Hop Barn Brewing: A Homey Beer Hang-Out in Greenville
To get to Hop Barn, you must take Route 81 westward, from Greenville's quiet town center, and then go north on Maple Avenue, a sparsely populated side road. Pull over when you see a pair of signs on the front lawn of wide, white country house. One advertises Hop Barn's tap room, open on Fridays and Saturdays form 4 to 9pm. The other is painted with footprints and open hands, marking the home of Clear Paths Massage and Reflexology.
If you prefer to drink beer anonymously, this is your chance to turn around, drive back to the city, and find a characterless corner bar. Here, owner and brewmaster Tom Vance is likely to strike up a conversation as you sip a beer in his tiny taproom, built off the side of his home. His current favorite is the Push-me Pull-you double IPA, but mine was the Kölsch Pony, easy-drinking and as crisp as the mountain air. His pretty 18-year-old daughter may pour your pint, you may find yourself getting introduced to his neighbor's cow, and there's a chance you could end up booking an aromatherapy massage with his wife, Irene, before the night is through.
On a warm evening, the picnic tables offer enough space for a small crowd. The taproom is tiny, with a few ergonomic red stools cuddled together at the mini-bar and a couple of chairs astride a mini-beer pong table, which Tom had hand-crafted for his older daughter. Tom is working on expanding the indoor space by turning a larger room upstairs into "a lounge area with tables and board games."
Tom has been brewing beer for 6 years and opened up shop in March 2017. Many small-batch breweries focus on one style of beer, but Hop Barn's beer selection covers all the bases. During our visit, the beers on tap included Gose-Goose, a salty sour with a hint of coriander, and BC Russian Imperial Stout, a solid, straight-ahead stout that doesn't taste overly boozy but packs a 10% ABV. Summer offerings will include a Kiwi-Strawberry Lambic as well as a Belgian-style pale strong ale. There's even a kid-friendly, non-alcoholic beer called Piglet Pop, but it's a birch beer and my son, Archer, has such a severe birch allergy that his doctor jokingly told him not to even look at a birch tree. He passed on a beverage but was content to hang out with the neighbor's cow.
Hop Barn is family-friendly (and very dog-friendly) for visitors, and it's also a family-fueled business. "My wife was a driving force for me to start Hop Barn Brewing," Tom explains. "I have 4 children and my oldest Madyson (23) has helped building and serving, Katelyn (18) tends the bar, Noah (13) and Josh (11) help with cleanup. My nephew Bryan (22) is also up form Florida for the summer he is brewing and working with me in the brewery." Tom is presently running Hop Barn as a side job, but he's hoping to make it a full-time gig once he retires.
We're looking forward to seeing his business grow -- more photos to come once the upstairs lounge is up and running!