At the final stop of Beer Camp Across America festival, in Mills River, we learn firsthand why North Carolina has quietly become a new great American beer hub, with over 100 breweries in the state. If the sheer number or quality of breweries doesn't cement this region as a craft beer destination, look to the big three who have decided to make a second home here — Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues, and, next year, New Belgium. All together, it's a regional beer industry that will draw an estimated 800,000 new tourists a year. And if the Asheville Brewers Alliance's Tater Ridge collaboration with Sierra Nevada — a Scotch Ale made with local sweet potatoes — is any sign, the region is full of innovation. At the festival, we sampled dozens of beers from North Carolina. Here are 10* of our favorites.
*Technically, 9 beers and one beer-infused ice cream.
Asheville Brewery: Ninja Porter
The Brewery: Asheville Brewing Company, with three locations in Asheville, North Carolina
The Beer: Ninja Porter
Tasting Notes: This 2014 World Beer Cup winner in the Brown Porter category is a beer that, as its name hints, is a sneakily brilliant beer. It has a pleasantly roast-y body, but is also lightly hopped, surprisingly easy to down and, thanks to just 5 percent ABV, one to drink in twos.
Credit: francoismi / Flickr