The Beauty and Brains Behind The Hop Yard

As you may well know, it has been a bit of a struggle to fight our way through all of the obstacles we encountered in bringing this fine store to fruition. What with the design, permitting, construction, and inspection delays plus the thousand unforeseen hurdles, there were times when we wondered if we could ever make this thing happen. However, there have been so many amazing locals that have wandered into our shop, offering to donate their time to help out in any way possible. Each fine person who has stopped by has expressed just how excited they are about us and what we are bringing to the area. This is what kept us going. This is what we love so much about this location – the community here is so tight-knit and welcoming.

Austin Kaylor

Austin Kaylor
Austin Kaylor is an army brat who spent most of his formative years in the picturesque city of Heidelberg, Germany, and then in the even more picturesque Fayetteville, NC. However, he never forgot his time in Germany and has spent most of his adult life trying to implement the German idea of a beer and sausage work break here in America (it’s totally a thing – look it up). He ended up settling in northeastern North Carolina, and ran a successful chain of mobile phone stores for many, long, long years (beer is better than phones, and far more necessary). 2013 brought about many changes though, and Austin left the glamorous world of selling mobile phones in rural North Carolina, and followed his wifey up to Raleigh where she started at Duke PA School (Go Blue Devils!).

Austin and SerenaThis was a huge change in our young hero’s life. He needed to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up. Use that psychology degree he got from ECU? Nope. Get back into mobile phones? Hell nah. Somehow make a living by sitting around and watching every episode of Doctor Who ever made? Looked. That position doesn’t exist. This was a huge decision to be made, and one that Austin put a great deal of thought into. After a while it dawned on him that maybe he could make moolah by selling (and drinking!) one of his favorite things in the world…. delicious, delicious beers. It was a big project though, and one that Austin had never attempted before. He wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea of taking it on all by himself, but who did he know that was crazy and beer-loving enough to join him on this wacky adventure??

There was but one man for the job, only one person capable of fitting this bill… the loveable James Wagner. Austin and James had met way back in 2001 (pre smart phone era) through Austin’s brother Zeb. Not only did these two share a passion for all things beer, but also enjoy hunting, music and scuba diving (a bit cliché but true none the less). Our intrepid pair immediately hit it off and have been the best of buds since. This venture is just the next logical step in their ongoing saga. Now lets meet the man behind the myth.

James WagnerJames Wagner
James Wagner started out on the lovely island of Puerto Rico and moved to NC many moons ago. Naturally, he fell in love with the Tarheel state. He’s been a resident of the Raleigh area for almost 34 years, and is an NC State grad (even though he grew up in Chapel Hill). He tried the corporate world for a decade or so, but decided that his time was better spent with family, so he became an entrepreneur. However, he never quite found the right fit…a business venture that he could be passionate about and that was also…fun! Then Austin came to him with a fabulous idea…and the partnership for The Hop Yard was born. James brings many skills to the table, with his superior conversational skills, and his secret recipe to the best mojito of all time (sorry kids, we’re only serving beer). Clearly an asset to any party, considering the dude owns three tuxedos. We’re assuming he honed these numerous life skills through many years of being awesome or while spending quality time in the Marines (Semper Fi!). Either way, we’re thankful he’s taking that spirit of adventure and jumping on board this crazy train. When he’s not going to be pouring pints and charming you into buying way more beer than you intended, he’s hanging out with his gorgeous wife and kids.

Seriously. Look at these people. Now come in and hang out!

If you’re just passing through and want to grab a few brew dogs for a night on the couch, come in! If you’ve had a long-ass day at work and you want to come in and drink a few brewskis and hang out, come in! We love just sitting around and talking to people about all kinds of stuff: beer, scuba diving, music, beer, sports, nerdy TV shows (I’m looking at you, IT Crowd!), hunting, hunting beer, computers, kids, beer, long walks on the beach. Whatever.

Two Beer Nerds Living the Dream.