Greensboro has rich history of brewing

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- "We've been open for about four months, now," said Stephen Monahan, as he mixes his latest batch of beer at Little Brother Brewing in downtown Greensboro. "The location's fantastic."

His brewery is part of a craft beer and taproom boom that appears, at first glance, to be something new. And it is new … again.

In the late 1890s and the first decade of the 20th century, there was a saloon and brewing boom in the south end of downtown Greensboro.

“The downtown area was where all of the activity was centered. It's where you came to shop, it's where you came to eat, it's where you came to drink,” said David Gwynn, digital projects coordinator at UNC Greensboro. “There weren't parking lots because there was not really any need for them at the time. So it was sort of a long wall of buildings”

And around 20 of those buildings were saloons.

UNCG has a new, online project called, “Well-Crafted NC,” telling the tale of brewing in the state – and in Greensboro, in particular.

One of those places is where Monahan brews, and Karmen Guilyard runs Little Brother Brewing.

“This is Hamburger Square, around here, and this used to be called Jim's Lunch,” said Guilyard, gesturing outside her establishment to the intersection of Elm and McGee streets – an intersection that Gwynn points out, didn’t exist in the time of these early saloons. McGee Street was put through more than 10 years after they all closed.

They were all gone by 1909, when the state passed laws that allowed communities to outlaw alcohol by a vote of the people. In 1909, a full decade before the federal government did, Greensboro outlawed alcohol sales and the saloons all went away.

But now many, much more sophisticated taprooms have replaced them. One of them is Little Brother Brewing, in a place that for years was a place you could get a cold beer called Jim’s Lunch.

“And Jim's Lunch was a cool diner hot dog place and it may have been a saloon, in the past, too,” Guilyard said. “It goes back all the way to the 1800s. There used to be a livery, here.”

You can see a picture of that spot in its livery days, inside on the wall. See the full story of Greensboro’s saloon days in this edition of the Buckley Report.