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.
Birdsong Brewery Doin’ Thyme
The Brewery: Birdsong Brewery, in Charlotte, North Carolina
The Beer: Doin' Thyme Witbier
Tasting Notes: The first thing you'll notice about Birdsong's Belgian seasonal is the wild, complex nose that smells noticeably of thyme and lemon. Once you drink up, however, the witbier is suprisingly dry and drinkable, with 4.3 percent ABV that will allow you to quench your thirst for hours – after enjoying the herb garden aromatics, of course.