Food & Wine restaurant editor Kate Krader has included Durham’s Ponysaurus Brewing Co. in her 2016 food trend predictions story. Based on a recent visit, she hailed the Hood Street taproom as a “next-level brewpub” that offers creative snacks to complement its craft beer.
Krader especially liked the crunchy dried okra, one of about a dozen snacks kept in temptation-inducing glass jars and sold for a buck a scoop.
“The dried okra is my favorite, too,” says Ponysaurus partner Nick Hawthorne-Johnson. He selects the assortment of nibbles, which currently includes another of his favorites, Bugles, the cone-shaped corn snack. “It’s more something cool we get to do than a moneymaker.”
None of the featured snacks are made on-site or exclusively for Ponysaurus—yet.
“We want to incorporate members of The Cookery into the snack program, but it hasn’t happened yet,” says Hawthorn-Johnson, who owns the culinary incubator and event space with wife, Rochelle Johnson. “I’m especially interested in bringing in granolas made by Mary Moyer of Double M Baking. She makes a curry granola we really like. We need to make sure it works for The Cookery’s members—that it will be sustainable and good for them, too.”
While there is no formal pairings menu, Hawthorne-Johnson says he gladly steers patrons toward munchies that pair well with particular brews.
“The stout and malt balls are pretty amazing together,” he says with a chuckle. “We’ve got wasabi peanuts right now, but we’ve also got things that are just crunchy and salty and won’t get in the way of enjoying your beer.”
Hawthorne-Johnson is gratified at Ponysaurus being labeled a “next-level brewpub,” as it reflects the ambitions he has with partners Keil Jansen and David Baldwin.
“I’m always thinking about how we’ll take where we are to the next level,” he says. “It’s the pursuit of a more excellent version of whatever we’re doing.”