Raleigh, N.C. — Craft beer is all about exploration. While there are plenty of wonderful breweries in the Triangle where you can experience a variety of beer styles and learn about brewery operations, why not make it a point this summer to get out of town and explore some breweries elsewhere in the state?
10 NC breweries to check out
There are over 170 breweries in North Carolina, and each is unique and worth the journey to visit. We suggest you explore them all, but that could be a huge undertaking. It wasn't easy to do, but we’ve put together a list of 10 breweries to check across the state this summer while you are out and about on summer adventures!
Blind Squirrel Brewery - Located in Newland, which is deep in the High Country, this brewery offers a fantastic weekend for the whole family. The taproom offers a pub-style menu and farm-to-table specials, and they have 12 of their beers they call Squirrel Juice on draft. They offer river tubing adventures, two disc golf courses, ziplines, river decks, a gift shop, camping and lodging.
Front Street Brewery - When you’re heading out to the coast, be sure to visit the oldest brewery in Wilmington. When you enter, check out the brew house on the left and wave to Kelsie Cole, the first female head brewer in North Carolina. They have great food choices to satisfy all appetites and great beer like the Dram Tree Scottish Ale, Riptide Raspberry Wheat, Port City IPA and Coastal Kolsch.
Boondocks Brewing Tap Room & Restaurant - About 30 minutes northeast of Boone is the small, tucked away town of Jefferson. Here is another brewery that offers an extensive food menu (the Tumbleweed Ranch Burger is amazing!) and specials featuring locally-sourced ingredients. They have one of the best craft beer selections on tap including their own beer. They have a second location down the block called the Brew Haus that they use for public and private events.
Skull Camp Brewing - For those who like to enjoy wine and beer or have spouses that do not appreciate beer (seriously?), then head out to Skull Camp Brewery at their two locations in Elkin and Mt Airy. Not only do they brew beer, but are also known as Mt Airy Winery. The winery produces easy drinking semi-sweet and semi-dry wines from local grapes. They have a wide variety of rotating beers so you never know what will be on tap, which greatly adds to the intrigue of trying new beers!
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Biergarten and Brauhaus - To get authentic-style German beer, one that strictly follows Reinheitsgebot (the German beer purity law), then a drive to Charlotte’s South End is the place to go. The brewery was also named the best brewery tour in the nation by USA TODAY 10 Best Readers. You can experience an eight-acre German-style Biergarten, a huge dine-in Brauhaus and tour the state of the art 60-barrel brewery.
Weeping Radish Farm Brewery - The Outer Banks is home to the oldest micro-brewery in North Carolina. Uli Bennewitz started the brewery in 1986, brewing in the tradition of Reinheitsgebot. When you’re heading to or from the beach, stop in Grandy to enjoy not only great beer but also a restaurant, butcher’s facility and farm. Be sure to check out the meat counter filled with brats, hot dogs and more. They even have little goats roaming around out front! Be sure to bring a cooler so you can take home swing top growlers, cans and bottles of their beer to enjoy after you leave.
Cabarrus Brewing - New to the N.C. Brewery family, Cabarrus occupies an old textile mill in Concord. The converted space is huge with indoor and outdoor seating areas. Take note of the spun tap handles that used the original thread produced there. You can enjoy beers like Boll Weevil Brown, Reeds Gold Ale, Rocky River IPA and Mule Spinner Stout. While there, you can also explore the antique mall that fills the building next door.
Bhramari Brewhouse - There are plenty of great breweries in Asheville to explore, and we chose one of the newest ones that offers beer-inspired fine dining as well as awesome beer. Explore the building - there’s a dining room, a lounge area with low casual lighting, a gift shop where they even sell Bhramari Brewhouse underwear and, of course, a brewpub area with a great view of the brewhouse and a large outdoor patio. In addition to beer, they also brew kombucha, and, soon, they’ll be making craft sodas.
Frog Level Brewing - In an area of Waynesville that used to be just swamp land before it became Frog Level is the aptly-named Frog Level Brewing. A veteran-owned brewery, they’ve established themselves as producing smooth craft beer. Entering the building, it’s a long walk along art filled walls to get to the taproom. Out back they have a beautiful deck that overlooks a running stream, a place to relax with a great beer and soak it all in. Check out the Nutty Brunette Brown, Hot-Scotch Ale and Lily’s Cream Boy Ale, and get a Croaker (32 oz growler) or growler when you leave.
Mother Earth Brewing - Just an hour and a half from Raleigh is Kinston, home to the closest brewery on the list. Mother Earth Brewing spans an entire city block with its two story brewery, taproom and outdoor patio. They offer free brewery tours Tuesday through Saturday, taking you throughout the brewing facility, bottling and canning rooms, and barrel aging room and ending at the trading post/taproom. The Tap Room is 100% solar powered, so when you’re enjoying beers like Endless River Kolsch-Style Ale or Dark Cloud Munich-Style Dunkel Lager, it’s all powered by the sun.
Well, it looks like we took you all over North Carolina to enjoy these great breweries! They say it’s not the journey but the destination, but, in this case, it’s both. Take in all the wonders of North Carolina as you travel to the breweries.
Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler are regular guys living in central North Carolina with their families who share a love for craft beer and homebrewing. They work together as the NCBeerGuys. They can be found online promoting North Carolina craft beer, providing information about the folks who produce local beer and writing about beer adventures, activities and events across North Carolina.