Flights

New beer column taps into Triangle’s craft brew scene

Will Doran.
Will Doran. jleonard@newsobserver.com

On the first Wednesday of each month, this column is going to delve into the Triangle’s craft beer scene.

The goal is to explore the breweries, brewers and brews that make this area a mecca for Southern beer lovers.

I first decided I hated beer when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old and stole a sip from some can. Maybe it was Coors Light? It definitely wasn’t anything fancy, nor did my young taste buds enjoy it one bit.

I’ve since changed my mind and especially enjoy craft beers. I’m still not a huge fan of cheap domestics but I won’t turn much down.

Heck, it was only a few years ago that a couple hundred people and I would pay $5 at some stranger’s house for mysterious Everclear-based punch, ladled out of buckets or even 20-gallon trashcans.

College!

That phase of my life is over now, thankfully, and craft beer is responsible. It’s just too delicious.

Once you’re introduced to smoky porters, floral IPAs, fruity wheat beers or a pleasantly bitter ale, the desire to drink out of a trashcan drops off drastically.

And North Carolina is the Southern king of craft beer.

If you’re in the Triangle, you don’t need me to tell you that. There’s probably a brewery within 500 feet of you at this very moment.

Look at a map of all the craft breweries in the state, and you’ll see they tend to be clustered in the downtown of the biggest city in the area. Not so much here.

Sure, there are plenty of breweries in downtown Raleigh. But Fuquay-Varina has two and is set to get a third and maybe even a fourth in the coming months. Just down the road, the equally small town of Holly Springs also has two. Even Wake Forest, most famous for its Baptist seminary, has a brewery.

Wilson’s Mills, Angier, Clayton and Bear Creek are four more tiny places nearby – Bear Creek isn’t even an official town – with craft breweries.

Durham is also home to a growing microbrewery scene, a fine complement to its excellent restaurant culture. In Chapel Hill, where a large chunk of the drinking population is totally fine chugging beer via funnels, one of the most anticipated days of the year is nevertheless when Top of the Hill rolls out its Blue Ridge Blueberry Wheat beer. There’s even a T-shirt.

People in the Triangle love their craft beers.

I’m a relative newcomer to the area, as well as to craft beer in general. I haven’t been homebrewing for 30 years like some people. I haven’t even been on this earth for 30 years.

I want to use being a newbie to my advantage – to hunt down new developments, and to explore veteran establishments with a fresh take.

So whether you’re a professional brewer or just a beer lover with a local favorite, drop me a line. I’m looking forward to venturing out.

Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran

Durham Blues and Brews Festival

This is the first year of the Durham Blues and Brews Festival. It will have food trucks, 20 different North Carolina breweries and, of course, several blues bands. Tickets are $40 for drinkers, $20 for designated drivers. Part of the proceeds will benefit the Exchange Family Center, a charity that fights child abuse.

The festival will be 4-9 p.m. May 30, at Durham Central Park, 501 Foster St. Learn more about the festival and buy tickets at durhambluesandbrewsfestival.com.

More beer coverage

On the third Wednesday of each month, we have started running a column by Charlotte beer writer Daniel Hartis, who will write about the statewide craft beer scene. Last month, he wrote about crowlers, or 32-ounce cans of beer, coming to North Carolina. To read that story, go to nando.com/18n.

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