It’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.