Pintful

Pintful: Top North Carolina beer and breweries in 2013

john.frank@newsobserver.comDecember 17, 2013 

  • What’s on tap

    White Street Brewing Toy Drive

    Wednesday-Friday, Tyler’s Taproom in Apex and Raleigh

    White Street Brewing in Wake Forest is offering a treat to those who bring a toy to the Tyler’s Taproom locations in Apex and Raleigh. In addition, all proceeds from White Street beers go to Friend of Wake county Guardian ad Litem program.

    Wicked Weed Tap

    5 p.m. Wednesday at Bottle Revolution, 4025 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh

    7 p.m. Wednesday Sam’s Quik Shop, 1605 Erwin Road, Durham

    Both local bottle shops will tap a keg of Wicked Weed’s Freak double India pale ale Wednesday. It’s a must-try beer that helped put the Asheville brewery on the map. Expect it to go fast.

    Info: bottlerevolution.com/whats-new

    Paddy O’Beers Christmas Kegathon

    3 p.m. Saturday at Paddy O’Beers, 121 Fayetteville St. #114, Raleigh

    An unreal beer lineup will bring a line outside this small Raleigh bottle shop for this event. Paddy O’Beers is offering a roster of all-stars including Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, Olde Hickory’s Event Horizon and Oskar Blues’ Yule Chub.

The most frequent question I get as a craft beer enthusiast: What’s your favorite North Carolina beer and brewery?

It’s a fun topic to ponder, and it’s hard to name just one. My answers often vary depending on who’s asking, where they live and what type of beer they enjoy most.

But my opinion is just one. As part of a year-end series looking back at the 2013 year in North Carolina beer, I asked an informal panel of two dozen North Carolina brewers, bottle shop owners and über-enthusiasts to share their thoughts. Below is an edited transcript that may help guide your palate.

Favorite North Carolina beer this year

John Federal, production manager and brewer at Raleigh Brewing: My favorite North Carolina beer this year had to be Crank Arm’s Holy Mole Porter. Not only was it from a newer brewery in the area, but it was also very well balanced and really harnessed the spicy and lightly cinnamon-spiced character of the beer.

J.D. Schlick, co-owner Beer Study in Chapel Hill: NoDa Brewing in Charlotte’s Imperial Hop, Drop ’n’ Roll is just flat out the best double India pale ale I have ever had out of the state.

Erik Lars Myers, CEO and head brewer at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough: There was a brown rye beer from Deep River Brewing in Clayton that I really enjoyed. The NoDa-N.C. Beer Guys collaboration Hot Pistol, a chocolate raspberry habanero stout, was really great.

Les Stewart, head brewer Trophy Brewing in Raleigh: While it’s nearly impossible for me to select a favorite beer for a whole year, I would be remiss not to laud Wicked Weed’s incredible effort in taking the gold medal at Great American Beer Festival in the coveted American brett beer category with Serenity.

Favorite North Carolina brewery

Anne Fitten Glenn, author of “Asheville Beer”: Every beer Foothills makes lately is delicious. I love what they’re doing and their consistency.

Federal: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is definitely my favorite N.C. brewery. They have, in my opinion, the most consistent products of any N.C. brewery. They also totally nail difficult German beer styles like doppelbock, altbier and pilsner.

Myers: I really enjoy the design at Hi-Wire in Asheville, and I’m pretty excited about them. I think that Wicked Weed is amazing to watch and is putting out some great beer. My highlight is probably NoDa Brewing: good people, good beer.

Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler, founders of NCBeerGuys.com: We love the local ingredient focus of Fonta Flora and Fullsteam, the entrepreneurial drive of Burial Brewing in Asheville and Unknown Brewing in Charlotte, the community focus of Mother Earth in Kinston, the incredible energy at Hi-Wire Brewing and the list goes on.

What I’m tasting

It’s so hard to pick a holiday beer.

Every brewery makes at least one and often they all sound and taste the same. So I turned to the beer guys at Paddy O’Beers, a new bottle shop in downtown Raleigh, for help. We discussed a few and reached consensus on Olde Hickory’s Christmas Ale.

It’s a lightly spiced, malty, winter warmer that is served at the Hickory brewery with a candy cane hanging from the glass. Try it at home. The price is unbeatable at $4.

Contact John at 919-829-4698or jfrank@newsobserver.com.

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