A love for something bigger than beer

Craft breweries are the poster boys of the modern beer movement. The depth of flavors, quality of ingredients, and small-scale brewing techniques have fueled beer’s progressive movement into the 21st century.

 YesterYears' founder David Larsen turned Fleet Feet's  former test running area into what he calls "keg row." He says Saucony has expressed interest in usig Larsen's keg row in advertisements. (Staff photo by Patrick Ronan)
YesterYears’ founder David Larsen turned Fleet Feet’s former test running area into what he calls “keg row.” He says Saucony has expressed interest in using Larsen’s keg row in advertisements. (Staff photo by Patrick Ronan)

David Larsen, founder of YesterYears brewery and taproom, located at 300 E. Main Street, comes late to the microbrewery game, but it’s not the future he’s looking toward.

“I was probably born in the wrong era,” Larsen said with a smile.

“I define the yesteryears as a time to remember when we didn’t have cell phones or computers. It was a slower pace of life. You trusted people more. There were more friends and more community.”

Building the theme of the taproom around the 1940s-1960s era celebrates a simpler time, but Larsen’s drive behind opening his own brewery and taproom comes from a love much deeper than one for beer and the good old days.

Larsen describes his father, Russ Larsen, as his best friend, best listener, best guide – his best everything.

“At first, it was more of a dedication to my dad,” Larsen said “Sort of a living tribute to him, just to everything he stood for, his values, his morals.”

Larsen says it was his father, a commissioned officer in the Navy, loving husband, and proud father of six children, who instilled in him the values and work ethic that have landed him where he is today.

“I lost him this past October, so now it’s more of a memorial for him.” Larsen said.

YesterYears joins Steel String as the second brewery and taproom in Carrboro. However, Larsen is adding something to his local watering hole that residents of Carrboro and Chapel Hill wouldn’t expect – coffee.

Larsen has teamed up with Shaw Sturton, who has been in the coffee business for more than a decade, combining Sturton’s master blends with Larsen’s master brews.

The coffee bar, Gray Squirrel Coffee Co., will be open from early morning to early afternoon and will be only one part of Yesteryears, which will also include a lounge area, multiple tables, pictures and decorations from the “yesteryears” era, and even local art available for purchase. Barn-style doors made of glass will give customers a look at the brewery itself to see what goes into making their suds before it is served from one of their 12 beer taps.

YesterYears occupies what was previously Fleet Feet before the sporting goods store moved a few doors down. When Larsen heard that the vacant space was ideally meant for a taproom, he figured it was time to pull the trigger on a long-time dream.

“I’ve been around beer-making for decades, but really got serious about it around 15 years ago,” Larsen said. “I decided to hold off, but about five years ago a couple of my buddies that own major breweries said it was the time to do it, so I just went for it.”

The taproom and coffee bar will be open seven days a week, with extended evening hours Thursday through Saturday. Larsen says he plans on having trivia nights, home brew competitions, drag bingo (grown men in full drag entertain you while you play bingo), and is even working on hosting local professional wrestling matches.

Larsen says he sees YesterYears as a positive addition to Carrboro, even though another brewery has already established itself there. He calls it “friendly competition” and says he’s looking forward to getting to know the community better, building lasting relationships, and maybe even partnering with other local breweries.

“Carrboro is just perfect. You’ve got UNC down the road full of the younger crowd. Carrboro has a bit of the older, post-graduate crowd. Having Cat’s Cradle right next door brings a great music scene, and the whole advancement of this area has been great,” Larsen said. “We are in competition, but I think having two places is actually good for Carrboro. We’ll each carry guest taps and maybe even carry each others.”

For more on YesterYears visit their website: Yesteryearsbrewery.com

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Author of the article

Patrick is a UNC-CH senior journalism major from Winston-Salem serving as a writer-photographer for the Carrboro Commons.