This post below is a repost of a submission I made to Craft Beer Collective - a friend's blog that covers the NC craft beer scene. While no racing, biking or running was involved, I was happy with the way a lot of the photos came out from the day. I thought I would share the post here including the photos selected for publication by Craft Beer Collective.
A group of us made the trip to Hickory, North Carolina last weekend for the 9th annual Hickory Hops Beer Festival. While the weather forecast was looking sketchy for the day, by the time we arrived to town, the skies had cleared and the rain had passed. Little did we know that significant storms with tornadoes would soon be moving into Raleigh where we had just come from.
We made it into the festival after pre-gaming at the Hickory Mellow Mushroom for a bit filling up on pizza and pints. As expected, the festival was jam packed with NC breweries and a few other southern breweries from SC, GA and even TN. We started with Pisgah Brewing and worked our way through the festival tents with the occasional break to enjoy the bands playing on stage throughout the 6 hour festival.
Highlights of beers and breweries that stood out to us included newcomers Nantahala Brewing‘s Noon Day IPA, Loe’s Brewing Chocolate Stout XS and Birdsong Brewing‘s Saison. Out of the established breweries, we couldn’t get enough of Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery. Apparently, the judges couldn’t either. The day also includes the Carolina Championship of Beer which happened in the morning. Medals and plaques were given to brewery winners in many categories of beer styles. Liberty seems to have easily won the most medals and they drew us back to their booth 3 times for their various timed releases throughout the day including several fantastic sours and their Black IPA.
One of our local favorites from the Triangle, Aviator Brewing made their first visit to Hickory Hops and won 5 medals for their various styles of brew. Surprisingly, HogWild IPA was not one of them! The Olde Hickory Brewery had a full line-up of their brews including a special Imperial Stout with honey that clocked in at 10.5 ABV. Natty Greene’s Brewery had several special brews for the day including a Barrel-aged version of their Black Powder Stout and Anniversary Sour which took home the Best in Show award. Sadly, while Pisgah Brewing also won a medal for their Bacon Stout, it was not available for tasting.
It was also great to visit with the brewers at several of my favorite NC breweries including Carl at Wedge Brewery, Josh at Mother Earth Brewery, Mark at Aviator Brewery and Paul at Duck-Rabbit Brewery.
By the end of the day, we managed to visit and sample nearly every brewery booth at the festival. Cheers to Hickory Hops and NC craft beer for a tremendous day.
Craft Beer Collective contributor @beerandracing – a NC craft beer fanatic, motorsports junkie and avid runner. Author of Beer and Racing. Operator of Bike 2 Beer.