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Kevin Slater is the bartender at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, N.C., where they fold Southern ingredients, like corn grits and sweet potatoes, into their microbrews.
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By John Bordsen
CHARLOTTE, N.C.--Erik Lars Myers, 36, has built quite a career out of beer.
Since the Maine native came to North Carolina a decade ago, his home-brewing hobby turned into a business--Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough and Nash Street Homebrew, also in Hillsborough, which last year began selling ingredients and equipment to aspiring home brewers.
This year he topped off his portfolio with "North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries" ($16.95, John F. Blair), a guide to 45 microbreweries from Kill Devil Hills to Bryson City.
There are omissions, of course: Myers excluded chain operations such as Rock Bottom and Hops and he didn't mention his own craft brewery (mysterybrew
Plus, since he finished writing his book, the number of independent craft brewers has continued to grow.
Myers recently discussed breweries and brew pubs worth checking out on your North Carolina travels.
MOST NOTEWORTHY, OVERALL
"There are many types of beer made across the state, and craft breweries do different things quite well.
"Olde Mecklenburg, in Charlotte, focuses almost exclusively on German-style lagers their Captain James Jack Pilsner really stands out.
"In Asheville, Wedge Brewing Company's Iron Rail IPA is unbelievable, with a really good malt body--the hallmark of a good India pale ale: It's good, bitter and hoppy, with sweet elements. It's well put-together, one of the best IPAs in the state.
"I like a lot of the innovation Fullsteam is bringing to Durham. They're working with a fair amount of Southern ingredients--like local corn grits--or their sweet potato lager.
"Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery in High Point has some of the most well-made beers around. You can't get it in bottles and they don't distribute--you can only get it there [or their Myrtle Beach location]--but they have, beer for beer, across the menu, some of the best. All are well-balanced and clean. Their brew master is wonderful.
"Natty Greene's, with three locations in Greensboro and Raleigh, has a lot of very classic styles on tap. You can get a golden, an IPA, a porter. They hit all the types and provide classic representations of beer styles.
"If you like hoppy beers, you can't go wrong at Foothills, in Winston-Salem. The last time I was there they had six different IPAs on tap, all wonderful."
BEST BREWERY AREAS
Olde Mecklenburg, 215 Southside Drive, Charlotte. oldmeckbrew.com
Wedge Brewing Co., 125-B Roberts St., Asheville. wedgebrewing.com
Fullsteam, 725 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. fullsteam.ag
Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery, 914 Mall Loop Road, High Point. libertysteakhouse
Natty Greene's Pub & Brewing Co., 345 S. Elm St. and 1918 W. Lee St., Greensboro; 505 W. Jones St., Raleigh. nattygreenes.com
Foothills Brewing, 638 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. foothillsbrewing.com
Huske Hardware House Restaurant & Brewery, 405 Hay St., Fayetteville.
Pisgah Brewing Co., 150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain. pisgahbrewing.com
Catawba Valley Brewing Co., 212 S. Green St., Morganton. catawbavalleybrewing
Craggie Brewing Co., 197 Hilliard Ave. Asheville. craggiebrewingco.com
Bull City Burger & Brewery, 107 E. Parrish St., Durham. bullcityburgerandbrewery.com
Lexington Avenue Brewery, 39 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. lexavebrew.com
Outer Banks Brewing Station, 600 S. Croatan Highway., Kill Devil Hills.
Carolina Brewing Co., 140 Thomas Mill Road, Holly Springs. carolinabrew.com