Thirsty Thursday: Raleigh Brewery Tour
Traveling to me means many things. It means getting away, turning off my brain, experiencing the great big world we live in and most importantly, it means soaking up as many of the local culinary delights as I can from wherever it is I’m going. If I had things my way, I’d plan all of my trips around food. Remember my Husk adventure? That is exactly how I’d want to eat on all of my vacations. I’d just have to make a deal with myself that I’d be sure to pack my running shoes.
Brewery hopping might be one of my very favorite things to do in addition to restaurant exploration. I could spend hours going from brewery to brewery, tasting and learning and chatting with brewers, and immersing myself in all things hops. I’m fascinated by beer and I have been since I was 20 years old. I even dream of marrying a brewer (or a farmer or these dudes but they’re already taken) simply because I would love to build my life with someone who creates something that they love. I’d do the food, they’d do the beer and a merry time would be had by all. Gah! What could be better?!
I traveled a lot last month and one of those trips took me to Raleigh, NC to visit Grace. Grace knows how much I love beer so she made sure we carved out time to brewery hop even with my 7 month old goddaughter, Selah. Listen, we gotta educate kids as early as possible on the glories of craft beer. Don’t judge. While I loved everything that we did over the weekend, the breweries won. I thought I’d take today’s Thirsty Thursday and share the spots we went to so if you find yourself in Raleigh sometime soon, you can give these joints a whirl.
I had no idea Raleigh was such a beer town. It reminds me so much of Denver in that way, even aesthetically. When I got in, we went straight to Lonerider. Not only was I thrilled to be with Grace and Selah, but my friend, Mike, joined us as well. I met him here in NYC back in 2007 and he’s one of the funniest and greatest guys I know. I was very sad when he moved away but how fun that I can see him whenever I’m visiting Grace. Say hi to Mike, everyone!
I opted for the Peacemaker Pale Ale and while it was easy going down, it wasn’t my favorite. I felt like it lacked some oomph but I think that’s kinda the point with this particular brew as it’s purposely made to be less bitter and hoppy.
Stop number two was Crank Arm Brewing, definitely my favorite of the weekend. I got to chat with Adam Eckhardt, founder of Crank Arm Rickshaw Company, where this brewing and rickshaw operation are housed. Adam was really down to earth, infectiously passionate and very excited about what they’ve got going on at the brewery. It’s always a pleasure to chat with someone like that because you can’t help but get excited, too. I tasted basically everything they had on tap before ordering the Rickshaw American Rye IPA.
I loved this beer. It was really clean and vibrant while still getting at your tastebuds with that spicy rye on the back end. Even though I stuck with the Rickshaw for a couple rounds, I have to mention their Unicycle brew which is a single hop pale ale. While the style they brew in for this remains the same, they choose a different hop variety each time so you’re able to really taste the characters of different kinds of hops. Such a cool idea.
As sad as I was to leave Crank Arm, we had to make our way to Grace’s favorite spot, Trophy. Since she and her husband moved to Raleigh, Trophy has been a staple date spot for the two of them. I’ve seen many a photo of pizza and beer from this joint so I was definitely excited to check it out. Their draft list is ever changing, along with their featured pizza, so it’s a great place to consistently try something new. I opted for the Trophy Wife, an American Pale Ale, and it was simple, straight forward and good. Coupled with a few slices of pizza, it made for a very happy afternoon.
Last but not least, we stopped at Big Boss. This was definitely my least favorite space. I prefer the more wide open brewery spots with lots of natural light and, if possible, an open door or two. Like at Denver Beer Company. I could spend the rest of my life in that space and be happy as a clam. Big Boss was odd. It was dark and kinda gloomy feeling. However, someone gets major points for the badass old school rap playlist that was on. Let’s focus on the beer though. I went for their IPA, High Roller. I really liked it! Nice hops throughout with a touch of caramel on the finish; a nice way to balance the bitterness, in my opinion. We were short on time so Big Boss was a quick stop for us but I’m glad we tried it.
I really wish weekends didn’t fly by. It felt like I was there and back in a blink but what a fun visit. Grace, I give you permission to go ahead and start planning our second brew tour. Please and thank you.