Crisp lagers. Creamy porters. Tangy sours.
If you love craft beer, you’ll love North Carolina! According to the NC Craft Brewers Guild, our state is home to 410 breweries and brewpubs—and counting! That’s more than any other state in the American South.
From Andrews to Wilmington, and nearly every city in between, breweries abound. But if it’s your goal to try the best, where should you begin? Today, we’re taking a look at the 2022 Best of Craft Beer Awards medalists from the Tarheel state.
Here’s your beer lover’s guide to the best brews in North Carolina.
Gold: Highland Brewing Co., Distance Driver (Kölsch)
Independent and family owned since 1994, Highland Brewing Company carved the path for Asheville craft beer. Today, they have the capacity to brew over 60,000 barrels of beer annually. The Distance Driver is light in color, moderately sweet, and only lightly bitter. However, this gold medal winner is not currently available in their rotation. But we do recommend a visit to their flagship location to discover other winning brews. Highland’s rooftop bar accommodates 300 people, and the main level indoor Event Center welcomes over 700 people around the stage, mezzanine, and two bars.
12 Old Charlotte Highway, Suite 200, Asheville | (828) 299-3370 | highlandbrewing.com
Silver: R & R Brewing, Shake it Off (Experimental Hop-Forward)
Listed as a Strawberry Milkshake IPA, Shake it Off is indeed a dessert in a glass. This sweeter IPA is brewed with more than 100 pounds of strawberry puree and has a creamy mouthfeel from the added lactose sugar. If beers brewed with natural added ingredients suit your taste, then R & R is a great destination for you. You’ll find locally sourced ingredients with every sip in both their flagship and seasonal options. Find R & R’s 3,000-square-foot brewery, taproom, and beer garden in historic downtown Mount Olive, south of the foodie town of Goldsboro.
541 NW Center Street, Mt Olive | (252) 550-0853 | randrbrew.com
Silver: Lenny Boy Brewing, Foeder Juice: Pineapple Guava (Fruited Mixed-Culture)
Located in Charlotte’s Southside Park, “culture matters” at Lenny Boy Brewing. They started off producing non-alcoholic kombucha, and now create a variety of products at their 32,000-square-foot brewery and taproom, including kombucha, hard kombucha, traditional beers, sours, and wild ales. There have been several iterations of Foeder Juice, a mixed culture sour ale. The original pineapple guava flavor is a base blonde ale aged in American Oak Foeder vessels with a mixed culture for over a year. It is then refermented over the fruit for a delicious result.
3000 S Tryon Street, Charlotte | (980) 585-1728 | discoverlennyboy.com
Bronze: Whistle Hop Brewing Co., Pineapple Vanilla Milkshake IPA (Fruit & Field)
Circling back to Western North Carolina, Whistle Hop Brewing pours locally sourced beer from a taproom built from a retired train caboose. But there’s much to do at their three-acre outdoor space, including a six-hole mini golf course, half-scale bowling lane, disc golf Connect 4 game, train-themed fire pit, and more. Grab a quintuple-winning brew to go along with your outdoor games. The Pineapple Vanilla Milkshake IPA has earned golds in the 2022 North Carolina Brewer’s Cup and 2020 US Open Beer Championships, silver in the 2021 NC Brewers Cup, and bronzes in the 2022 Best of Craft Beer Awards and 2022 New York International Beer Competition!
1288 Charlotte Highway, Fairview | (828) 338-9447 | whistlehop.com
Live the craft brew dream in North Carolina!
More than 10 million people live in “The Old North State”, making it the ninth most populous state in the nation. North Carolina features a wide range of geographies, from the Atlantic coastal lowlands and islands of the Outer Banks to Western North Carolina’s towering mountain ranges. Located in the Piedmont region, Charlotte is the second largest banking center in America (behind New York City) and the Raleigh-Durham-Cary triangle features the largest research park in the U.S. The state is home to 34 state parks and 14 national park sites, making it a hub for outdoor recreation throughout the year. In addition, it’s a destination for higher education, fine dining, craft beverages, and quality health care.