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.
Wicked Weed Freak of Nature Double IPA
The Brewery: Wicked Weed Brewing, in Asheville, North Carolina
The Beer: Freak of Nature Double IPA
Tasting Notes: Wicked Weed specializes in big, hoppy west coast ales and Freak of Nature is just that. The brewery brags dry hopping this beer with over 3 pounds of hops per barrel (we're told that's an insane amount of hops), and as you might expect the beer reeks of pine forest, citrus, and, yes, weed. While this beer is surprisingly balanced thanks to its high alcohol count, it is, above all else, a hop head's dream.
Credit: Judah Gross / Flickr