When you have the booming craft beer scene that North Carolina does, the standard “Craft Beer Week!” seems like a lame idea. Isn’t that every week? Instead, for the sixth straight year, breweries and destinations that love beer will roll out the barrels and the red carpet in April for an entire month. Yes, NC Beer Month is a celebration full of festivals, Untappd badges, lodging packages, prizes and experiences beyond just the beer that draws on the surrounding landscape and state history.
“Our craft beer reflects the character of the place where it’s made,” said Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit North Carolina, which co-sponsors the celebration with the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild. “It connects to our farms, our rivers and our history with its local flavors, our brewers’ passion and even the names of breweries and beers. Noon Day IPA could only come from Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City and Weissbound and Down from Newgrass Brewing in Shelby.”
With 50 new breweries opening since this time last year, beer trips will combine the freshness of a first-time visit with the familiarity of enduring favorites. Here’s a glance at what’s going down this year.
Discover new destinations
You’ll need more than 250 pins for the 2018 brewery map. New destinations extend from coastal Corolla (with Northern Outer Banks Brewing) and Elizabeth City (Ghost Harbor Brewing) to Roxboro in the Piedmont (Black Creek Brewery) and Marion in the mountains (Mica Town Brewing). The reinvention of Rocky Mount Mills reaches must-visit status with a cluster of breweries, including newcomer HopFly, TBC West and Koi Pond, with BDD opening soon on the mill’s Tar River campus.
Revel in acts of piracy
Flash back 300 years to Blackbeard’s arrival North Carolina. The new Edward Teach Brewing in Wilmington references the pirate with its name, decor and beers. Ocracoke’s 1718 Brewing greets visitors to the island where Blackbeard engaged in his last acts of piracy before losing his head. NC Beer Month occasions the release of a hoppy blonde called Blackbeard’s Booty at Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston and the return of the seasonal Queen Anne’s Revenge, a dark Carolina ale named for Blackbeard’s flagship, at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough.
Explore new landscapes
The dazzling Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont celebrates NC Beer Month with the April 7 opening of a new beer garden. Visitors can sample the craftsmanship of Charlotte-area breweries as they picnic on the grassy lawn, relax on the patio or listen to live music during the Thursday evening Sip and Stroll. Durham’s Glass Jug Beer Lab also features a beer garden as part of a larger transformation from bottle shop to microbrewery in a new space. And at Sierra Nevada in Mills River, Springtoberfest! marks the debut of the Lower Park venue on the French Broad River.
Find festivals that fit your style
From Crank Arm Brewing’s Casks on Fools (March 31 in Raleigh) to Highland Brewing’s Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest (April 28 in Asheville), festivals fill the NC Beer Month calendar with options for expansive tastings, local focus, city vibe or rural serenity. New events include: NC Beerfest at Fearrington; Beach Bacon and Beer Festival at Carolina Beach; Festival Celebrating All Things Strawberry (Including Beer) in Hope Mills; Jamaican Me Hoppy Craft Beer Festival in Uptown Charlotte; and Bocce, Beer and Bites in Elizabeth City. Traditionalists can look forward to the 16th annual Hickory Hops, which features the Carolinas Championship of Beers.
Pick a package
Travel deals add incentives for beer lovers visiting the state in April. The Proximity and the O’Henry offer classy accommodations with a side of beer and edible treats. Complete the stay with a Greensboro Grasshoppers game, where Natty Greene’s Brewing rolls out Going Yard Golden Ale as the team’s official beer. Salisbury-area hotels sweeten a stay with beer flights and pint glasses, and Johnston County hoteliers offer coupons for breweries, dining and shopping. Mountain Brook Lodge and Cottages in Sylva has an inviting package for Brew Hop Weekend, and Courtyard by Marriott Raleigh Midtown provides a pint glass and craft beer. 2018 lodging packages in Asheville and Winston-Salem cover April, and Goldsboro looks ahead to the Three Eagles Beer Festival in May with a Hampton Inn offer.