Three years ago, we decided to further our proud commitment to local North Carolina products by dedicating our draft beer program to beers brewed in our great state. Our guests have given this program an unqualified thumbs up. So, in honor of North Carolina Beer Month, we want to share some of our favorite homegrown ales and lagers, all of which are featured at various times in our restaurant.
North Carolina’s Original Craft Breweries
Our three mainstay beers—Red Oak Amber Lager, Bad Penny Brown Ale and Carolina Pale Ale—represent some of the original (and larger) craft breweries in North Carolina. Red Oak, started in Greensboro, prides itself on a commitment to German Beer Purity law in all of their brews. Big Boss, along with making great craft beer, is at the forefront of creative packaging and label designs; the brewery’s beer names and logos are inspired by WWII bomber art. Our other year-round beer, the popular Carolina Pale Ale from Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
Newer Breweries in Asheville, the Triangle and Johnston County
The past three years have seen incredible new growth in the state’s craft brewing industry. Some of the biggest national names in craft beer—Oskar Blues and Sierra Nevada—have opened locations in the Asheville area, and New Belgium will be opening an Asheville brewery soon. The Triangle has seen several new breweries open recently, too, and the region is giving Asheville a run for the money as the beer capital of the South. We recently visited some of these breweries to get to know a little bit more about the beers we serve.Johnston County, an area known for illegal moonshine, has entered the legal craft beer market. In February 2013, the first legally produced beer was made in Clayton by Deep River Brewing Company. Since then, they have made some of our favorite creative brews, including the marshmallow and sweet potato JoCo White Winter and the amazingly refreshing Double D’s Watermelon Lager.
Just down the road in Smithfield, Double Barley Brewing opened its doors. As with many of these breweries, Double Barley Brewing started with a homebrew: Cheryl Lane bought her husband, Larry, a homebrew kit for his 40th birthday, and after a brief stint in the attic, it became the catalyst for Double Barley. They have created some bold and flavorful beers like Steak Cake Stout, so named because it is sweet enough for a dessert beer and bold enough for a steak; and Thrilla in Vanilla, a porter flavored with hundreds of pounds of hand-split vanilla beans soaked in Jameson.
Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay-Varina welcomed a new neighbor, Draft Line Brewing Co., just down the street. Their selection includes tropical fruit notes in their Australia and New Zealand-hopped Graf Pale Ale and the refreshing Bavarian-style Hemmings Pilsner.
Apex saw the opening of its first brewery last April, when Brüeprint Brewing Company opened its doors. Founded by a water treatment scientist with a passion for the culinary arts, the name is inspired by this mission statement: “Better than a recipe, a brewing blueprint combines science and great culinary skill to create a Brüeprint.” Their rotating seasonal beers are based on the sports seasons—Zambrüni Lager for hockey, Brüe Diamond IPA for baseball and (our favorite name) Brüe 32 Pale Ale for football. They have also invited bartenders from both of our locations to participate in brewing a beer later this year. We’ll keep you updated!
Women in Brewing
Before the industrialization of beer, brewing was the realm of women. Two breweries that have opened over the past three years show a return of female involvement in the brewing arts. Raleigh Brewing Company became the first brewery in the state with a woman as majority owner. Its most popular beer, Hell Yes Ma’am, takes its name from a story about owner Kristie Nystedt, who wanted a Belgian golden-style beer. She faced pushback from the brewer, but when the brewer finally tasted it, he said, “Hell Yes, Ma’am!” to brewing the beer, which has since become their flagship brew.
In Holly Springs, Bombshell Beer Company became the first brewery to be owned solely by women. The Bombshell story began with Ellen Joyner, whose passion for homebrewing began more than a decade ago. Michelle Miniutti joined Ellen in her brewing endeavors, and the seed was planted for what would become Bombshell Beer Company. Jackie Hudspeth eventually joined the other “Bombshells,” and in 2013 they opened their brewery with a line-up of great beers. A few of our favorites include two great wheat beers, Hey Honey Hefewiezen and Dunkelwiezen; and their rotating Dirty Secret Stout series, which has included a Dry Irish, Coconut and Russian Imperial styles; as well as the year-round flagship Pick-Up Line Porter.
It has been a great three years for craft beer in North Carolina. Our state is at the forefront of beer making in the South, and new breweries are opening every month. Come in and see us at Lucky 32 – we’ll help you celebrate North Carolina Beer Month with some hand-crafted, local libations and a great meal to boot.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Cary