Appalachian Mountain Brewing
One of the brightest stars in the North Carolina craft beer firmament, Appalachian Mountain Brewing is a bona fide Boone landmark. This 10-barrel outfit boasts a 120-foot bar, a heated patio and the acclaimed Farm 2 Flame food truck. Flagship brews like Boone Creek Blonde Ale and Long Leaf India Pale Ale are augmented by seasonal saisons, imperial stouts and ciders.
Located in the bustling heart of Durham, Fullsteam Brewery prides itself on brewing “distinctly Southern beer” utilizing local malt and hops. Mainstays like Paycheck Pilsner, Rocket Science IPA and Working Man’s Lunch Brown Ale have made this brewery a must-see for beer trail pilgrims. The full-service kitchen cranks out classic North Carolina dishes like spicy pimento cheese and crispy pork belly sandwiches.
Highland Brewing Co.
Founded in 1994 as Asheville’s first brewery since prohibition, Highland Brewing Company puts out up to 200 barrels of premium suds per day. Perennial favorites like their Gaelic Ale and AVL IPA are often joined by delicious seasonal brews such as Stargazer White and Clawhammer Märzen. Thanks to a live music stage, a mezzanine and a roof-top bar, Highland is always hopping.
Foothills Brewing Co.
No trip to Winston-Salem would be complete without a stop at Foothills Brewing, a charming brewpub situated in the Atwood district. Year-round offerings like Hoppyum IPA, People’s Porter, Carolina Blonde Cream Ale and Torch Pilsner have put this landmark on the map. While their in-house kitchen produces plenty of hearty fare, a slew of next-level local food trucks make regular nightly visits.
Wicked Weed Brewing
In less than a decade, Wicked Weed has quickly climbed the ranks to become one of North Carolina’s premier craft beer destinations. Their pub location boasts a tasting bar, a cozy patio, a full kitchen and their original 15-barrel brewing installation. Draft options include high-octane American ales like Pernicious and Freak of Nature as well as saisons and hard ciders.\
Mother Earth Brewing
As you might expect based on the name, Mother Earth Brewing takes an environmentally friendly approach to craft beer. Their Kinston location is notable for being the first brewery in the country to achieve LEED Gold Certification. Year-round draft options like Weeping Willow Wit, Sisters of the Moon IPA and Endless River Kolsch have made Mother Earth a mecca for local beer fanatics.
Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.
Nestled deep in the Great Smoky Mountains just off the Appalachian Trail, this laid-back Franklin hot spot is worth the drive. Popular drafts include Slack Pack IPA, Red Marble Rye Imperial Red Ale, Wesser Evil Porter and Springer Fever Pilsner to name just a few. Patrons can relax on Lazy Hiker’s expansive patio while enjoying a bite from the food truck parked out front.
D9 Brewing Company
Established in the lakeside town of Cornelius in 2014, D9 Brewing Company places an emphasis on educating and engaging with rabid beer fans. While they offer tons of great IPAs like Swell Rider and Hakuna Matata, their unique sours are what really set them apart from the crowd. D9 is equally famous for hosting local events like regular yoga sessions and summer concerts.
During its few short years of existence, Wilmington’s own Flytrap Brewing has made a big name for itself among North Carolina’s beer cognoscenti. Flytrap specializes in small, artisanal batches of American and Belgian beers. If you especially enjoy Dubbels and Trippels, Flytrap is the brewpub for you. Regular visits from a rotating cast of food trucks make up for the lack of a dedicated kitchen.
Mystery Brewing Company
Since opening its doors in 2012, Mystery Brewing Company has taken the Hillsborough beer world by storm with its transcendent concoctions. Year-round fixtures like Orbiter Belgian White Ale and Beatrix Farmhouse Ale are backed up by a bevy of seasonal and one-off brews that rarely disappoint. Patrons can enjoy simple but filling appetizers and main dishes in the warm ambiance of Mystery Brewing’s renovated location on South Nash Street.
Experiencing North Carolina Beer One Brewery at a Time
While North Carolina may have been slow to jump on the craft beer wagon, the state is making up for lost time in a hurry. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to list every brewery in the state worth visiting without writing a book. Regardless, the breweries mentioned here are a great starting point for locals and tourists alike.