It was a short drive to our next stop but we were still behind schedule. Luckily there were beers to be enjoyed at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham.
It took us a short thirty minutes to drive from Raleigh's Big Boss Brewery to the next beer maker on my list. Yes the list was back but only as more of a guideline and less of a "we HAVE to follow the list!".
We pulled into Durham hungry so we stopped downtown grabbed a bite to eat at Dame's Chicken and Waffles then searched for Fullsteam.
Just to the southeast of Durham's unbelievably great downtown area lies a small block of awesome places to get your drink, dance, and eat on. With our bellies full we aimed straight for Fullsteam. We were four hours behind schedule but we had arrived at one of the most anticipated breweries on my list. Outside was the Chirba Chirba food truck serving up the most amazing looking and smelling dumplings I had ever seen. "Mental note, stop eating before drinking." Inside was another great bar top with the obligatory chalkboard of deliciousness. The far wall was glass so you could beer into the magic and behind the bar was a large open area full of seating and a stage that looked ominously awesome. The place was hopping and it was barely rush hour.
Fullsteam is unique. It's mission is to craft "distinctly southern beer" and to create a "southern beer economy one pint at a time" . To do this they try to stick to the most local ingredients, sometimes tying in local botanicals, and use heirloom grains to brew their beers.. The words plow to pint are everywhere. They say that by keeping it local it helps not only the local economy in Durham but also for the entire state of North Carolina.
The only thing for us to do was to dive in and hurriedly we ordered up two beers. Mine was the Cackalacky a ginger pale ale. It was light in color with a strong sent of ginger. My brother, still too timid to try a hearty brew, drank down the El Toro a lighter American cream ale. Man they were great. No wonder this has beer won awards. Other beers of theirs that seemed to go fast amid the patrons were their Fullsteam lager and some of their seasonals.
We bought some merchandise to remember the place and took our leave. It was filling up fast and we were already so late that we decided to tab out and go. On the way back to the car we passed by a few notable places of note if your travels find you in Durham. Motorco is a killer Durham music venue and just up the road from that is the Surf Club, another awesome bar that holds its own when it comes to the beer menu. Don't forget the food trucks!
Our bellies were so full. We decided to skip straight to Charlotte. Check in for the hotel was long past and the clouds were moving in, not to mention if we could have seen the sun it would be precariously close to the horizon. For those who have more time on their hands you could stop in Greensboro and hit up Natty Greene's. The taproom here holds twelve of their most popular brews plus a smattering of other brews and seasonals. Downtown Greensboro has a couple great food and beer stops near the brewery so it makes it worth the stop. We, however, did not have time sadly and we trucked on to Charlotte.
It was dark and raining hard when we finally wheeled our way into the Queen city. Charlotte at night is always beautiful even if the low clouds obscured nearly everything higher than about twenty stories. We quickly checked into our hotel, freshened up, and trekked out to find something to drink and eat. Yeah, we were hungry again.
Just north of Charlotte is an area along North Davidson Street just on the outskirts of the downtown called NoDa. Here is where we found ourselves at Heist Brewery.
Heist Brewery is one of those places that can hold its own as a restaurant that brews its own beer as well as an awesome brewery. It was nearly 9pm and this place was crowded. We were stuffed into a small two person table sandwiched in between two other such tables and given food and beer menus. The beers at Heist favored more of an abbey theme but there were some insanely inventive beers as well. Mine was the Pistolero, an american pale ale with a slight hop flavor but a load of pepper after taste that made it a slow burn creep up on you by the end of the pint. My brother, getting far more adventurous had himself a Mussles from Brussels, a belgian pale ale. We enjoyed our beers greatly.
Morning came quickly, and after breakfast we ventured out in the dreary cold rain towards Winston-Salem.