The Best Local Beer Breweries In North Carolina
We are in the midst of a beer revolution. There were once less than a hundred breweries in the entire country. Beer revenue may be sinking, but craft beer’s share is rising year over year. And with it comes a new culture, and a new way of thinking about drinking and enjoying beer.
No longer do we have to go to dank, dark, smokey pits of misery to have a Budweiser or a Miller Light. We can go to restaurants, tap rooms, bottle stores, or even to the brewery itself and get together and talk shop.
Just as people started gathering around a cup of coffee in the 90s, we’re seeing friends do the same over a pint as they go to their favorite local hangout and try new beers. And North Carolina is a great state to do just that.
Best North Carolina Breweries
Every major metro area in North Carolina is renowned for having at least one top quality brewery. In Charlotte, NoDa Brewing Company has created several award winning beers, known for their Hop Drop n’Roll.
Winston Salem is known for Foothills Brewing, which create the wonderful Hoppyum and People’s Porter.
Established in 1994, Hickory hosts Olde Hickory brewery, which creates a beautiful Ruby Lager, Death by Hops, and a wonderful Imperial Stout.
Greensboro is home to Natty Greene’s, which hosts a lot of wonderful seasonal beers and a solid Southern Pale Ale.
Raleigh And Asheville Breweries
The two areas in North Carolina that I love for beer are Raleigh and Asheville. Asheville has become celebrated for being the beer Mecca of the Appalachians, hosting Wicked Weed which is known for their sour beers–and I’ve recently had their French Toast Stout which was very inventive and delicious. I’m a sucker for one off beers that I probably wouldn’t drink on a regular basis.
Highland Brewing Company–to which I enjoy their black Mocha stout–has recently hosted new local franchises of breweries from the West such as Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues. Additionally, there’s plenty of great brewpubs (a place that is both a brewery and bar, as well as hosting its own restaurant).
LAB, or Lexington Avenue Brewery, both host a great selection of beer and also fantastic food, not seen in normal brew pubs. Seriously, I’ve had Yemiser W’et there, a spicy Ethiopian lentil dish that is quite tasty. And Wicked Weed’s brewpub also hosts some quite tasty food in their outside beer garden.
But while I love making treks out to Asheville for their beer and food, I don’t have to travel far for great beer on a regular basis. The Raleigh-Durham area has fantastic beer, and more breweries are opening up on a regular basis. Living here has allowed me to experience all the local brews and get exposed to new styles on a regular basis.
My favorite notable brewery is Aviator out in Fuquay-Varina. They produce a lot of great beers, such as Wide Open Red (a rich, malty red with a smooth hop aroma), Black Mamba Oatmeal Stout, Madbeach American Wheat, and several good seasonal’s. And they have an awesome smokehouse BBQ place.
Then there’s Big Boss within the Beltline of Raleigh off of Capital Blvd. Their brew house is huge, and their tours crowded. Bad Penny Brown Ale and High Roller IPA are my personal favorites.
Also in Raleigh is LoneRider, which makes such notable beers as Sweet Josie Brown Ale and Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen.
Before moving on to other cities, I’d like to mention that I absolutely love Raleigh Brewing Company. They also play host to my favorite home brew store, Atlantic Brew Supplies. RBC hosts great beer, particularly House of Clay RyePA, Hell Yes Ma’am Belgian Strong Ale, and several interesting seasonal’s. Every Tuesday they put small test batches on tap, giving you a chance to try the brewers’ newest creations.
English-Style Brews In Cary
Cary has recently seen their first brewery and tap room. Fortnight Brewing Company is a very unique brewery, in that they focus on making beers closer in style to English beers than the general American Craft Beer. They also serve “Casked” ales, as “the English drink warm beer.”
Yes, it’s a lot warmer than we as Americans are used to, served at 50-55F. Additionally, it’s not force carbonated and not served by a pressure system, but instead is naturally carbonated and served by a pump system.
This makes the same beer taste and feel very unique, giving it a completely different texture.
As far as notable beers, I prefer their Coffee Amber Ale, a beer with a bready, toasty taste with just a bit of coffee aroma to it, and their English Ale, a “sessionalbe” beer, which means that it’s low in alcohol (this one is 3.3%). Several can be thrown back in a drinking session without becoming inebriated, allowing you to savor the flavor. Like RBC, they produce small batch beers showing off the latest experimentation from the brewers.
I need to explore more of the surrounding RDU area, particularly Durham, Chapel Hill, the surrounding lower areas, and Wake Forest. I am particularly familiar with a few breweries and brewpubs outside of Raleigh and Morrisville, such as Carolina Brewing Company, Top of the Hill, White Street, White Rabbit, and Duck Rabbit–and new, interesting breweries are popping up regularly. I intend to write about each one in more depth and explore the breweries of North Carolina, and on my Youtube channel eventually doing individual beer reviews.
Do you have a favorite local brew? Share it in the comments!