When we first got into Richmond, VA, we made a night of hanging out at Capital Ale House trying a few of the beers local to the area, and then got to spend some time at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery on Monday, 3/10/14. We were lucky enough to meet a significant portion of the staff during our visit, but spent most of the time talking to head brewer Brian Nelson and co-founders Patrick Murtaugh & Eric McKay. They walked us around the original 12,000 sq ft facility as well as the other 19,000 sq ft building next door, while telling us all about what the brewery has to offer now and in the upcoming future.
After our short-lived visit to Winston-Salem, NC, we made a trek to Haw River Farmhouse Ales on Monday, 3/3/14 to visit with Nick Mangili – a friend of ours who we met when he was a brewer at Deep Ellum Brewing Company back in Dallas, TX. He is now brewing test batches for Haw River Farmhouse Ales since they’re not actually open just quite yet. This brewery is going to be incredibly unique, utilize local ingredients including a house yeast they collected from their backyard on their own, and will be opening sometime later this year.
After leaving Asheville on the morning of Wednesday, 2/26/14, we spent some time at Pisgah Brewing, then continued east to Fonta Flora Brewery. Not only is the name ‘Fonta Flora’ a beautiful Latin alliteration, it also has significant historical ties to the area. Just a little northwest from the brewery, the Linville River runs through a gorge and into Lake James, where an old sharecropping community lived back in the late 1800s/ early 1900s. The community was known as Fonta Flora but, once people created Lake James by damming the Linville River, the community was flooded. The brewery pays homage to this lost community through their logo of an underwater town.
We took a drive through the Smoky Mountains after leaving Knoxville to spend some time checking out the scenery, then made our way over to Asheville, NC on Friday, 2/21/14. For four years (2009-2012) Asheville was voted “Beer City USA” with a national poll, and our first stop there was to Burial Beer Co. This small yet ambitious brewery was started on June 15, 2013 by Doug & Jess Reiser and their friend, Tim Gormley.
Our brewery visit on Wednesday, 2/19/14 was a unique one. Rather than going to Chattanooga Brewing Company’s current up and running facility in Chattanooga, TN, we made our way to their future site which is nearing completion just a few miles away. Co-owner and brewer Jonathan Clark was just finishing up his busy day when we arrived and was kind enough to give us insight into the past, present, and future of the brewery.
We packed our stuff back in Birmingham, headed north, stayed the night at Point Mallard Campground in Decatur, AL, and then made our way to Blue Pants Brewery in Madison on 2/17/14. Right as we walked up to the brewery, we noticed the beautiful 4,000 sq ft patio containing tables, chairs, and a stage outside. Apparently they utilize that space by bringing in musicians to perform on a weekly basis, as well as allowing patrons to hang out there anytime they’re open.
Once we left Atlanta, we headed west into Alabama again and found ourselves back in the Central Time Zone on Friday night. The next morning, we drove into Birmingham to see what Good People Brewing is all about. At first we just sat at their bar and spoke with some nice locals, who one might consider to be good people, then joined the 4pm tour with Tripp Windham as our guide. Tripp was one of the most entertaining people we have run into yet and, outside of giving tours, he works the canning line, serves beer in the taproom, and helps out with various other tasks at the brewery.
After surviving the ice and snow onslaught, our good friend Sarah made her way up from Savannah and joined us at Twain’s Billiards and Tap in Decatur, GA on Thursday, 2/13/14. Owner and co-founder Ethan Wurtzel greeted us when we walked in the door, then poured us a flight of beers to enjoy as we talked to him about the brewpub. Twain’s is, and always has been, a place where you can hang out, eat, drink, watch sporting events on TV, play shuffleboard, darts, pool, and other games; it’s a very interactive establishment.
While awaiting the impending doom of Icepocalypse 2.0 in Atlanta, GA, we went to check out Wrecking Bar Brewpub on the evening of Monday, 2/10/14. We chatted with the bartender, Paul, while sampling a flight of their beers on tap, and then got introduced to their head brewer, Neal Engleman. Neal started as a server at the Grand Opening on June 19, 2011, but quickly worked his way into the brewery by November.
Finishing out our stay in the state of South Carolina was a visit to Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville on Saturday, 2/8/14. As soon as we walked into the brewery, the owner, brewmaster, and brewery manager, Tom Davis, put down his woodworking tools and kindly greeted us. He gave us detailed insights into the brewery’s past, present, and future state alongside his two border collies.