Partners Ted Catron, David Andrews, Randy McVeigh and Ed Martin — three of whom work together in health care — are in the early stages of opening a brewpub, Watauga Brewing Company at 142 W. Market St., the former location of Overmountain Outdoors.
The two-story building currently sits bare, but the group has obtained ownership. Andrews said once they navigate the permitting process for renovations in the coming months, construction should begin shortly after.
For those unfamiliar, the group first introduced Watauga Brewing Company at the 2017 Thirsty Orange, and they’ve had a presence at the festival each year since. This past year, Watauga Brewing Company took home the coveted first place People’s Choice award.
Andrews said discussions about opening a brewery really started getting serious six months ago and got an architect involved.
While the plans are certainly subject to change, Catron said the actual brewery will consist of a five-barrel system with five or six fermentors. Andrews said he visualizes the place being a community hangout, with a stage for nightly music and bar.
As the first floor is built out, the group envisions developing expanding the brewery to the second floor and eventually the roof, making it Johnson City’s first rooftop bar.
“That is definitely in our plans longterm,” Andrews said about the potential rooftop bar that has everyone abuzz. “Depending on how long it takes getting operational down here (on the first floor) depends on how long it takes us to begin moving up.”
This endeavor began some years ago when Catron was brewing beer in his driveway and invited Andrews to join him.
“I had pestered (Andrews) to come brew with me, and he wasn’t interested for quite some time,” Catron, the head brewer, said.
Finally, Andrews accepted the invitation, and not long after, the duo began discussing the possibility of opening a brewery.
“Then we got this idea while we were brewing in the driveway, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be nice to start a brewery?’ Johnson City definitely needs some good beer around. So, we knew Ed Martin, and from there, we contacted Randy (McVeigh) and asked if he wanted to be a part of it. So here we are,” Catron said.
When the group learned Overmountain Outdoors was moving its location to Tipton Street, that’s when they became interested in buying the building at 142 W. Market St,. and two of the partners ultimately did so.
“I love this area because it’s sort of gentrifying (and) pushing this way. We just thought we want to be part of this movement in this area,” Catron said.
Watauga Brewing will specialize in crafting IPA beers, but a variety of porters, stouts, pilsners, run-of-the-mill saisons and lagers will also be on tap.
“They always say, ‘Brew what you’re passionate about.’ And, we’re passionate about IPAs. So we’ll have a very wide range of IPAs brewed in several different ways,” Catron said. “Every time someone comes in here, they’ll be able to get a new style of hopes, a new style of IPA that, hopefully, they’ll absolutely enjoy.”