Sponsored by visitRaleigh.com
April is Beer Month in North Carolina, and Raleigh area breweries are celebrating with special events and festivals, one-of-a-kind brews and more. North Carolina is arguably the best Southern state for beer, and the Raleigh area is quickly becoming a craft beer centerpoint for North Carolina.
So if you’re in the mood for a Blanco Diablo Wit Ale or a Dirty Secret Russian Imperial Stout, check out visitRaleigh’s list of beer-centric events this month, or just get a crash course below on the best breweries in North Carolina to check out this summer by visiting them at visitRaleigh.com/BeerMonth.
Here are the best in the area, in no particular order:
1. Bombshell Beer Company, Holly Springs
Bombshell Beer Company in Holly Springs has the unique honor of being 100 percent founded by women (hence the name “Bombshell”).
Its whole brand is about beer isn’t just for men—in fact, Bombshell stresses the point that beer was in fact invented by women 3,900 years ago. Men didn’t get involved in the brewing process until the Middle Ages.
So if history has anything to say about beer, then Bombshell knows its stuff. Try one of its 19 seasonal beers at the Bombshell Tap Room.
Bombshell’s always-in-season Polished Pilsner is really popular; it’s mellow and isn’t too hoppy. Their Dunkelweizen, (without the “R”, people) resembles a Hefeweizen, and is also popular.
Music Bingo on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. is really popular.
2. Lonerider Beer Company, Raleigh
Founded in 2009, Lonerider has won several awards for its beers, and has been ranked in the top 150 breweries in the nation recently.
Lonerider has six beers it brews in-house, including the award winning Sweet Josie, a brown ale (6.1% ABV, 30 IBU).
Lonerider’s whole brand centers around being an individual and blazing your own trail. It even has a cool promotion in which regulars like can win a chance to brew their home creations in Lonerider’s brew house.
3. Raleigh Brewing Company, Raleigh
RBC has six year-round beers it brews, and alternates seasonal beers every couple months, and it’s always experimenting, so you never know what you might get when you head down.
You can get RBC beers in about 100 locales in the region, so you know their stuff is amazing. The Hidden Pipe Porter Morovian Rhapsody and House of Clay are all local faves.
A Raleigh-themed, painted mural covers most of the walls. The interior is clean and modern with high tops and stools. They have an outdoor patio with picnic tables as well.
4. Trophy Brewing Company, Downtown Raleigh
One of the smaller breweries in the area, Trophy is a three-barrel nano brewery that has made a name for itself with its great pairings of in-house brews and specialty pizzas. In fact, fans say you come for the beer, but stay for the pizza.
Trophy’s Daredevils Pizza is spicy, but has raving fans online. Plus, if you’re not a beer drinker, you can enjoy a nice wine on the patio.
5. Fortnight Brewing Company, Cary
If you’re looking for an approachable beer that’s easy to drink, but also high quality, Fortnight might be your place.
Fortnight (open barely more than a year) specializes in traditional British-style beers with a twist and in their cask ales, and claim to be the largest cask-ale brewers in the state of North Carolina.
Cask ales often have a stronger aroma, taste, and texture, and are made using natural fermentation processes, “just like beer used to be served.” If you haven’t tried it, you need to.
Its popular ESB (Extra Special Bitter) has hints of figs and raisins, and isn’t as hoppy as a standard IPA. Fortnight’s beers are old school and have some weight behind them.
And, like a lot of other breweries in the area, Fortnight has a food truck on site many days a week.
6. Crank Arm Brewing, Downtown Raleigh
Right in the heart of the warehouse district downtown, Crank Arm features a bevy of seasonal beers and three or so that are always on tap. Its focus is on bicycling (hence the name of the brewery), and is a must stop for cyclists in the area who want to wind down.
The two-year-old brewery’s beers can be on the hoppier side. Its most popular are the White Wall, Rickshaw Rye IPA and Unicycle. The Rickshaw got Gold in the North Carolina Brewers Cup in last year’s American Wheat/Rye category.
7. Gizmo Brew Works, Raleigh
Barely two years old, Gizmo has already made a name for itself among the local beer community.
A little off the beaten path (near RDU), Gizmo is in a little industrial complex. It started off as one of the smallest production breweries in the state, but is slowly growing its size. It’s comfortable and clean and one of your “average” brewery destinations.
Locals seem to rave about the Beekeepers Honey Wheat and the Golden Ale-ment (4.6% ABV, 14 IBU). Gizmo rotates through seven total beers at this point.
The free two-hour tours start at 2 p.m. on Saturdays.
8. Natty Greene’s Pub & Brewing, Downtown Raleigh
If you’re looking for a lot of food options, a place to watch the game, play some games and a large beer selection, Natty Greene’s is the place for you.
There are always 12 or so of its beers on tap and a mix of different types of people—families, sports geeks, and brewheads. It’s a fun place that can get kind of busy at times.
One of the area’s oldest breweries, Natty Greene’s focuses on brewing a variety full-flavored beers, so there’s something for everyone here, and its beers are available in more than 100 locations in the area. In fact, it was named as the 30th fastest-growing breweries in America.
9. Carolina Brewing Company, Holly Springs
CBC was originally conceived way back in 1992 in Seattle, and was founded in North Carolina in 1995, making it the oldest local brewery.
Carolina Pale Ale (5.1% ABV) has become one of the best-selling beers in the Triangle. Its Brown Nut Ale (4.9% ABV) is also very popular among regulars.
Carolina has four ales on tap all year long and rotates through one beer per season, plus other specialties throughout the year. The brewery sticks to the basics in its beer making, and has grown a huge fan base because of it.
On-site, CBC bottles between 500 and 600 cases each day for distribution throughout the Triangle and beyond. Free tours are conducted every Saturday at 1 p.m.
10. Big Boss Brewing Company, North Raleigh
Since 2006, Big Boss has been brewing a balanced selection, so again, fitting beer for almost any taste. You can come have some beers, play some ping pong, darts, shuffleboard or pool, and sample one of five year-round brews and six seasonal beers.
Tucked away in a warehouse district, Big Boss is the type of brewery with small cozy rooms and a potentially packed vibe, with a nice big outdoor patio.
The favorite among locals is the Blanco Diablo (4.5% ABV, 16 IBU) brewed with orange peels and coriander, and the Hell’s Belle Belgian (7% ABV).
The brewery also hosts a daily free tasting and bottles beer on site.
11. Aviator Brewing Company, Fuquay-Varina
Aviator has been voted as the best brewery in the Triangle for three of the last four years. It has four locations in Fuquay-Varina: A tap house (bar), a restaurant, a beer shop (all across the street from one another) and a brewery (a short drive from the other three spots; with tours, keg sales and a new tasting room).
It produces 16 different beers, many of which are seasonal. In the 2011, Aviator’s Saison won gold at the N.C. Championships of beers, its King Rat Stout and Devil’s Tramping Ground Tripel won silver and it took bronze for its HotRod and Steam. Aviator’s HogWild IPA (6.7% ABV) is a popular pick as well.
Across the street from the tap house is a beer store where you can sample various beer, wines, vodkas, bourbons and scotches and also buy brews extending well beyond Aviator’s beers. The tap house is located in an old train station and has an awesome 38-foot mahogany bar top.
Aviator has package deals for tours, and has daily sampling every 30 minutes. No reservations needed.
12. Draft Line Brewing Co., Fuquay-Varina
Located in a renovated warehouse, Draft Line has a standard line of pilsners to porters and everything in between in its microbrewery location, which hasn’t even been opened for a year yet.
In addition to its wide range of offerings, it has a weekly small batch brew every Tuesday for sampling.
Like most other Raleigh area breweries, Draft Line has live music, food trucks and an open patio. The inside has an unobstructed view of the brewing equipment and you can actually see the vats up close, which is pretty cool.
13. Nickelpoint Brewing Co., Five Points Neighborhood, Raleigh
If you’re looking for classic European-style ales, Nickelpoint is for you.
It’s Nickelpoint’s goal to preserve the history of beer, and focus on flavors that other local breweries overlook. It’s unique in that it sits in a residential neighborhood, making it easy to get to from all over Raleigh.
Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. is the weekly cornhole tournament. Nickelpoint is dog friendly, too.
14. White Street Brewing Company, Wake Forest
Located in the historic Wake Forest district, White Street focuses on a very small selection of small-batch ales and lagers. Its Kolsch-style Ale (5.2% ABV, 23 IBU) won the gold award in its category at the 2014 World Beer Cup.
White Street opened in 2012, and is the only craft brewer in Wake Forest. The taproom has a nice vibe—exposed brick walls and wood accents, and its a great spot to sit and watch the passersby through the large windows right downtown. No food, but there are catering trucks and you can order from nearby restaurants.
15. Boylan Bridge Brewpub, Downtown Raleigh
Boylan Bridge has an amazing skyline view of downtown Raleigh, 12 beers on tap, and a decently sized menu as well. Its specialties are stouts, porters, and ales. In addition, you can try samplings from other local breweries—and others from around the world.
16. Brüeprint Brewing Company, Apex
Tucked away in a strip mall in Apex, Brüeprint rotates through a selection of 10 or so crafted beers.
Founder Eric Wagner began Brüeprint in his kitchen when he realized the “blueprint” for treating water was similar to the process for making beer. Brüeprint has been open less than a year and already has attracted droves of excited regulars.
Its Brüenette Brown Ale (5.2% ABV, 24 IBU) is wildly popular, as is its Pale Brüe Eyes (4.6% ABV, 25 IBU).
Regulars frequently comment on the comfy atmosphere, including the outdoor grassy area/patio.
17. Lynnwood Grill and Brewing Concern, Raleigh
Lynnwood, located near the airport, has a half-dozen yearly brews as well as seasonals. The vibe inside is more like a restaurant or sports bar, and you can get great food, especially pizza and burgers. Its rooftop patio/bar area is one of locals’ biggest reasons for stopping by.
In terms of beer, its currently has nine it brews in-house, including Lynnwood Light, a golden ale (5% ABV, 27 IBU).
18. Sub Noir Brewing Company, North Raleigh
Sub Noir is a small place tucked away in an office complex on the north end of town. Family friendly with video games.
Lincoln Brewing Co., Raleigh (Opening Apr. 2015)
Neuse River Brewing Company, North Raleigh (Opening Spring 2015)
It’s not too late for a trip to Raleigh to celebrate North Carolina Beer Month! Get details on the Beer Month celebration here, including festivals (Brewgaloo is a huge one featuring local beers, Apr. 25) and events, hotel and brewery deals and more.
And, just because April’s coming to an end doesn’t mean the beer-related fun does. Click here for a complete list of local breweries—for a potential beer crawl this summer.