A decade ago, when I was part of the effort to modernize the beer laws in this state, there were so few breweries that I could jot them all down from memory when we needed to reach our supporters. Today, both the growth in the number of Tar Heel breweries and my faltering memory put that task beyond me.
In the Triangle and its broader beer catchment area, where there were once three breweries there are now (pause to count on fingers) 16, including two openings in the second half of 2012. Two more breweries are scheduled to open within the next two months, and another two or more optimistically "soon." Here are your new beer sources for 2013.
Starpoint Brewing (901 Clarence Drive, Carrboro) quietly opened a production-only brewery last July. Zoning prevents founder Tim Harper from operating a taproom, but he's fine with that. "I just make beer," he says. "I've worked in bars, and I don't want to run one."
Harper and a single assistant brew a regular beer lineup that suggests a fondness for hops: Surfin' Buddha IPA, Booghi Sattva APA (American pale ale) and Mornin' Wood DIPA (double IPA). Harper keeps the bitterness in check, however, with hopes of marketing his beers to restaurants that may welcome balanced, less aggressive beers. Starpoint beers are served on draft at various beer bars and local restaurants, and growlers are available at Weaver Street Market.
White Street Brewing Co. (218 S. White St., Wake Forest) opened in September. The owners hope that the renovated building will become a neighborhood hub, where beer fans gather in the taproom for music, a game of darts, snacks or a quick bite at a food truck.
Regularly on tap are five ales: four classics (golden, pale, Scottish and IPA) plus an American-generated style, black IPA. Rotating seasonals, as well as limited taproom-only brews, round out the selection. Look for White Street beers on draft in the Wake Forest environs.
Opening this spring
After nearly four years of presenting fine beer brewed by others, Busy Bee owners Chris Powers and Woody Lockwood will soon pour their own at a new venue. Trophy Brewing Co. (827 W. Morgan St., Raleigh) is poised to open sometime this month, serving beers created by brewer Les Stewart.
Due to open in early March is Raleigh Brewing Co. (3709 Neil St.). This large brewery and taproom will feature 12 taps, including a few devoted to local homebrew, to be brewed on the brewery's pilot system by invitation only. John Federal, a well-known homebrewing instructor now on the staff, explains, "We hope to make Raleigh Brewing Co. a brewing community-oriented place to hang out and talk about brewing and beer."
But for those who are there just to drink beer, brewer and founder Patrik Nystedt will offer an English bitter, a rye IPA and Raleigh Un-Common, a great starter beer in the California Common style, among other regulars.
Opening this year
At first blush, there isn't a lot to connect cycle rickshaws and craft beer, beyond the fact that both are very labor intensive. But Adam Eckhardt and Dylan Selinger, the owners of Raleigh's Crank Arm Rickshaw, found a link, if only to their own aspirations. With veteran Raleigh brewer Mike Morris, they plan to open Crank Arm Brewing Co. (319 W. Davie St., Raleigh) this spring.
The essential brewing equipment is already in place, but the trio has turned to Kickstarter to supplement their initial investment. They'll know by Feb. 17 whether public contributions will allow them to add needed kegging equipment.
On a slightly longer time horizon, look for Sub Noir Brewing Co. (2039 Progress Court, Raleigh) and its "super-tiny, two-man operation." Founder Michael Stagner hopes that "whenever someone comes by the brewery, we'll have something new for them to experience. With an emphasis on 'wild' and sour beers. Our small size should afford us the luxury of pursuing the creation of those beers we're really passionate about."
This article appeared in print with the headline "Good news for new brews."