Raleighs emergence as a craft beer city now includes its own brew a Belgian pale ale made with cherries and aged in North Carolina apple brandy oak barrels.
The special collaboration beer called Mon Cheri is the highlight of the upcoming Raleigh Beer Week that starts Aug. 25.
It draws inspiration from the legendary Cherry Bounce liqueur that local lore suggests influenced state lawmakers in 1788 to locate the state capital within 10 miles of Isaac Hunters Tavern.
We talked about making something Raleigh what makes Raleigh Raleigh, said Chris Powers, the organizer and co-owner of Busy Bee Cafe and Trophy Brewing in Raleigh.
Big Boss spearheaded the beer with help from many of the 13 venues that are participating in the weeklong ode to the citys growing craft brewing scene.
Now in its fourth year, Raleigh Beer Week is designed to showcase the citys beer bars and breweries, the latter of which now number near a dozen within city limits.
With at least three events a day, its a craft beer enthusiasts playlist and serves as a guidebook for newcomers with mix beer dinners and special brews. Trophy Brewing also collaborated with Johnston Countys Deep River for an imperial India pale ale, dry hopped with hops from Farm Boy Farms in Pittsboro.
We think there is a really big beer scene in Raleigh and we are trying to draw attention to it, Powers said.
To help with the Mon Cheri, Powers said he milled the grain while staffers from other Raleigh craft beer havens, such as Tasty Beverage Company and Tylers Taproom, added hops and assisted Big Boss lead brewer Bobby McInerny.
The commemorative ale which is fermenting on cherries and aging in the brandy barrels for another week is likely a one-hit wonder. Heres how McInerny describes the taste: a little fruity and spicy from the Belgian yeast strain with a tartness and light sweetness imparted by the cherries, finished with a little wood flavor and a faint brandy hint. Translation: Dont miss it. All 13 venues will tap kegs of the beer at noon Aug. 25.
An ode to the master
Being known as a craft beer columnist is a cool title. But Michael Jacksons moniker is the best: beer hunter. Its the name of Jacksons former Discovery Channel television series and an apt description for the worlds best-known beer writer, the man who catalogued brews from around the world in his definitive 1977 tome, World Guide to Beer. The book serves as a basis for how we categorize beer today and still inspires enthusiasts, even years after his 2007 death.
Jacksons story comes to Raleigh next week with the screening of a documentary as part of beer week festivities. Director John R. Richards traveled with Jackson as he hunted for rare beer across the world, visiting Belgium, the Czech Republic and California, and the documentary celebrates how the writer helped launch the craft beer movement.
Lonerider Brewings taproom will screen Beer Hunter at 8:30 p.m. Aug. 24. Or see it a day later, on the opening of Raleigh Beer Week, at Natty Greenes in downtown Raleigh at 9 p.m.
What Im tasting
A summers worth of traveling for vacation means my fridge is filled with special out-of-state brews. These are the ones amateur beer hunters like myself go miles out of their way to taste. So while you cant find these at local beer shops, add them to your bucket list.
The first is Alchemists Heady Topper, a double India pale ale brewed in Vermont, that comes in a silver bullet, 16-ounce can. You dont know IPA until youve had one.
Likewise in the pale ale category, Three Floyds Brewings Alpha King and Zombie Dust make hops dance on your palate. The Munster, Ind., brewery is worth a pilgrimage and offers some of the most sought-after beers in the nation.
Another obscure brewery that deserves a mention is Jackie Os in Athens, Ohio, where I tasted a divine double stout called Oil of Aphrodite that is thicker than its namesake and way tastier.
Contact John at 919-829-4698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @ByJohnFrank.