Morganton, North Carolina’s second brewery opened earlier this month with a name that recalls a forgotten time in Burke County’s history.
Fonta Flora Brewery is named after an African American sharecropping village that now lies beneath Lake James. The settlement of Fonta Flora was flooded in 1916 by the power company in order to bring electricity to the Catawba Valley. “We wanted to find a historic name relevant to the community,” says Mark Bennett, who opened the brewery with his brother, David, and brewmaster Todd Boera.
The trio began serving five varieties of beer last Saturday, along with a hard cider on a guest tap. With seven barrels in what used to be the town’s Trailways bus station, the guys plan to be a true microbrewery and stay true to their name. Their Fig Saison includes local figs foraged by Boera himself, with black apples on tap next. A pecan tree next door hasn’t escaped their attention either.
“Our beers will always change with the seasons and we will rely on a local, farm-to-table approach to making beer,” says Mark. The brothers have some English blood and are partial to malty ales, while Boera favors West Coast IPAs and a focus on hops. The rest of their current offerings include the Hop Beard Mountain Man IPA, an English Table, Belgian Table and Baba Budan Coffee IPA brewed in collaboration with Appalachian Mountain Brewery.
Fonta Flora partners David Bennett, Brewmaster Todd Boera and Mark Bennett
The partners imagine the brewery to function as a community meeting place, much like the English pub, and have been careful to involve several other local businesses in their effort. Wines served will be from Silver Fork just 14 miles away (ask for the Cab Franc if they have it), with the tin on the bottom of the bar coming from a barn at the winery’s vineyard, and door handles and hand forged taps from Oak Hill Iron, a modern blacksmith shop out on Frank Whisnant Road.
Food served will be from Mountain Burrito, and a pizzeria going in next door will only add to the community feel. And of course the village of Fonta Flora itself will always be present in the form of a map created just for the brewery and other memorabilia hung on a wall behind the brewing equipment.
As Morganton continues to position itself as a quaint stop for locals and tourists traveling between Asheville and Charlotte, Fonta Flora is just one more reason to visit the city. For now, the brewery is only open on Saturdays from noon-10 p.m. and Sundays from noon-7 p.m. but expects to open Thursday through Monday starting in November. And for those on the go, growlers are coming soon.