Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Co: Goin’ With The Flow
By Ray Morgan
Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company is the “love child” of cousins Stuart Barnhart and David Ashe. The name comes from the cousins’ childhood summers in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hiking, fishing and listening to great music. When they decided to open a brewery, they wanted it to be a reflection of what they love.
The brewery, on Trade Street, in the old Big Winston Warehouse building, has a 15-barrel brewhouse producing traditional styles as well as an ever-changing cast of seasonals and one-offs. The Fish also has seven 60” TVs showing all your favorite sports, a 150” projector screen for big games, and regular live music, games, and events. The multiple oversized glass garage doors allow the taproom to be flooded with natural light and are opened when the weather is nice to make a much larger open-air patio!
Stuart started his career in banking and finance but found beer was much more fun! David came from the hospitality industry and also had a passion for beer. Stuart home brewed for 6-7 years and always wanted to own his own business. “I’m passionate about beer and I know how to make it, so I got started on this place,” said Stuart in a recent conversation. He moved from Galax, VA to WS when he was 5 so he considers himself a native now. David runs the taproom and Stuart runs the production side of the house. They opened in August 2017 and it’s been a blast since then!
When asked if things had gone according to plan, Stuart said he didn’t expect to be brewing things like fruit beers along with other patron favorites, and yet they have proven popular. The Fish has a Blackberry Sour beer, their first in the Sour category, which should be ready for the public by February. When asked why a Blackberry Sour, Stuart responded with a hearty laugh
and a twinkle, “Because I can! I wanted to make a dark sour for the winter. It comes in around 8% ABV, so something stronger for the cold winter.” A new lager is coming in cooperation with Kernersville Brewing and a new pale ale is around the corner. “We want to be known as a brewery who is constantly trying something new and innovative.”
He also hadn’t planned on distributing but they had extra capacity, and it evolved organically. In fact, January 2019 saw their first shipments to Raleigh restaurants in addition to a large number of vendors in the Triad and Charlotte. They had foresight to plan for excess inventory and have since had to add another fermenter to handle the increased demand.
Stuart was very happy to learn the old City of WS parking lot directly across 8th St./MLK Blvd. from the tap room is now available for use by the businesses in that area.. “For all those who feel parking is an issue here, know we have PLENTY of parking now!” exclaimed Stuart.
“We’ve been staying busy since we opened and people continue to support us. We work with local charities and have a lot events in the Taproom to support them. We’ve done quite a bit with Stepping Stone Canine Rescue (www.LoveTheMutt.org) and, in fact, we’re going to be at the Big Sip again in March and that event benefits Stepping Stone.”
The Big Sip has been North Carolina’s first complete beverage festival started in 2012. The March 2nd festival, held on both floors of the Millennium Center, benefits Stepping Stone Canine Rescue and the WS Jaycees.
There are two types of tickets available, a VIP for $45 which is good for both the Mac & Cheese and Beverage tastings and gets you in the door when they open at 1pm. A $30 ticket allows Beverage tastings only and is valid after 3pm. There are a limited number of reduced-price tickets for those purchasing well in advance. Tickets and additional information on the event is available at www.BigSipFest.com.
Expect to see local brewery favorites Fiddlin’ Fish, Foothills Brewing and Natty Greene’s along with other NC brewers, wineries such as Shelton Vineyards and Rag Apple Lassie and distilleries, including Broad Branch and Old Nick’s. Non-alcoholic options feature the popular drinks from Cheerwine, Sunshine, and Krankies. Beyond sampling, beverages will be available for purchase.
Almost 20 restaurants have already signed up to compete in the Mac & Cheese category from all over the Triad! Taste the cheesy goodness from 6th & Vine, Bib’s, Crafted, Foothills, Hickory Tavern, Emma Keys and many others as they compete for the Best Mac & Cheese title!
Tickets to last year’s event sold out in 45 minutes, so event planners have increased the number available, but do not wait until the last minute to get yours for the hottest event this winter!!
Be sure to stop by the Fiddlin’ Fish taproom, open 7 days a week at 772 Trade Street NW, WS and online at www.FiddlinFish.com.