Most of the time alcohol and politics don’t mix, but Forsyth County’s only brewpub is proving that isn’t always the case.
As part of Victoberfest, Vickery Village’s Cherry Street Brewing Co-op recently rolled out its new Levent Lager in honor of Todd Levent, chairman of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.
“Todd’s been real instrumental in bringing things up to the board over the years to really improve the alcohol ordinance, really overall improve our ordinance for our business and types of businesses,” said Cherry Street Owner Nick Tanner.
“The thing about restrictive alcohol laws is that they deter business and to be able to have some more flexible, easy-going alcohol ordinances is definitely more attractive for business in the county.”
The beer is an amber-colored lager with “hints of toasted malt and a clean, crisp finish.”
“The beer is a German-style Vienna Lager,” Tanner said. “I believe it is an excellent, excellent brew.”
The commissioner said he was surprised to find out about the beer.
“I was honored,” Levent said. “There was no reason they felt they had to do that for me, but it was nice they give me the recognition. It wasn’t expected, but I sure appreciate it.”
Levent said he is pro-business and felt the older ordinances did not allow local breweries to compete with those in surrounding counties. He said he has tried the beer and was surprised to find so many patrons also tasting it.
“I went in there and got a sample, you’ve got to have a sample, right?” Levent said. “A lot of people were actually asking … to try it.”
Beers from Cherry Street can be ordered by the glass at the Cherry Street Taproom and Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar, both located in Vickery Village.
Tanner said the ordinance changes have “done wonders for business.”
Those ordinances were changed in 2012 to allow brew-pubs — restaurants that brew their own beer — to exist in the county and two changes in 2016 allowed restaurants in mixed-use developments to sell one to-go beer to customers and another let brewpubs sell growlers, which typically resemble a glass jug, directly to customers.
“It was well responded to, even police officers and [deputies] were showing up to the hearings trying to approve it,” Tanner said. “For us to sell beer-to-go was a really a big thing in reducing drinking and driving. It’s much safer for people to take beer home than drink as much in-house.”
Tanner said selling growlers has helped the beer reach new customers and regularly brings tourists to the county to try the beers.
Levent Lager isn’t the first beer from Cherry Street named for Forsyth County and the surrounding area. One of the most popular brews is Chief Sawnee’s Stash Coconut Porter, named for the local legend of Chief Sawnee’s treasure on Sawnee Mountain and Hemlock Pale Ale for HemlockFest in Hall County.
“One of our mission statements is community involvement,” Tanner said, “supporting the community the way the community supports us.”