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Last week I had a thought: If eating local is good for the environment, the same must go for drinking local.
Buying beer brewed a few miles from home instead of something trucked in from across the country can reduce your carbon footprint less fuel used, fewer fuel emissions. Work with me here Im trying to make saving the planet more fun.
Before I decided to recommend this drastic change, I spent a few days touring local breweries and sampling their offerings.
Roth Brewing Company
5907 Triangle Drive, Raleigh
Taproom open Monday through Saturday; tours run Friday and Saturday evenings. A second anniversary party Saturday, June 2, will feature the plum honey hefeweizen, two bands, three food trucks and casked ales. Doors open at 2 p.m.; bands and food trucks start at 5 p.m.
Lonerider Brewing Company
8816 Gulf Ct. Suite 100, Raleigh
Taproom is open Thursday through Saturday. Food trucks are always in the parking lot to offer sustenance to the taster. Tours offered two Saturdays per month.
Big Boss Brewing Company
1249-A Wicker Drive, Raleigh
Next tour is 2 p.m., Saturday, June 9. Taproom is open Monday through Saturday with darts, ping-pong, pool and beers on tap straight from the brewery.
Natty Greene’s Brewing Company
505 W. Jones St., Raleigh
Open daily. On the fourth Tuesday of the month, home brewers can bring in a sample to compete for a chance brew their recipe with head brewer Mike Morris. The winning beer is served on tap at the pub.
Boylan Bridge Brewpub
201 S. Boylan Ave., Raleigh
Open daily. Request a table on the deck to enjoy an amazing view of the Raleigh skyline while you sip your Bruno Bitter or Pullman Porter.
North Carolina is becoming the Southern state for beer – more than 60 breweries operate in the state, and more are in the works. If you’d like to visit some during your summer travels, visit www.brewerymap.com.
I discovered that these local craft beers are really, really tasty. And going to a brewpub or brewery tasting room can be an extremely enjoyable experience.
Here in Raleigh, we have two full-service restaurants that brew on-site: Boylan Bridge Brewpub and Natty Greenes Brewing Company. We also have three stand-alone breweries: Big Boss, Lonerider and Roth.
Each brewer offers a selection of year-round beers supplemented by seasonal recipes.
I had been to brewpubs before, but I really didnt know much about the process of brewing or the different types of beer. And honestly, even though I have spent hours listening to beer guys talk about it, I still dont know much.
Hundreds take tours
What I do know is that Raleigh has a vibrant beer thing going on. About 500 people turn up every second Saturday of the month to tour the Big Boss Brewing Company. Lonerider and Roth also offer popular tours.
If youre not interested in the details of the brewing process, just dive right into sampling different beers at any brewery or brewpub.
It is a lot of fun to interact with the beer guys they are a happy bunch. And they are passionate about their craft.
They include Sumit Vohra, Steve Kramling and Mihir Patel home brewers who decided to leave their positions at Cisco to start Lonerider so they could do something they love.
As my Big Boss tour guide John Pyrbun said, Were brewing the beer that we want to drink.
I asked Roth Brewing Company CEO Ryan Roth to give me his thoughts on the difference between someone who drinks mass produced beer and the people who savor craft beers.
Roth believes the difference between a casual beer drinker and a craft beer drinker is that the casual beer drinker hasnt been introduced to craft beer yet.
I think he hit the nail on the head. Now that I have been introduced to Natty Greenes Buckshot Amber Ale with notes of caramel and toffee and the citric and piney notes of Boylan Bridge Brewpubs Gantlet Golden Ale, I want to taste all of the beers that our local brewers have to offer.
I was disappointed to learn that I have to wait until next winter to experience the Big Operater, a beer that Big Boss brewers infuse with cacao and raspberries. But I am anxiously awaiting the June 2 release of the Roth Brewing Company summer seasonal Valkyrie, which is a traditional German style hefeweizen flavored with red plums and orange blossom honey.
And as if reducing your carbon footprint while enjoying fresh, delicious craft beer and having fun hanging out with happy beer makers isnt enough, there is one more environmentally friendly aspect to drinking local: growlers.
All of our local breweries and brewpubs sell growlers, which are 64-ounce, take-home jugs that can be filled and refilled with your favorite beer.
The breweries also sell bottles and kegs directly. And although it is much more fun to go to the brewery, Big Boss and Lonerider beer is available wherever you are buying your mass-produced beer now, and Roth beer is available in bottle shops across the state.
Tasty beer, happy people doing something good for the planet has never been more fun.