left, are owners Ben Baker and Kelsie Baker with assistant brewer Keller Fitzpatrick. Photo courtesy of Kelsie Baker

According to Waynesville legend, there’s a Bigfoot-like mountain man that roams the hills. Not often seen, he collects precious gems from around the mountains and stores them in empty growler-like jugs. They call him the Boojum.

Kelsie Baker, co-owner of Waynesville’s new Boojum Brewing, says you couldn’t ask for a better icon to revive. “My brother Ben Baker [the other co-owner of Boojum] and I have family here and have been coming to Waynesville on vacations since we were 10. Once we knew we were going to start our brewery here, we knew we wanted to bring the Boojum back.”

The Bakers quietly started serving tastings and filling growlers at their production facility (at 357 Dayton Drive, Waynesville) a few weeks ago after brewing their first few batches in their 15-barrel brewhouse. “We have a little pilot system that Ben and Keller Fitzpatrick, our assistant brewer, have been using for over a year though, developing recipes,” says Baker.

Waynesville, which already has three local breweries — BearWaters, Frog Level and Tipping Point — surprised the Bakers with its immediate show of support. “We wanted to be well-prepared and start with a small release, so I just posted on Facebook that we were going to start filling some growlers … but there was a huge turnout anyway. We sold out of growlers in about four days.”

From production facility to pub

The team has since restocked and has expanded hours at the Dayton Drive location. On weekdays, the owners fill growlers 1-6 p.m. On weekends, they also hold tastings where you can stop by and try up to six Boojum beers.

Yet in some ways Saturday, Feb. 21, will be Boojum’s big debut. That’s the day it will open its second location: a full pub at 50 N. Main St. in Waynesville, right across from Mast General Store.

Baker says the pub will be open every day except Tuesday with dinner service starting at 5 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Weekend hours will include lunch service starting at 11 a.m. Saturdays and noon Sundays.

At the pub, Baker says they’ll keep about 16 beers on tap and serve wine and liquor as well. “About 10-12 of the taps will usually be for our own beer,” says Baker. “For the rest, we plan to serve ciders and beers from other breweries in styles we don’t brew.”

As for the edible aspect, Baker says to expect high-quality pub food. “It started off as a small idea — really we just wanted to feed people — but we landed a great chef, Brandon Adams from Denver, and he’s doing a lot of exciting things.” Baker says many dishes will incorporate beer, such as beef chili with deglazed beer and a brownie with Boojum porter chocolate sauce.

The Boojum beers

Baker says the team is constantly brewing new recipes, and if you stop by, there will be at least 10 different beers to try. Here are some of the standouts so far with descriptions from Baker:

Double IPA (8 percent ABV): “It’s a big, West Coast style IPA … a real citrusy, hoppy beast with Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, CTZ and Amarillo. It’s our top seller so far.”

Blueberry coffee porter (5 percent ABV): “This one starts as a classic English brown porter, but then we add cold-brew coffee and blueberries after fermentation. The blueberry is subtle and complements the other flavors.”

Milk stout (5.5 percent ABV): “We age our milk stout on cacao nibs for a great chocolate character that goes with the roastiness of the stout.”

Balsam brown ale (5 percent ABV): “The Balsam is a northern English-style nut brown. It’s smooth and easy drinking with a nutty finish.”

Pale ale (6 percent ABV): “Our pale is hop-forward and so crisp that when you finish taking a sip, it’s just gone.”

Tripel (9 percent ABV): “This is a strong golden ale marked with complex, distinctive fruit and spice characteristics by the Belgian Trappist-style yeast.”

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About Thom O'Hearn
Thom O’Hearn is a writer, book editor and homebrewer. Twitter: @thomohearn

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