I now interrupt your regularly scheduled soup programming to take you on a virtual field trip to three North Carolina breweries.
If you know me personally, you know I like beer. If you do not know me personally but have read this blog for any length of time, you also probably know I like beer. If you do not fall into either of those categories, you are about to find out for yourself that, well, I really like beer.
Last month, some gals from our (girls-only!) beer club piled onto a bus on cloudy, dreary Saturday. Our destinations: Olde Hickory Brewery, Catawba Brewing Co., and Fonta Flora Brewery. First stop: Olde Hickory.
WWhat a welcome! Immediately upon walking through the doors, the head brewmaster Steven offered us all a beer from their taps. The group I was huddled up with looked at each other in wonder, “Is he giving us an entire beer?” Yep, sure was!
I enjoyed the Christmas Ale brewed with orange zest, cinnamon, ginger, and honey. I enjoyed it, as Olde Hickory recommends, in the company of good friends. I also decided that today was going to be awesome.
Olde Hickory has been brewing beer since 1994, and they started barrel aging in 2003. The brewery brews seven standard beers, four seasonal beers, and four other beers of a category I cannot recall because I am an amateur.
It was my first time visiting their facility, but I was familiar with their beer. The bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout Event Horizon is wildly popular, as is their India pale ale (IPA) Death by Hops. I’m not overly in love with either of those styles, but I have been known to enjoy their black IPA Black Raven from time to time.
Olde Hickory started out as a brew pub, and they still have three restaurants today. We lunched at Olde Hickory Station, where in addition to the restaurant, one can find a quaint shop full of cheeses, desserts, and bottled beer. I ate a quinoa and red bean burger topped with smoked Gouda that I still think about. Maybe I am a foodie…
While we were there, I enjoyed one of my favorite Olde Hickory beers: Lindley Park. This imperial stout is brewed with raspberries, aged in bourbon barrels, and is as richly divine as the words imperial, raspberries, and bourbon bring to mind.
Then it was off to Morganton to visit one of Catawba Brewing’s locations. What I can tell you about the tour is what I can tell you about any brewery tour: if you have been on one brewery tour, chances are, you have been on most all brewery tours.
I mean this with no disregard to Catawba. After touring a dozen or so breweries over the past year (I’ve even toured the same brewery twice, the first time as one brewery and the second time as another brewery), not much stands out as crazy unique. So, I’ll skip over the tour and head straight to the beer.
Here I ordered a flight of the Farmer Ted cream ale, Revenuers red ale, Black Dome stout, and King Winterbolt winter ale. In the three o’clock position above you will see the cream ale. While cream ales are light in color, don’t let that deceive you. This style is full-bodied, flavorful, and in the case of Farmer Ted, 6.0% alcohol-by-volume (ABV). It’s not a lightweight.
The Revenuers Red, seen front and center, surprised me. I’m typically not a huge fan of red ales, the why of which I cannot explain. Catawba describes this beer as brewed with caramel and special B malts (a malt with a roasted nut and sweet flavor), then accented with four hop additions.
On to one of my favorite styles: the stout. The Black Dome stout is named after a nickname given to the highest point east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell, because it is often times cloaked in black clouds.
My final selection was a seasonal winter ale, King Winterbolt. I’ll be honest. I ordered this one for the name. Like the Black Dome, this beer is brewed with two malts but three hops. It is no longer available since, thank you heaven for seasons, we have put winter behind us. If you visit Catawba tomorrow, you will find the Hefeweizen Queen Winterkill on tap. I love hefeweizens, but I would order that one for its name too.
Oh, and in case you have any interest in this, Catawba is pronounced like “Kuh-taw-buh.” I can’t even recreate the oddness that one friend’s vocal chords created when she tried to pronounce the word. Suffice it to say, “cat” is not in the pronunciation.
It took me a long time to want to learn to cook, but I have always loved to bake. When I first wrote this about page, I claimed that I liked how just a little effort can turn a few ingredients into the perfect way to brighten a day. I’ve since learned I pretty much just like to bake because people will do anything if you bribe them with cookies. Currently a Charlottean, I write in the corporate world by day and bake/blog by night.
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