Sunday, September 17, 2017

Raleigh Beer Week: Which IPA is Your Favorite?

By Dathan Kazsuk

With Raleigh Beer Week upon us, I thought it would be a fun time to ponder the following question.

What would I consider the best IPA in my hometown of Raleigh to be?

When you think of Raleigh and its IPAs, it doesn’t get the same attention as other regional metros. We all know here in North Carolina that the Asheville-area gets most of the recognition for its breweries. With places like Green Man, Burial, Hi-Wire, Highland, Twin Leaf – who’s to blame them. 

Even Charlotte gets more publicity with its up-and-rising breweries such as Heist, Sugar Creek, Wooden Robot, Legion and Sycamore. And that’s not even counting their big names.

I recall earlier this year I got a Facebook instant message from a local-area brewery owner. “You know the Triangle kicked ass at the U.S. Open Championship.” Which was indeed true. Triangle-area breweries won a total of 13 medals in the 2017 competition, with Raleigh’s own Lynnwood Brewing Concern winning a total of 3 medals. Other locals who won included White Street Brewing, Lonerider, Mystery, Crank Arm, Oak & Dagger, Fortnight and Fullsteam (three of those call Raleigh home).

With that all said, it seems like the Triangle still feels like the Rodney Dangerfield of the Southeast – not getting any respect. Maybe that will change soon. Breweries such as Cary’s Bond Brothers Beer Company, Raleigh’s Brewery Bhavana and Durham’s Fullsteam with its White Lilly have been getting good reviews for their hoppy and hazy IPAs, similar to the New England Style, which is the biggest crazy in the beer world today.

So, I set out to find my favorite IPA here in town with only two stipulations. 1) The beer must come from a Raleigh brewery. 2) All beers must be 8 percent ABV or under, and will not include sessions or black IPAs – but could include DIPAs, if kept at 8 percent or under. This list will be compiled by what each brewery had on draft when I arrived. I understand that a brewery may be out of their favorite IPA, but that’s the risk I'm taking. Please keep in mind, I wasn't able to visit every Raleigh brewery in a short period of time, and this is only my opinion on each beer. And remember, your opinion may differ slightly from mine. Let’s begin!

10. Raleigh Brewing Company’s House of Clay Rye IPA
ABV – 7.1 percent
Points: 70
I was surprised to see that RBC didn’t have any IPAs on draft other than House of Clay – one of its year-round beers. It was pretty bitter on draft, but still an easy drink, and not very hoppy. The beer has a nice nose and it had a nice golden hue inside the glass. I’m typically not a fan of rye-style beers, but this one was pretty good.

09. Gizmo Brew Works' Palisade Wasp IPA
ABV – 6.8 percent
Points: 70

This beer has some nice floral hop characteristics to it – and drinks like a Session IPA, but at 6.8 percent – it is not. The beer had some hints of tangerine and apricot masked inside the bitterness and dry, clean finish. This would be a good summer IPA to have poolside. Seems light, but after a few of these you won't mind the annoying loud kids splashing around you.

08. Lincoln Brewing and Distillery’s Burnside .54 Rosemary Basil IPA
ABV – 7.3 percent
Points: 75
The taste of basil in this beer might fool the unpolished beer-drinkers taste buds. You can smell and taste the basil in this IPA, but the flavor of the hops tends to mask the harshness of the basil, leaving just that little subtle aftertaste on your tongue. Remember, this is an IPA, you don’t want it too hopped up on one single herb. This was a refreshing drink – a lot better than the Cannonball IPA which was also on draft.

07. Lonerider's Addie's Revenge IPA
ABV – 6.6 percent
Points: 75
This is your typical IPA. A lot of citrus hops make up the nose of this beer with a nice golden-color to round it out. Made with pale Vienna and crystal malts, this is one of those easy drinking IPAs that you can down two or three in a sitting – which was made apparent by the guys sitting beside me talking politics and downing this beer like it was water. Worth a try. I also had the Hop'em High DIPA, but at 8.6 percent it was just slightly out of the running.

06. Big Boss Brewing Company's Blood Orange High Roller IPA
ABV – 6.75 percent
Points: 75
A little less than a year ago, this paired well in an IPA showdown we did at home. Holding its own with breweries such as Wicked Weed and Burial. Back then we all loved the subtle hints of the blood orange taste in this IPA, but during this last sample for this blog, the citrus of the orange just wasn't there. But High Roller is still a pretty solid IPA around town. The IPA is still a good one, just didn't have what I was looking for this time.

05. Neuse River Brewing Company's Caleb's High Noon Imperial IPA
ABV – 7.8 percent
Points: 80
This was one of the first beers I've had when Neuse River opened up several years ago, and it's still one of my go to beers when I visit to this date. This beer is a nice golden/copper color and has nice aromas of sweet caramel malts. The bitterness of Caleb's does seem to linger around for a while – which might not be appealing to everyone. But I like it just fine.

04. Compass Rose’s Tidal Break IPA
ABV – 7 percent
Points: 80
I must have gotten spoiled by the true New England IPAs I’ve tasted. This beer is coined as that, but I wasn’t really getting the taste or hazy appearance I typically see when I crack open a can of something up north. However, don’t let that fool you – this was, even though it was pretty clear in color, a tasty beer. I got a little more lemons on the nose than grapefruit, which I usually get with my New England Style IPAs.

03. Lynnwood Brewing Concern's Hop on Top
ABV – 7 percent
Points: 85
One of my go to IPAs when at any one of Lynnwood's locations. I'm a fan of the West Coast-style IPAmaybe it's because I still consider California my true home. From the golden/orange color to the rich, foamy head, and the dank aromas of hops and citrus put this beer near the top of my list. The grapefruit I inhale before each drink is an added bonus.

02. Trophy Brewing’s Whoa-saic Double IPA
ABV – 8 percent
Points: 90
The citrus/fruit notes were strong with this one. The Double IPA was brewed with Maris Otter, wheat and oats. A lot of DIPAs are a little more malt-forward, but I didn’t find that the case with this beer. It drank like a pale ale, i.e. not a heavy beer as most DIPAs – so it was easy drinking – enough for two pints!

01. Brewery Bhavana's Grove DIPA
ABV – 8 percent
Points: 95
Hands down my favorite IPA of this adventure. This was the closest beer to a classic New England-style IPA – hazy, juicy and all around delicious. The smell of pineapple and mango on the nose and a pithy finish, made this very enjoyable. As you can see with my top two IPA beers, the higher the ABV, the better they seem to rank in my book. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Raleigh Beer Week is around the corner ... and here are some ideas!

By Dathan Kazsuk

It’s Raleigh Beer Week, or in other words, another excuse to indulge in your favorite Raleigh beers. Did you know that Raleigh is home to 20 breweries? And not to mention the plethora of bottle shops supporting our local and state breweries. So, if you find yourself scratching your head wondering how to celebrate this week, we thought we’d help you out with these helpful tips on how to get the most out of 8-beer-filled days.

For the next 8 days, try to stay within the city limits. Raleigh is home to 20 breweries, so there’s a good chance you haven’t been to all them – yet. While we have some of the big mainstays such as Lonerider and Big Boss, there are some relatively new breweries such as Brewery Bhavana or Lincoln Brewery’s new Raleigh digs. I’ve now been to 19 of the 20 here in town, so to practice what I preach, I will be hitting up Tobacco Road Brewing this next week.

With more bottle shops in Raleigh than actual breweries (or so it seems), you can probably throw a stone and hit the side of one bottle shop or another. So this one should be pretty easy. Head on over to your favorite shop and pick up some Raleigh beer to enjoy at home. I’m thinking anything by Trophy Brewing or Lynnwood Brewing Concern. My parents will be in town from California this week, so we’ll probably enjoy several Raleigh beers!


Fall begins right in the middle of Raleigh Beer Week. So this is the perfect time to sample some gourd and yam beers. I'm not sure how many Raleigh breweries will be doing pumpkin beers other than Big Boss' Harvest Time, so if you have to go outside the city proper, I’d select Deep River’s Pumpkin Pie Porter or Double Barley’s Gourd Rocker.

A couple local breweries will be celebrating birthdays – Crank Arm will be turning four. And White Street Brewing will celebrate five years. Sure, they're in Wake Forest, but let's cut them some slack. Crank Arm's festivities will happen September 16, and will feature music, food trucks and rare beer releases all day long. Nicklepoint Brewing will celebrate its 3 year anniversary with an Oktoberfest on September 16 with a selection of German-style beers. White Street's celebration will start on September 17 and will feature live music, food trucks and new and vintage beers releases throughout the day. Oak & Dagger will celebrate 1 year of brewing beer on September 24. During that time, they'll release a wine & bourbon barrel-aged Oaktoberfest.

Lonerider will have two different events to honor a couple of its girls – Addie and Josie. On September 22, Lonerider will have six different variants of it's IPA, Addie's Revenge on draft. Then on September 24, look forward to six different variants of its Sweet Josie Brown. We don't know what these variants are, but know one year these sold out pretty fast!

Trophy Tap and Table is having a rooftop party –  and you're invited. On Wednesday, September 20, you can enjoy a fresh oyster bar, low country boil and hushpuppies. The Trophy gang will pair them up with an amazing flight of its beers. The flight will include a Brett IPA, Ground Rule Double IPA, Loving Cup Kölsch and Kick Start My Heart Berliner. The cost is $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Six North Carolina Rosé wine and sorbet reviews for 2017


By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

“A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rosé instead”

And so began our Summer of Rosé and Sorbet …

At some point in the last couple of years, we rediscovered rosé wine. For whatever reason, neither of us cared for rosé in the past and last year, as we were wine tasting across the state, we discovered that these wines were very enjoyableespecially in the summertime. Was it the weather that particular year? Or the soil? Maybe it was the winemaker? We may never know why our taste buds changed on us, but we enjoy a nice rosé on the wine porch. And borne of this new fascination, is our rosé series – now in its second year.

Last year, we did the 'Summer of Swine & Rosé,' where we paired an N.C. rosé with a pork dish over the course of the summer and rated each wine and pairing. This year, we decided on the Summer of Rosé and Sorbet and enjoyed pairing a rosé with a homemade sorbet. But instead of rating each wine, we decided to rate the pairings, since obviously we would not have picked up a bottle if we didn’t enjoy it to begin with.

Related Story:  Our Summer of Swine & Rosé

Piccione Vineyard's 2015 Rosato
paired with cantaloupe-orange sorbet

We kicked off our summer series with Piccione Vineyard’s 2015 Rosato paired with a cantaloupe-orange sorbet. Piccione's Rosato was made from Montepulciano grapes and offers up a nose of fresh raspberries and hints of lime. While on the taste buds, the wine hits the palate with flavors of cherry and strawberry. A fruit bomb – rosé-style!

The sweetness of the cantaloupe and orange in the sorbet paired well with the fruits found in the taste of the Rosato. 

Jen gives this pairing an 8/10, while Dathan rates the pairing an 8/10.

The Rosato from Piccione Vineyards retails for $19 and the recipe for the sorbet is found here.

Dobbins Creek Vineyards Hemric Mountain Dry Rosé
paired with rhubarb and gin sorbet

Our next pairing comes from Dobbins Creek Vineyards. We paired the Hemric Mountain Dry Rosé with a sorbet using rhubarb and gin from Copper Fox Distillery in Virginia.

The tartness of the sorbet pairs well with the taste of cherries found on our taste buds. The Hemric Mountain Rosé is made with estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with a hint of dry Riesling on the finish.

As for the sorbet, it was tart and sweet and paired beautifully with the flavors of cherry and strawberry found in the wine.

Jen gives this pairing an 10/10 while Dathan also rated it an 9/10.

The Hemric Mountain Dry Rosé from Dobbins Creek retails for $18 and the recipe for the sorbet is found here.

Hanover Park Vineyard Pearl Rosé
paired with fresh blueberry with lemon balm sorbet

Our next pairing was Hanover Park Vineyard and its Pearl Rosé. We paired this wine with some grilled burgers and watermelon. The sorbet was a fresh blueberry with lemon balm from our herb garden. We added a splash of Raleigh Rum Company's Sweet Dark Rum.

The Pearl is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, while the rum is described as "sweet with a dark side." The pairing, just like most of the others, was great with the dryness of the wine and the tartness of the blueberries

Jen gives this pairing an 8/10, while Dathan rates it an 9/10.

The Pearl Rosé from Hanover Park Vineyard retails for $17 and the recipe for the sorbet is found here (without our rum modification).

McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks Pale Rider Rosé
paired with Moonshine Lime Margarita sorbet.

Next on the list was McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks' Pale Rider Rosé teamed up with our homemade Moonshine Lime Margarita sorbet.

This dry rosé has hints of tart cherries while featuring strawberry and tangerine notes on the nose. It paired well with the sweetness of the sorbet, yet made an interesting combination at the same time. This impromptu sorbet was made with Ole Smoky's Moonshine Lime Margarita, fresh limes and lime zest.

Jen gives this pairing an 8/10, while Dathan rates it an 9/10.

The Pale Rider Rosé from McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks retails for $17 and the recipe for the sorbet can be found here (without our modifications).

Adagio Vineyards Minuet paired with fresh peach sorbet.

Our next rosé comes from Elkin's Adagio Vineyards. Last year, this wine came in first in our wine and swine combo, so we decided to put it back in the mix again for 2017. The 2014 Minuet teamed up with another homemade sorbet idea a fresh peach sorbet made with vanilla and rum from Raleigh Rum Company.

The Minuet is made from 100 percent Cabernet Franc with subtle tastes of pomegranate, cherries and berries on the finish. We had mixed feelings on this combo. Jen really liked this pairing, while Dathan wasn't sure of the tastes together.

The other negative was last year we actually had the 2015 vintage which had some effervescence – this 2014 had no "sparkle" at all. Still a good wine, but disappointing when you wanted some fizz.

Jen gives this pairing an 9/10 while Dathan rates it an 7/10.

Minuet from Adagio Vineyards retails for $18.

Sanctuary Vineyards The Lightkeeper Rosé
paired with a mixed berry sorbet.

We ended our Summer of Rosé and Sorbet with the Lightkeeper Rosé from Sanctuary Vineyards located in Jarvisburg. This rosé wine is of the sweeter variety as opposed to the others we tried which were drier. This rosé, with flavors of strawberry, melon and sweet cherries, blends the muscadine juice to add additional sweetness. We paired this with a 4-berry sorbet.

The pairing balanced out the sweetness of the muscadine with the tartness of the berries very nicely. We typically steer towards drier wines but this combo was very pleasant as we begin to say goodbye to Summer.

Jen gives this pairing an 8/10, while Dathan also rates it an 8/10.

The Lightkeeper Rosé  from Sanctuary Vineyards retails for $15.

So that ends our second rosé series as we bid adieu to Summer 2017. We had a great time trying these different pairings and learned more along the way about the wines, the wineries, and how to pair the different sorbets. Until next summer when we do our third in our rosé series whatever that will be!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Helpful Tips to Celebrate N.C. Wine Month


Burntshirt Vineyards in Hendersonville, North Carolina

By Jennifer Primrose
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown 

Looking for ways to celebrate N.C. Wine month? Are you new to discovering wine or what the state has to offer? Are you an experienced N.C. wine connoisseur, but looking for something different and unique to do? We hope to have you covered with our ways to celebrate this month.

Gather up your friends and discover what this state has to offer when it comes to wineries and head out for a day-trip, or even a weekend getaway, and visit all the wineries in a wine trail. Check out for some wine trail recommendations.

Tip: Know before you go! If you have a discriminating palate or know that you are strictly a sweet wine drinker or a dry wine drinker, do your homework before you venture out for a more enjoyable experience. Or, if you are an adventurous wine drinker, be sure to try all the winery has to offer. You never know, you may find a new favorite!

If you are fortunate enough while visiting your favorite, or new favorite, winery, inquire if the winemaker or owner is around and ask him or her to sign a bottle for you. This makes for a great souvenir!

Tip:  We always have a wine bottle pen marker on hand just in case the opportunity arises.

Jones von Drehle's winemaker Dan Tallman signs a bottle.

Pack a picnic and head out to your favorite winery with the best scenery, buy a bottle of wine and relax in a beautiful setting. Many wineries also host local musicians on the weekends. Check out this blog from NC Wine Guys on Wineries Perfect for Summer Picnicking.

Tip: Several wineries sell picnic items and/or may have a food truck on site. Be sure to look for Carronni's Handcrafted Creations. They do pita crackers, cheese wafers, stone ground and dijon mustards and other items perfect for that winery themed picnic. You can find their products in several wineries across the state.

Take a picnic out to one of N.C.'s 120-plus wineries.

If you want to get up close and personal with the grapes, participate in a grape stomp. Wineries such as Gregory Vineyards in Angier, Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, Silver Coast Winery in Ocean Isle, Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe and even Childress Winery in Lexington all host grape stomps and Harvest Festivals.

Tip: Check the winery website for event information before you go, some may be ticketed events. Many have fun events scheduled throughout the day such as Lucy look-a-like contests, arts & crafts vendors, food, music, winery tours and tastings. Fun for the whole family!

Take a winery or vineyard tour to see exactly what takes place from grape to bottle. Some wineries offering tours are Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, Childress Winery in Lexington, Biltmore Winery in Asheville, Duplin Winery in Rose Hill, Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe - to name just a few. Check out for more wineries with this option.

Tip: Some wineries only do tours on certain days and times. To avoid disappointment, check out the winery website ahead of time. The tours can be very interesting and informative. Get the most out of the experience.

Be adventurous and camp out at the 8th Annual Skull Camp Out Under the Stars at Round Peak Vineyards on Sept. 9. Enjoy wines and beer while camping out in the vineyard under the stars. Be sure to use the hashtag #skullcampout, #NCWineAdventure, #NCWine, #NCWineMonth when posting about your adventure.

Joining a wine club is a great way to enjoy your favorite North Carolina wine all year round as well as being a part of special perks and benefits that members get along the way. We are currently members of three wine clubs in the state with plans to add more to our collection.

Tip: Most wineries do offer wine clubs. Be sure to look over the perks and decide what is best for you. Typically, a wine club shipment would consist of 3 bottles every quarter, 6 bottles twice a year or 2 bottles every other month. In other words, a case a year! And many wineries, if not all, will ship your wines to you or even hold your wines until you are able to make the trip back for pick up. 

Piccione Winery Wine Club Installment

Host a local North Carolina wine tasting with friends. After visiting your favorite wineries, or discovering new ones, pick up a couple of bottles and have friends over for a themed evening of wine and BBQ. Why not throw in a Raleigh beer or two to also celebrate Raleigh Beer Week, coming up on Sept. 18.

Tip: If you are doing a more "formal" tasting, do your homework on the wines you plan to open. This way you will be able to talk about the wine and shine in front of your friends with your knowledge of the N.C. wine industry.

Related Story: Going Local with NC Wines and Raleigh Beers

Triangle Around Town's wine club, the Falls River Wine Club in Raleigh.

As you go out and explore NC Wine country, share your photos with us on social media. Be sure to use the hashtags #NCWine, #NCWineMonth, #DrinkLocal, #GotToBeNC and #TriangleAroundTown. You can find Triangle Around Town on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram ... and recently even on Pinterest!

Shadow Springs Vineyard