Quick Trigger Brewing arises from hobbyist's passion
By Karen A. Mann
Saturday, November 3, 2018
Lou and Brenda Velazquez have long been business innovators in Ahoskie.
For 15 years, they have owned the town’s only coffee bar, located in a beautifully renovated former hotel in the tiny historic downtown area. Mug Shotz was Hertford County’s first non-smoking restaurant, and the first to offer all healthy options on the menu. Even the health department recognized the cafe for its offerings.
Now, with the opening of Quick Trigger Brewing in September 2017, they’ve achieved another first: The town’s first brewery.
“Mug Shotz has been a local meeting place for a lot of people here,” says Lou, who began home brewing eight years ago. “It was only fitting for us to complement the cafe with the brewery.”
A physician’s assistant by trade, Lou settled in Ahoskie with Brenda and their three daughters after retiring from the Coast Guard. He continued to work — and still works at a local prison — while perfecting his hobby. After Lou won two blue ribbons at the N.C. State Fair for his bourbon-infused ale and lemongrass wheat beers, the family decided it was time to make the hobby into an actual profession.
“This is very much a family business,” Lou says. “Everybody’s involved, from my mother, father-in-law, kids and their spouses. We welcome folks in like we welcome them into our home.”
The walls of the cafe are adorned with posters representing the various places the Velazquez family lived while in the service and pictures of family, including the brewery’s namesake, a black lab named Trigger, who passed away after a bout of liver disease.
“Anyone who has ever had an animal has had one or two that were close to their hearts and who they would never forget. For us that was Trigger, who found no stranger in whomever he met,” Lou says.
Located in the back of the cafe, the brew-making operation currently includes a 1.5 barrel set up with three fermentors and a brite tank. While Brenda holds down the cafe business, Lou — along with a brew team that includes daughter Kerstyn and son-in-law Angel Genao — handles beer production. Daughter Kelly designed the Quick Trigger logo, which includes a likeness of Trigger himself. All of the brewery’s beers are kegged.
They went with the nano brewery because they weren't sure how open the town would be to a brewery. On the first night they opened, a few customers became angry that they couldn’t get a Bud Light or a Coors. But Brenda says they’ve eventually won those customers over.
“They’ll tell us what they like, and we’ll give them four beers in a flight,” she says. “Nine times out of ten, they’ll come up and they’ll get the All Time Low (a low alcohol, low IBU hefeweizen) or the pilsner. They’re coming back.”
Other popular beers are the Portly Chocolate Lab, a chocolate porter made from chocolate grain with chocolate nibs from Guyana, and the Travesty, an unfermented New England IPA so named because of its unexpectedly deep, cloudy color. Brenda says the Travesty is their most popular beer to sell in a growler.
They are currently working with a local retail peanut company to make their first bottle-produced beer: A peanut butter chocolate stout infused in bourbon barrels.
Business is booming to the point that the family is in the process of increasing fermentation capacity, and they are already pondering a move to a larger location.
“I think we’re happy,” Brenda says. “If we do anything, we’ll move the business to a larger facility where we can have outdoor seating and people can bring their pets.”
Quick Trigger Brewing Company
118 W. Main Street
Ahoskie, N.C., 27910