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.
Nantahala Noon Day IPA
The Brewery: Nantahala Brewery, from Bryson City, North Carolina (about 60 miles west of Asheville)
The Beer: Noon Day IPA
Tasting Notes: Nantahala has been working with Sierra Nevada since 2012, when their brewers flew out to Chico, California to collaborate at Beer Camp. It felt fitting then that we tried our first Noon Day IPA at the Beer Camp Across America festival, in Nantahala's backyard in Mills River, North Carolina. The IPA, one of Nantahala's flagship beers, is a relatively low-alcohol IPA that is supremely well-balanced with a nice malt heft to it that is balanced with plenty of citrus hops and a dry finish. This is the kind of IPA we wouldn't think twice about drinking in quantities — the kind of IPA you want for the game or beach.
Credit: iTapped / Flickr