The Best Breweries, Brewpubs, and Tasting Rooms in The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham).
Plant a few colleges and universities in an area and just sit back and relax as the beer drinking culture grows. Literally, that's all it takes.
The Research Triangle is filled with thousands of undergrads, grad students, and post docs itching for any excuse to go grab a pint. That doesn't even include the support staff of Duke, NC State, UNC, Wake Forest and the other surrounding institutions. Which also doesn't include the folks who just live in The Triangle.
You get the point. Tons of folks mean tons of opportunity to develop an excellent craft beer scene, which The Triangle has. Here are some breweries, brewpubs and taprooms you should check out in Raleigh, Durham, and beyond.
2 Raleigh Breweries to Visit
Big Boss Brewing Company
Metal warehouse taprooms with dartboards is our jam! Biergarten-style tables, kettles on display, and a room full of string lights rounds out the aesthetic.
Big Boss Brewing starts and ends with the Big Boss lager. The brewery claims that their eponymous lager is, "Built for the beer garden, the ballpark or the back porch." Exactly our thoughts. It's the best beer for brats that you will find in The Triangle. Also, a really great beer for beer battering.
Now in its second decade of existence, Big Boss Brewing hosts private events, offers beers to go, and rounds up food trucks to feed the masses.
A farmhouse brewery in rural Maine, Brewery Bhavana is not. Everything from the decor, to the one word beer titles, to the menu, to their story, "within a community of artists called Anchorlight", says elegance.
You need only look at Glean, a mango peppercorn saison, to know that beer is art to Brewery Bhavana. Divergence, a red wine barrel aged sour, and Thistle, a mescal barrel aged sour, follow in Glean's footsteps.
Bloom, the dry cardamom tripel, is where we'd start.
2 Durham Breweries to Visit
Barrel Culture Brewing & Blending
They use the word curated when discussing their beer, so it's gotta be good. And, it needs to be to keep up with their naming. Check out these gems.
- Don't Worry About It, I Just Need a Shovel
- I Don't Know If You Know This, But I'm Kind of a Savage
- Steady Hoopin'
In between The Yard and Pie Time series, and, brewing Black is Beautiful, they've managed to spread out the lyrics to the theme from the Fresh Prince across several beers. Bravo.
That's great and all, but Barrel Culture, we need to know, is Wicky Wild Wild at the beginning of Onyx's Slam? We're not gonna Google it, so we'll just believe it's true.
And, if you're seeking to throw a super soft birthday party for your friend, you're going to want a bottle or five of Barrel Culture's, Bow Howdy.
Ponysaurus Brewing Company
Beer drive-thru! For the win!
Along with the drive-thru, Ponysaurus Brewing has a rotation of food trucks stopping by, a beer garden / patio with heaters, and Glühwein, a non-alcoholic spiced cider for you to enjoy.
And, who can resist their Snacks by the Scoop? Wasabi covered peanuts, Cheetos, Bugles, Swedish Fish, all for a buck a scoop. Sold!
Great swag, like a shirt that says, "Don't be mean to people" ... all in all, fun name, fun place, fun atmosphere ...
Did we even mention their beer? No? Oh well.
2 Chapel Hill Breweries to Visit
Gizmo Brew Works (Chapel Hill)
50 taps to choose from, including a taproom-only small batch release. Gizmo's Chapel Hill taproom is a dog friendly and family friendly environment, so you can feel comfortable bringing your children and your puppers on down to the local watering hole. You can get crowler pours to go, along with cans and bottles from the bottle shop.
Be sure to check Gizmo's taproom calendar for live music and events.
Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery
Topo adds a nice touch of class to the Triangle craft beer scene. Upscale, signature dishes complement their tastefully crafted brews, including the Bell Tower Blueberry Wheat, the Old Well White, and the Kenan Lager. Topo also has their own lineup of organic spirits available if you're looking to take it up a notch.
2 Cary Breweries to Visit
Bond Brothers Beer Company
It's not every day that a brewery has its own running club like Bond Brothers Beer Co. in Cary. The brewery, open every day of the week from 2pm to 10pm, offers a draft list that covers all of the most common beer styles. And while Duality of Funk and Salted Cranberry Sorcery catch our eye, a simple Classic (American Red) is good for any occasion.
Bond Brothers Food Truck game is on point, offering a new truck almost every day of the month, including Adobo Joe, Backyard Bistro, Lobster Dogs, and Curry in a Hurry (great name!). What's more, Bond Brothers Eastside, their second location, is a great space for live music.
Fortnight Brewing Company
Awesome patio. Catered event space. Barrels stacked up on the wall. Trivia and Live Music nights. Wine and champagne for the non-beer drinkers in your party. Fortnight Brewing is a dope spot to visit.
Purveyors of cask beer, Fortnight runs tours centered around the cask-conditioning process.
Speaking of beer, Fortnight brews Bring Da Ruckus, a Wu-Tang inspired New England IPA. Strong beer name right there folks. Strong.
2 Other Triangle Breweries to Visit
Bombshell Beer Company
Recognized as one of the best Women-led breweries in the world by USA Today is Holly Springs' Bombshell Beer Company. The team of 3 ladies behind Bombshell Brewing believe in crafting "approachable, easy drinking quality beer", a fact seen directly through their offerings. BBC combines a set of solid year-round beers, including the Hipster Handshake, to accompany more diverse offerings like the Wild Juice Chase, Raging Pineapple Ale, and the Uber Night Imperial Stout.
What's more, Bombshell has live music in the taproom, a beer garden outside, and, they sell kegs.
White Street Brewing Company
Located in Downtown Wake Forest, White Street Brewing opened in 2012 on White Street, of course. With a focus on classic styles and a renowned Kolsch and Scottish Ale, White Street is less for the dollar draft college kids and more for the (slightly?) refined enjoyer of craft beer.
They dive deeper into the classic craft world with their Back Alley series, featuring Genevieve de Brabant, a Biere de Garde that is aged in Cabernet barrels, and Koschei the Deathless, a Bourbon-Barrel Aged Russian Imperial Stout that, if you're a beer snob, checks in with these paper stats: 12.8% abv | 40 ibu | 38 srm
We have to applaud White Street Brewing on their branding - their brewery logo is excellent.
Beer Festivals in The Triangle to attend
Every region needs a few interesting beer fests to get excited about. Two you may want to check out are Casks on Fools and the Triangle Craft Beer Fest that's put on by the Triangle Craft Beer Alliance.
Crank Arm Brewing puts on a small beer fest centered around cask-conditioned ales. If you've never had the pleasure of enjoying a cask beer, we suggest you look into attending Cask on Fools. It's a beer tasting you won't want to miss.
Triangle Craft Beer Fest
50+ breweries in The Triangle come together at WakeMed Park in Cary to form the Triangle Craft Beer Fest. The festival offers craft beer lovers (attendees) unlimited samples of their favorite local NC beers, including special brews from each of the brewers in attendance. In 2018, attendees of the Triangle Craft Beer Fest also got a ticket to a North Carolina Courage soccer match after the event. Fans must have been a bit extra raucous that night.
Also, be on the lookout for pretzel necklaces. We hear it's a thing.