Virginia is for lovers, but North Carolina is for beer lovers. Our state boasts a sleuth of fabulous breweries, microbreweries and nano breweries—from the Coastal Plain to the Piedmont to the Mountains. And this April, for North Carolina Beer Month, we’re here for it.
North Carolina is home to more than 250 (yes, 250) breweries statewide, with the count including beer institutions both large and small.
Last year, Thrillist placed North Carolina in the top 20 states in the country, ranked according to their beer. In fact, Thrillist ranked us number 17, writing, “You can kind of take [our] comments about Virginia, replace ‘Devil's Backbone’ with ‘Wicked Weed,’ and basically go from there—except the key difference is that North Carolina's game is just a bit stronger overall.”
Heist, Green Man, Olde Hickory, Ponysaurus—Asheville might still be the state's beer capital, but there's fine hop artistry being performed statewide.
So April is NC Beer Month. How can you get in on the action?
NC Beer Month: Give me the rundown
NC Beer Month, in its sixth year, is a celebration of regional beer culture. The show is put on by Visit North Carolina and the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild, both of whom are the official “hosts” this year.
Beer destinations span from the NC mountains to the sea. Notable cities that host great breweries include Asheville, Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte. But don’t count out the rest of the state—Holly Springs homes the fantastic Carolina Brewing Company, while the award-winning Olde Hickory Brewery is just one hour outside of Boone. The Triad’s three cities, High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem, also rival the big guys with some great spots to grab a brew or two.
Wherever you participate in NC Beer Month, April 2018 is sure to be packed with activities for the beer lover:
- Dozens of brewery/beer-inspired events
- Beer festivals and beer weeks
- Collaborations between award-winning brewers
- Tours, beer tastings, food pairings and beer dinners
- Classes in beer-making
Just a few great NC breweries
You’ve, of course, got the big players with North Carolina–specific brewery expansions participating in NC Beer Month this year: Sierra Nevada, New Belgium Brewing Company and Oskar Blues (known for Dale’s Pale Ale)—with outposts around Brevard and Asheville. But if you’re in for something more homegrown, give these three breweries a try.
Ponysaurus Brewing (Durham). “Asheville understandably hogs a lot of the spotlight when it comes to NC beer, what with being one of the country's best beer cities and all. But that's just allowed the folks over in Durham to quietly start building their own stable of fantastic breweries, of which Ponysaurus might be the most fascinating, and not just because of the amazing horse/dino hybrid that made its way from our dreams and onto the label. This joint loves to jump all over the style spectrum, from rye pale ale to fig saison to one of the best chocolate stouts on the market. Regardless of what's being brewed, it's bound to be different from everything else. Which is to say, when you see that logo, you know you're in good hooves,” Thrillist writes.
Brewery Bhavana (Raleigh). “This James Beard Award–nominated restaurant combines dim sum, a flower shop and a bookstore under one roof, and [it] serves beer made at their brewing facility located a mile away. Although pork bao and pan-fried dumplings make for unexpected brewery food, servers are happy to help you navigate the 40 silver taps behind the white marble bar,” Our State Magazine writes.
Wicked Weed (Asheville). “A brewery that has a handle on everything from hoppy to sour to barrel-aged to funky and everything in between? That almost never happens. But there's clearly something special happening in the hills of Asheville, where Wicked Weed's ascension to the top in a state that is positively jam-packed with all kinds of great beer has been as storied as it has been fast. Hop hounds will dig things like Lieutenant Dank, a straightforward yet complex 6.5% IPA, and if you're lucky to get bottles of the Red Angel sour, you'll understand why the barrel and sour program has beer fans from coast to coast losing their collective minds,” Thrillist writes.
Why celebrate North Carolina beer?
As “The State of Southern Beer,” North Carolina is one of the best for craft brewing. A rich agricultural heritage lends itself to unique flavors and wonderful local ingredients—apples, sweet potatoes, kumquats, blueberries, blackberries, barley, wheat, rye and, of course, hops. National medals and awards have proven it.
Participating in NC Beer Month supports local businesses. And going local is something we can all get behind. As April comes to a close, the hope is that NC residents and out-of-towners alike will have an even better appreciation for NC’s thriving beer culture.
To learn more, check out the official NC Beer Month website (which links to host cities, venues and even a “beer trip ideas” page for inspiration); follow NC Beer Month on Twitter; and enjoy a pint for us while you’re at it.