Craft breweries are taking off in North Carolina. But it can be hard to keep track of all the good beer-makers.
Last week, we asked you on Facebook to tell us the best brewery in North Carolina. And sheesh, did you respond.
So we decided to drop in with an update on the breweries who got the most shout-outs. We saw the big dogs — the mainstays like New Belgium, Asheville Brewing, and Red Oak, as well as a healthy smattering of new, up-and-coming breweries in small towns.
No list is ever complete. So if we missed something, tell us! Write me at [email protected].
The breweries are spread out from the Outer Banks to North Carolina’s highest elevations. Happy beer hunting!
Here are 5 of the most commonly-shouted out breweries:
Red Oak Brewery – Whitsett, N.C.
This venerable Whitsett, N.C. brewery traces its roots back to 1979 and a restaurant in Franklin. Today, they specialize in highly drinkable Bavarian-style lagers.
According to Red Oak, here’s what makes them special, in their own words :
“Large American beer manufacturers don’t make lagers the way we do…the way it should be, that is, according to the Rheinheitsgebot or 1516 Law of Purity. Under this Law only Malted Barley, Hops, Water and Yeast may be used to make Real Beer…No Rice, Corn, adjuncts, additives, or preservatives are allowed.”
Burial – Asheville, N.C.
This New Orleans-inspired, Asheville small brewer was named the top small brewer in the world in 2021 and 2022 by Craft Beer & Brewing.
Since their launch, they’ve opened four taprooms — two in Asheville, one in Charlotte, and one in Raleigh. They make hoppy IPAs, lagers, and barrel-aged stouts too.
The Levee Brewery & Pub – Valdese, N.C.
According to this western North Carolina brewpub, they “smashed together a classic British pub with the creativity and exuberance of American Craft Beer, and poured it all out into the friendliest little town in North Carolina.”
That friendliest little town is Valdese, population 4,600 or so near Hickory. They feature 12 draft selections, mixing regular brews, seasonals, and even experimental batches.
Ghost Harbor Brewing Co. — Elizabeth City, N.C.
Some people only think of western North Carolina when they think of North Carolina craft beer. Those folks are ignorant. (Sorry! It’s true!)
Check out Ghost Harbor Brewing in Elizabeth City, this eastern NC city’s first microbrewery. You enter in an alleyway, which is a good start. They have the requisite IPAs and lagers, with a good dose of sours too, like their cherry mango gose.
Mother Earth Brewing – Kinston, N.C.
Another eastern North Carolina brewer that got your attention.
Kinston’s Mother Earth Brewing has one good ethos: “make a world-class product, but keep the process local.” You can taste it in their locally-produced selection, which includes lagers, IPAs, porters, and — our favorite — the “Weeping Willot Wit,” their flavorful wheat beer.