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.
On Wednesday, 3/5/14 we randomly ended up at Fullsteam Brewery on the same day that Brew Dogs was filming the first episode of their new season. I’ll touch on that a little bit at the end of this write-up, but the brewery has so much to offer that I don’t want that to be the main focus. Fullsteam’s beers are often nuanced and balanced and for the most part they don’t have in-your-face recipes (although there are some exceptions, like the Sour Working Man’s Lunch and the First Frost winter seasonal). They really strive for complexity through simplicity, and Carver Sweet Potato Lager is a good example of that – sweet potatoes are used in the recipe but, rather than going overboard with spices in an attempt to make sure it tastes like sweet potatoes (which would instantly turn it into a seasonal beer), they instead strip it down to the essence making it something more interesting that also pairs very well with food.
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.
Wrapping up the end of our second month of traveling on Friday, 2/28/14 was a trip to Triple C Brewing in Charlotte, NC. Chris Harker, one of the owners, had reached out to us back in January after finding our blog, so we made sure to make time to visit them. He greeted us as soon as we walked in the door and proceeded to show us around the 20,000 sq ft facility while we all enjoyed some laughs over pints of Triple C beer.
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.
Our final brewery visit in Asheville was on Tuesday, 2/25/14 to the first and longest standing brewery in the area, Highland Brewing Company. The brewery originally started in 1994 in the basement of Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria in the heart of Asheville and their first beer was the Gaelic Ale. For a few years, Highland was only sold on tap through kegs at Barley’s, but started gaining popularity fairly quickly. We got to speak with Asheville native and employee of Highland, Drew Stevenson, while we were there, and he informed us that downtown started to really get refurbished in the late 80s / early 90s just before Highland began brewing their first beer.
Our third brewery visit in Asheville, NC was to Wicked Weed Brewing on Sunday, 2/23/14. We were instantly overwhelmed by the number of beer options on the tap menu and realized that we were going to have to hang out for a while in order to get through three different flights of 8 unique beers each. After ordering the first flight, co-owner Rick Guthy sat down with us to explain what makes Wicked Weed unique.
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.
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.