YES! Weekly’s Annual Triad’s Best Poll

Vote - 2014 Triad's BestIt’s once again time to vote for the Best of the Triad, and I thought I would weigh in with some thoughts on some of the beer-specific categories, seeing as how I’ve visited nearly every one of the breweries, craft beer bars and bottle shops in the Triad.

The past year saw a lot of growth in craft beer, including new breweries either opening or in planning (Small Batch Beer Co., Hoots Roller Bar, Pig Pounder Brewery, Gibb’s Hundred), new bottle shops (Stella Brew, Grapes & Grains), new restaurants with craft beer selections (The Quiet Pint, Hops Burger Bar, Carolina Tap Room), and of course, the passage of the NC Growler law allowing retail fills of growlers across the state. I’m sure I’ve missed a few, too. Point being, there’s more craft beer choices available now then ever before, so let’s take a look at some of the categories and the candidates.

ENTERTAINMENT & NIGHTLIFE

  • Best New Club/Bar – This is a hands-down slam dunk for Small Batch Beer Co.. They’ve got their own beer, creative cocktails, guest taps, a really decent bottle list, and a great looking space. And now they’re adding some appetizing looking small plates. Really, what more do you want?
  • Best beer selection – A bit harder to choose in this category. There are some bars that have a smaller number of drafts but do a really great job on keeping a well-chosen selection in stock and fresh, as well as hosting creative beer events. Sticks & Stones is one of these, and they get some bonus points for keeping their menu up-to-date on beermenus.com. However, for sheer variety and quality, I’m going to have to go with another pizza joint: Mellow Mushroom. Both the Winston-Salem and the Greensboro locations keep a great selection of taps in rotation, as well as having big special releases and events on a regular basis. Just check out the Winston-Salem location’s planned 4 year Sexual Chocolate vertical!

GOODS & SERVICES

  • Best place to buy beer – First of all, if you haven’t shopped at one of your local bottle shops, then go do that immediately. City Beverage Co., Stella Brew, Grapes & Grains, The Brewer’s Kettle, Bestway Grocery, Potent Potables and The Pint and Pipe are all fantastic spots to expand your palates, learn more about beer, and meet great people. You won’t go wrong shopping at any of those shops. However, Bestway Grocery is still the best spot to buy beer in the Triad. Their selection along the Wall of Beer is unbeaten, as is their ability to get special release kegs for their growler station. The only drawback they have currently is that you can’t get just any growler filled, it has to be one of theirs. Only a problem for those of us that already have a huge collection of brewery growlers! I’d also like to give a special commendation to Matt Bostic, owner over at Stella Brew. If you’ve been there, you’ve likely met Matt because he greets everyone with a smile and does an excellent job answering questions and steering you towards a beer you’ll enjoy, or that will at least expand your horizons. He has the space to perhaps rival Bestway’s wall, as well as plans to install a growler station soon, so I’m very excited to see how Stella Brew grows over this next year.

FOOD & DRINK

  •  Best Craft Beer Selection at Bar – Mellow Mushroom wins here again, but I’d also like to give a shout out to Hops Burger Bar in Greensboro, which has excellent burgers and do a great job curating a smaller, fantastic tap lists.

Agree or disagree, I’d love to hear your opinions on the best of #triadbeer. And don’t forget to vote in YES! Weekly’s Best of the Triad.

Haw River Farmhouse Ales

Support Haw River’s Kickstarter

They aren’t quite in the Triad, but Haw River’s Farmhouse Ales in Saxapahaw is going to be opening soon, and they need your help to make their brewery a little more awesome. If you’ve not checked out their Kickstarter (and the awesome video they produced), you really need to take a look. Not only can you help a new brewery get off to a great, eco-friendly start, but they’ve got some absolutely awesome rewards lined up!

Currently, they’re about $8k short of their goal, with 4 days left in the campaign. That’s only 34 backers at Level 7 (my favorite), and you’re getting a deal for your $240!

 

Haw River Farmhouse Ale's Ceramic Growler

 

Not only do you get a very awesome ceramic growler (now refillable at all kinds of places in the the Triad!), but you also get a Haw River sweatshirt AND a t-shirt, a set of 4 Teku beer glasses, a Beer Stick bottle opener, wildflower coasters and your name in a full-page THANK YOU ad in All About Beer magazine. So give yourself and NC Beer a little early Christmas present and donate today!

Haw River Farmhouse Ale’s Kickstarter Campaign

Small Batch Glass

Small Batch Grand Opening a Success

The grand opening weekend for Small Batch Beer Co. was a pretty CROWDED affair, as you might know if you happened to stop by around 4:30-5 PM on Saturday afternoon. Only 30 minutes after the official grand opening, they’d already hit capacity and had a line forming at the door.

By around 6 PM, the crush had dissipated a little, but the bar stayed busy the entire night. From talking with some of the other patrons, it seemed that Kranked (coffee stout made with Krankie’s Railhead Espresso) and Limonhead (citrusy IPA) were big favorites. The Match Day session IPA was one of my personal favorites, as an easy drinker with a great hoppy aroma.

If you missed out on the Grand Opening, they’ll be reopening this Wednesday (Nov. 13th) at 4 PM, and they’ll be randalling their Ginger wheat ale through butterscotch candies in order to make “ButterBeer” for all you Harry Potter fans. I think I’ll skip ButterBeer in favor of some Thanksgiving Day Leftovers, their cranberry sauce saison.

Brewery hours going forward will be Wednesday-Friday: 4PM-2AM, Saturday: 12PM-2AM, and Sunday: 12PM-12AM. Monday and Tuesday’s are their dedicated “brew days” for the foreseeable future, and the bar will not be open those days. If they keep drawing crowds like they did to the opening, they may have to start brewing nights, too.

I was also able to snap some pictures of the space on Friday at their soft opening. I think they’ve done a great job with the bar, and I especially love the group seating in the back. I hope we’ll be able to hold a Triad beer meetup there sometime in the near future!

Small Batch's Grand Opening Tap List

Grand Opening Beer List

Small Batch Preopening Party

Friday Night’s soft opening

Seating facing 5th Street

Picnic on 5th Street

Small Batch Friday Night Pre-opening Party

View from the back at Friday’s soft opening

Group Seating around old cable tables

Group seating near the back of the space.

One of Small Batch's co-owner's, Ryan, discussing their beer with customers.

One of Small Batch’s owner’s, Ryan, discussing their beer with customers.

Small Batch's Grand Opening Tap Lineup

Small Batch Beer Grand Opening Announced!

Ryan Blain of Small Batch Beer Co. officially announced on The Less Desirables podcast that they would be opening their doors this Saturday, Nov. 9th at 4 pm. Eight beers on tap to start, including a couple that they’ve never had at a tasting before!

Tap List:

  • Limonhead – 8.1% citrus brewed IPA
  • Big Bold Amber – 6.9% amber ale
  • The Ginger – 5.7% pale wheat brewed with ginger
  • Kranked – 5.2% stout brewed with Krankie’s Railhead Espresso (new name for the Perkolator!)
  • Match Day – 4.3% match day session IPA

Brand New Seasonals:

  • Monster Mash – 6.1% pumpkin porter
  • Thanksgiving Day Leftovers – saison brewed with cranberry sauce
  • Sweet Potato PIEnt – 5.3% brown ale brewed with sweet potatoes.

Besides their beer, they’ll also carry a bottle selection, be serving five or six cocktail drinks made with locally sourced ingredients and bar-infused liquors, and they’ll have a small Scotch selection. I expect that there will be a line around the block by 4 pm!

They’ll be releasing more information about the opening on their Facebook page and over Twitter, so follow them there to get the latest dirt!

Listen to the Podcast yourself here! Ryan’s interview starts around 2:30 in.

On Tap: Hoppy Halloween!

Looking for some good Tricks & Treats this Halloween? Check out these great events going on around the Triad!

Thursday:

  • Mellow Mushroom Greensboro: Spooky Drafts & Olde Hickory Glassware Giveaway ( 11:00 am) Happy Melloween! Special spooky beers on draft! Olde Hickory Seven Devils Southern Tier Pumking Dogfish Head Punkin Great Lakes Nosferatu Olde Hickory glassware giveaway, too.
  • The Brewer's Kettle: Halloween Get Down ( 3:00 pm) Lots of Draft Specials, Pumpkin Beers and plenty of Tricks and Treats! Wear your costumes, bring the kids by for candy and enjoy some great Beer and Wine specials!
  • Jake's Billiards: Halloween Pint Night ( 5:00 pm) HALLOWEEN NIGHT: JOIN US FOR A SPOOKY BOOZETACULAR EVENING OF GHOULISH GUZZLING! *Wear a beer-themed costume and win prizes! We will be giving away swag to the best beer themed costumes all night long!* Buy a pint of beer from the featured brewery and take home a pint glass with their logo on it! This...
  • Finnigan's Wake: Halloween Bash ( 8:00 pm) Where do you want to spend all Hallows Eve? With the goblins at your favorite local haunt! Come to see us here at Finnigan’s Thursday night for devilish fun! We’ll be bobbing for bottles where $3 will get you a chance to try your luck in our tub full of delicious craft brews. Who knows...
  • King's Crab Shack: Costume Party ( 8:00 pm) Are you good enough? Tomorrow night Halloween Eve we are throwing a costume party/contest! First place gets $100 2nd place gets $50 3rd place gets $25! Every costume gets a prize, the girls from Jim Beam will be there sampling their new products . The party starts at 8 until late ! Treat a trick!
  • Stumble Stilskins: Old School Halloween Party ( 8:00 pm) We’re taking it back to the good ol days of Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, and all your favorite classic Halloween characters Halloween Night at Stumbles!!!! Come out in your favorite old school costume and have a chance at winning $500 in cash and prizes all night long! We’re also going to have My Brother Skyler in...
  • Sessions: Costumes & Karaoke ( 8:00 pm) Come get down and play at Sessions on Halloween Night (the real Halloween Night!) and laugh your asses off at our yearly Karaoke party! Costumes, BEER, Shenanigans , and bunch of singing yahoos to make the night fantastic! Beer Starts at 11am Karaoke starts around 8:30pm And yes Virginia we will be Open til 2am !!
  • Bull's Tavern: doby + Costume Party ( 8:00 pm) It’s Halloween!!! Get funky to the music of Doby!!! Costume contest at midnight!! Cash prizes!!!
  • Second & Green Tavern: Costume Party ( 9:00 pm) GREAT DRINK and SHOT SPECIALS!! DJ A-VEGAS!!! PRIZES FOR BEST FEMALE AND MALE COSTUMES! FREE FOOD and MORE!!

Friday:

  • Potent Potables: Halloween Hangover Party ( 7:00 pm) Miss out on the fun last night? Don't worry, Potent Potables has you covered with a Halloween Hangover party tonight! Featuring live music from Jessica Mashburn, come out in your costumes one more time (or for the first time) and enjoy some great beer & wine!

Saturday:

    Know of another Halloween Party going on tonight in the Triad? Leave a comment!

    Taking a Look at the Growler Fill Temporary Rules

    Growler of BeerThe NC Rules Review Commission officially passed the temporary growler fill rules this morning, and they will go into effect starting October 25th. The permanent rules have to be in place by January 1st, 2014.

    No real surprises in the filling rules, they simply lay out how the growlers should be sanitized prior to cleaning, how the tubes or machine used to do the filling are to be cleaned, and how the filling implements should be stored.

    The definition of a growler was also refined, going from simply a “refillable container no larger than 2 liters” to “a refillable rigid glass, plastic, aluminum or stainless steel container with a flip-top or screw-on lid that is no larger than 2 liters.” Interesting that they included the “rigid” modifier, as this could possibly affect adoption of the recently developed “soft” growlers such as the BeerPouch.

    Quite a few new rules around malt beverage labeling were added, including now requiring the Federal alcoholic beverage health warning statement on all manufacturer prefilled containers (so both bottles and growlers). Retailer filled/refilled growlers must also “be affixed with a label or a tag” containing the following information:

    1. brand name of the product dispensed
    2. name of the brewer or bottler
    3. class of product (e.g., beer, ale, porter, lager, bock, stout, or other brewed or fermented beverage)
    4. net contents
    5. if the malt beverage is fortified by any stimulants from the original manufacturer, the amount of each (milligrams) per container
    6. name and address of business that filled or refilled the growler
    7. date of fill or refill
    8. if the malt beverage is more than six percent alcohol by volume, the amount of alcohol by volume
    9. the following statement, “This product may be unfiltered and unpasteurized. Keep refrigerated at all times.”

    All filled/refilled growlers are also required to carry the Federal alcoholic beverage health warning statement.

    Non-brewery retailers are also prohibited from prefilling growlers for sale – filling and refilling is specifically limited by the rules to occurring “on demand by a customer.” Once purchased, whether it is prefilled or a refill, a growler can only be consumed “off-premises.”

    You can find the adopted growler fill temporary rules here:
    Growlers: Cleaning, Sanitizing, Filling and Sealing (.doc)

    Amended rules defining a growler and for labeling growlers:
    Growlers (.doc)
    Label Contents: Malt Beverages (.doc)