By Bobby Bush
North Carolina’s newest brewpub opened in High Point on January 11. Liberty
Steakhouse & Brewery is part of the Charleston, SC-based T-Bonz restaurant chain.
The group’s other brewery holdings are a T-Bonz in Mount Pleasant, the original Liberty
Steakhouse in Myrtle Beach and partial ownership of New South, a Myrtle Beach
microbrewery that produces beer for the non-brewing links in the restaurant chain.
Though he started brewing in High Point almost a month before opening date,
Liberty brewer Eric Lamb found himself behind almost immediately. The peripheral Oak
Hollow Mall site, formerly a Red Robin, has been packed since day one. And for good
reason: Eric’s beers are delicious. He’s happily working overtime to keep all seven brews
on tap. On our Saturday evening visit, we found the lone brewer hard at work inside his
glassed-in brewhouse. Remember, most brewers would rather be drinking beer than
making it on a Saturday evening.
Though they have the same names as the beers brewed in Myrtle, Eric’s recipes are
of his own creation. Miss Liberty Lager, a beer so popular that ten barrels disappear each
week, is conditioned four weeks before serving. Smooth from nitrogen infusion, IPA is
moderately hopped and inviting, a pleasant session beer. The American Brown style, ice
tea colored Nut Brown Ale is malty, a touch sweet with a recoiling hops effect late in its
flavor profile. Eighty pounds of berry puree go into each 10 barrel batch of Blackberry
Wheat. Though its deep reddish-black color was misleading, Liberty’s Oatmeal Stout was
Eric’s most enjoyable. Full bodied and nitro-smooth, this complex brew, adapted from a
homebrew recipe, was rich in deep roasted malt flavor, carefully balanced by unobtrusive
hops additions, and a light coffee effect. Unfortunately, demand beat out the supply curve
on the American-style Deep River Wheat and Rockets Red Ale. That’s all the excuse we
need to make another trip.
Eric did not come upon his brewing skills by happenstance. He learned to brew in
one of craft beer’s birthplaces, Northern California. For seven years he apprenticed at
Mendocino Brewing Company, the home of nationally popular Red Tail Ale, in
Hopland, California. There’s no doubt he learned well. After hanging out in Charleston in
a non-brewing job, Lamb accepted a job with T-Bonz last November and was quickly
transplanted to High Point. At regional micro Mendocino, Eric was one of several
brewers working with well established recipes. But in his mall-side brewhouse, he plays
many roles, from ingredients procurement to emptying spent barley from the mash tun to
washing glasses behind the bar. He’s not complaining. At the current rate of
consumption, he may hit 1,000 barrels this year.
The rest of Liberty Steakhouse isn’t doing badly either. Even though the wait for
a table was long, food and service were excellent. We followed a lip-smacking artichoke
and spinach dip with Chesapeake Bay Crab Cakes, a juicy hamburger, Calabash Fried
Shrimp and scrumptious Maple-Pecan Crusted Breast of Chicken. The menu also
included the regular line-up of steaks - NY strip, ribeye, porterhouse, marinated center cut
sirloin and “slow roasted” prime rib - brick oven pizzas, fish & chips and a Duck Club
Sandwich. What better way to chase a great beer than with well-prepared and served
After dinner we made a quick stop in Greensboro at Chumley’s. A bar turned
brewpub, sort of, this shopping strip establishment had only one house beer on tap.
Brewed in an undisclosed basement brewery by Mark Zerfoss, the Amber started and
ended sweet. Thin body with winey finish, this appropriately amber-hued beer left an
Along with pool and foosball tables, the deep, narrow barroom has a decent
bottled beer selection and tap handles sporting Guinness, Murphy’s, Red Oak, Bass and
Beamish. There’s a non-brewing Chumley’s in High Point as well. See
This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush