BBC15 Pre-Conference Excursion - Raleigh

BBC15 Pre-Conference Excursion – Raleigh

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Beer Bloggers Conference Pre-Conference Excursion: Raleigh

Beer. Food. People.

That’s about all I could think about all week at work despite some pretty intense deadlines.

After a really early wake up to get out to Newark, the trip to Raleigh took less time than the remainder of the other travel. Arriving earlier than my scheduled check-in at the Residence Inn Raleigh Midtown gave me some time to catch-up with my better half for updates from her and my son via our nanny.

While moving my seat to make room for a cleaning staff member, I bumped into my first fellow #BBC15 attendee, author  Leslie Patino  of “Not Your Father’s Beer”. It was her first conference, so I attempted to impart the words of wisdom shared by fellow alumni like “it’s a marathon” or my personal favorite – “it’s an endurance test”. I have made a note to check out her books (amongst a flurry of others). Others started to roll in (VA Brew Review, Big Orca Brewing,  Tanya Birch,  the charming and ever-resourceful  @sarahwolcott from Zephyr Adventures, our hosts for the day Visit Raleigh  and Will Holland from Beltline Brew Tours, and our incredible bus driver George). I dropped my luggage in my room before congregating with everyone in the lobby as we awaited our chariot to take us  around  Raleigh.

Editorial Note: Rather than clutter the post with photos, I placed  a  slideshow at the top. You can
also review my Instagram photos and Untappd check-ins (of what I could get to).

Raleigh Brewing Company

Raleigh Brewing Company Homebrew Shop Panoramic Picture

We were all very eager to get the conference going in style. The hospitality and genuineness  of the crew at Raleigh Brewing Company did just that. For  me, they really helped set what came to be a very powerful motif for the weekend – STORYTELLING.

Each of their beers is named/created from either local history or with very colorful stories involving the brewery staff. Case in point is the “Hell Yes Ma’am”  Tripel, where   the title of the beer is a response to owner Kristie Nystedt’s  insistence on making her preferred version of a Belgian tripel using Wit yeast. We took an excellent tour around the expanding brewhouse and their beautiful home-brew shop before getting a few minutes with Kristie Nystedt herself. A wonderful introduction to North Carolina craft beer.

Beers Sampled

  1. City of Blokes Bitter
  2. Moravian Rhapsody
  3. Blatherskite
  4. Coffee Hidden Pipe Porter
  5. House of Clay Rye IPA
  6. Hell Yes Ma’am
  7. Dear Ol’ Dixie Pale Ale

Lonerider

Panoramic Picture at Lonerider

Our second stop brought us to Lonerider, whose beers follow cowboy nomenclature. Hamilton at VA Brew Review was instrumental in my (and others’) selection, mentioning that he had the opportunity to taste a few at festivals. I went with Sweet Josie, one of their flagships, as I don’t often get to try many brown ales. At this point, we were much more relaxed, passing around our glasses to try as many offerings as possible. The brewery tour in one word? HOT. That being said, you can really get to know a brewery’s personality by not only visiting their taproom, but seeing their full setup. They like to brew beers they like – another commonality among many brewers from the entire weekend. I like their style.

Beers Sampled

  1. Sweet Josie (Brown Ale)
  2. Peacemaker (Pale Ale)
  3. A sip of Tres Vaqueros

White Street Brewing Company

Panoramic Picture of White Street Brewing Company

The layout of White Street Brewing Company is open – kind of like the people who operate it and their brewing process. Everyone got a sampler of 4 beers  (see below) while  Big Mike’s BBQ food truck showed up  perfectly timed  as everyone was ready to eat some good ol’ southern cooking! I went with the pulled BBQ chicken with “Cack and Mac”. For those not familiar with the former, it’s Cackawack Cole Slaw, which uses a specialized salt and spice mixture to add some kick. I dressed it up with a mixture of vinegar, sweet BBQ sauce and a dash of hot sauce. To end? Banana pudding of course! Instagraming all of it made a lot of people hungry though.

Beers Sampled

  1. White Street Kölsch
  2. Scottish Ale
  3. Hoptimist IPA
  4. Schwarzbier

Raleigh Beer Garden

Fellow beer lovers have likely been to places with mammoth amounts of taps. While not open yet, Raleigh Beer Garden will clearly break the previous records with an estimated 366 or more (144+ from North Carolina on the first floor, 210+ on the second and the remainder to come on the roof). See the photos above to see their crazy setup. The place is open and almost boisterous in design, kind of like the jovial owner’s personality (Niall Hanley). Did I mention there’s a tree INSIDE the building?!  For the outdoor area, he admitted he took some inspiration from The Beer Garden at Bohemian Hall in Astoria and Radegast (w00t!) in Brooklyn. They also own the area up to the train tracks, which will be expanded for Oktoberfest and other similar events. I would love to have local access to a place like this, though I wonder how quickly all the taps will turnover when they open this coming week.

The Hibernian

Since Raleigh Beer Garden was not serving, we went to one of their sister places down the street, The Hibernian. Clearly of Irish bar inspiration, we had three breweries setup on the deck to pour us some wares –  Nickelpoint Brewing Company, Big Boss Brewing, and Aviator Brewing Company. The bus came to pick us up, but Hamilton from VA Brew  Review had another recommendation to head to before bed.

Beers Sampled

  1. Nickel Point Brewing Company Hefeweizen (tastes like summer!)
  2. Big Boss Brewing The Centaur (Dry-Hopped Saison)
  3. Big Boss Brewing High Roller IPA
  4. Aviator Brewing Company Devil’s Tramping Ground

Flying Saucer

Speaking of places with a large selection…

Flying Saucer Raleigh  had some incredible beer on tap, but I wanted to do the “when in Rome” thing and have more North Carolina beer via a flight (see photos above and full list of beers below).

After noticing they had Uinta’s Birthday Suit (their ever-changing anniversary beer), we took it upon ourselves to try that Sour Plum goodness. The beer itself was amazing…and after an awkward interaction with “Selena Guzman”, the bartender insisted we try the Founders Rubaeus…on nitro! If there was ever a concoction that was “raspberries and cream” in a glass, this was it! While polishing off the remainder of our large bottle, we finally were joined by the rest of the late night #BBC15 crew who managed to stay an extra hour or two later than me.

Beers Sampled

  1. Lone Rider Shotgun Betty (American Wheat)
  2. Highland Gaelic Ale (Amber)
  3. Green Man IPA
  4. Big Boss Bad Penny  (English Brown)
  5. Duck Rabbit Milk Stout (one of my all-time faves…see my prior review here)
  6. Unit Brewing Birthday Suit #23: Sour Plum
  7. Founders Rubaeus (nitro)

#BeerForThought

The next morning was a bit of a rude awakening, since we were scheduled to leave at 7am, though less so for me than Ross Hughes of Beer Musings. I will leave that story to him, though I will say he emerged triumphant as he boarded the bus and earns Trooper of #BBC15m , in my book. Although  I would have loved more time to explore the rest  of Raleigh’s food and craft beer scene, my limited visit certainly met  and exceeded my expectations  of “Beer. Food. People”. Now, off (and napping) to Asheville, where many similar themes continued in and outside of the conference.

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