Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound Breweries, Bottle Shops & Further Adventures

craftbeerguideWelcome to the 2017 Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound! The clever digital guide is perfect for the beer enthusiast charting a course to the region where land and water merge.  It is designed to help visitors and locals navigate their way through breweries, tap rooms, local bottle shops, growler filling stations and a few small-batch brew fests that seasonally land along our shores. We also squeezed in an introduction to seasonal selections that are specially brewed for the holidays and winter. By no means is this a “definitive” guide but one emerging and a work-in-progress. We’re simply trying to maintain pace with the exploding craft beer movement taking hold in our state. Stay tuned, keep in touch and let us know about regional craft beer news brewing in the region.

Currently, the Old North State claims more than 180 craft breweries. Here in the northeastern corner of the state, more and more craft breweries are popping up in the low country. As you travel around the region, you’re sure to gain a better appreciation of our regional microbreweries as you sample the eclectic styles of beer, meet the passionate brewers, go behind the scenes on a brewery tour and hear the wonderful stories that are connected to these creative enterprises.

We encourage our readers to learn more about the brewing process, discover the camaraderie of the craft beer community and maybe even take a few field notes next time you’re out test driving a flight of locally brewed beer. Hopefully, our guide will help point you in the right direction.

Happy Trails!                           cheerstocraftbeeralbemarlesound

Craft Beer News around the Sound

The Outer Banks Brewing Station is spreading holiday cheer one sip at a time with their Christmas Beer release this month – a Belgian Trappist style ale crafted with locally sourced pecans. Yum! They’re teaming up this year with the Rum Boys over at Outer Banks Distilling in Manteo, NC. OBBS is brewing the seasonal with “spent” pecans used to make the popular Kill Devil Hills Pecans and Honey Rum.

Just in time to welcome the cold weather, Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville released their Baltic Porter. A recent exploration of their website on the Our Beers menu described it as being “deep, rich and velvety soft with full blooded roasty character.” The brewers add, “This special brew rewards unhurried attention.” Sounds like good advice and the perfect beer to savor during the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Also, a big shout out to the microbrewery for their award in the 5th Annual NC Brewers Cup held earlier this fall. The Duck-Rabbit Märzen won 2nd Place in the Commercial European Amber Lager Class. This year’s competition included 651 total entries, which included 477 commercial entries and 174 home-brew entries. The event is organized by the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild and also serves as a Beer Judge Certification Program.

 

 

Connecting Communities – Small batch brewers are “crafty” in their use of locally sourced ingredients. From barley, wheat, rye and hops to sorghum, pecans, figs, blackberries, sweet potatoes and persimmons. This plow-to-pint movement is cultivating “beer farms” that produce local ingredients for the craft beer & home brew industry.

From the Tar River to Currituck Sound

Weeping Radish Brewery, Butchery & Farm located in Grandy, NC always brings joy to the holidays with their seasonal (Fall & Winter) Christmas Bier. The Doppelbock (Double Bock) is traditionally stronger than the German-style bock beer but not necessarily twice the strength as the double bock might suggest. The hearty beer tends to be exceptionally malty but surprisingly, not too bitter. These extraordinary beers trace their roots back to the 17th century. According to Weeping Radish’s website, “A Bavarian specialty first brewed in Munich by the monks of St. Francis of Paula.” One interesting side note — the Doppelbock is craft brewed using NC grown hops and malt.

Tarboro Brewing Company recently brewed and kegged their first Imperial Stout, which they named Southern Solstice. Talk about good timing – just in time for the Historic Tarboro’s Annual Weekend Christmas Crawl held last week. Hmm, might be a good idea to ring in the New Year with the folks at TBC and listen to some live local music, make new friends and check out the seasonal stout!

For all you “fest heads” out there, hurry up and buy tickets now if you want attend our region’s first craft beer festival of 2017! Greenville, North Carolina will be hosting the Jolly Skull Beer & Wine Festival on January 21, 2017. The seventh annual event showcases more than 50 American craft microbreweries and wineries. Approximately 125 beers and wines will be featured. Click here for tickets and more info.

Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound including Bottle Shops

further craft beer adventures albemarle sound

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The Craft Beer Guide to the Albemarle Sound & Beyond!

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Going Green in the Tar Heel State

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There appears to be an increasing trend of responsible travelers who consider the environment and sustainability when booking a trip, visiting a park or dining out at a local restaurant. Today it seems, “Going green is more than being cool, it is also smart!” From “green city” travel apps to eco-friendly lodging, more and more travelers, vendors, and travel organizations are choosing eco-friendly options. In May, Mandala Research and Sustainable Travel International released an 80+page report that surveyed nearly 3,000 travelers. Sixty-three percent of all travelers say they are much more likely to consider destinations where there is a strong effort to conserve and protect natural resources. Fortunately, the Tar Heel State offers a wealth of resources for the green-conscious traveler.

Businesses Strive toward a Green Standard

North Carolina’s GreenTravel Recognition Program is one of the most comprehensive in the nation. It was launched in 2011 becoming NC’s first statewide sustainable travel recognition program. Businesses that demonstrate a commitment to green tourism practices and achieve voluntary standards are eligible for recognition. These standards include compliance to regulatory rules and regulations, environmental protection policies, sustainability practices, waste reduction and recycling, energy management procedures and other guidelines.nc green travel initiativeGreen tourism operations include lodging, food service, attractions, museums, parks, vacation rentals, convention centers, festivals and other travel-oriented businesses. The initiative has been developed through a partnership of the North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service; The Center for Sustainability at East Carolina University; Visit North Carolina, and the Waste Reduction Partners program.

Tim Rhodes, Program Director of the NC GreenTravel Initiative, recently explained, “The purpose of the NC GreenTravel Initiative is to encourage a strong economy and promote sustainable tourism by awarding recognition to those businesses that apply and are accepted into the program.” The recognition program promotes robust economic growth and environmental stewardship in the travel and hospitality sector through the recognition of “green” travel-oriented businesses. Best of all, there is no cost involved in becoming a recognized NC GreenTravel business.

Digital Directory & Helpful Links

The website is a valuable toolkit for both residents and visitors traveling in North Carolina. Visitors to the site can browse a list or navigate a state map of Recognized NC GreenTravel members across the state. Tourism sectors are broken into several categories from lodging, dining, attractions, parks, festivals, vine & wine, nature-based and breweries. More than 100 businesses, parks, travel centers and other tourism sites are listed on the map and crisscross the state from Walnut Hollow Ranch in Hayesville to Cape Hatteras B & B in Buxton. Rhodes noted that there are 14 North Carolina State Parks participating in the NC GreenTravel Initiative including Merchants Millpond State Park in Gatesville, NC. The initiative has recently announced that Sustainable Farms can now apply for recognition. Farms currently listed on the program’s website include Hop’n Blueberry Farm in Black Mountain, Summerfield Farms in Summerfield, Ninja Cow Farm in Raleigh and Good Karma Ranch in Iron Station. These farms have met and exceeded the required criteria for becoming recognized as a Sustainable Tourism Farm.

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NC GreenTravel recognized Green Park – Merchants Millpond State Park

Whether you’re a business or traveler, you’ll discover a number of sustainable travel resources and links throughout the website – from NC Agritourism, tips for sustainable practices to green dining. Thanks to this exciting green travel program and partnership, NC travelers can now easily discover and support sustainable businesses throughout the Old North State.

Want to learn more? The North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (NC DEACS) can help businesses become more sustainable by providing them with non-regulatory, no-cost technical assistance and information. For information about the services provided by NC DEACS, contact tom.rhodes@ncdenr.gov or call (919) 707-8140.

Green Trips & Tips Along the Albemarle Sound Region

 

 

Step back in time and stay at the Beechtree Inn located in Hertford, NC. Choose among five pre-Civil War houses perched along 40 acres. A few of the cottages are pet-friendly. After a hearty country breakfast, take a road trip to Merchants Millpond State Park. Rent a canoe and paddle the enchanted cypress swamp and millpond.

 

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Day 2. Enjoy a lovely north-of-the-sound drive to the Outer Banks. Start the morning along one of NC Birding Trails at North River Game Land in Camden Co. Spend a casual afternoon fishing or strolling along NC Aquarium’s Jennett’s Pier in Nags Head, NC. Be sure to buy some NC Local Catch seafood while your dining out or shopping at the local market.

 

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North Carolina Guides to Craft Distillers & Breweries

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Two new guides have recently been published just in time for the holiday season. The publications conveniently package their products into a resourceful map and guide that showcase the Tar Heel State’s craft spirits and brews. One leads the adventurer along a Craft Distillers Trail while the other entices folks with a comprehensive tour of North Carolina’s 181 breweries and 43 craft beer festivals.

North Carolina’s Craft Spirits

No doubt about it, from early colonial days to prohibition North Carolina has always had a rich heritage in the culture of making spirits. But instead of the bootlegging or moonshiner reputation, today’s legal craft distillers are often described as artisans, scientists and entrepreneurs. The state’s recent craft distillery business is beginning to blossom. Across the state, from the mountains of WNC to the Outer Banks, distilleries are creating spirits crafted from family recipes, locally sourced ingredients and lots of l-o-v-e. Some craft spirit enthusiasts refer to the growing trend as the farm-to-flask movement.

Recent NC legislation has made it a tad bit easier for distillers to sell their artisanal spirits on site with some mandated restrictions. The new law enacted October 1 2015, allows distillery permit holders, which offer guided tours, to sell one bottle, per person, per year.

Perfect Timing

About the same time the ABC Ominbus Legislation was passed, The NC Distillers Association and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services published a free Passport to the state’s Craft Distillers Trail. The handsome “Collector’s Edition” includes a 30-page pocket guide which features a map, an alphabetical listing of all of the distillers and detailed information about each craft distillery. Sticking with the passport theme, patrons can have their passports stamped at each distillery they visit and true to form, “Each seal is unique as its location.”

Our Albermarle Sound neighbors, Outer Banks Distilling are members of the NC Distillers Association and of course, they’re included in the Craft Distillers Trail. The local distillery is located in historic downtown Manteo and they lay claim as the first legal distillery on the Outer Banks. The small batch distillery creates Kill Devil Rum and Buffalo City Rye, which according to the guide are both named after local lore. I’ve personally enjoyed their delicious “molasses to glasses” premium white rum.

Speaking locally, Scott Smith, one of the four owners of Kill Devil Rum recently informed me that their Carolina pecan honey and seasonally spiced rum has hit the shelves at regional ABC stores. The premium dark rum was hand crafted in Manteo with pecans from Manns Harbor and honey from Wanchese. Can’t get more local than that! The seasonal rum can also be purchased at their distillery located at 510 Budleigh St. Come out and support the guys at Kill Devil Rum and pick up a bottle of rum and a copy of the passport. Last time I checked, the distillery was low on the popular passports. Also check for copies at all NC Welcome Centers. Click here for more info.

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Photo courtesy of EDIA Maps

The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map

Charlotte-based EDIA Maps published this fun and clever guide in October. It is the brainchild of “map makers and adventure takers” Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright. In their original press release, the cartographers stated that, “The Great N.C. Beer Map provides detailed information on all the craft breweries in the state and can be used as a resource for planning a trip and tracking one’s travels. It is also an educational resource for understanding the art, science, and history of craft brewing.”

Over 200 breweries and beer festivals are featured on the map. Creative sidebars compliment the map and include information about the Science of Ordering, The Wild World of Beer and even an Illustrated History of Beer Games. Sounds like a spendid gift for those who love craft beer and boutique maps. Fisher suggested that The Great N.C. Craft Beer Map is the perfect tool for planning an excursion to various craft breweries in the state. She added, “We wanted to give people an idea of what the brewery experience would be like and what to plan for, while still leaving a few surprises to be discovered.”

Gift one of your friends, family or loved ones this holiday with a unique NC-crafted niche map or poster. Colorful folded maps are available online for $9.99 and unfolded NC beer memorabilia poster versions sell for $29.99. You can also pick up copies at the breweries and various retail locations.

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Craft Beer, Small Batch & Big Rewards!

Weeping Radish - craft beer on the Albemarle SoundA fine beer may be judged with only one sip, but it’s better to be thoroughly sure.

I laughed when I walked in the pub and read the quote inscribed on the chalkboard. Down near the bar, a couple was test-driving a flight of small batch beer crafted on site at Weeping Radish Brewery Butchery & Pub. Over the past decade, North Carolina has quickly sprouted into one of the top craft-beer states in the nation. According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, “The state boasts the greatest number (132) of craft breweries in the American South.” Weeping Radish can claim fame as being the Tar Heel State’s oldest operating brewery and one of three microbreweries located within the Albemarle Sound corridor.  The Currituck County brewery has “proudly brewed on the Outer Banks since 1986.”

The unique brewery-farm-pub often surprises travelers making their manic drive to or from the Outer Banks. The brewery is located on the Caratoke Hwy. which straddles a narrow strip of rural mainland bordered by Currituck and Albemarle Sounds.

My wife and I scheduled a brewery visit while looping the sound on a 180-mile driving tour. I wanted to sample the “handcrafted 100% natural beers” so I set off on my own flight plan which included a chance to taste the microbrewery’s signature brews and a couple of their seasonal ales. The friendly waitress delivered us a paddle of seven, gently brewed beers. I reviewed the laminated beer cheat sheet which was placed below the paddle and in the same order as the flight of craft beers. Perfect!

 

Weeping Radish's flight of craft beersThe Bitter Bee was first choice in my flight and definitely the one which sounded the most intriguing. This was the brewery’s version of an American IPA but distinctively brewed with locally sourced honey. My wife & I took turns sipping on the golden-colored ale. We both noticed a subtle yet lingering taste of honey. The IPA was light on the “hoppy” side and it had a  ‘creamier’ texture than most traditional IPA’s. My first take: A refreshing summer IPA with a slight hint of citrus.

The flight guide described their Ruddy Radish as a “bright ruby colored, well-balanced dry hopped with strong malt character.” The medium body ale had a slight but pleasant buttery aroma and mild notes of caramel. The OBX Kolsch may have been my favorite! The crisp, light and fruity flavor and medium carbonated beer paired well with the pub’s soft baked pretzel — so well, that I treated myself to a 4-pack of OBX Kolsch to share with my friends back home. Oh yeah, and a mixed pack of Ruddy Radish, Bee Bitter and Corolla Gold.

On your next outing to the Outer Banks, be sure to stop by the brewery or search for the fine local craft beer at this location.

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