On the morning of Saturday 3/8/14 we woke up to a beautiful view of the Currituck Sound in the northeastern corner of North Carolina. After a hearty breakfast at a roadside café that just so happened to be the home base of the popular monster truck, Grave Digger, we drove just a few more miles south to the oldest microbrewery in the state, Weeping Radish Farm Brewery. If you have been paying attention to our travels, you know that NC has a booming craft beer scene and it all started here with the work of a Bavarian native, Uli Bennewitz. After moving to America he had a vision to share the delicious beers he had grown up with and decided to open up a traditional German style brewery and restaurant in NC’s popular Outer Banks. So he went to work and ordered brewing equipment to be shipped from Germany, later finding out that his grand vision was an illegal one. At that time it was against the law in NC to sell a brewery’s beer directly to consumers (a 3rd party distributor was required) so in 1985 Uli spearheaded changing those silly laws with a local senator and won, finally opening up his brewery in Manteo on July 4, 1986.
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 the morning of 3/6/14 we kept ourselves busy playing catch up with some writing before driving a couple hours to Kinston for a tour of Mother Earth Brewing. After our detailed tour courtesy of Kevin Graham, we chatted with the Account and Taproom Manager, Sean Maloney, over a flight and also had to opportunity to speak with the brewery founders, Trent Mooring and Stephen Hill. Mother Earth has been making award winning beers since they opened for business in October 2008 with experienced Brewmaster, Josh Brewer, at the helm. Of special note, after three years of renovation and hard work to increase environmental sustainability, in February 2012 they were the very first brewery in the country to become LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) gold certified by the US Green Building Council.
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 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.