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.
The Hop Tater Ridge Ice Cream
The Brewery: The Hop Cafe is actually an ice cream shop outside of Asheville — and the only one in the U.S. officially allowed to use the Sierra Nevada name.
The Ice Cream: Tater Ridge Ice Cream
Tasting Notes: This ice cream shop boils down beers into a non-alcoholic syrup and adds the resulting extract to the ice cream. The hoppyness is lost in the process and what's left is a remarkably sweet, complex, and delicious scoop.