Cities & Regions★ ★ ★ Here a beer, there a beer ★ ★ ★
Every great brewery reflects its place. Asheville’s carefree-with-an-edge vibe. Charlotte’s creative can-do confidence. The capture-the-wind spirit of the Outer Banks. Lively cities, one-of-a-kind towns and communities without a zip code of their own – all add their flavor to North Carolina craft beer. They also create an experience beyond the tap room for travelers during NC Beer Month and beyond.
With dozens of area craft breweries, a malt house, hop farms, and hundreds of beer bars and independent restaurants, it’s no mystery why Asheville repeatedly swept the Beer City USA poll and continues to lay claim to the most microbreweries per capita of any American city. The independent spirit of this vibrant mountain city infuses every pint, from Asheville Brewing’s piquant Fire Escape Ale to Pisgah Brewing’s Nitro Stout and Wicked Weed Brewing’s hops-forward IPAs. A stunning array of traditional and creative beers are on tap around town, served up at locales ranging from small, hole-in-the-wall microbreweries to sprawling riverside beer gardens, and from a brewing district perfect for DIY brewery crawls to destination breweries bottling nationally known brews.
Hiking, mountain biking, zip lining and snow sports make Avery County popular for outdoor lovers, who welcome the arrival of a lively beer scene. Beech Mountain Resort is home to Beech Mountain Brewing – one of the loftiest breweries in the Eastern U.S. – as well as the Mile High Tavern, which offers the largest selection of North Carolina craft beer in the High Country. Just down the mountain, Kettell Beerworks in Banner Elk serves a dozen beers on tap.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, travelers can have it both ways. Find laid-back luxury in “the Crown of the Blue Ridge” with hiking and horse trails, sweeping views, zip lines and scenic byways. Reminiscent of a small New England village, Blowing Rock is secluded but not isolated, old-fashioned but not outdated, and perfect for strolling between local shops, restaurants and, of course, the Blowing Rock Ale House. There’s plenty to toast during North Carolina Beer Month; and shortly after it ends, Savor Blowing Rock rolls in during the first weekend in May, celebrating wine, craft beer, spirits and food.
Explore a lively downtown and serene hideaways surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Find the right amount of adventure, from adrenaline-pumping mountain biking, kayaking or zip lining, to a relaxing day of fly fishing or hiking. Browse outfitters, shops and art galleries, and dine at eateries and bistros near the Appalachian State University campus. Celebrate North Carolina Beer Month at Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Lost Province Brewing Co. and Booneshine Brewing’s tasting room at Basil’s Fresh Pasta & Deli – each features locally inspired brews and welcoming venues.
Bordering the southern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Bryson City is a laid-back, non-touristy town of 1,400 with more stop signs than stoplights. It’s an easily strollable town with local bookstores, galleries with working artisans, unique shopping and family-friendly museums. There’s a surprising variety of restaurants, including dining on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s BBQ & Brews runs. Sit a spell and look up at a clear blue sky and green mountainsides, then jump in a raft or hop on a bike or a zip line to see what this outdoor destination is all about. Lodging options run from mom and pop motels, country inns and B&Bs to mountain cabins and small chain hotels.
Motorsports heritage is rooted in moonshine, so the heart of racing country is no stranger to crafting small-batch beverages. Known as “Where Racing Lives,” Cabarrus County is home to the ultimate motorsports experience and storytelling brews. Today, area breweries have multiplied beer offerings while inspiring adventure and connecting visitors with community history. Take “Reed’s Gold” from Cabarrus Brewing — named for America’s first discovery of the precious metal and best experienced after touring underground mine tunnels. Before exploring the craft beer scene, pick up a free #RaceToTaste coaster set at the Cabarrus County Visitor Center for a fun list of local spots to sip.
Chapel Hill Area
You don’t have to walk far in Chapel Hill to find craft beer. Less than half a mile of sidewalk separates a pair of blue-blooded brewpubs – Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery and Carolina Brewery – both on the lively Franklin Street artery. Among the popular NC Beer Month releases is TOPO’s famous Blue Ridge Blueberry Wheat. In this cool college town, there are plenty of stops for shopping, dining and art-gazing; plus, the adjacent town of Carrboro is home to Steel String Craft Brewery and Vecino Brewing Co.
The Charlotte area shines as a beer destination with more than three dozen breweries in operation or on the way, including Olde Mecklenburg, NoDa, Lenny Boy, Birdsong, Sycamore, Heist, Legion and Free Range. Visit a few in one day with Charlotte Brews Cruise, Charlotte Brewery Tours or Trolley Pub Charlotte. Grab a pint at Growlers Pourhouse or VBGB Beer Hall & Garden. Fill your growler at Tank’s Tap at 7th Street Public Market or a choice bottle shop like Carolina Beer Temple or Rhino Market & Deli. And for brews, sports and outdoor adventure, don’t miss the beer gardens at BB&T Ballpark, Spectrum Center and the U.S. National Whitewater Center.
Eighty-five miles of gleaming Atlantic beaches only begin to tell the story of North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. In addition to wide pearlescent beaches and plenty of sunshine, beer connoisseurs delight in hoppy satisfaction. Whether indulging in Friday Night Flights at Clawson’s 1905, sampling more than 30 craft beers at Tight Lines Pub & Brewing Co., or enjoying a toes-in-the-sand glass, pint, stein, bottle or can at Idle Hour Biergarten, there are plenty of options for the beer enthusiast. Carteret County’s first nanobrewery, Mill Whistle Brewing, is on the site of the 100-year-old Safrit Lumber Mill. Check out the variety of small-batch styles, locally inspired ales and IPAs at Mill Whistle’s Mill Fest & Homebrewing Competition during NC Beer Month.
Currituck Outer Banks
Bring your binoculars and camera, a sense of adventure and an appetite. At the northernmost end of the North Carolina coast, you can see descendants of Spanish mustangs run wild, climb a gleaming lighthouse, channel spirits at a millionaire’s hunting club, and order from menus loaded with local catches and local brews. And that’s just on the destination’s beach side. NC Beer Month warrants a trip across Currituck Sound to Weeping Radish Restaurant and Brewery, the state’s first modern brewpub, and other attractions found nowhere else.
Like Durham, craft beers are unique, diverse and interesting. So, it’s fitting that Durham is a nexus for the development and appreciation of craft beer. The city is home to breweries such as Bull City Burger and Brewery, Fullsteam Brewery, Ponysaurus Brewing, Bull Durham Beer Co., Durty Bull Brewing Company, Barrel Culture Brewing & Blending, and Starpoint Brewing. All are helmed by experienced brewmasters producing distinct beers with local flavor and style that are each uniquely Durham in its own right. Enjoy tours and tastings and hang with the locals over a pint.
Beer makes history more interesting, and vice versa. Discover those truths in Edenton, a waterside town where momentous events have been brewing since 1712. Recognized as one of America’s prettiest towns by Forbes.com, Edenton will link the sites of historic taverns to their modern counterparts during NC Beer Month. Spring blossoms, architectural gems and sparkling waters set the stage for special events, and downtown dining and watering spots will have North Carolina craft beer waiting for visitors after a day of strolling and shopping or paddling creek trails along the Inner Banks.
Visitors do not remain strangers for long in the Harbor of Hospitality. According to local lore, the name of the city is derived from a local saucy tavern proprietress, Elizabeth “Betsy” Tooley, who welcomed sailors to the area. Today, visitors can experience Elizabeth City’s hospitality with an afternoon at the local microbrewery, Ghost Harbor Brewing Company, or indulging in the eclectic mix of eateries and watering holes allowing you to enjoy libations from craft brews to smooth bourbons. Visit again in October for the annual River City Rhythm & Brews event celebrating music and NC craft beer.
People who visit the Fayetteville area for its military museums, the ZipQuest canopy tour and golf find their thirst for craft beer satisfied. Huske Hardware House Restaurant & Brewery makes its home in a downtown landmark near the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. The Mash House Brewing Co. serves a tempting menu along with year-round and seasonal brews. Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills comes with a sessionable story about two Army medics who started as home brewers before taking their Blood Orange Kölsch and other styles public. In 2017, two new breweries came on board in Cumberland County, and both were started by military veterans: Bright Light Brewing Company in downtown Fayetteville and, a few blocks away, Lake Gaston Brewing Company.
Beer connoisseurs and those who just like a "cold one" are sure to enjoy the tastes that Greensboro has to offer. Breweries range from small hometown breweries to one of the largest in the state. Beer travelers will find craft beer events and specials at our 500-plus restaurants, all while exploring a city where visionaries, history-makers and forward-thinkers have left their mark. Bring your pup along to enjoy our dog-friendly breweries and pick up locally made dog treats with Natty Greene’s spent grain.
Pirates of yore loved rum. But in Greenville, home of the East Carolina University Pirates, craft beer has a stronghold. For proof, head to PirateFest, a two-day celebration with pirate revelry, music, food and beer. Grab a PassPork and hit the Pitt County Brew & ’Cue Trail to earn some fun swag. Collect trail stamps at The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery, Trollingwood Taproom & Brewery, Uptown Brewing Company and Pitt Street Brewing Company. Then, stop for some famous Eastern North Carolina whole-hog barbecue at B’s Barbecue, Skylight Inn, Sam Jones BBQ and more. The destination’s appeal also includes campus attractions, the Greenville Museum of Art and River Park North on the Tar River.
From can’t-miss restaurant fare to a deep-rooted agricultural sensibility, Hendersonville brings a careful balance of innovation and tradition to the beer and hard cider scene. It's no wonder Sierra Nevada chose Henderson County for its state-of-the-art brewery. Sanctuary Brewing and longtime favorite Southern Appalachian Brewery put their own twists on unique brews, while Blue Ghost Brewing is gaining notice for its small-batch beers and Triskelion Brewing is serving malty, hoppy, juicy beers in historic downtown. Henderson County, the state's top apple producer, is also emerging as an East Coast hub for hard cider with Bold Rock and Appalachian Ridge Artisan Ciders leading the way. The Hendersonville Cheers! Trail, which includes about 10 breweries, cideries and wineries, allows visitors to create custom tasting itineraries.
Hickory is known for its heritage of craftsmanship in manufacturing and furniture, but the artistry doesn’t stop there. Well-crafted beer takes on new life in the Blue Ridge Foothills. The Hickory Downtown Development Association hosts more than 50 breweries – mostly from North Carolina – at the Hickory Hops brewers festival and competition, which was started in 2003 by the award-winning Olde Hickory Brewery. That legacy has paved the way for local merchants to sell microbrews. NC Beer Month makes a perfect occasion to experience craftsmanship at its peak.
The arrival of a star brewery has elevated the “Furniture Capital of the World” as a beer destination, a place where travelers come to raise a pint as well as shop for stylish barstools, pint glasses and steins. Just months after its 2016 opening, Brown Truck Brewery brought home the gold from the Great American Beer Festival. The brewery, which also won "Very Small Brewing Company Brewer of the Year," takes its place on the beer map alongside Liberty Brewery & Grill, The Brewer’s Kettle and other spots with active taps. Between-beer options include shopping, golf, zip lining and hiking at Piedmont Environmental Center.
First came the moonshine legacy, then the muscadine wineries. Now breweries have further enlivened this destination known for its rich agricultural heritage. Pick up U.S. Highway 70 east of Raleigh to connect to Deep River Brewing in historic downtown Clayton, with beer made from homegrown ingredients and delicious food truck fare. A few minutes farther east in Wilson’s Mills, Double Barley Brewing offers different beer styles and an atmosphere that embraces art and music. Leave time to visit Smithfield, home of the Ava Gardner Museum and Carolina Premium Outlets. Enjoy a bite at chef-owned restaurants like Manning’s and Simple Twist, where you can also find local brews on-tap.
Of all the identities Kinston has worn since its establishment three centuries ago, the current one might be the most appealing. Colorful history remains in full view, but nowadays travelers are drawn to this city on the Neuse River for dining, a first-rate brewery, and the visual and musical arts. Start at Mother Earth Brewing and its sister distillery, then shop, stroll and taste your way through downtown. Keep your eyes open to make sure you take in all the public art, and stop by galleries and the Kinston Community Council for the Arts.
The lakeside of Charlotte is the place for a taste of North Carolina’s growing craft beer scene. Navigate your way to breweries and bottle shops within Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville with the help from Lake Norman’s Beer Trail Map. Celebrate NC Beer Month at any of the Lake Norman breweries whose specialty brews and inviting atmospheres have made them popular. And to refresh your spirits, find abundant lake activities and leisurely waterfront strolls at the largest manmade lake in our state.
Hiking boots. A banjo or fiddle. A copy of The Hunger Games. These items are worth packing for a beer trip to the Morganton area. Beer lovers will first map out Fonta Flora, a small brewery with a big following and Great American Beer Festival medals; and Catawba Brewing, a local success story that spills over to Asheville and Charlotte. Hikers can explore trails at South Mountains State Park, Lake James State Park and other areas of Linville Gorge. Musicians will head to the Drexel Barber Shop for the legendary Saturday jam, and Hunger Games fans must see the District 12 setting at the Henry River Mill Village. This is a destination to toast.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks has a way of luring seekers. From Duck to Hatteras Island, they come to chase adventure, climb a landmark lighthouse, connect with history and dine on the watermen’s catch. NC Beer Month makes an ideal time to toast it all. On Roanoke Island, where Sir Walter Raleigh’s colonists landed, Lost Colony Brewery and Cafe brews British- and Irish-style beers. And in Kill Devil Hills, where the Wright Brothers launched man’s first powered flight, the Outer Banks Brewing Station harnesses the draft at the nation’s first wind-powered brewery.
Just outside the urban rush of Raleigh and Durham is a destination that delights in the best expressions of pastoral farmland and foodie cravings. From casual homegrown ventures to the celebrated luxury of Fearrington House Inn and Restaurant, travelers can tap into a place with nifty atmospheres and bountiful fresh food and drink. During North Carolina Beer Month, follow the vibe to tastings from the award-winning Carolina Brewery & Grill to the many finds (including golf courses) for craft beer and creative cuisines.
A brewery that launched in an airplane hangar. North Carolina’s first woman-owned brewery. A brewery born from a rickshaw company. Raleigh-area brewers know something about thinking differently. And with more than 30 breweries all over the destination; plus, their presence at World Beer Festival Raleigh – welcoming 250 craft brews from around the country – and Brewgaloo, celebrating regional craft breweries, you can bet on a craft beer experience like no other in April. In Raleigh, the brewers are just as excited to share their passion and inspirations as they are for you to taste the beer.
Discover the kinda’ country, kinda’ cool you’ve been craving at New Sarum Brewing Company and Morgan Ridge RailWalk Brewery & Eatery in downtown Salisbury. These original, homegrown breweries provide a relief from the larger metros and are conveniently located between Charlotte and the Triad. While you’re in town, grab a cold one at Salty Caper, Go Burrito, Mambo Grill and City Tavern or pick up a six-pack at the Salisbury Wine Shop.
Music lovers make a beeline for uptown Shelby to explore the fingers-on-frets exhibits at the Earl Scruggs Center and attend concerts at the incomparable Don Gibson Theatre. Now beer lovers are discovering this gem of a city, as well. With Scruggs, Gibson and disco singer Alicia Bridges raised in the area, it’s only natural that Shelby’s first brewery, Newgrass Brewing, would carry a melody. Newgrass complements Shelby’s star attractions as a popular spot for people to gather for music, food, beer and conversation. Add restaurants, unique shops, the Morgan and Wells Bed & Breakfast, and uptown Shelby hits all the right notes for a beer getaway.
There’s a reason more than 40 movies and television productions have chosen Southport as their backdrop – dramatic views of the Cape Fear River, ancient live oaks draped with Spanish moss, grand Victorian homes on shady streets, and proximity to beautiful beaches and barrier islands. The same allure draws plenty of visitors, and beer lovers among them find picture-perfect places to satisfy their thirst while exploring the pedestrian-friendly downtown or after a paddle on nearby waterways. And less than three miles from the heart of downtown, the aviation-themed Check Six Brewing gives beer travelers a priority destination for a flight of beer.
The quiet mountain town of Sylva boasts a booming brew scene along Main Street. Innovation Brewing adds a twist on traditional styles with more than 30 brews on taps. Innovation is home to the Cosmic Carryout Food Truck and also opened a wood-fired pizzeria on site in 2018. New to the Jackson County Ale Trail is Balsam Falls Brewing, which has six beers on tap. And enjoy Nantahala Brewing's downtown Sylva taproom, Whiteside Brewing Co. in Cashiers and Innovation's second location – in Dillsboro – as they all opened in 2018.
Within the southern crook of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can lose yourself in Waynesville the way you get lost in a good book. Ridge after ridge of scenic beauty holds your gaze. Colorful lore, familiar to Cold Mountain and Cataloochee readers, stirs your imagination. In historic downtown, shops, galleries and restaurants extend their welcome. And multiple breweries – impressive for a city of 10,000 – showcase their craft. Take a seat at Boojum Brewing, Frog Level Brewing or Bearwaters Brewing and ask how Frog Level got its name and who did what at the Battle of Waynesville.
Just beyond what the eye can see from the Blue Ridge Parkway, travelers find a visual feast in West Jefferson. History and culture unfold across 15 downtown murals. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church houses three frescoes by renowned painter Ben Long (Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in nearby Glendale Springs has another). And a trio of 23-foot-long Holsteins stands outside Ashe County Cheese, a not-to-miss attraction. If you expect more from a great mountain town, add the New River, Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, imaginative shops, B&Bs and Boondocks Brewing Tap Room and Restaurant, the beer lover’s ultimate reward for exiting the parkway.
Starstruck travelers love Wilmington, a telegenic city with more film credits than John Wayne. It’s also beloved by people who relish a stroll through well-preserved historic neighborhoods, dining of the highest order, inventive shops and galleries, and a chance to cruise scenic waterways. Front Street Brewery has been a star attraction for more than 20 years. And several newcomers – Waterman’s Brewing Co., Wrightsville Beach Brewery, New Anthem Beer Project and Edward Teach Brewery – make the destination irresistible for beer lovers. And keep your eyes peeled for the perfect souvenir: a freaker, the knit koozie created in Wilmington.
As the birthplace of North Carolina craft beer (Moravians began setting the trend here in the late 1700s), it comes as no surprise that you can create your own Craft Draft Crawl and hop between multiple local breweries in the heart of downtown Winston-Salem. Start at Foothills Brewing with its award-winning beers and an all-hops-on-deck beer school. Discover what happens when a chemist, a lawyer and an accountant walk into a bar and start a brewery at Wise Man Brewing; then make your way to Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company and enjoy seasonal suds and hometown brews. Afterward, stroll to one of Winston-Salem’s newest downtown breweries, Incendiary Brewing, located at the base of the iconic smokestack at the historic R.J. Reynolds Tobacco warehouse that’s now a dynamic innovation and technology hub. Or head to Small Batch Beer, where brewmasters specialize in “one tank at a time” and use locally sourced ingredients. Neighboring downtown in the historic West End neighborhood is Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co., where craft “blue-collar beer” is always on tap, and Joymongers Barrel Hall is aging beer to perfection in fresh bourbon and wine barrels. Next on the craft brew scene will be Radar Brewing, set to open in Summer 2019, located on the edge of the downtown arts district in the revitalized Industry Hill neighborhood.