London may have double-decker buses, but Ponysaurus is going next level on the concept with a double-decker patio at its new Durham location at 219 Hood St. You can try it out now, too: Ponysaurus opened last night. The bar will now open every afternoon at 4 p.m., except Mondays, and plans to expand its weekend hours in coming weeks.
Ponysaurus’ new space will let the popular craft brewery increase production from 180 barrels a year at its former home in The Cookery to 2,000, thanks to a 15-barrel system that is already cranking. The sight of a boiling tank of what will become 500-plus gallons of IPA is “kind of pretty” to peer down into, notes Keil Jansen, Ponysaurus’ brewmaster.
Ponysaurus’ new home has a taproom, too, that will eventually feature 16 taps. Most of those will pour Ponysaurus creations, though four or so will go to guests. A tour last week amid the final construction touches revealed a sleek space in the works: Clean lines and a modern vibe mark the rectangular interior. There’s a TV high in a corner, and open views of the brewing area behind the bar and the patio make the space feel bigger than it is.
“Our goal is to be a good enough bar that even if you didn’t necessarily like taprooms or Ponysaurus beer,” Jansen says, “you still wouldn’t mind coming here.”
Ponysaurus wants to be more than those places that just “put a few card tables in a warehouse,” Jansen says. “I completely understand. You have to decide what your priorities are. But things are only going to get more competitive, and I’d rather be the guy with the nice bar.”
One of the most noteworthy parts of that nice bar is its patio. Stairs out front lead up to two sections connected by a short pedestrian bridge. It should be a fine destination for those sneaking out of work a few minutes early on an upcoming nice autumn day. There’s a seating area underneath the upper patio, and food trucks are destined for the open area nearby.
If the double-decker patio and the thought of a new spot to hang tempts you to stop by, but you’re one of the unlucky souls who’ve never had a beer from Ponysaurus, what should you order when you get there?
“I recommend people try the Bière de Garde,” Jansen says. “It’s a very interesting beer. It’s a style that people don’t get very often, but it’s also not hard to drink at all. Very few people brew that beer, and the way the style is interpreted, you have a huge wide range to put your own interpretation on it.”
Ponysaurus is a bit of a trailblazer, as there isn’t a whole lot going on in its new neighborhood–yet, at least. The neighboring block on the other side of Hood is destined to be the new police department location. Parcels on several other surrounding blocks are listed and will no doubt be home to the sort of development defining the Triangle at large. Construction crews alone should provide a solid customer base once all that gets rolling. You could beat the rush and go check it out now, no hard hat required.
UPDATE: Ponysaurus’ soft opening continues, but details about the official “grand opening” party are now confirmed, too. It will be 4–8 p.m., Oct. 24.
Ponysaurus will be pouring its brews, of course, while also welcoming other locals such as Crank Arm Brewing, Bull City Ciderworks, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, Fullsteam, Bull City Burger and Brewery and Mystery Brewing Company. Several local food trucks including Chirba Chirba, Pie Pushers, Sympathy for the Deli and Two Roosters Ice Cream will be on hand, too.
Meanwhile, the Chris Stamey Band, Loamlands and Girls Rock NC will crank out live tunes on a stage set up outside. Several well known musicians will assume a nom de turntable and take a stint as Ponysaurus DJ, including Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon as DJ Ephasis and Matt McCaughan as DJ Website, Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor as DJ Wow, and Brad Cook as DJ Kenny Login.
Brewery tours will be led by brewmaster Keil Jansen.