Common John Brewing Co. Invites Family and Fun.

by | Jun 2022

BREWERY. TO a child of the ‘70s, Laverne & Shirley might come to mind. A conservative parent might picture a bar or honky tonk, long-neck bottles, and an underdressed waitress. A senior citizen might imagine leather-clad bikers bent over pool tables in smoke-filled rooms with the jukebox blaring Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Co-workers meet up on Friday night to unwind. On the outdoor stage, the talent ri- vals that of larger venues. A family of four is huddled over a hot pizza and a competitive board game on a picnic table nearby. The day’s stresses are melting away at Common John Brewing Co. (CJ). The atmosphere defies beer’s stereotypes and stigmas. And it’s about much more than beer.

It’s food, family, and fellowship set to music. And like a good beer, CJ didn’t happen overnight.

LeBron Haggard’s interest in craft beer brewing began almost 15 years ago with
a home brewing kit. His spare time was filled with friends, family, good music, and new brews. Becoming more serious about his hobby, he began entering craft beer competitions. In 2016, a career change vision came into focus: a change from a manufacturing engineer to engineering craft beers on a larger scale. With his wife, Angela, they took their time creating a business plan and as they did, gained a partner, LeBron’s aunt, Renee Haggard.

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

After locating a building site, LeBron and his father, Ray Haggard, commenced construction. The opening was initially tar- geted for April 2020, but an overall delay in parking lot construction pushed it to October. It was a delay that, in hindsight, may have contributed to their success in COVID economics.

“In October 2020, COVID restrictions had started to lighten, and people were anxious to get out and get together again,” LeBron said.

CJ really is a family affair. While LeBron is the hands-on operator, his daughter, Shelby Haggard, who has a mas- ter’s degree in fermentation science from MTSU, handles the science behind their brews. She can be seen doing everything from brewing, serving, and slinging food, to distributing beer to restaurant and area bar accounts.

On International Women’s Day, CJ shouted out on its Facebook page, “Shelby is the definition of hard work and deter- mination. She runs the taproom, brews beer, and is a master yeast wrangler.”

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

With five or six CJ core beers on tap, their other varieties may not be repeated, so get ‘em while you can. There are 20 beers on tap and nearly 70 in cans and bottles, both CJ’s and from other brewers. Some are lighter, sweeter, or darker than others, but there’s something for every taste. Since opening almost two years ago, they’ve produced over 40 different beers.

Although they don’t serve wine or liquor, their draft selection includes ciders and seltzers. Non-alcoholic drinks, soda, tea, and lemonade are also available. Pair one with an appetizer of kettle chips, Ba- varian soft pretzels, or cheesy bread while you watch a game on one of their seven TVs or listen to live music, a regular week- end event. Try a specialty pizza, build your own, or try a hot dog or sandwich. Weather permitting, take the party outside to their patio and picnic tables.

“Our family built this place for your family.This has been a crazy dream for us. We wanted to bring music to this town so people can have a good place to come to and enjoy a good beer in a safe environment,” LeBron said, at the CJ Family Reunion, which celebrated their one-year anniversary.

They’re doing just that. Their invest- ment in the community is at the heart of all they do.

When Bonnaroo was canceled in 2021 due to weather, CJ came to the rescue. CJ welcomed Bonnaroo food vendors and provided live music, easing the disap- pointment of those looking forward to the annual event.

CJ regulars aren’t customers; they’re family. When a financial need arises, CJ pitches in where possible and helps ease the burdens. Everyone really does know your name.

Upcoming events and music lineups are posted regularly. Don’t forget, if you’re looking for a change in scenery, CJ participates in beer festivals.

There’s always something new brewing at Common John. Morning coffee, nibbles, and remote workspaces are being planned, offering more opportunities to hang out with friends and family and a change in scenery for work-from-home days.

From their die-hard fans and LeBron, “Cheers!” -GN

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