Beer/Wine/Mixology, Travel, UNC

Pigs, UNC Alumni and Beer

There’s an interesting connection between UNC system grads from the US and UK, beer and local pigs.  We’ve been working with North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University (NC A&T) to donate our spent grain from our new Pig Pounder Brewery to the NC A&T University Farm.  The spent grains (malt that has been used in the brewing process) would be used in the farm’s Swine Unit for feed.


The NC A&T Swine Farm Hog Statue

The NC A&T Swine Farm Hog Statue

NC A&T Swine Farm Pasture Pigs

NC A&T Swine Farm Pasture Pigs

Sam with the Pasture Pigs - talking Spent Grain at NC A&T Farm

Sam with the Pasture Pigs – talking Spent Grain at NC A&T Farm

“The swine industry is North Carolina’s second most important agricultural industry, worth close to $2 billion annually. The Swine Research Unit includes a 250-sow indoor commercial hog-rearing environment, as well as a hoop barn, and a pastured hog operation for small-scale or limited-resource farmers making the transition to hog farming from tobacco or other crops.” – from University Farm website.

There are lots of discussions of sustainable uses of spent grain a byproduct of brewing – but the primary use is animal feed on farms.  The grain starts out as dry malt then is used as the primary ingredient in the brewing process.  NC has a rapidly growing brewing industry.

Pig Pounder Brewery - Brew House

Pig Pounder Brewery – Brew House


NC A&T spends $50,000-$60,000 per year on feed in their Swine Program.  In some rough calculations in a meeting with the University, we determined that this could save the farm up to $15,000-20,000 per year.  Pig Pounder would provide the spent grain free of charge to the University.

That grain has an interesting story including a UNC connection as well.  We purchase our malt from Thomas Fawcett & Sons in the UK.  They’ve been malting grain since the late 1700s.

Thomas Fawcett & Sons

Thomas Fawcett & Sons

Floor Malting at Thomas Fawcett & Sons

Floor Malting at Thomas Fawcett & Sons

On a trip to the UK to do research for the Pig Pounder Brewery and our Marshall Free House gastropub – we had the opportunity to meet the owner James Fawcett.  We were surprised to learn that James is a UNC alum having graduated in 1988.

Marty Kotis (brewery owner and UNC class '91) and James Fawcett (Thomas Fawcett & Sons Malts owner and UNC class '88) at Thomas Fawcett & Sons

Marty Kotis (brewery owner and UNC class ’91) and James Fawcett (Thomas Fawcett & Sons Malts owner and UNC class ’88) at Thomas Fawcett & Sons

So the farm raised pigs at the UNC System NC A&T University Farm may eat feed that originates as grain in the UK malted by Fawcett (UNC class of ’88), then used in making beer at a brewery owned by Kotis (UNC ’91), brewed by Director of Operations Sam Rose (UNC-Asheville ’07) and marketed by Jenna Lumtscher (ECU  ’07).

So UNC pigs may get fat and alums might get slaughtered! (UK slang for drunk)


Pig Pounder Logo

Pig Pounder Logo


Restaurants/Food, Travel

Fuzzy Impressions of BBQ in Madison

Fuzzy’s BBQ sits on Hwy 220 Business which connects Madison with Mayodan, NC.  It’s a respite for those that love great chopped pork BBQ, vinegar slaw, hush puppies and sweet tea – to get away from the larger cities and chain restaurant monotony.

Fuzzy's BBQ - BBQ Tray

Fuzzy’s BBQ – BBQ Tray

You’ll notice a couple of things that are different about Fuzzy’s.  Their BBQ comes with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce already mixed in the BBQ (and they bring extra sides of sauce).  The slaw is unique because it is super finely diced.  And the hush puppies are long fingers of hush puppies – several inches long.

Fuzzy's Interior - Madison

Fuzzy’s Interior – Madison

The interior doesn’t look like it has changed much over the years.  Lots of booths, coke ads, photos of food, and several media clippings and old photos.  The service is very friendly and accommodating.

Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu Cover

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu Cover


Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu 2

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu 2

Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu 3

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu 3

Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu 4

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu 4


Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu 5

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu 5

Fuzzy's BBQ - Menu 6

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Menu 6


A great dessert is the banana pudding, though they have cobbler as well.

Fuzzy's Banana Pudding - Madison

Fuzzy’s Banana Pudding – Madison



They also have a great family pack/catering option.  Chopped pork or chicken BBQ with fixins.

Fuzzy's BBQ Family Pack

Fuzzy’s BBQ Family Pack

Fuzzy's BBQ - Family Pack to go

Fuzzy’s BBQ – Family Pack to go

It’s worth a trip to Madison to visit Fuzzy’s.

Fuzzy's Check - Madison

Fuzzy’s Check – Madison

Fuzzy's BBQ Sign - Madison

Fuzzy’s BBQ Sign – Madison




Fuzzy's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Social Media, Travel

Pawn Shop Social Media? Really???

I was walking through downtown Madison, NC and spotted this:

Madison - Pawn Social Media

Madison – Pawn Social Media

My first thoughts were – Who’s going to like a Pawn Shop on Facebook?  And if you’re pawning stuff, do you really have a computer or internet service?  Wouldn’t it be kind of depressing?

But then I visited M&M Pawn Shop’s Facebook Page

M&M Pawn Facebook Page Header

M&M Pawn Facebook Page Header

M&M Pawn Facebook Posts

M&M Pawn Facebook Posts

Clearly they need a graphic designer to pawn some stuff or trade for some upgrades to the page.  But looking past the aesthetics, it’s pretty interesting.

1) I saw some stuff that that I might want to buy (so the page may be more useful for people purchasing items, rather than those hocking them).

2) It’s interesting just to peruse what people pawn (in a reality show type way)

3) Pawn shop or not, it’s great to see a small business linking Bricks and Mortar with Social Media Efforts (because many do not).

In the end, I wound up Liking their Page and will probably stop in store sometime.  Effective marketing.  

Their pink sidewalk pig, as tacky as it is, made me stop as well.  You have to wonder if they just thought it looked funny or if they were subconsciously referencing Pearls Before Swine.

Madison - Pawn Pig

Madison – Pawn Pig

Pearls before swine” and “casting pearls” refer to a quotation from Matthew 7:6 in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, implying that you should not put what is valuable in front of those who will reject the notion that it has value and furthermore that they will seek to diminish or destroy what you offer.

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.”

Given that this pig is actually wearing the jewelry – is the message that some Pigs will realize the value and put them on?

Restaurants/Food, Travel

Dempsey’s Bout with Honey Bees in Mayodan

In Mayodan, NC (pop. 2,500) a battle for survival is raging.  A short walk from the partially demolished old Washington Mill, which used to provide power to the area’s residents, past the rows of former millworkers’s houses, you’ll find Melvin Dempsey Nelson.

The former Washington Mill - partially demolished for salvage value

The former Washington Mill – partially demolished for salvage value

Melvin’s property spans a few acres, with a few buildings and lots of white boxes set near the trees.  Twelve years ago, Melvin started raising Honey Bees.  He and his daughter named the enterprise St. Dominic’s Honey after the bee charming Irish saint by the same name.  He has around 30 bee boxes and a small bee garage structure, just down from his house.  It’s a labor of love and gives him something to do – from tending to the wooden boxes, checking on the bees and finally harvesting the honey.

St. Dominic's Bee Farm in Mayodan, NC

St. Dominic’s Bee Farm in Mayodan, NC

He works on the farm when he has enough energy and feels like it, though he admits his age is starting to take a toll on him.  He works with a handful of members of his church that want to help and learn about beekeeping.  Though he prefers to just walk out and do what he wants to do, rather than coordinating several people to help.

A few years ago he was making 106 gallons of honey per year, last year he was down to 50 gallons.  He is passionate about the plight of the honey bee.  He blames skyrocketing farming demand which led to imported bees, mites, diseases, and pesticides.  Last year he spent $2,000 fighting pests and diseases in his hives.  There’s a lot of research on the topic from NC State Apiculture, NC State’s Honey Bee Research, NC Beekeepers, and even UK studies.

story continues below photos
Bee Box at St. Dominic's Honey

Bee Box at St. Dominic’s Honey

St. Dominc’s charges $17 per quart or $9 per pint.  Doing the math on 50 gallons, his revenue was roughly $3,500.  In prior years it was $7,000.  Subtracting out expenses and factoring in labor, there doest seem to be much profit if any.  He was sold out on my most recent visit, he’d been out since November and wouldn’t have more honey until June.  I’ll be back then to get some honey and enjoy another chat.

If you visit the area, a nice place to start is the Recreation Center at 300 S. 2nd Avenue (Hwy 220 and Hwy 135 intersection).

Madison Mayodan Recreation Center at 300 S. 2nd Ave in Mayodan, NC

Madison Mayodan Recreation Center at 300 S. 2nd Ave in Mayodan, NC

Madison Mayodan Recreation

Madison Mayodan Recreation

MM Rec Center Design in Brickwork

MM Rec Center Design in Brickwork

Bocce Ball Court at MM RecBocce Ball Court at MM Rec

Game Room at MM Rec Center

Game Room at MM Rec Center

From the Rec Center – you can walk next door to the Washington Mill site and see the demolition.  To get to downtown, head North on 2nd Avenue.

Downtown Mayodan Coca Cola Mural

Downtown Mayodan Coca Cola Mural

Deep Fried Everything

Deep Fried Everything

A shining entrepreneurial star in Mayodan is Charlie’s Soap, a natural cleaning agent.  Charlie and I served on the Entrepreneurship board at UNCG.  The Triad could use more entrepreneurs like Charlie.

From his website:

Charlie Sutherland Sr. rarely did anything without a purpose in mind. But even he couldn’t foresee what would come to pass when he stood in front of our North First Avenue building all those many years ago. In the photo at right, as he stares at the old Mayodan, N.C., fireman’s dance hall that he had plans to turn into an oil manufacturing facility, you can just about see his wheels turning. And turn they did. From 1976 until his passing in 1994, Charlie Sr. left his mark on this company: a legacy of dedication to excellence with a personal touch.

Charlie JrCharlie Sutherland Jr.

Charlie Sr. is most certainly the “Charlie” of Charlie’s Soap, but his son, Charlie Jr., actually created first the oils and then the cleaner that would come to be known as Charlie’s Soap. While you may not be able to see the wheels turning in this photo (some prefer to think of it as a screw loose), you cannot deny the gumption of a man who, on his wife Jane’s birthday in 1983, quit his day job and took over the small company that had little chance for success.

Through scrimping and saving, a little blood and a whole lot of luck, people were finding out about us and starting to ask where they could pick up some of Charlie’s soap. It had grown beyond an industrial cleaner for machines and textile quality control; people were taking it home and using for literally everything from false teeth to diesel engines.

By 2002, Charlie Jr.’s boys joined the cause and started the long-overdue process of officially branding the product as Charlie’s Soap. They took their grandparents’ ideals, their father’s guts, their own dreams and experiences and turned a small-town shop into a world-class business with product sold to 50 states and 50 countries. So, we must be doing something right!

Charlie's Soap in downtown Mayodan, NC

Charlie’s Soap in downtown Mayodan, NC

You can head West on Main St. past a small public park to Ayersville Rd.  Go South on Ayersville a couple hundred feet between Long St. and Washintgon St. to find St. Dominic’s Honey and Melvin.  From there you can walk South on Ayersville to Washington St. and go East on Washington passing the former mill workers houses.

Cacti on Washington St

Cacti on Washington St

Houses along Washington St

Houses along Washington St

From there you’re just a couple hundred feet from where you started on 2nd Avenue so head back South to the Rec Center.

Walking around Mayodan, you can see the importance of Ruger’s new 220,000sf plant with 450 jobs (former Unifi plant) and planned expansion by 2017.  Ruger’s CEO stated that the decision was based on the people of the area.  Having met Melvin and Charlie, I’d agree.

There are lots of former mill towns across North Carolina.  How to attract more entrepreneurs, farmers, industry, and tourism is something they’re all struggling to solve.

Ruger's Mayodan Plant

Ruger’s Mayodan Plant (former Unifi)

Aerial Map of Mayodan

Aerial Map of Mayodan