Pintful: Durham beer-makers team up for special ale

jfrank@newsobserver.comMarch 27, 2013 

  • What’s on tap Big Boss Beer Dinner

    6:30 p.m. April 1 in Raleigh

    A seven-beer, four-course BBQ dinner featuring the Q Shack at Big Boss’ brewery in Raleigh. Tickets are $26. Info:

    Keg Exchange

    April 1-30 Fuquay-Varina and Pittsboro

    As part of N.C. Beer Month, NoDa Brewing in Charlotte is exchanging kegs with two local breweries: Aviator in Fuquay-Varina and Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro. Taste the great Charlotte brewery’s offerings at those two locations throughout April.

    Deep River Grand Opening

    5 p.m. April 6 in Clayton

    Johnston County’s first brewery opens soon, and tickets for the inaugural big bash are on sale now. The $50 ticket gets you free samples, three pints, souvenir glass, a 22-ounce bottle, local food and live music. Info:

Take the best of the Triangle, Fullsteam and Bull City beers and mash them together.

What do you get? The first-ever collaboration ale from Durham’s three craft breweries.

The trio came together on the unique project for N.C. Beer Month in April, said Seth Gross, owner of Bull City Burger and Brewery.

The concept was simple: Take the signature grain, a specialty malt and the dominant hop from each brewery, at equal proportions, and make a beer. The end result is a hop-forward, copper-colored beer with roughly 6 percent alcohol.

“It’s not any particular style,” said Gross, who is brewing the beer at his restaurant. “It’s representative of what the three brewers embody.”

The project also represents a movement gaining steam in the craft beer industry: the collaboration ale. The whole idea of multiple breweries putting their creative minds together to produce a single, often nouveau beer under a joint label sets the craft industry apart. It’s the tangible result of the camaraderie you hear so much about in the industry.

Gross said the Durham collaboration – which will debut April 3 at each brewery’s tasting room – is still a work in progress. Once the initial fermentation is completed, the brewers may add another twist – a dry hop or possibly a specialty ingredient, such as rosemary from the bush on the nearby street corner, Gross said.

In the meantime, the breweries are soliciting a name for the beer. The brewers will considered top five “liked” names submitted by March 31 on Bull City’s Facebook page.

N.C. drives craft beer growth

North Carolina’s craft beer explosion tops a recent report about the industry’s national growth.

Five states accounted for 30 percent of the market’s growth in 2011, according to a recent analysis by Demeter Group Investment Bank in San Francisco. Of those five states, North Carolina saw the largest percentage increase in breweries at 23 percent.

Other states on the list: Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas. In 2011, Michigan added the most breweries (17) while North Carolina added 11, according to Brewer’s Association data. Expect North Carolina’s number to rank near the top in 2012, too, with many new breweries now operating in the state.

Tour returns to Durham

New Belgium’s Tour de Fat bicycle-beer-polooza is returning to Durham, the Colorado craft brewer recently announced. The June 15 event in Diamond View Park in Durham is the third in the 12-city tour.

The festival starts with a bike parade – though from the zaniness, it seems like it starts with a good bit of revelry as some cyclists don costumes. The free event will feature musical acts and, of course, New Belgium beer. Look for more details closer to the event.

What I’m drinking

The concept is an oxymoron: a blonde stout. But count on Bull City brewery to keep it interesting. Gross admits one of his latest offerings, Wa Wa Yonda Blonda, started as a joke and doesn’t fit any stylistic guidelines.

Gross essentially brewed a stout without any of the roasted barley that gives the beer its dark color. He explained that stouts weren’t as dark as they are now. Centuries ago, Germans made what was called a “pale stout.”

Left unfiltered, the beer looks like a Belgian tripel in color, but the recipe is closer to an India pale ale, minus the load of bittering hops. And there’s a tartness on the finish.

Gross summed it up well: “I think the result is super. But I can’t say for sure because I’ve never had another one.”

Contact John at, 919-829-4698 or on Twitter ( @ByJohnFrank).

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service