Clubhouses are small, quaint, cozy spaces where friends gather. Perhaps the friends are there to swap stories or practice secret handshakes. Or perhaps, as is the case at Protagonist Clubhouse, they’ve come here to support the newest kid in town, looking to join the growing club of breweries.
The 30-seat nanobrewery at 3123 N. Davidson St. opened Thursday at the site of the old NoDa Grocery. Here are a few things to know before going:
1. There are bigger things coming. While Protagonist Clubhouse is small at only 1,700 square feet, the team of owners—Ryan McKillen, Mike Salzarulo, and Ryan Owens—plans to open another larger brewery in Optimist Hall sometime in late 2020.
2. Go bold. While Protagonist Clubhouse only currently serves two of its own beers, the intimate beer bar serves more than two dozen unique brews.
“We wanted to find the most interesting versions of each style of beer that you can’t find elsewhere,” Chris Westgard, beverage and education director, said.
Among the most interesting brews: Or Xata, a creamy blonde ale that tastes remarkably like the rice milk-based horchata drink; Dryades, a red wine, cherry and plum sour; and Oh Hi, Murk!, an India Pale Ale with, wait for it, pineapple and honeydew.
3. Beer, paired. While beer is certainly the star of the show here, it shares the limelight a bit with five beer cocktails. The Michelada, a lager with chipotle puree and lime juice was like drinking a cup of smoky hot sauce over ice – in the most delightful way. The Pineapple and Spice, a lager paired with spiced hibiscus syrup, pineapple juice, and ginger bitters, is a transformative tiki-based drink with a good punch of Christmas spice.
4. Get the snacks. The Clubhouse makes all efforts to source locally, and it shows. The pretzel (fluffy yet perfectly salty and ever-so slightly greasy) is from Duke’s in town, the charcuterie is from San Giuseppe Salami Co in Elon, and even the plates are from Haand, a ceramics company in Burlington. Oh, and you’ll regret it if you don’t order the trio of bar snacks. All were excellently spiced and gone within moments as friends shared the snacks together.
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