I adore poutine and was ready for the real thing after a lengthy day of travel. Luckily, we’re staying a few doors down from the closet-sized Patati Patata, a restaurant highly recommended by Montreal Poutine. I took a seat at the counter and ordered the Poutines Classique and a 10 oz pour of Boréale Rousse. The poutine was delicious – the perfect meld of frites, creamy gravy and firm cheese curds. The beer washed my palette clean nicely between bites. Our hunger satisfied, we headed north to Dieu de Ciel. There was a Japanese beer event scheduled for that night and the place was packed. We fought our way to the bar and ordered beers. I went with the Ochamena Bi-Ru while Tom chose the Chaman, both brewed by Dieu de Ciel. The Ochamena was quite tasty though I could not discern what made it so. It was listed as Ochamena au Sarrazin et Thés Japonais, which turns out to be buckwheat and Japonese tea. Very interesting flavor qualities – I’d like to try it again with a fresher palette. Tom’s Imperial Pale Ale was also very drinkable. We grew tired of being jostled by the crowd and headed back towards our lodging. We decided to duck into Reservoir, a brewpub around the corner from our apartment. Tom enjoyed the IPA while I ordered a small Blanche. The Blanche reaked of sulfur which impaired the drinking experience greatly. I ordered a small cream ale next while Tom had a stout – both were served on nitrogen. The stout was the best of the bunch in our opinion. We headed to bed after that. Mondial next and a return visit to Dieu de Ciel…
The business meeting finished early and now I’ve got time to kill before my flight. Luckily, I’m in terminal A at Logan Airport in Boston and there’s a Harpoon bar here. I’ve convinced four coworkers to drink local and we’re now sipping a beer or two. I enjoyed the Octoberfest and have moved on to the darker side with a Munich Dark. The beers are served a bit too cold but I love being able to drink local craft beer in an airport.
Near gates A20-22
Logan airport in Boston
We chilled out during the day, something I’d sorely lacked on the trip thus far, and with my parents, headed to Maddy’s Rib & Blues for dinner. Maddy’s isn’t a craft beer destination but carries the local Sweetwater and Terrapin on draft as well as a couple other crafts. I ordered a Terrapin Rye Pale Ale and a half rib and chopped pork combo plate with mac ‘n cheese as the side. Maddy’s uses a tomato-based barbecue and is quite good. It’s a bare bones kind of place, with a long rectangular painted cinder block room and blues music on the speakers, and live music on the stage at the back of the room most nights. It’s a great place to sip a local beer, eat ‘cue & listen to the blues, and it’s on the way to Decatur from my parent’s house, my favorite craft beer area in Atlanta.
Sated, the five of us (my brother had met us at Maddy’s) drove a short way to Twain’s Billiards and Tap. Twain’s became a brewpub only a year and five months ago, before that it was a bar/pool hall. This was my second visit to Twain’s, I’d been nicely surprised by the quality of their beers last year and was looking forward to trying them again. Twain’s is located in a huge, open warehouse-like space with large front windows. Georgia brewery logo murals are painted on the walls, large model planes hang from the ceiling, breweriana, artwork, and book pages decorate the walls, chandeliers made of tap handles dangle overhead, booths constructed of concrete blocks & wood, while wood champagne racks hang above the boots and half oval-shaped wood bar with sixteen padded backed chairs. The chandeliers, bar, and much of the artwork hanging on the walls was made by the brothers that own the bar’s retired physician father. The brewer, Jordan brewed at the defunct Dogwood Brewery. Seven of his beers were on tap: Sleepy Conscience ESB, mad Happy Pale Ale, Randalized Mad Happy (oak chips tonight), Irreverent Liberty IPA, Billiard Brown, 3 Lies Cocoa Stout, and Stormy’s Trippel Ale and one on cask, the Applewood aged Stout. My favorites were the ESB, very nice toasty aroma, light sweetness, nice biscuity/toasty flavor with bitterness increasing after the swallow, the Brown, beautiful toastiness, a sweet light molasses balanced with hop bitterness, and the stout with its big cocoa nose, roasty with more chocolate in the mouth and a nice bittering balance. I was underwhelmed by the pale ales and IPA, although they were all very drinkable, just not as impressive as the others. The tripel had fresh fruit and alcohol heat dominate the nose, honey and more fresh fruit and alcohol heat in the mouth and a pretty big body, a smooth beer at a whopping 12% ABV, would never have guessed it was that high. The cask was also a favorite, with tons of chocolate, dark fruit and a bit of heat in the nose, woody smokiness in the mouth, very flavorsome. Twain’s also offers 44 craft bottles and 5 micros. There’s a live music stage in the front, thirteen pool tables, two shuffleboard tables, four dart lanes, a foosball table and various arcade games for entertainment. Twain’s is a funky, comfy and spacious joint to hang out in, and with the fine quality of beer offered, a place I’d be hanging if I ever find myself living in Atlanta again.
Brick Store Pub was calling, though, and we drove over, lucking out with a parking space out front. It should be noted that both Twain’s and Brick Store are within walking distance of the Decatur Marta station, making them even more attractive to a public transportation junkie like myself. This was my 4th or 5th visit to Brick Store and it was still as natty as on my first visit. You walk into a room with a two-story high dark ceiling with exposed brick walls on the right side, rough painted walls on the left, wood floors, wood tables and chairs up front and a large u-shaped bar with around sixteen stools in the back. Stairs to the left of the bar lead up to a small loft area overlooking the main room with more exposed brick and walls composed of wood doors, fitted with wood tables and chairs. Continue walking once you reach the top of the stairs, hang a left and you enter the Belgian bar and its adjoining room, low-ceiling with exposed rafter ceilings, more exposed brick, walls lined with doors, skylights, wood booths, tables and floors. The whole place is cozy, intriguing and utterly cool. We started at the bar upstairs but were quickly moved to a table. 25 draft beers are on offer, broken down into seventeen American craft and import from the downstairs bar and eight Belgian or Belgian-style from the upstairs bar plus around 200 bottles. Mom ordered a bottle of Troublette, Dad a cask Victory Storm King, JB a Flying Dog Gonzo Baltic Porter, and I a DeProef Signature Ale and a Schlenkerla Fest, completely breaking my local streak. The Signature was beautiful, sour, sweet, and fruity while the Schenkerla was smoky goodness. We ordered Brunswick Stew (a Southern specialty I don’t see much up north), soft pretzels, and a cheese plate, going local here as well, as all the cheeses were from Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Georgia: Green Hill double cream cow’s milk, Sevenwood 3 month aged raw cow’s milk and Georgia Pecan Chevre aged goat’s milk with organic pecans. Everything was yummy. Brick Store can get quite crowded, but that’s the only drawback as far as I’m concerned, it’s a must when in Atlanta!
We ate an utterly delicious breakfast at Tupelo Honey Café. The sweet potato pancake with pecans is quite possibly the best pancake I have ever tasted, not to mention the delish crab cakes and biscuits. I noticed several local craft bottles in the cooler on the way out and with breakfast served all day, I’ll be back for sweet potato pancake and some Highland next time I’m in town. We stopped by the Greenlife Grocery on the way out of town for some local cheese, coffee, and some of the Lusty Monk mustard I had developed a craving for. I was quite impressed with the wall of beer located in the back right corner, several locals for offer as well as a diverse selection of craft and imports.
On the road to South Carolina, we stopped for the quintessential roadside boiled peanuts to tide us over. We found Blue Ridge Brewing Company on Main Street in the recently revitalized downtown Greenville. We bellied up to the bar and ordered a sampler, containing five beers: Kurli Blonde Ale, Colonel Paris Pale Ale, Hurricane Hefeweizen, Rainbow Trout ESB, and the XXX Total Eclipse Stout. They were unfortunately out of their IPA. My favorites were the Blonde, light but with bittering balance, and the ESB, malty, light diacetyl which was complimentary, bittering midway and remaining. The Hefe improved as it warmed, showing more banana and clove character, as well as some bright citrus, quite a refreshing drink. The very cool pottery face jug club mugs made by a local artist are displayed on a shelf behind the bar. The brewing equipment is located in the front window, the long copper-topped bar is to the left of the deep rectangular room while wood booths and tables are on the right. I found it a pleasant atmosphere, although the rustic theme seemed a bit forced with the faux cabin façade on the back wall. We wandered down to Falls Park, enjoying the beautiful weather. We didn’t hit any other bars, but I noted that Greenville has a Barley’s and a Mellow Mushroom within easy walking distance of the brewpub, could make for a good crawl.
We decided to take a slight detour to Clemson, SC for dinner and, hopefully, more local beer. After stopping to pick up a wedge of Clemson Blue cheese at the student center, we scored at Nick’s Tavern and Deli. It’s a pretty small joint, with a zig-zag shaped bar with twenty plus padded backless stool on the left and worn wood booths on the right. Walls packed with breweriana, a variety of flags tacked on the ceiling and a large collection of bottles displayed on shelves behind the bar give the college-town bar an underground bohemian feel. Nick’s offers sixteen taps, three which were local, two Foothills and one Terrapin, all were craft, and 56+ bottles, a mix of craft, imports, and a couple of macros, interesting diversity. I chose the Foothill’s Torch Pilsner, JB the Foothill’s People’s Porter and we split an order of Cajun pimiento cheese with pretzels, which was quite tasty. The bottles are listed on tabletop acrylic table stands as well as by labels grouped by price on a chalkboard above the bar, a cool visual. Nick’s is a sanctuary for out-of-towners in Tiger territory and quite a cool little bar, well worth the short detour off I-85.
We pulled into Clemson’s Mellow Mushroom for pizza and the prospect of South Carolina beers. Located in a large white house, the interior is decorated in orange and blue Clemson colors. The second floor has been cut out, so each room is two stories high, interestingly, a ledge was left in each room and furniture is perched here and in the corners and the walls above are decorated giving the place a slightly surreal feel. We sat out front at a high iron patio-style table, more tables are located on the large wrap-around porch. I ordered RJ Rocker’s Bell Ringer IPA, JB the Rocker’s Homegrown Honey, satisfying our quench for more SC-brewed beer. The Homegrown is an amber ale brewed with honey and showed a biscuity maltiness, with a touch of honey sweetness, bitterness near the swallow, balancing nicely, an easy but flavorful drink. The Bell Ringer is a double IPA and was served quite cold, but displayed a nice balanced maltiness, hints of tropical fruit and a big body as it warmed. Mellow Mushroom has fourteen taps, about half of which are craft, while the bottle selection is rubbish. The pizza was decent and Mellow Mushroom is a worthy stop if you’re wandering through Clemson in search of South Carolina beer.
Back on the road to my parent’s house in Atlanta, where I had a Sweetwater 420 as a nightcap.
We started the day off right with a wonderful breakfast at Early Girl Eatery. JB and I both had the shrimp ‘n grits, nicely smoky with chorizo and gravy, with a pancake on the side, served with organic maple syrup. Although I didn’t have beer with my breakfast, Early Girl offers several local beers, Pisgah Porter and French Broad Pilsner on draft and Highland Gaelic Ale in the bottle. I shopped the local galleries for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon, Asheville has some stupendous local artists and craftspersons. I recommend the Woolworth Walk market in the former Woolworth Building on Haywood St for one-stop shopping as it hosts a number of artists and craftspersons with a wide range of media and prices.
We had a late lunch at 12 Bones Smokehouse in the River Arts District of Asheville. 12 Bones features seven local taps, Green Man IPA, French Broad Goldenrod Pilsner and Dunkel Witte, Pisgah Organic Pale Ale and Summer Ale, Foothills Hurricane Heifeweizen and Highland Mocha Stout, 10 oz for $2 or 20 oz for $3.75, displayed on a chalkboard above the counter. I chose a small pour of the Pisgah Summer as I hadn’t had it yet and ordered a plate of six ribs, half with chipotle blueberry and half with spiced apple-habanero, green beans & jalapeno cheese grits for sides. Everything was ridiculously delicious, including JB’s pulled chicken and smoked turkey, collard greens, and corn pudding and the cornbread that comes with every plate. 12 Bones offers a variety of sauces to choose from, including vinegar, sweet tomato, jalapeno, and a rotating number of fruit based sauces. It’s a casual joint, with concrete floors, wood tables & chairs, and shed-like outdoor seating. They’re only open from 11 am – 4 pm every day, this is a must for any craft beer and barbecue lover visiting Asheville.
We stopped by Bruisin’ Ales on the way back to the hotel. Bruisin’ Ales is a fantastic craft beer shop conveniently located in downtown Asheville. I picked up several Pisgah bombers and a few other things. Bruisin’ Ales has an impressive selection of American crafts and imports and is the place to stock up on local craft bottles in Asheville. They also host and coordinate beer events in the area, including some fantastic-sounding beer dinners.
After freshening up, JB and I headed down to the bar in the Chophouse restaurant located in our hotel, the downtown Four Points by Sheraton. The Four Points by Sheraton chain has a “Best Brews” program developed with the assistance of the Brewers Association. Each hotel that participates in the program offers at least four drafts and up to twenty bottles, focusing on American crafts and imports. The beer list is categorized by style characteristics and flights are available. The Chophouse had four beers on tap, the Highland Gaelic Ale and Oatmeal Porter as well as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Samuel Adams, though they were out of the latter the night we were there. They also offered three more Highland in bottles, the St There’s Pale Ale, Kashmir IPA, and Mocha Stout. Other bottles include Duck Rabbit Amber, Anchor Steam, Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown, Carolina Blonde and several macros. I enjoyed my first Highland Kashmir IPA and JB started the evening with the Oatmeal Porter. Vic and Sarah joined us and we headed out.
Sarah and I opted to return to French Broad Chocolate Lounge while JB and Vic went on to Barley’s. Sarah and I both picked out truffles to take home then I enjoyed a flight of Ultimate Ice Cream: pure dark chocolate, vanilla, mocha stout & peppermint while Sarah settled in with a cinnamon/cayenne hot chocolate. Then we were on to Barley’s for craft beer and bluegrass. I sipped on a small pour of Duck Rabbit Amber, JB the Catawba Valley Cream Ale, Sarah the Catawba Valley Blackwater Uber Pale Ale, and Vic the just-up Highland Shining Rock Lager while we enjoyed some great music by the Drover’s Old-Time Medicine Show. Although we didn’t get a pie, Barley’s offers a beer mash dough pizza made with spent grain from local breweries, cool. We finished downstairs and headed upstairs as Vic had a craving for the French Broad Imperial Porter. I was the odd man out ordering the Foothills Hoppyum IPA but had only had the randallized version at the fest, turns out it’s quite a nice beer as is.
On the road again, completely blew any notion of being healthful by breakfasting on two of these at Zack’s in Burlington, NC. I can’t resist a place that’s been around since 1928, though, and they were delicious, especially washed down with a bottle of Cheerwine. After visiting the Folk Art Center and checking into the hotel, we headed out for some beer. I couldn’t help but detouring to The Chocolate Fetish on the way to our first bar. We split two truffles as an “appetizer”, the Ancient Pleasures, a cayenne dark chocolate, and Dragon’s Kiss, a wasabi dark chocolate topped with white & black sesame seeds, both were delightful. We walked down to The Thirsty Monk, Asheville’s newest craft beer bar. I had learned about the Monk on the Asheville Beer Blog and was eager to check it out. Located in the back of the “purple building”, we walked down a long ramp running the length of the bar to enter. Housed in a deep rectangular shaped room with a high brown ceiling, cream painted walls, exposed stone, and classy light fixtures, Thirsty Monk is a warm, inviting place. A long wood bar on the right with sixteen padded captains’ chairs and chairs and tables in the back provide seating, fourteen taps, and a sizeable bottle cooler provide beverages. It was happy hour when we arrived (M-Th 4-6 pm, F-Sat midnight to 2 am), the cheese plate was discounted to $7 and all baguette sandwiches were only $4. JB and I ordered smoked trout sandwiches and I settled in to study the beer list. I settled on two small pours (or flights, as they call them) of the local Pisgah Solstice and Cuvee Angelique. Solstice is a tripel and simply delicious, with honey & fresh fruit in the nose and mouth but nicely balanced with some hop bitterness, very nice. The Cuvee Angelique poured with a huge head, apricot aroma, bready maltiness, tinge of sour, and a sizeable amount of hop bitterness, also very good. The sandwiches arrived and we chowed down. Thirsty Monk uses a lot of local ingredients, including bread from City Bakery in downtown Asheville, spicy mustard from Lusty Monk, and trout from nearby Sunburst Farms. The sandwich was pure bliss. The Thirsty Monk would most definitely be one of my local hang-outs if I lived in Asheville and a fantastic start to our Asheville beer crawl, highly recommended for an Asheville visit.
We rounded the corner and crossed the street to Jack of the Wood Public House, purveyors of Green Man Ales. Also a very welcoming place, with a concrete floor, painted & exposed brick walls, U-shaped wood bar with sixteen padded wood captains’ chairs, lots of wood tables and chairs, and a mural on the back wall. Jack of the Wood is kind of a hippyish English pub that integrates itself perfectly into the vibe of Asheville. On draft, they were pouring six of the Green Man Ales, the Gold, Pale, IPA, ESB, Porter, and Abbey Ale, as well as Highland Gaelic, Pisgah Pale, Duck Rabbit Porter, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Harp and Guinness. I ordered the sampler and found all of the Green Man beers very nice, with the exception of the Abbey, which I found weak, although Vic enjoyed it. The Gold, ESB, and Porter were my favorites, the Gold a light, grainy, clean, almost Kolsch like beer, the ESB with biscuity/light toasty maltiness, some bitterness, easy drinking, and the porter lightly sweet, toasty, lightly roasty, with smooth milk chocolate flavor. I also tasted samples of the Pisgah Pale and Highlands Gaelic, both were top quality. I didn’t eat, but JB had the tasty potato and bacon chowder. Cool place.
Our next stop was the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. I had first learned of French Broad chocolates at the Thirsty Monk, where they offer a chocolate plate containing three French Broad chocolates, one of which is specially designed to pair with Belgian ales at the Monk. I looked them up on the every-useful iPhone, found that they have a retail store/café dowtown with local draught beer on the menu, and added them to the crawl. They offer four Organic Pisgah beers on draught: the pale ale, porter, stout, and seasonal Solstice, a fantastic almost-all organic truffle selection, amazing desserts, and Pisgah a la mode, a stout float made with locally-produced Ultimate Ice Cream, as well as Ultimate’s Mocha Stout ice cream. The Chocolate Lounge is a very comfortable place, with sky blue walls and ceilings, lots of exposed brick, chocolate brown trimming, carpet, and leather chairs and wood tables. JB ordered a stout, I selected four truffles, the lemon pepper, Indian kulfi, maple, and mole negro, Vic & Sarah split the mocha stout ice cream and a pecan tart, and we sat down to enjoy. The truffles are to die for, wow! I could spend some serious time in here, as well. This is a must for any craft beer lover wanting to drink local, organic beer and nosh on some first-rate chocolates and desserts in a comfortable setting.
The Asheville Brewing Company on Coxe Avenue was our next destination. Although the outside of the brewpub is rather nondescript, I was bowled over by the large outdoor area where movies, sporting events and the like are shown. The inside is very laid-back, with an L-shaped wood bar with backed wood chairs, latte-painted walls, concrete floors, and high-backed wood booths. Pewter club mugs hang behind the bar and there is a separate back room with arcade games and tables and chairs. Five beers were on draft, my sampler was served in plastic cups, a drawback to the experience. Of the Rolands ESB, Ninja Porter, Scottish Brown, Shiva IPA, and Stout, the latter was my favorite, with nice depth of dried fruit, sourness, roastiness, a nice-drinking beer. We split a Moon Pie pizza which was quite good.
We swung by the Green Man Brewing Company in hopes of a cask pour. Alas, no cask was on but we enjoyed pints of the porter and complimentary pretzels with the local Lusty Monk mustard. The brewery is located in an old garage and is a swell space with a small L-shaped bar with around ten seats, additional seats in front of the bar and a small outdoor patio in the tasting area, nicknamed “Dirty Jack’s”. Five beers were on tap, board games were on offer and soccer was playing on the TV above the bar. They’re open from 4-9 each weeknight evening, a cool haunt.
Our last stop was Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. Housed in a former 1920’s appliance store, Barley’s is another impressive space, the downstairs room has very high tin ceilings, wood floors, breweriana on the walls, a gorgeous wood bar with captains’ chairs, and wood tables and chairs. They have 25 tap lines downstairs, all craft including quite a few locals. I started with a small pour of the Pisgah “Thank You” Brown ale, specially brewed for their third anniversary, a tasty brew with light brown sugar character, easy drinking. JB opted for the Highland Oatmeal Porter, Sarah had the Catawba Valley Blackwater Uber Pale Ale, at 9.2% ABV, brewed with five hop varieties and four malts, this is an intense potion, toasty, bitter and balanced. Vic had the French Broad Alt-Bier, a clean and biscuity drink. There is an upstairs room, with more high tin ceilings and wood floors, four pool tables, four dart boards, an L-shaped wood bar with 28 taps and coolers full of water for the taking. Vic’s French Broad Imperial Porter was excellent, very fruity and toasty/roasty in disposition.
I spent the afternoon taking a jewelry-making workshop at Ornamentea in Raleigh, then we headed to Durham for the evening. We started out at Sam’s Quik Shop, a fantastic bottle shop in Durham. Although it looks like a typical convenience store from the outside, the inside is a world of wonder for craft beer lovers. Sam’s carries a superb selection of local beers, as well as American craft and imported; the Belgian selection was quite impressive. I picked up some North Carolina brews and a few other beers I don’t see in NYC and am looking forward to sharing with friends when I get home. Sam’s Quik Shop is a must stop for craft beer bottles when in the Raleigh-Durham area!
Our next destination was the Federal, a cool little bar & restaurant in downtown Durham. With dark red walls, breweriana on the walls, and concrete floors, I found the Federal to have instant appeal, a very chill place. There’s a zigzag shaped wood bar with fourteen padded backed chairs, a back room with seating, and outside seating in the front overlooking Main Street. They have sixteen taps, three of which were North Carolina brews, the rest almost all craft. The beers are listed on a chalkboard behind the bar and the tap handles are all vintage, mostly defunct breweries (Blatz, Ruppert, etc). They also carry 26 bottles, a mix of macros, imports, and old time regionals (Iron City, Genessee Cream, Utica Club). We sat at the bar, I ordered a half pint of the Foothills Torch Pils, JB the Duck Rabbit Porter, Sarah the French Broad Dunkel Witte, and Vic a Lagunitas. We were pretty hungry and ordered some snacks to share – the cheese & charcuterie plate and the special scrambled eggs, leeks, proscuitto, gruyere, and garlic mayo on grilled sourdough with fries, an excellent sandwich. I finished with a French Broad Dunkel Witte for myself, all of the North Carolina beers were lovely. I found the Dunkel not what I expected, but a delicious beer, with cocoa aroma and flavor. With a solid beer list, tasty food, and laid-back atmosphere, this is another bar I could spend some time in.
We moved on to Watts Grocery for dinner. At once both casual and upscale, Watts is a restaurant featuring local foods prepared in a forward Southern fashion. They also feature local beer – six taps: Foothills’ Torch Pilsner, Trout ESB & Hurricane Heifeweizen, Highland’s Kashmir IPA, and Triangles’ Pale & Golden Belgian. I ordered the delicious Triangle Golden Belgian, one of my favorite beers from Saturday’s fest. We opted to go tapas style and ordered four appetizers and a side to split: the farmer’s market cheese plate, strawberry salad with Elodie Farm’s fresh goat cheese and spring onions in a Dijon vinaigrette, spring asparagus, garlic, and mushroom hash topped with a Fowl Attitude poached egg, Fried Louisiana frogs’ legs with a jalapeño pan sauce served on a crispy grit cake, and the horseradish mashed potatoes. Everything was absolutely delicious and we finished by splitting a slice of the amazing coconut cake. For fantastic local food and beer in a refined and relaxed setting, Watts Grocery is the place to go in Durham, highly recommended!
We ended the evening at Tyler’s Restaurant & Taproom. Tyler’s is Sarah’s regular hang and had come highly recommended by my parents. I was not disappointed. Located in the American Tobacco Historic District, I was impressed from the moment I walked in the door. It was pretty empty on a Sunday night and the large room with exposed brick and ducts, high ceilings, and lots of wood was well-lit and welcoming. We sat at the long wood bar and ogled the taps. With fifty taps in the main space and an additional ten in the Speakeasy room next door, Tyler’s has quite the selection. A nice mix of local, American crafts, and imports, Tyler’s has something for everyone. They also offer a number of well-thought out flights. I started with a Big Boss Surrender Monkey, JB had the French Broad Wee Heavier, a bottle of ’05 Anchor Old Foghorn for Vic, and an Allagash Black for Sarah. The main room closes at 10 on Sundays, so we moved over to the Speakeasy next door. A large room with exposed brick, high ceilings and pool tables, the Speakeasy is darker and cozier than the main area. Many of the same beers are offered on draft on this side as well as an additional 10 taps. I drank a half pour of an Imperial IPA which I did not write down, unfortunately, although it was delicious and the perfect night cap. Tyler’s is another great Durham beer destination, one I could easily see myself spending some time in if I lived here.
Twenty minutes of yoga on Vic’s back deck got my day off to a great start. We walked down to Moore Square for the World Beer Festival, arriving a little after noon. It was a beautiful day, around 80° and sunny, an easy entrance for VIP ticket holders (yeah, I splurged). We had a few tastes, Duck Rabbit being the most notable, and were off to the VIP tent to get some lunch. VIP tickets included entrance to the VIP tent with “special beers” and music, air-conditioned bathrooms with running water, a plate of food, and a commemorative nonic pint glass. Was it worth it? Yeah, in my opinion, I enjoyed the bottled water, clean bathrooms and being able to wash my hands afterward, the food was phenomenal, and not having to wait in line to get in was a bonus. Plus, there were some great beers that I only saw in the VIP tent: Firestone Double Barrel Ale, Lost Abbey Serpentine Stout, Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, and Saranac Imperial Stout. What’d we eat? Durham Catering prepared the food, which, as I mentioned, was absolutely delicious. I loaded my plate with garlic, cheddar & Stone Ruination IPA soup, salad of celery hearts, pancetta, tart apples, hazelnuts, & blue cheese, Troeg’s Troegenator braised pork shoulder, grilled brautwurst with Brezel rolls, peppers, onions & country mustard, spicy lentil salad, & Deschutes Obsidian Stout chocolate tiramisu. My favorite was the braised pork shoulder, YUM! After filling up and hydrating, we headed back out to the beer tents. I focused solely on North Carolina and regional beers that I don’t see in NYC. I tasted beer from these breweries:
- Azalea Coast Brewing Co, Wilmington, NC
- Blue Ridge Brewing Co, Greenville, SC – enjoyed their pale ale
- Capitol City Brewing Co, Arlington, VA – liked their Amber Waves Ale
- Carolina Brewery, Chapel Hill, NC – Alter Ego Altbier and Oatmeal Porter were the faves here
- Carolina Brewing Co, Holly Springs, NC – the English-style IPA and Imperial Stout were tasty
- Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Farmville, NC – the Milk Stout and Porter were yummy
- Foothills Brewing, Winston-Salem, NC – dug the Pilot Mtn Pale Ale, Hoppyum IPA, and Seeing Double IPA
- French Broad Brewing Co, Asheville, NC – the Gateway Kolsch was quite nice
- Highland Brewing Com, Asheville, NC – the Shining Rock Lager was an amber style and very good
- Mash House Restaurant & Brewery, Fayetteville, NC – fond of the hefeweizen and brown porter
- Moon River Brewing Co, Savannah, GA – the Savannah Fest Bier was a clean, easy drink
- Natty Greene’s Brewing Co, Greensboro, NC – offered the only cask I saw, their Old Town Brown, also treated to a mix of the Southern Pale Ale and Buckshot Amber Ale
- New South Brewing Co, Myrtle Beach, SC – liked the White Ale here
- Outer Banks Brewing Co, Kill Devil Hills, NC – keep reading, details below
- Red Oak Brewery, Greensboro, NC – the Battlefield was a roasty, easy drinking bock
- Triangle Brewing Co, Durham, NC – keep reading, details below
- Weeping Radish Brewery, Manteo, NC
My favorite breweries were Foothills Brewing with their Hoppyum IPA randallized through Cascade hops, Triangle Brewing Company with their White Ale and Belgian Golden Ale, and Outer Banks Brewings’ Lemongrass Wheat and Compass Rose. The Compass Rose was my favorite beer of the fest – a Belgian Brown Ale spiced with rosemary! I absolutely love rosemary and this beer was pure pleasure to drink.
I briefly checked out Gregg Glaser’s “Brews in the News” talk at 1:00 and sat in on Julie Bradford’s “Pairing Beer and Chocolate” at 3:00. These were both lively and informative and well-attended, always nice at a large festival like this one.
This is a great beer festival, one of my favorites that I have attended in the last couple of years. The pros:
- there was a huge amount of beer, both in variety and quantity, and breweries brought seasonal offerings and well as the regular brews
- the food available for purchase was also varied and good, as reported by friends
- although crowded the first 15 minutes or so, the tents cleared out considerably and we never really waited in line for anything
- Lots of shady spots to sit and relax during the fest
- Great music
- Beautiful location – Moore Square is the perfect park for a beer fest
- I enjoyed meeting and chatting with the brewers and other brewery employees/owners
- talks offered were entertaining and informative, with special beers poured
The only con was not enough pour buckets and rinse water. There were carboys of water at entrances to the tents but these ran out quickly, a few of the breweries offered water but not many. This would be an easy fix for the festival organizers.
We chilled on the back deck for the afternoon and then headed to Lilly’s Pizza. The beer list is small, but has some solid local offerings, I opted for a Highland Gaelic, JB went with the Duck Rabbit Milk Stout. I ordered the Pigs in a Blanket to share, a small house salad, and the Big Star pizza, with pesto, mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola, fontina, roasted red peppers, & pistachios, all were very tasty. The leftovers will be consume shortly. Lilly’s is a super place, very eclectic atmosphere with local art and an assortment of vintage signs and other interesting stuff to gaze out while you’re waiting for your pies. Another fantastic end to a fun and fulfilling day!
Up by nine, a run on the treadmill, then blogged Day 1, got to keep some balance on these beer trips. We were on the road by noon, stopping at the Dairy Freeze in McKenney for a snack. A late lunch was had at Nunnery Freeman Barbecue in Henderson, NC. No beer, but extremely tasty barbecue plates, with complimentary hush puppies to start. The green beans were delish and the fried okra was perfection. A bowl of homemade banana pudding finished off a very satisfying meal. Our first stop in Raleigh was Horniblow’s Tavern, home of Big Boss Brewing Company. They featured five beers on tap, the three full-time Angry Angel kölsch, Hell’s Belle Belgian Blonde, and Bad Penny Brown Ale, with two part-time, the Surrender Monkey Belgian farmhouse style and High Roller II, strong American IPA. I tried all of the beers as the bartender was generous with samples and all were good – interesting, clean, and appealing. I settled on a pint of Surrender Monkey, which is brewed with coriander and pepper, a smooth 8%, enjoyable brew. JB loved the Bad Penny enough to have two pints. Horniblow’s is a cool place, with a warren of upstairs rooms with comfy couches, a pool table, ping pong table, dart board, and board and arcade games. Beer bottles line the top of almost every room. Located in an industrial area, i has that feel and I found it to be a laid-back, comfortable place. Although they don’t offer sampler flights, they pour pitchers and growler fills and sell 6-packs of the Hell’s Belle and Bad Penny. They have casks about twice a month and the most recent one lasted only 29 minutes, nice. Good schwag, too, I picked up a tee for myself and a pint glass for my Dad. Sirius 74 Blues was playing and I was one happy beer-drinking girl.
We headed over to Vic’s, our home base while in Raleigh, and chilled for a bit. But craft beer was calling and we headed to the Flying Saucer for the pre-fest brewer’s party. I left JB & Vic on the patio and headed into the very crowded party. I met Julie Bradford, editor for All About Beer magazine, sponsor of the World Beer Festival that we would be attending on Saturday. She introduced me to her husband, Dan, publisher of the magazine. I spent most of the party talking to my friend Gregg Glaser, news editor of AAB. I enjoyed a pint of the Carolina Spring Bock, a nice Maibock rendition, followed by a Ham’s Pale Ale. Although I didn’t hang out inside, the Flying Saucer is an appealing place, the walls and ceiling lined with various plates as in the other Flying Saucers. The patio has picnic table seating and is a big draw in warm weather. I found the Beer Goddess tank tops and microskirts on the waitresses distasteful (exploitative, let’s be honest), but the guys disagreed, naturally. But the immense tap and bottle selection would bring me back next time I’m in town.
We headed a few blocks over to The Raleigh Times for a late dinner. A very hip place, although a bit overdone in my opinion, the carefully peeled walls displaying different surfaces protected by sheets of plexiglass. Very appealing, though, the restaurant/bar is named for the defunct newspaper’s building where it is located. Old copies are tastefully displayed throughout the space. 80+ bottles and six taps are on offer, that night being Big Boss Surrender Monkey, PBR, Brooklyn Extra Brune, Gaffel Kölsch, Maredsous 8, and Blanche de Bruxelles Witbier. I had a bottle of the Carolina Pale Ale, the tasty shrimp burger and the excellent housemade chips. I tasted Vic’s House-Cured Corned Beef Reuben, very nice. We finished up and headed home, stopping for a “hot now” fresh-off-the-conveyer-belt Krispy Kreme donut, a sweet ending to a great day.
On the road, day one of an eleven day journey, seeking the best local craft beer, art, food, and music. We left Harrisburg at 10 am and headed down to Frederick, Maryland for our first stop, lunch at Brewer’s Alley, arriving ten minutes before they opened at 11:30. We opted to sit at the bar, I ordered the sampler and JB the cask Trinity Stout. Brewer’s Alley serves six beers on tap: a kolsch, IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Pils, Nut Brown Ale and Dunkel Weizen. The IPA was my favorite, although more like a pale ale in character, it had a delightful citrus aroma and flavor and was nicely balanced. The oatmeal stout and kolsch tied for second, the former displaying a roasty character and good balance between sweet and bitter flavors and the latter lightly fruity with clean grainy maltiness and a pleasant hops presence. I recommended the kolsch to Mary Kay, who is experiencing a burgeoning appreciation of craft beer, and she loved it. My six-beer 5 ounce sampler was $7.08
I’ll admit, I was expecting more interior personality being in the historic downtown of Frederick, but Brewer’s Alley is a swell place – worn wood floors, mustard colored walls, high ceilings, and exposed brick behind the brewing equipment, which is separated from the bar area by glass etched with hop plants, a very cool touch. The u-shaped wood bar seats at least fourteen, with tables and chairs around. There’s a medium-sized dining room off to one side as well as a small front deck that overlooks Market Street.
My buffalo catfish po’boy special was quite tasty and JB declared the Smokehouse burger, a burger topped with applewood-smoked bacon and pulled pork, extremely good, while Mary Kay found the broccoli and cheese soup delicious. The Brewer’s Alley has a pleasant atmosphere and flavorsome food and beers, check it out next time you’re in Frederick, Maryland!
Almost two hours later we pulled into Legend Brewing Company, just south of the James River and downtown Richmond. The spacious deck was calling and we took a seat at one of the many iron patio tables available. Six regular and five seasonal draft beers were on offer. I ordered a sampler of each and we relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful spring weather. The year-round beers are a lager, pilsner, brown, golden, pale ale and porter, the current seasonals a Vienna Lager, Hefeweizen, Maibock, Doppelbock, and Imperial Brown. The lager was my favorite of the year-rounds, a very clean easy drink. The pilsner and brown were also tasty. The seasonals were where it was at, though; the Maibock was delish, with a lightly sweet grainy nose and flavor and a hint of honey on the tongue. The Imperial Brown and Doppelbock were very drinkable, the brown having a lot of depth, raisin/molasses and a good amount of hop bitterness to balance and the doppelbock very easy-drinking, a clean, toasty-sweet beer. We split a Munich Platter, which included a bratwurst, soft pretzel, and Gruyere cheese, the perfect late afternoon snack. The deck is the draw here, with at least 27 tables and a scenic view of downtown Richmond, the perfect place to spend a 79º breezy Spring afternoon. The inside seems cool, too, with a beer hall feeling – lots of light-colored wood, high ceilings, and a spacious feeling. Classic rock was playing, adding to the laid-back atmosphere. Legends is located in a former machine shop in an industrial-type area. If I lived in Richmond, I’d be hanging out on the deck sipping a Maibock or a lager many an afternoon.
After checking into the hotel and some freshening up, we walked two blocks to Capital Ale House for dinner. We sat ourselves at the impressively long L-shaped wood bar stretched along the left side. I’d first heard about this bar from my parents, who were awed by the ice strip that runs along the length of the bar to keep your drinks cool. This was not a selling point for me and I didn’t find it very effective at keeping my water cool, but it’s a draw for many. An inviting atmosphere, the deep room has lots of wood – wainscoting, trim above the bar, and the booths lining the right side. Historic prints add a nice touch. JB ordered the Blue Grass Jefferson Reserve Imperial Stout from Kentucky, at 10.5%, a deliciously smooth, complex example of the style. I opted for a bottle of the St George Brewing Company Spring Lager, a Vienna-style lager that was quite pleasurable, clean with a lot of malty flavor. I started with a house salad with a savory dill-blue cheese dressing and followed with the smoked gouda-bacon mussels – light yet hearty and very satisfying. JB devoured his sausage-stuffed pretzel sandwich. Capital Ale House has 2 cask ales and JB opted for one of these for his second. I was remiss in writing it down, but it was a delicious IPA from a Virginia brewery. Capital Ale House has 46 taps total, between the main bar and the downstairs game room and around 250 bottles. Great live music was playing the in the side room while we were there and drawing a lot of people in. The place can get a little noisy and smoky, but with the classy yet comfortable atmosphere, terrific beer selection, and delightful food, this is a must on any visit to Richmond.
I was pretty beat at this point, but we forged on to Richbrau Brewing Company, an easy walk from Capital Ale House. This was the coolest space – with an exposed wood rafter ceiling, lots of exposed brick, a metal-topped wood bar, old-fashioned tall windows, and interesting beer memorabilia on the walls. My palette wasn’t the best by now, but I wasn’t impressed with either the golden or the pale. The E.S. Kelly’s Springtime Stout was a solid drink, as well as the Winter Warmer on tap. The cask Winter Warmer had gone south, tasting more like a sour fruit ale than the nice malty beer that we had just had. JB finished with a pint of the house root beer, a delectable drink. Overall, worth the stop, but be sure to ask for samples before you order your pint.