First look: V-Grits and False Idol Independent Brewers opening to public Oct. 12

V-Grits and False Idol Independent Brewers will open to the public on Friday, Oct. 12. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

After much anticipation, V-Grits and partner business False Idol Independent Brewers will make their public debut on Friday, Oct. 12, following an invitation-only soft opening this weekend.

Those who frequented the previous tenant of 1025 Barret Ave., The Monkey Wrench, will barely recognize the space, thanks to a thorough redesign of the interior. White tiles, white walls and wood ceilings have transformed the place into a much brighter atmosphere.

The brewhouse takes up roughly a quarter of the space and is separated from the dining area by black concrete blocks that have been turned into planters. Murals adorn several spots on the walls, including a branded mural surrounding a window that looks into the kitchen where food runners will retrieve orders.

A complete remodel has transformed the former Monkey Wrench into something distinctively different. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

The nine-seat bar will be served by 12 taps, with a standing bar in the center of the room. Drop and track lighting give the entire space a clean, modern feel, with the concrete floors adding a touch of an industrial feel.

The restaurant and brewery will seat 72 people, with a maximum occupancy of 99.

The transformation represents the completion of a process that began last December with owners Kristina Addington, Jeff Hennis and Shawn Steele taking possession of the building. Delays and a longer-than-expected rebuild pushed the open date back to this fall, but the team isn’t complaining.

“It’s been a long year working on it, but it definitely feels like it’s been worth the time and wait,” said Addington, who co-founded V-Grits with Hennis as a mobile food truck. “We took no shortcuts.”

It shows. And if Addington’s description of the menu is representative, patrons will like the food as much as the surroundings. One house specialty will be a vegan fried chicken entrée made with oyster mushrooms and brined in house-made vegan buttermilk.

“People are raving over it,” she said, adding that the popular V-Grits Hot Brown will also be a menu staple, along with a few completely raw dishes that will include a lasagna, which Addington said has been a staff favorite.

“It looks impressive and tastes even better,” said Steele, whose in charge of brewing operations.

Savory crab cakes made with jackfruit. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Other menu items will include salads, sandwiches and a loaded mac and cheese flight that can be paired with a flight of beer, along with several entrees, which Addington describes as, “bigger, heartier things we couldn’t serve off the food truck.”

I was afforded a preview of the food in the form of the crab cakes made with jackfruit. It was just one taste, but executive chef Zachary Kerr is on top of things. The spicy, flavorful dish, garnished with a peppery slaw and tangy aioli, was an eye-opener. Expect dynamic presentations to go with powerful flavors – food that is good and not just good for vegan food.

Twelve taps will serve a combination of False Idol beers, guest brews, a kombucha and a cider. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

Some of the recipes will be collaborative with the brewery portion of the business, incorporating beer in several instances. Patrons will order at a point-of-sale station at the bar, and food will be brought to the tables.

The five-barrel brewing system, with five tanks, was installed only a couple of weeks ago and should be up and running soon. Meanwhile, two house beers, which were brewed off-site, will open on the taps along with a kombucha, a cider and several guest taps.

The brewery will rotate in small-batch and one-off brews, but there will be four core beers: an English mild, a kellerbier, a wheat rye pale ale and a kettle-soured pale ale, Steele said.

Hennis noted, “The kettle-soured pale is probably my favorite beer in town. It’s that good.”

And for those who remember those sketchy Monkey Wrench bathrooms, fear not – the V-Grits and False Idol versions are quite a bit different.

Beers will be brewed in-house on a five-barrel system. | Photo by Kevin Gibson

On the side that once was the women’s restroom, a trio of private multi-gender toilets have been installed, along with communal sinks. On the side of the former men’s restroom, there is a larger “family” bathroom with a changing station. They look nothing like their predecessors.

All in all, the team of Addington, Hennis and Steele – who did much of the work themselves, right down to buffing the floors – have transformed a beloved space into something that looks poised to carry on the legacy in a positive direction.

“So many people loved The Monkey Wrench,” Addington said. “It just needed a little love.”

When V-Grits and False Idol Independent Brewers open at the corner of Winter and Barret avenues with a ribbon-cutting on Oct. 12, regular hours will go into effect: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday with food until 9 p.m., and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, with food until 10 p.m.