We ended up sleeping in our van in Kinston, after we had left Mother Earth then grabbed some food across the street at Boiler Room. The next morning we made a trip to Farmville, NC on Friday, 3/7/14, to meet with the guys of Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery where Tony, who is the bartender for the taproom, jumped out of the front door and posed for a picture right when we pulled up. At that moment we already knew we would have a good time at this brewery who specializes in making only dark beers, even though we had not even gone inside yet.
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.
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.
On Friday, 2/7/14, we made our way from Charleston over to Columbia, SC and met with Joseph Ackerman, the President and Head Brewer of Conquest Brewing Company, along with Matt Ellisor, their Vice President and Assistant Brewer. One of the first things we noticed after walking in were the paintings on the walls, which they explained to us had been painted by a local artist named Chuck Maier to represent each of their beers. Some of the artwork was created based on the beer names, like Sacred Heart and Medusa Head, while others were painted without knowledge of the beer and then used to represent the beer, like The Finisher.
While staying in Jacksonville, FL, we made our way over to Bold City Brewery on Monday, 2/3/14. This was the first craft brewery in Jacksonville in recent times and, as of now, their beers can be found in Jacksonville, Fernandina, St Augustine, Gainesville, Tampa, St Pete, Sarasota, and some of Lake City. The family who runs Bold City feels extremely privileged to be the first craft brewery in Jacksonville, and since they don’t really do any marketing, they owe much gratitude to the people of Jacksonville who have helped grow their brand.
After taking Friday off to catch up on writing and research during the day and visit Epcot at Disney World with our friends at night, we met up with the generous people of Orlando Brewing on Saturday, 2/1/14. The first thing we did was jump onto their free 45-minute public tour with James Elmer as our guide and learned all about their brewing process. Tod Caviness of the Orlando Sentinel joined us on that tour as well, and afterwards interviewed us; you can find that article here.
Immediately after checking out 7venth Sun Brewery on Wednesday, 1/29/14, we made a ridiculously long 2-minute drive all the way around the block to Dunedin Brewery in Dunedin, FL. Open since 1996, Dunedin is Florida’s oldest craft brewery with quite a few tricks up their sleeve. Not only do they brew, they also have food, live entertainment, and hold a ton of events. As soon as we walked in the door we were greeted by brewers Trace Caley and Richard Crance (Rick/ Ricky), along with their service/ sales manager Matt Barnett. Rick and Trace both claim there is no head brewer, but more so work as a brewing collective with the help of Mikey P., Simon Domb, and Lex Carr. Trace has been with the company for about 13-14 years and started homebrewing in 1992 simply because there was a limited amount of beers for him to choose from at that time.
On 1/22/14 we said goodbye to New Orleans and Louisiana and made another trip across Lake Pontchartrain and into Mississippi to tour Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in the city of Kiln. We met with Robert Purvis who walked us around the facilities and explained the brewery’s history and approach. Lazy Magnolia was founded in 2003 by engineers, Mark and Leslie Henderson. After receiving encouragement for their home-brewed creations the couple formed a consulting company Labor Day Weekend 2003 with plans of opening the first packaging brewery in the state of Mississippi since prohibition and with a focus on providing southern inspired brews. Production began in early 2005 with a 15 bbl brewhouse in a small room and a single beer offering – still their most popular – Southern Pecan nut brown ale made with whole roasted pecans, currently sourced from Mascot Pecan Shelling Co. in GA, added directly to the mash. The logo was originally based off of a painting done by Mark of a ‘lazy magnolia’, a term he used for the late blooming magnolia trees providing shade for the couple’s back porch.