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North Carolina has long been known for its beautiful beaches, charming cities, and majestic mountains, but it’s quickly becoming popular for its craft beer scene as well. With new breweries popping up all over the state, there are flavors for every palate – from light to dark and sweet to sour. Some brewers have even mastered the art of unique flavors like peanut butter and maple bacon that lure in tasters that are new to the beer scene.
Located in the town of Cornelius, just north of Charlotte, Ass Clown Brewing Company has quickly made a name for themselves, even though they only became a fully operational brewery in 2011. Their goal was to create unique, flavorful beers and they’ve definitely achieved their goal and then some, with their constantly-changing menu that includes unique varieties on 31 taps. In addition to standard beers like IPA’s, ales, ambers, porters and stouts, they also serve up concoctions like dark chocolate peanut butter, bacon oyster, and ghost chili.
Also located in Cornelius, with two other locations in North Carolina, D9 Brewing Company was founded by two engineers and a doctor who had a passion for brewing their own beer, as well as bringing the community together. They also set out to create quality and “unquestionably original” brews. In addition to their delicious year-round beers like Brown Sugar Brown Cow (a mocha brown ale) and Hakuna Matata (a tropical IPA), they launched a line called Defying Gravity, which is all about the universe of sour beer. Their Systema Naturae series explores the scientific processes of the natural world with exotic ingredients like lingonberry, edelweiss, and Devilwood blossoms.
If your travels bring you to the quiet mountain town of Blowing Rock, we highly recommend a trip to Blowing Rock Brewing. With community at the root of their mission and the desire to create only the highest quality craft brews, it’s no wonder they’ve snagged a spot as a favorite brewing in all of North Carolina.
If you haven’t already heard of Wicked Weed Brewing, listen up. What started as the dream of two brothers and their lifelong friend, has now grown into one of North Carolina’s most popular breweries. Although the atmosphere at their three locations – the Brewpub, the Funkatorium, and the Wicked Weed West – makes a visit worthwhile all on its own, the unique brews on tap are the real star of the show. Coolcumber is a golden brew made with cucumber, basil and juniper berries, while Pineapple Sage-On is a blonde made with pineapple chunks and pineapple sage. Saison lovers may want to try the Tumeric Saison or the Skal Wine Saison, which is fermented on top of Pinot Noir grape must. Even gluten-free beer lovers can indulge with Gluten Freek or Oak Fermented Cider.
Don’t let their quirky name throw you off… Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in the small rural town of Farmville was founded by a former philosophy professor, Paul Philippon. The infamous “is it a duck or is it a rabbit” diagram appeared in one of Paul’s favorite philosophy texts and now offers a nod to his former life. Considering themselves to be dark beer specialists, the brewery focuses on stouts, as well as amber, brown and black ales. Seasonal brews include Rabid Duck, brewed with chocolate and espresso and Barleywine, a hoppy brew with hints of toffee and malt.
Located in Boone, Appalachian Mountain Brewery focuses on building relationships with its community and supporting local non-profits, in addition to serving up great-tasting beer and cider. In fact, they believe they have a duty to be ethical within their community and employ environmentally conscious technologies like solar panels, a rain garden, a grain exchange with local farmers and a bike station at their tasting room. They also give to non-profits through their Pints for Non-Profits program and support local entrepreneurs and start-up businesses with their venture capital fund. But when it comes down to the beer, you can’t beat their extensive selection of brews and ciders, including IPA’s, stouts, pilsners, saisons, hefes and more. For a unique twist, try the peppermint cream milk stout or the pumpkin butternut squash porter.
Fullsteam Brewery’s motto, “From Plow to Pint,” represents its mission to support local farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs by buying local ingredients for their brews. Not only does it create jobs and income for North Carolina farmers, but it also gives their beer a distinctive, Southern taste. The nod to the South is obvious in flavors like The Working Man’s Lunch – a brown ale made with biscuity malts, vanilla and cocoa nibs from local artisan chocolates (it’s touted as a tribute to RC Cola and the Moon Pie), and Beasley’s – a peppery honey white, brewed specifically to be paired with fried chicken. The Carver – a sweet potato lager, also celebrates the state’s most prized crop.
Kinston may be a small town, but Mother Earth’s brews are known well beyond the city limits. Owners and in-laws, Stephen Hill and Trent Mooring founded the brewery based on their shared love of home-grown vegetables and handcrafted beer. Since Kinston has always been a hub of active farm areas, they set out to make a product that its roots in the land – literally. Like Homegrown – a tomato ale brewed with the founder’s third-generation tomato juice and a one-of-a-kind corn-based beer. Or Fig & Raisin – a Belgian Dubbel fermented with figs and raisins and then aged in apple brandy barrels.