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PITTSBORO — Brandi Morris didn’t expect to come home from a family vacation last September to start a new business with her father, Danny Jenkins Jr.
But during a trip to Busch Gardens last fall, Morris wanted to explore more than just roller coasters. She’s been brewing her own beer for a decade or so, and suggested the family explore breweries around the theme park in Virginia.
It was at one of them her father turned to her, asking a fate-sealing question.
“He asked, ‘Do you think we can do this?’” Morris recalled. “And I said yes.”
The idea of having a family-run brewery had been one floated around by Morris and Jenkins for a few years, but after Jenkins retired from the N.C. Highway Patrol in March of last year, he decided it was time to pursue that dream.
“I sat at home for almost all of 2020, trying to figure out what to do next,” Jenkins said. “After Busch Gardens, we parted each other’s company, and I called [Morris] by the time I hit the North Carolina line and said, ‘We were going to open a brewery.’”
A year ago this week, the duo signed a lease on a former karate studio on East Street in downtown Pittsboro. From there, the father-daughter team has gone on to renovate the old dojo into a place where people can unwind with one of Morris’ unique brews.
They decided to name their business Red Moose Brewing Company after Jenkins’ red hair and his son-in-law’s nickname, Moose.
“A lot of people we know who have opened breweries said the hardest part was picking out a name,” Morris said. “We never argued about the name. Everybody liked it.”
The brewery’s taproom is covered in hardwood and moose-themed decor. The tables are hand-made from slabs of tree wood Jenkins found from Charles Hollins Wood Mill in Chatham County. He, Morris and his other children sanded, stained and sealed all of the table surfaces, including the actual bar.
“Each different table in here, we made each of these together,” Jenkins said. “It took a long, long time to get these done.”
The theme of family is built into the decor of the Red Moose’s taproom. With tin from Jenkins’ dad’s home, a piece of wood from Morris’ “Pa-Pa” being turned into a table for kids to sit at and play together and the American and North Carolina flags Jenkins received when he retired from law enforcement, the brewery is filled with generational pride from both owners into the project they created together.
Family-friendly is also what Jenkins and Morris want to enforce in their business, from the chalkboard walls where kids can draw to their hearts’ content to the various games the duo have collected for the bar.
And there’s even a custom rocking chair made to look like a red moose.
Red Moose Brewing also has an outdoor patio where people can sit outside and enjoy a beer or even play a game of cornhole with friends and family.
“We knew that with me being a father and a grandfather and Brandi having her first child and wanting to have more, we did not want this to be a honky tonk or a rough place,” he said. “We want it to be very welcoming and inviting so all kinds of people would feel cool coming here and bringing their kids or dogs.”
When it opens, Red Moose will have 12 brews on tap. All of Red Moose’s beers will be brewed in house, and the taproom will also feature one or two other choices on tap from other breweries.
Right now, the brew system in Red Moose allows for smaller batches to be made, but Morris hopes in the next few years the business can expand into a bigger space.
“Our hope is we will be here for a while, and we will outgrow this, and this can be our pilot system and taproom,” she said. “We want to keep this as a taproom and build a bigger facility to brew out of.”
Many Red Moose beers feature ingredients sourced from other businesses in Chatham County, according to Morris — including coffee, fresh vegetables, fruits and more.
“We’ve done a test batch that has roasted pumpkin from the Local Roots Market and coffee from Aromatic Roasters,” Morris said. “We’re trying to be very seasonal with it and support other local businesses.”
Red Moose aims to be a place where people from all walks of life can come together and spend time together in a place that “feels like home,” according to Jenkins.
“We’ve had people from so many backgrounds come in and they say, ‘Man, I feel like I am at home,’” he said.
Jenkins and Morris want the business to be something they can keep in their family for generations — because for them, family is the best part of Red Moose Brewing Company.
“For me, it was being able to pass down some generational wealth, as well as something that is fun,” Jenkins said.
Morris also wanted to leave something for her siblings and children, as well as give something back to the community she spent her life in.
“I want to leave something for my younger sisters and my daughter,” Morris said. “All of this is also for the town I grew up in, where new people are moving in everyday, but there are people who have been here forever.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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