All in Good Spirits

Boojum sighted in Waynesville — Beer lovers scramble for a first taste

By Paul Viau | Aug 26, 2014
Photo by: Paul Viau GET-ME-SOME OF THAT BOOJUM — Boojum Brewing Company, the new kids on the block, drew quite a crowd at the 2014 Waynesville Craft Beer Faire.

Craft beer lovers who ventured off the path (from Asheville) to participate in the recent Waynesville Craft Beer Faire were greatly rewarded for their efforts. In addition to sampling a number of the region’s best craft beers, they had their first sighting of the legendary Smoky Mountain Boojum.

Rumors of this elusive mountain creature — part Bigfoot, part Mountain Man — have circulated ‘round these parts for generations. But it wasn’t until 1874, that author Lewis Carroll gave us the name — “Boojum.”

This literary breakthrough came in the poem, “The hunting of the Snark,” where in the very last line, Carroll wrote, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.”

All of this makes me wonder, “What was Lewis Carroll smoking back then?”

After all, Carroll’s imagination gave us “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” — complete with the infamous, “Hookah-smoking Caterpillar.”

But wait, I’m getting a little off track, here. Which is exactly where you have to look to find a Boojum — off the beaten track — until now.

A Waynesville brother and sister team — Ben and Kelsie Baker— are starting to craft beers, “of which legends are made.”

Under the name of Boojum Brewing Company, they are taking their home-brewing skills to the next level — with a 15-barrel production brewery. (Talk about starting big!)

Until they are up and running — probably this fall — they are fine-tuning recipes that they claim, “The Boojum left for them in the mountains.”

Waynesville’s Craft Beer Faire was Boojum Brewing Company’s commercial debut, and they served four variations on the popular theme of IPA, and a wonderful Brown Ale that was my favorite brew at that faire.

Boojum Brewing Company will be Waynesville’s fourth craft brewery — a far cry from the vast number of brewers in Beer City, but a good reason to put Waynesville on your beer tour schedule.

Boojum Brewing Company’s next appearance is — fittingly — at the premiere of Waynesville author Eric S. Brown’s new movie, “Bigfoot Wars.” Unfortunately, this event and another Boojum sighting will be history by the time you read this.

I will keep you posted on Boojum Brewing Company’s progress as they complete construction on the brewery and tasting room. In the meantime, follow Boojum Brewing Company on Facebook and be sure to check out check out their website at www.BoojumBrewingCompany.com.

And to keep you thinking all things Boojum, here is his story according to Waynesville’s newest brewers.

“Tales of the Boojum of the Smoky Mountains vary from source to source. This is what we believe.

The Boojum was first spotted in North Carolina in the early 1800s, about the time of the Carolina gold rush. Described by some as a Bigfoot mixed with a mountain man, the Boojum was rumored to live in a massive cave within the Smokies. Reaching almost 9 feet tall, he was covered in grey hair with a long grey tail. However, he was not all beast. He wore clothing and had a number of other human-like traits.

Back then, he had an affinity for two things — Pert'nin juice and gems. Legend has it that the Boojum would consume large quantities of Pert'nin juice (his favorite mountain brew), before venturing out to steal gems from the local miners. He would then return to his cave and fill his empty jugs with his latest loot. Afraid that his gems would be discovered while he was out, the Boojum hid the gem-laden jugs all over the mountains. Tales of these hidden jugs quickly spread through the local towns and beyond. People began searching for the gems, descending on the mountains looking to strike it rich.

Many of those people had the misfortune of finding the Boojum himself rather than his gems. He did not take well to this. As more and more of the searchers went missing, less were inclined to take the risk of stealing from the Boojum. The tales faded and the Boojum was once again left to roam his mountains in peace. This is where most of the legends end, but there is much more to the Boojum's story.

Decades later, after many years of hiding, the Boojum has emerged from his cave once again, and just as the trades and tastes of the people of the Smokies have changed over the years, so too has the Boojum. His new passion is beer and his new philosophy is sharing that beer with the people that share his home. So far, the Boojum's appetite for making and drinking beer has only been known to a few, but all that is about to change.

In the spring of 2013, the now founders of Boojum Brewing Company were hiking on Eagle's Nest Mountain in Waynesville, NC. They happened upon a trail of massive footprints along a particularly beautiful creek that lead them to what looked like a growler wedged between two rocks in the creek. Knowing about the Boojum, they were wary of moving closer. As it turned out, their love of beer was greater than their fear of the legendary creature. They quickly crossed the creek, reached for the perfectly chilled jug and investigated it closely. The color was incredible amber that shone like gold in the sunlight, the aroma was a symphony playing through their noses, and the taste was an incredible balance of malt and hops. The growler was emptied almost as fast as they found it. As the last few drips fell, they noticed a round stone inside. They smashed the jug to reveal a large, uncut emerald with a short inscription. It was a recipe!

Upon their return home, the three immediately got to work recreating the beer they had just discovered. Nearly three weeks later, they had succeeded in brewing the delicious golden liquid. That afternoon, they returned to the spot on Eagle's Nest Mountain where they had happened upon the growler. Sure enough there was another growler where the first had been. Another incredible beer accompanied by a recipe, this one dark, roasty and balanced. They left their own growler in the same spot to repay the brewer and again returned home to recreate the latest recipe. Month after month they discovered and brewed more recipes. After about a year of this, they decided to use the precious stones they had been given to open a brewery so that all the people who lived in and visited the area could enjoy the Boojum's recipes. That day, Boojum Brewing Company was formed.”

—  Kelsie Baker


Keep reading The Guide as beer lovers in the mountains look forward to more Boojum sightings.

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