March 30, 2017

Blending The Blues With Brews In Shelby, North Carolina

The exterior sign at Newgrass Brewing

photo by: Jordan Boinest

For every type of person, there's a bar that fits their personality. There are bars that attract people when they are feeling introspective; bars that cater to the younger crowd, with pulsing music and expensive cocktails; and there are bars that are practically local institutions, where people go because they appreciate the familiar atmosphere, and are confident that they will run into friends and neighbors. Newgrass Brewing Company in Shelby, North Carolina, is on its way to becoming the latter.

Though it opened in August of 2015, it has the comfortable, friendly atmosphere that oftentimes develops from the patina of old age. And for co-owners Jordan Boinest, her fiance Lewis McCallister, David Dear, and Roger Holland, that's what they were aiming for.

The two-story building that Newgrass calls home was built in 1908 as a local department store called Hudson’s. Located on one of Shelby’s main streets, it was a mainstay of the town for decades. However, the arrival of strip malls and chain department stores shuttered Hudson’s doors in the 1990s. After briefly housing a jewelry store, it sat vacant for a decade until the building was purchased for the brewery.

The space was in pretty good condition, but the facade needed a touch up. Through the Uptown Shelby Association and the City of Shelby, Newgrass was awarded a facade grant from Main Street North Carolina, a designated Main Street America Program.

Live music from the Acoustic Syndicate playing on the stage at Newgrass Brewing

photo by: Jordan Boinest

Live music from the Acoustic Syndicate. The metal "H" from the original Hudson's sign hangs on the wall to the right.

The sleek, neutral tones in the interior is mostly from the wood that can be found lining the walls of the interior and below the counters. The wood was reclaimed from the local Dover Mill, which was once the largest employer in the county. When the wood was re-milled, employers from Walker Woodworking found a 36-caliber musket ball dating to the first half of the 19th century. The musket ball is now framed in Newgrass, a relic of Shelby’s past integrated with the new.

A metal “H” hangs inside, too. Hudson’s, which still owned the building in 2015, offered the letter from the original storefront sign to Newgrass. It was especially poignant for McCallister, whose mother once worked at Hudson’s. The “H” is a reminder to him and patrons of the building's close relationship to Shelby and to the businesses that called it home.

The interior on a crowded night at Newgrass

photo by: Lewis McCallister

Live music and great food attract large crowds to Newgrass.

Home-made brews from the Newgrass Brewing Co

photo by: Lewis McCallister

One of Newgrass Brewing Co.'s samplings, a Farmhouse Ale style beer called Carolina Uncommon.

Shelby sits between Asheville and Charlotte along U.S. 74, making it an easy stop for travelers interested in the town's musical history. Shelby is the home of country musician Don Gibson and bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs, and its people are proud of the town's heritage. Walk down South Lafayette on a weekend, and you can hear country, bluegrass, blues, and more seeping from its buildings or places like the Don Gibson Theatre.

Before you stop by Newgrass to hear a taste of Shelby’s live music scene while sampling drinks from their brewery, here’s what you should know.

Location: 213 S. Lafayette Street, Shelby, NC

Hours: Monday, Closed; Tuesday-Thursday, 4:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.; Friday, 4:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.; Saturday, 11:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.; Sunday, 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.

You’re Having: The Newgrass Farm Burger, which features beef from a local farm, and the Fiddler’s Dream IPA.

Meghan White is a historic preservationist and an assistant editor for Preservation magazine. She has a penchant for historic stables, absorbing stories of the past, and one day rehabilitating a Charleston single house.

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