[Jan 10, 2018, 8:49 PM]
RALEIGH, N.C. ― NC Beer Month makes its fifth annual run with first-time festivals, signature events and new takes on exploring the “state of Southern beer.” Here’s a preview of the April lineup from the mountains to the coast. And keep reading to learn about a tempting sweepstakes.
As North Carolina’s craft brewery count edges up to 200, beer lovers can zoom in on refined concepts this spring. Asheville welcomes Ginger’s Revenge, specializing in alcoholic ginger beer: no malt, no hops, no gluten. And a true original arrives in Raleigh: Brewery Bhavana, where Southeast Asian cuisine and beer heritage from Belgium’s Wallonia Valley align in a combination taproom, dim sum restaurant and flower shop.
Go big with Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Burly Beers and Barleywines Festival, featuring rare beers from across the country. Cover the Carolinas with the 15th annual Hickory Hops, which stages the Carolina Championship of Beers, or the two-day Brewgaloo in downtown Raleigh. Go super-local with the Sylva Brew Hop, which taps three hometown breweries in a town of 2,600. Or zero in on homebrew at the inaugural Mill Fest & Homebrew Competition in Beaufort.
Call it Beer Month Eve and join Kenansville’s celebration March 31. The inaugural Blue, Brew and Cue Festival combines craft beer with bluegrass and a whole-hog barbecue cook-off in a two-day event. If you don’t know whom the town was named for, ask a UNC Tar Heel fan or click here.
The first Apple Country Cider Jam makes itself at home during NC Beer Month. Hendersonville taps Balsam Range and other regional talent for a street festival that reveals the flavors of an emerging East Coast hard cider destination. Wine leads to beer in Salisbury, where the owners of Morgan Ridge Vineyards have opened Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery & Eatery. And don’t leave the birthplace of Cheerwine without toasting its centennial at Innes Street Drug’s soda fountain.
When Minor League Baseball returns April 6, ballpark pilgrims can raise a locally crafted pint at nine storied ballparks across the state. In Kinston, the Texas Rangers field the new Down East Wood Ducks at Grainger Stadium, where beer from Mother Earth Brewing will be poured. The westward journey continues all the way to McCormick Field (home of the Asheville Tourists) with stops including Winston-Salem (where fans of The Dash can shuttle to BB&T Ballpark from Foothills Brewing) and Durham (where the Durham Bulls Athletic Park boasts a resident brewery).
Elegant Airlie Gardens in Wilmington is the setting for Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine, with 20 local chefs paired with 20 breweries. Farther west, paddlers can follow the curves of the Neuse River through downtown Kinston on a trip led by the founders of Mother Earth Brewing, which hosts a post-excursion tasting. And in the mountains, stunning views frame 5k and 10K courses in the Black Mountain Greenway Challenge, which starts and ends at Pisgah Brewing, the event’s co-sponsor.
The immediate reason to check out NC Beer Month Travel Deals might be savings, but there’s more to be gained. Packages in Asheville, Pittsboro/Siler City and Smithfield/Clayton also include experiences and inspiration for the trip.
And if anything beats a bargain, it’s a giveaway. The Oskar Blues VIP Weekend sweepstakes includes tickets to the brewery’s Burning Can festival, a two-night stay in downtown Brevard, an invitation to a brewer-only bike ride, dinners, brewery tours and tastings, and a gift basket from the Land of Waterfalls. Find the entry form at NCBeerMonth.com, and watch for details about Pint Hound Passport prizes.