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.
Wedge Brewing Company Creature
The Brewery: Wedge Brewing Company in downtown Asheville
The Beer: Creature
Tasting Notes: Bragging a potent 11.3-percent ABV, this Belgian Trippel was the biggest beer we found at the festival — and an enjoyable, if strange creation. The body has notes of pear that are offset with a heavy dose of citrus hops — part of the IPA levels of hopping that go into this hybrid beer. The last thing you'll notice about the beer is the surprisingly dry finish, which might help you forget the punch that even a small glass of this huge beer will pack.