For Erik Lars Myers and his partner, Sarah Ficke, what started as a hobby of homebrewing beer quickly turned into a full-time job and a series of books reviewing the over 130 breweries in North Carolina.
Both Myers and Ficke will be at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café on Wednesday, July 6, at 7 p.m. to discuss and sign copies of their latest release, North Carolina Craft Beers & Breweries, Second Edition. The event may prove to be very popular — both Highland Brewing Co. and One World Brewing will be at the signing to supply guests with free beer samples.
In 2012, Myers, now president of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild, and Ficke, an English professor and researcher at Marymount University in Virginia, began writing a history of brewing in North Carolina and dug up as much information about the state’s beer culture and history as they could get their hands on.
“Historians sort of gloss over North Carolina when it comes to beer,” says Myers, “which is ridiculous, because you’re talking about an area that was settled by the English, the Germans and the Czechs, so there was definitely some beer drinking going on.”
A few months later, the pair released the first edition of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, which focused on the state’s burgeoning craft beer scene and breweries. Taking his passion to a logical conclusion, Myers opened Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough that same year.
In the years following the first edition’s release, the North Carolina brewery scene expanded rapidly. The state now boasts almost 175 breweries, and, thus, the second edition of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries was commissioned.
The updated version features reviews of most of North Carolina’s craft breweries and a glossary of beer types and terms for the aspiring beer connoisseur. But Myers admits the scene is growing so fast that some of the newest businesses missed the cut. “We had to stop writing at some point and turn our manuscript in to the publisher,” Myers said. “Since then, we’ve had 40 breweries open in North Carolina.”
Myers and Ficke reviewed 23 Asheville-area breweries for the new edition of the book, including breweries in Black Mountain, Brevard, Weaverville and Waynesville. But while Myers applauds the recent growth of Western North Carolina’s beer scene, he is not one to pick favorites.
“[Western North Carolina] is definitely the leader, but I think it would be a mistake to say it’s superior to the rest of the state,” he says. “We have an incredible industry everywhere and outstanding beer in every corner of the state.”