Beer has brought people together for centuries, but a brewery in Carrboro is fostering social cohesion over more than mere glasses of hearty stouts and crisp ales.

After spending over two decades in the real estate industry, David Larsen founded YesterYears Brewery to share his passion of beer-making with the community.

“YesterYears started off as […] a 40s, 50s, 60s theme for people to come in and to just forget about the outside world and enjoy time with friends,” he explained. “Our slogan is, ‘Great Beer, Great Friends, Great Memories.'”

David’s period-themed pub opened in 2014 with the help of his son, Bill, who would experience the devastating loss of an unborn child along with his wife, Becca.

“They were expecting a child and lost that child,” he lamented. “Bill took it upon himself that it was — he took the blame for that.”

Bill took his own life last November while struggling with that loss, but his charming disposition and vibrant personality remain vivid in the minds of the patrons that he served.

“He was the smile and the laughing of YesterYears,” reminisced David. “When he was behind that bar, it’s just like his smile was infectious — he was an awesome kid.”

David grieved for Bill far away from the bar that brought them together, but his absence caused his business to ferment, with distribution deals having been put on hold.

The future of YesterYears Brewery was ambiguous when David returned to work in January, but an outpouring of support from the public is keeping the beer taps flowing.

“The sales have increased,” he relayed. “I’ve had people all the way from Wilmington to Charlotte, Greensboro, Saxapahaw, just saying, ‘We’re with you; we understand what you’re going through.'”

A crowdfunding effort was also initiated to help David make back payments on rent for the bar, which occupies commercial space that costs $14,000 a month.

“Thankfully, Main Street Properties has been working with us on back rent,” he revealed. “They cut our rent for January and February in half to help us out.”

After facing the most bitter of hardships, David still retains the desire to brew savory spirits in Carrboro while honoring the memory of his son.

“I’m just proud that people have accepted us and said, ‘Hey, you may be the new kid on the block, but you’re part of the family,'” he mused.

YesterYears Brewery is located at 300 East Main Street in Carrboro and brews nonfiltered, unpasteurized craft beer using local ingredients.