According to ncbeer.org, our state has more breweries than any other in the South; since 2010 the number of N.C. craft breweries has more than doubled. It was in 2010 that legislation raising the alcohol limit on beer sold in the state was passed. This change and other adjustments favorable to small breweries has helped boost this beer boom.
Craft beer lovers are seeking out a place to go hang out and taste new beers. Brew pubs are replacing the typical local bar scene. Each brewery offers its own relaxed, community-friendly atmosphere. The open, airy taprooms have televisions, cards, board games, a foosball table and chairs arranged to promote conversations. Some breweries welcome families as well. Events are scheduled throughout the week, with music and food trucks on the weekends. Running clubs take off and meet back for a pint and conversation. But with all the new breweries, it’s not easy to stay on top of the scene; here are a few of the local area stand-outs:
Carolina Brewing Company was founded in 1993 and is one of the original local breweries in the Triangle. They started off selling their beer to local restaurants and bars in kegs and grew to bottling and canning. They are a mainstay at area grocery stores and SAMS Club. After 20 years of brewing, CBC recently opened a taproom with a 35-seat bar and large wall of patio doors that open up to outdoor seating. They have a mobile Ambrewlance, a retrofitted ‘antique’ ambulance something straight out of Ghostbusters that you can rent for events. Thursday nights are $3.50 pint night. Free brewery tours are given Saturdays at 1 PM and 4 PM. Wednesday night run club 7 PM. CBC is well known for their Carolina Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and Carolina Brown Ale. www.carolinabrew.com
White Street Brewing Company opened its doors in the historic town of Wake Forest in September 2012. Built into a 1930s car dealership, it was conceived as a gathering place for the community. You won’t find any board games here as the setting is more adult-oriented. The demand for their high caliber brews has led to the addition of a state-of-the-art production facility just a few miles away. They now reserve the taproom facility to experiment with techniques and flavors that can’t be achieved in a large-scale production capacity. These limited release creations are often found only on draught in the taproom. Tuesday night run club 7 PM. Live music and food-trucks most Saturday nights. Their Kolsch German Ale was the winner of 2014 World Beer Cup Gold Award. www.whitestreetbrewing.com
Bruepint is Apex’s first brewery. Owner Eric Wagner is an engineer by trade, with a former career in water treatment. He opened the brewery in 2014 after years of brewing on the weekends at home. This brew pub is welcoming to families and has a relaxed setting. There is a fun vibe and it plays out in their beer names and bottle artwork. Tuesday run club at 7 PM. Here’s a twist, when participating in their run club will earn you customized Bruepint gear, earn a pint after 10 runs and a sweatshirt with 50 runs. The Bruepint current beers on tap are Pale Brue Eyes, Brue Scarlet and Bruenette Brown Ale. www.brueprint.com
Bombshell Beer Company is North Carolina’s first 100% women-owned microbrewery and located in Holly Springs. Being a female-owned brewery, their approach is to fill the market for the female beer enthusiast while welcoming males as well. Many of their beers are good crossovers for those who are more familiar with drinking the national brands Food trucks on-site Thursday – Saturday, and there’s live music on many weekend evenings. Free brewery tours by reservation Friday 6:30 or Saturday 2:30 PM or 4 PM. Thursday night run club 6:30 PM. The Bombshell flagship beers are the Polished Pilsener, Perception Pale Ale, Pickup Line Porter, Lost My Way IPA and they offer a rotation of different types of stouts. www.bombshellbeer.com
Compass Rose Brewery opened its doors in North Raleigh in 2015. Compass Rose Brewery’s beer ingredients are influenced by the international travels of the owners. Their beers are sophisticated and do not come with kitschy names. In addition to serving their own beers, they also have guest taps that compliment their own beers. For now, Compass Rose doesn’t bottle and sell its beer. It does sell kegs and distributes to bottle shops and restaurants. They are unique in that they have a huge open concept taproom which makes it a great place to host events such as business meetings, parties, anniversaries and even wedding receptions. They also have outdoor seating with shade tents. Tables have board games on them, and one wall features chalkboard paint to encourage visitors to leave their mark. Weekly events include Trivia, Open Mic Night, live music and a rotation of food trucks. Some of their beers on tap now include Kurbiskopf Pumpkin Hefeweizen, Molasses Amber and Wheelhouse IPA. www.compassrosebrewery.com