If you visit Lo-Fi Brewing on an off day (they're only open Thurs.-Sun.) chances are you'll see owner Jason Caughman jamming with his buds. If you can spot them. It's near pitch black in the Meeting Street warehouse turned tap room. When asked why, Caughman states the obvious, pointing to the less than flattering fluorescents above, "Cause look at these lights. I'm waiting 'til we have cool lights, like neon, lasers."
Caughman's laid-back, Spicoli persona belies his business acumen — the guy can brew some damn good beer. And he's distributing it in groceries and corner stores in both the Carolinas. A co-founder of Asheville area Pisgah Brewing, Caughman has plenty of experience managing people, self-distributing, and making beer, but with Lo-Fi — "Pisgah 2.0" — Caughman wanted something different.
"I'm more focused on making five or six beers really well," says the man behind Belgian Tripel Glitter Pony. "I want it to be a little more saturated, deeper not wider. I'm trying to balance and enjoy the ride, there's no race."
If there were a race, if someone were to make a fun chart of some kind comparing the area's more than two dozen breweries, Lo-Fi would definitely be the frontrunner for quirk factor. Case in point: While most breweries boast a bouncing hound as a brewery pet, Lo-Fi instead has a cat, Kit Kat. Or maybe Kit Cat, Caughman didn't specify.
Mary Scott Hardaway
This is Kit Kat, the brewery cat.
And then there's the unicorn. When asked how he came up with the mythical creature mascot found on all Lo-Fi products, Caughman shrugs. "It just popped out. I was just thinking some breweries have their own spirit animal, maybe a little hipster guy. It just kind of happened."
Caughman does all the can graphics himself, and plans to paint the side of the warehouse in the next couple of weeks. Think bright neons and unicorns. He says he may buy the property, build a stage, blow the whole space out. Or maybe not.
"We're growing," Caughman says. "We're about to hit Harris Teeters, Ingles in Western Carolina." As for the tap room, well Caughman says he loves interacting with customers, but isn't focused on the "come to our house," business model. He's more concerned with making good beer, especially the Mexican Lager, Lo-Fi's OG brew.
"I'm having more fun without [a busy tap room]. There's no chase, I don't think about competition," he says. Plus, keeping the tap room small means employing only two part time people, one for brewing, one for pouring. "I have plenty of dreams for this," Caughman says. "But I'm trying to enjoy the early days. It's a Wednesday afternoon and I'm here jammin' with my homies."