Here in Asheville, we’ve long been ahead of the curve when it comes to craft beer. Now the entire state of North Carolina is getting up to speed as our state’s breweries unite in April for a full month of beer-related events. With more than 100 breweries in North Carolina, only New York and Pennsylvania can rival our numbers out east — we’re currently No. 10 in the nation. So even though North Carolina Beer Month is only in its second year, it makes sense that there are already numerous events planned.
There’s not necessarily something happening every night, or even in every city. (Here in Asheville, it’s a fairly quiet month as breweries plan and prep for Asheville Beer Week in May.) Yet many events are worth a daytrip or offer a good excuse for a weekend away. You can choose your own adventure on www.ncbeermonth.com, but here are a few of the highlights:
Explore the Mountains
Just because we live here doesn’t mean we’ve seen all there is to see. For example, have you been to a hops farm? The Hop’n Blueberry Farm — one of the first commercial hops growers in the state — will be hosting farm tours at 2 p.m. every Saturday in April.
City Lights Café in Sylva is hosting a few events worth the drive too. Books, Bites and Brews pairs brewing books with beers from newcomer Innovation Brewing on Thursday, April 3; Local Beer, Local Cheese pairs just what you’d think on Thursday, April 10 and Heinzelmännchen joins City Lights for full-on beer dinners on Tuesday, April 15 and 22.
Many of the Beer Month festivities come in the form of beer festivals, and most are of the pay-an-entrance-fee-and-sample-away variety. The World Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, April 5 in Raleigh. Perhaps the largest of the month, the festival will have more than 200 beers on tap (what else would you expect from an event thrown by All About Beer magazine?).
Now in its 12th year, Hickory Hops is much closer and a worthwhile fest to attend on Saturday, April 26. More than 50 breweries will be there, and the festival is paired with the awards for the Carolinas Championship of Beers. If you want two fests for one drive, Cuegrass will pair barbecue and beers, and Brewgaloo will also host a unique token-based festival in Raleigh on the same day.
True, the closer you get to the coast, the fewer the beer events. Perhaps the beer culture is still flowing eastward. However, Kinston is breaking the mold and hosting a three-day weekend Thursday, April 3 to Saturday, April 5. It starts with a beer dinner featuring Mother Earth Brewing, followed by a downtown barbecue, an oyster-and-beer bash, a brews cruise (the kind that’s actually on the river) and breakfast on the world’s only full-size replica of a Confederate ironclad. In your downtime, you can check out a program on drinking during the Civil War, drop in on a beer mug and pint glass exhibit, and enjoy a few rare beer releases, also from Mother Earth Brewing.