Beer 511

Exploring Craft Beer and Homebrew in Peru (Country Code 51) and the USA (Country Code 1)

Category: North Carolina Page 1 of 2

Fullsteam Brewery

On my recent visit to Durham, North Carolina, Fullsteam Brewery was one of my obligatory stops.

The brewery is located in a slightly decayed area near downtown Durham, that likely due to the availability of empty real estate, has found new life as a hub of the local food and drink scene. It’s hard not to suspect that the presence of Fullsteam and of a well-liked BBQ joint nextdoor has had a big hand in that.

Fullsteam Brewery, April 2019

Fullsteam’s public area is divided into three spaces: a front area, as soon as one walks in off the street through the barn door; a larger area with more seating and a small stage; and the space where the bar itself is located. All three are comfortable, friendly spaces, accented with quirky post-industrial touches such as a wall of dials, library card catalog cabinets, and other odds and ends. Behind a glass wall at the back, one can view the brewery proper, with its assortment of fermenters and the brewhouse with which Fullsteam pumps put 8,000 bbl a year.

I first encountered Fullsteam Brewery on a visit to Durham, NC, in 2016. I sat down at the bar, and as I had limited time, I told the server I had time for only one or two, and asked him to serve me the beer he thought I should not walk out without having tried. He started to go into the usual “Well, what do you like drink?” exchange, but stopped himself and served me a bottle of First Frost Foraged Persimmon Ale. Thus began my love for Fullsteam.

Fullsteam Brewing, Spring 2016

Every Fall, Fullsteam’s network of foragers fans out and gathers ripe persimmons, which the brewery then processes and freezes. That fruit is then used to produce the following year’s First Frost, a complex, fruit-forward 13% abv ale fermented with Canadian and Belgian Abbey yeasts, Crystal and Magnum hops, and Belgian candy sugar. It is, frankly, one of my absolute favorite beers.

Fullsteam Brewery, April 2019

The rest of the brewery’s lineup are no slouches, either. Featuring ingredients such as North Carolina barley and sorghum, local berries, paw paws, hickory shells, and chocolate and coffee from local purveyors, those brews reflect Fullsteam’s mission to create beers that evoke and celebrate the farms and produce of the South.

Fullsteam Brewery
726 Rigsbee Ave., Durham, NC


https://www.fullsteam.ag

Haw River Farmhouse Ales

On my recent trip to North Carolina we made it a point to venture out to the town of Saxapahaw, on the shores of the Haw River, to visit a brewery I had long been desirous to know: Haw River Farmhouse Ales.

Haw River Farmhouse Ales is located in a corner of the century-old building of the historic Saxapahaw Spinning Mill. The building is shared with a music venue, a coffee shop, an artisanal butcher (try the braunschweiger!), and the Saxapahaw General Store, which serves as a general store cum souvenir shop cum restaurant cum meeting place for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and other visitors who venture down the country lanes to Saxapahaw.

Haw River Farmhouse Ales is tucked into a 3000 sq ft space on the lower level at the west end of the building. There you’ll find the taproom, and visible through a set of windows behind the bar, the 10-barrel capacity brewhouse.

The Haw River brewery is not a big one, but they do a lot with what they’ve got. The brewery displays a sense of place by tucking its outside seating between the remains of thick concrete walls and by incorporating elements in the taproom that give a nod to the building’s industrial past.

That aesthetic extends to the beers, which often feature local ingredients – North Carolina-grown grains, berries, and muscadine grapes, locally-roasted coffee, and even Carolina Reaper chiles!

That combination produces some really nice beers. One, I have mentioned previously: the 2018 Saxy Machismo quadrupel with ancho chiles and habaneros.

On this visit I tasted several others, of course. My two favorites were JavaQue and Hiverna,

JavaQue is a velvety smooth 7.1% abv cream stout, infused with Peruvian coffee, smoked malt, and bacon from the butchery next door.

Hiverna is an 8.2% abv Winter Harvest Saison brewed with winter squash and sweet potato, and finished with Sichuan peppercorns, coriander, and cinnamon. It was a good, solid, saison which finished really nicely, with those spices not overpowering anything else but lingering after each swallow

Haw River Farmhouse Ales is well worth checking out should you find yourself in the Durham or Chapel Hill area.



Haw River Farmhouse Ales
1713 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Rd,
Saxapahaw, NC

http://hawriverales.com

North Carolina Craft

Last week we headed out to Durham, North Carolina, to visit our daughter. Besides visiting and seeing the sights, I, of course, I checked out the local beer scene. I got to know some spots new to me, and took the opportunity to return to some of my favorites in the area.

Naturally, I also came home with a load of North Carolina brews in my suitcase.

So, over the next few weeks, one should expect to see posting on my trip and reviews of some, perhaps, most of those beers.

Sign at Fullsteam Brewery, Durham, NC

Saxy Machismo

On a recent visit from North Carolina, my daughter brought me a few bottles of beer from that state.

When I had visited her there a few years ago, a brewery I had been eager to try out was Haw River Farmhouse Ales. The brewery is located in Saxapahaw, on the shores of the Haw River, about half an hour west of Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, my travel schedule and the brewery’s limited tap room hours impeded a visit.

My daughter recalled my interest, and made sure that one of the bottles she brought was from Haw River: a 17-oz. bottle of 2018-vintage Saxy Machismo, a bourbon barrel-aged smoked quadrupel ale, brewed with guajillo and habanero chiles.

Saxy Machismo is a 12.2% abv ale, with a dark cola hue; somewhere in the range of 25 SRM, perhaps a point or two higher than that. It is mildly carbonated, and produced no head upon decanting.

Of course, the first thing that hits one when tasting is the aroma of smoke and chiles.The same can be said for the flavour.

There is a moderate hop bitterness, but it’s in the background. I also detected some vanilla, a little bourbon, and notes of stone fruit –apricot, dark cherry. However, the smoke and the peppers are definitely the stars in this beer.

The smoke hangs around in the aftertaste. There is also a very, very slight pepper spiciness, but surprisingly little. Certainly, far less than one would expect, making this a much more approachable beer than one might think would be the case given the description of ingredients. (Though I don’t mind a bit of spice in a big, dark beer!)

With time, the smoke becomes less prominent and the fruital flavors come forward a bit more. As it warms in the glass the beer’s residual malt sweetness also becomes more evident.

That makes Saxy Machismo a good sipping beer. Take your time with it and your palate will be rewarded with an evolving experience between the first sip and the last.

Raleigh, NC: Raleigh Beer Garden

One of my destinations in North Carolina –a recommendation from Susana– was the Raleigh Beer Garden, on Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh.

The Beer Garden, rather than a garden, is actually a three-story affair, with three regular bars, which are expanded on weekends with a draft setup on the rooftop patio.

 

One of the bars is the liquor and cocktail bar near the entrance. It is a pretty cool affair in its own right, dominated by a sculpture made out of a real tree which towers into the second floor.

Toward the back of the first and second floors are the beer taprooms. The Raleigh Beer Garden claims to offer the world’s largest selection of draft beer, and they have the Guinness World Record certificates to prove it.

 

Even without the certificates the claim is easy to believe. Altogether there are 378 taps, of which the 144 on the first floor are all North Carolina beers, while the second floor bar serves beers from elsewhere in the country and imports. If you’re in the Raleigh area and don’t have time for a local beer crawl, then definitely hit the Raleigh Beer Garden.

With a beer selection so vast, actually pretty good food, patio seating and a rooftop bar and patio, it is easy to understand why the Raleigh Beer Garden is a very popular spot. We went on a weekday afternoon, and I recommend that. As I understand it, from 4 pm on on Thursday and Friday evenings, and on the weekends, the place is gets packed with the college crowd (which, of course, can be a totally fun scene in its own right!) and it can be hard to get in without a reservation.

 

Raleigh Beer Garden
614 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh, NC 27603

www.theraleighbeergarden.com

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