Craft Beer Goodness…Brewing In North Carolina

Anyone attending the World Beer Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina earlier this month and unfamiliar with the status of craft beer in the “Tarheel” state might have noticed a little home field advantage.  Out of close to a hundred breweries represented, at least fifteen were from the state perhaps better known for barbeque than beer.  These breweries were also gathering the most attention, as just minutes into the festival’s first session, it was hard to tell where the lines around their tasting booths began and ended.  These breweries also didn’t necessarily have the biggest selection of beers to try, or were giving away the most free promotion items either, although one girl at the Boone Brewing station didn’t seem to miss a single shoulder or back as she slapped logo stickers on every passer-by.  And those that gathered quickly around the brewery’s booths might have only been simply familiar with them, making for perhaps a comfortable place to begin the afternoon’s tastings.  Yes, the number of North Carolina breweries in attendance might have certainly given the festival a decidedly regional taste, but after tasting the beers from them, any home field advantage gained was no less deserved, and as it turns out, appropriate.  With regards to the vast hop fields in the Pacific Northwest and craft beer centers of activity like California and Colorado, North Carolina is becoming a hub of craft beer excitement.  Festivals held here, like the World Beer Festival, do tend to showcase the breweries at the center of it all.  Home field advantage, of course, does have its perks.

Proof of all the buzz, however, is within the beers these breweries put out year round.  Little matches the commotion surrounding the annual release of Winston Salem based Foothills Brewing’s chocolate stout, Sexual Chocolate.  Their India Pale Ale, Hoppyum, seems to have achieved cult status in the state, and has been a mainstay on tap at a restaurant here in Roanoke for well over a year.  Asheville’s Highland Brewing, features several good beers, and their amber Gaelic Ale was recently reviewed by the founders of beeradvocate.com in which they write “A beer like this makes North Carolina shine within the robust American craft beer scene”.  “Dark Beer Specialists” Duck Rabbit Brewing make a stellar Brown Ale as well as others.  The list of breweries continues, from fellow Asheville Green Man and Craggie Breweries to Raleigh based Big Boss and Roth Brewing.  Newcomers such as Mother Earth, Roth, and Aviator Brewing companies begin to round out the list, but newly founded breweries are pretty much the norm here.  Part of the excitement in the state is the fact that many of these have been started within the last decade.

My session at the festival plus a few stops in Raleigh bars that featured these breweries meant that I came away with not one or two, but many new favorites.  Already familiar with some of the goodness that brews at Foothills and Duck Rabbit, Aviator’s Hot Rod Irish Red Ale and just about everything from Mother Earth topped my list, but I’m holding plenty of room for others to be added.  Home field here means that if you’re into good, craft beer, you’re the one that’s winning.  As it stands now, the state should be a tour destination for craft beer lovers on the east coast or otherwise, and I imagine more good beers, and perhaps breweries, are on the way – perhaps to soon become a poster child for the American craft beer industry, if not already.  And by the way, in case you weren’t aware of the state of craft beer in North Carolina, a good amber ale or lager pairs well with your pork barbeque.

Check out All About Beer Magazine – the organizers of four annual World Beer Festivals – at http://www.allaboutbeer.com

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~ by thebeerroad on April 18, 2011.

 
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