Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 10 Favorite North Carolina Wine Experiences of 2017

In 2016 we rated our favorite North Carolina wineries that we were fortunate enough to visit that year. For 2017 we decided to have a little fun with our winery adventures and recap our favorite winery experiences we had this past year. From running a 5K to behind the scenes tours. From viewing the eclipse at a winery to kicking off NC wine month. Even attending fancy wine tasting events, this past year has been a fun-filled year. For this blog we decided to take a look back at our 10 favorite winery experiences of 2017.

Related Story: The Best Wineries of North Carolina in 2016

Click on the title of select experiences to see our full blog of the event.

Jay Raffaldini, left, of Raffaldini Vineyards, and JW Ray, of JOLO Winery sign bottles of the collaboration wine.
Jay Raffaldini, left, of Raffaldini Vineyards, and JW Ray, of JOLO Winery sign bottles of the collaboration wine.
When we heard two of our favorite wineries were teaming up for a first-ever collaboration, who could say no to a fun day trip. In March we made our way to Raffaldini Vineyards for the unveiling of a special wine release. The release was a collaboration between Raffaldini Vineyards and JOLO Winery. The wine –  RaRa Sisboombah, a blend of Montepulciano and Chambourcin. Both owner/winemakers were at the winery to chat about the wine and how it was conceived. It was great to hear the story with around 30 other wine lovers. Ray and JW were both signing bottles, so of course we got ours signed too. Yet to open the bottle, we plan on uncorking it here in March of 2018.

Raffaldini Vineyards has a picturesque view and some great wines.
Some might say it's Ludacris to keep with Raffaldini for our next slot, but here we go. This past September when Dathan's parents came in for a visit, a day-trip to Raffaldini was in order. Dathan's parents hit it off with our taster for the day, Denise, as they all discussed locations and sites in California (where Dathan's parents live). Raffaldini's host even pumped up Bianca Bosker's Cork Dork book up enough for the two of us to buy copies of it (Kindle and paperback).

Botanist & Barrel opens its doors in 2017 out of Cedar Grove, N.C
It was a lazy Saturday afternoon when we decided to drive to Cedar Grove to check out a new wine/cider location Jen recently heard about, Botanist & Barrel. There we met the three co-owners and got to try everything available to taste that afternoon, including a refreshing sangria. We ended up reaching out to B&B, who took part in our 5 Questions With series.

One must keep up with the social class, right? And when we keep up with the Joneses, it's with Jones von Drehle Vineyards in Thurmund. We are members of several wine clubs across North Carolina and Virginia, and we really enjoy the events JvD does for its members. This year we were only able to make it to one of these events, but it was a good one. A local small-business market, live music, brats and of course wine! We also officially met both the NC Wine Guys at this event as well. 

We were invited as media bloggers to be part of the inaugural NC Wine Month kickoff event at Childress Winery on Tuesday, August 29. There, NC Agriculture Commissioner and Gov. Roy Cooper declared the month of September as NC Wine Month. We sat at a table with Laurel Gray Vineyards owner Kim Myers and other bloggers as we sampled a total of 12 different NC wines. It was also a great place to form some new contacts with the winemakers, such as Silver Fork, Linville Falls, Childress and Honeygirl Mead.

This event helped settle a score that the two of us have been having for years. Does the glass make the wine taste different? So when Hanover Park hosted a Riedel tasting featuring 3 of its top selling red wines, we just had to open up our schedule for this one. Around 30 people joined in on the tasting, and we all got to take home our Riedel glasses! That's what we call "winning."

We only participated in three 5K races this year, and this was by far our favorite. The annual Running the Vines 5K hosted by Shelton Vineyards in Dobson. This was our first time doing this event, and we'll probably do it again in 2018. This 5K takes you along a nice 5K or 10K run ending up at the vineyard. The day also included a tour and tasting of the winery, as well as an evening performance by 80s cover band, The Breakfast Club.

We both took a day off of work to drive to Piccione Vineyards to take part in the total eclipse of the sun. We hung out with tasting room manager, Hailey and other guests as we drank wine, had a picnic and ate some moon pies and sun chips. With our official eclipse glasses on, we saw all we were able to ... clouds ruined our 95 percent totality. We couldn't think of a better place to experience this monumental event.

This year we finally made it out to Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg. We've been wanting to go for a couple years, but just don't make it to the coast as often as we would like to. And we got the royal treatment when we did arrive. It started with tasting room manager, Elton, treating us to a tasting, and ended with the wineries general manager, John Wright, giving us a grand tour of the entire property. We talked in between vines as a light rain was falling as we talked soil and how he's able to grow Vinifera-style grapes on the coast.

Up until this point all of our adventures this year have been surrounded by our North Carolina wineries, but our No. 1 wine adventure would have to be the Triangle Wine Experience – an annual fundraiser for the Frankie Lemmon School in Raleigh. This event brings in bigwig wine makers from California, Washington and Oregon and around the World. This year seemed to be the year of the Pinot Noir. An incredible opportunity to sample some amazing wines at the grand gala or taking part in a wine dinner or simply a sip, shop and sign. We were fortunate to experience all three this year.

So, there you have it. Our top 10 wine/winery experiences of 2017. We are looking forward to making new experiences for 2018.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Beer Advent: The 24 Cans of Christmas

By Dathan Kazsuk

In an attempt to either become an alcoholic or gain an extra 5 pounds this December, I decided to pay homage to beer by creating my own Beer Advent from cans lying around our beer fridge.

And in doing so, I realized a few things – I drink way too many IPAs and Stouts! Not that there is anything wrong with that, just stating a fact. During these past 24 days I've had a total of 9 IPA/Pale Ales and 9 Stouts/Porters. That doesn't leave that much room for anything else.

These beers came from trading with friends, buying at local bottle shops and while on a Disney vacation in Florida. 

I ended up listing the label of each can, along with the brewery name, style, ABV, notes and my overall rating. 

Once I give my liver a rest I might try another list/review of North Carolina stouts. 

Related Story: My Favorite Raleigh IPAs – just in time for Raleigh Beer Week!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

5 Crafty Things to do with Wine Glasses

By Jennifer Primrose

If you’re like us, you might have visited your state’s wineries several times during this past year. And over the years each time you opt for a tasting, chances are you walk away with yet another wine glass, or pair of wine glasses. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to have a set of wine glasses from all the wineries we’ve visited. However, the next thing you know you find yourself with literally hundreds of wine glasses in the house, including that starter set from your first apartment, and multiple sets from the same wineries.  

When you open cupboards and find random wine glasses stored on the highest shelf or tucked away in the wine bar, or even multiple boxes in the garage filled with wine glasses, you may have a problem. Then there is the husband – the one who rolls his eyes every time we come home with more wine glasses and no place to store them. Now becomes the time to get creative! So, I thought I’d put together some ideas for re-purposing your wine glasses including some gift ideas right in time for the holidays.

With the holiday season upon us, an easy gift idea is to re-gift one (or a pair) of your favorite wine glasses and pair it with a bottle of your favorite wine from that winery. You can even add some snacks or local chocolates and some fancy gift wrapping and voila, a perfect gift for many occasions, including that hostess gift for your next holiday party. And the best part, anyone can do this one. No Pinterest tears involved!

So, you have that special wine glass from the latest winery you just visited. Why not place a corresponding wine cork from that winery in the glass to display at home as a souvenir. Again, super easy. You can ask the winery for a cork or better yet, buy a bottle of wine from that winery and after opening, you have the cork! Just make sure the cork has the name or logo of the winery. To make this idea sparkle, add some acrylic beads, gems or sand to the bottom of the glass.

How about using those wine glasses for candle holders? Simple! Take that wine glass and just add a colorful votive candle. Add some ribbon to the base of the wine glass or a decorative flower and BAM ... you have a beautiful centerpiece or centerpieces to add to your dining room table at your next dinner party. Here I used wine glasses from Shelton Vineyards.

A variation on the above, turn that glass upside down and use the base of the glass as the holder for the candle. However, with this option, I would not recommend a glass with writing as the glass will be turned upside down. You may also want to paint the glass to give it some personality. This is a little beyond my crafting patience so I will pass this time! I opted to instead add some bright colored “fake” flowers to use under the glass itself to make a simple, yet elegant, centerpiece.

A candy dish. That's right. Decorate that glass with some ribbon and add some candy. Place several wine glass "candy dishes" around the house at your next holiday party. Here I simply added some M&M's to a Windsor Run wine glass and done!

As you can see, there are so many other uses for the hundreds of wine glasses you have sitting around the house, from simply displaying your winery travels, to centerpieces and candles.

In an upcoming blog, I’ll introduce to you ways to re-purpose your empty wine bottles and collection of corks.

Let’s get crafty!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Asheville's Highland Brewing says goodbye to Scotsman logo


By Dathan Kazsuk

For 24-years that famous Scotmans on the label of Highland Brewing bottles has given us that congenial look on his face, toasting you with a beer in one hand and his trusty bagpipe in the other. 

But Highland's is bidding him farewell, sending him to eat haggis in the big castle in the sky. The Asheville brewery is re-branding, and part of that is creating a new logo with the help of Helms Workshop out of Austin, Texas. 

"We've been refreshing our brand through our beer for over two years," says Highland President Leah Wong Ashburn, referring to the company's new beers and the introduction of cans to the market. "Because we lead with beer. But in doing that, we created a divide between our beer and our brand. It's time to close the divide," she says.

So that will lead to a total of four new concepts that Highland will follow: authenticity, pride in its Asheville home, consistently excellent beer and last, but not least, leadership. As Ashburn likes to put it, "We are Asheville's pioneers in craft beer."

Highland has been working with Helms Workshop for six months of extensive research and development. The firm's depth of experience in craft beer and working with heritage brands, along with a personal tie to the Asheville area, made the choice clear.

The brewery will unveil an entirely new look in its labels, packing, point of sales, marketing and even some new changes in the brewery's tasting room. But what can we expect from the new labels? Well, the new logos will sport imagery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a bold and iconic pioneer's compass and the clear messaging for the brewery.

The new look will hit the streets in February.

Highland Brewing was founded in 1994 as the city’s first brewery in a downtown basement in Asheville, North Carolina, by retired engineer and entrepreneur Oscar Wong. Now distributed in 7 states and with an annual production exceeding 46,000 barrels.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Awards: JOLO Winery wins award for wine in California competition

By Jennifer Primrose

More great news for JOLO Winery & Vineyards.

The winery, which is located in Pilot Mountain, recently announced that its 2017 Golden Hallows white wine has earned a silver medal in the Harvest 2017 Challenge. The event took place In Sonoma, California on Nov. 14-15, and Golden Hallows was the only wine in North Carolina that earned an award in this year’s competition.

JOLO’s winemaker and owner, JW Ray said, “2017 was an excellent year for us and this wine represents what our fans can expect from our newest vintage. We anticipate that this will be the first of many accolades for this amazing wine.”

The challenge, according to its website, is “… a wine competition that bases its judging on a group of vineyards (or even vines) from the same region, belonging to a specific appellation, and sharing the same type of soil, weather conditions, grapes and wine making savoir-faire, which contribute to give the specific personality to the wine.”

More than 1,025 wines were entered into this the competition this year, and the judges gave out hardware to 54 Best of Class designations, 24 Best of AVAs, 37 Double Gold medals and a total of 145 Gold medals.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cooking for a Classic gears up for 2018

The cooking competition that is known as Cooking for a Classic has released it schedule for its 2018 showdown starting on Monday, January 22. The event, which raises funds for the Lucy Daniels Center, will see two chefs compete head-to-head for a chance to win a restored 1949 Chevrolet pickup truck.

The chefs will use a secret ingredient to conjure up three dishes each, for a total of six menu items for you to enjoy – and judge! Held at catering event venue, 1705 East, guests will be able to purchase local brews, spirits and wines at a cash bar, with proceeds benefiting the Lucy Daniels Center.

And now for the lineup:

Monday, Jan. 22

Chef Troy Stauffer of City Club, Raleigh vs Chef Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Café, Southern Pines

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Chef Jonathan Ballard of Dean's Kitchen and Bar, Cary vs Chef James Patterson of McConnell Golf Dining, Raleigh

Wednesday, Jan. 24

Chef Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill vs Chef Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh

Chef Aaron Matyac of Raleigh Whiskey Kitchen.

Thursday, Jan. 25
Chef Dean Thompson, Concord Hotels, Raleigh vs Chef Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh

The semi-finals will be held Monday, January 29 and Tuesday, January 30. Then the final two chefs left standing will compete in the championship battle on Wednesday, February 7.

We went to the inaugural event this past February.

Related Story: New Raleigh cooking competition finds chefs battling for vintage Corvette Stingray

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 DTR Holiday Happenings

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us and we officially kick off the holiday season, we thought we would put together a list of holiday happenings in downtown Raleigh.

On Saturday, Dec. 2, lace up those running shoes, get all decked out in your favorite holiday costume and come on out to the Jingle Bell Run 5K hosted by the Arthritis Foundation of North Carolina. The run starts at 9 a.m. at Saint Mary's School on Hillsborough St. For more information, click here.

Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration

On Saturday, Dec. 2 from 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., the Downtown Raleigh Alliance in partnership with the City of Raleigh will host the Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration to kickoff the winter season. You can expect a giant inflatable slide, Gingerbread House competition, Santa himself and of course the Mayor's Official Tree Lighting ceremony. For more information, click here.

On Sunday, Dec. 3, Purr Cup Cafe is hosting a Pop-Up Holiday Cat Market at Raleigh Provisions from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. This event will raise money towards the start up costs for the first ever cat cafe coming to downtown Raleigh, Purr Cup Cafe. For more information, click here.

Related Story: Raleigh couple plans to bring first cat café to town

On Wednesday, Dec. 6, Woody's at City Market will host the 7th Annual Toys for Tots. For the beer drinker out there, Woody's will be tapping 7 rare specialty beers for this event and everyone who brings a new, unwrapped toy or donates money to Toys for Tots will be entered into a raffle. For more information, check Woody's Facebook even here.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar will host its 21st Annual Champagne & Sparkling Wine Tasting from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. There will be Champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world to sample. Space is limited and reservations are required. Tickets are $39 per person and must be prepaid. For more information, check out the Facebook event here.

N.C. Executive Mansion Open House

From Wednesday, Dec. 6 through Saturday, Dec. 9, the N.C. Executive Mansion will host its annual Holiday Open House. Guests will be able to tour the home and enjoy seasonal music by local entertainers. Admission is free. Click here for more details.

Related Story: Executive Mansion Holiday Open House

Holiday Lantern Tour at the Mordecai House
On Saturday, Dec. 9 from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. the Mordecai House will be host to the annual Holiday Lantern Tours and take guests back in time to how the holidays would have been celebrated in years past. Tickets are $5.

Related Story: Raleigh's Mordecai House celebrates with open house for the holidays

Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10 come on out to enjoy the 46th Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour. The hours are from 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. The homes in Historic Oakwood date back from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. This event affords you the opportunity to tour the interior of some of these homes. There will be about a dozen homeowners who will open their doors to visitors. For more information, click here.

Friday, Dec. 22 Oak & Dagger will host its Yule Ball Holiday Soiree starting at 6 p.m. Featuring new beer releases, special holiday buffet, full bar with holiday themed cocktails as well as live music. Tickets are $30. Click here for more information.

Now through Saturday, Dec. 30 is the Adults Only Downtown Holiday Lights Tour! For $37 per person, yourticket includes two-hour adults-only tour aboard the Great Raleigh Trolley, the sights and sounds of DTR light displays, complimentary Absolut seasonal shooter at Isaac Hunter's and priority entrance into the best dance club in Raleigh!

The tour begins at Paddy O'Beers Bottle Shop and ends at Coglin's Raleigh at 1 am. This is a 21 and over tour. For more information, click here.

Upcoming holiday events at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical runs until Dec. 24 at Fletcher Opera Theater

Theatre In the Park: A Christmas Carol runs from Dec. 6 - 10. Celebrating its 43rd Anniversary, this is Ira David Wood III's musical comedy and take on this classic. This is a highly recommended must-see at least once. For ticket information, click here.

The Raleigh Ringers will perform on Dec. 9-10. Photo c/o Raleigh Ringers.

Raleigh Ringers 2017 Holiday Concert Dec. 9 - 10. If you've never had the pleasure of attending a Raleigh Ringers concert, this is another must-do that we recommend. The Raleigh Ringers are an internationally acclaimed handbell choir founded in 1990. To learn more about the Raleigh Ringers, click here.  

Joy of the Season - NC Master Chorale concert will be on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. This holiday concert features 170-voice Chorale and the NCMC Chamber Choir joined by brass choir featuring selections such as "O Come, O Come Emmanuel," "Gloria," "Here We Come A-Wassailing," "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and many more to warm your heart to the season. To learn more about the NC Master Chorale, click here.  For ticket information, click here.

Nutcracker - Carolina Ballet takes place Dec. 15-24. This holiday tradition is perfect for the whole family. For more information on this performance as well as the Carolina Ballet, click here.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Holiday Happenings: North Carolina Wineries

Christmas time at Roaring Rivers Vineyards in Traphill, N.C.

There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays. With one of our favorite pastimes visiting our local North Carolina wineries, it only made sense to seek out holiday happenings at some of our favorite wineries (and meaderies).

Friday, Dec. 1 from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Medaloni Cellars located in Lewisville, will be hosting its Christmas Decorations Reveal Party. You will be enjoying the first look at the wineries holiday decorations in the tasting room along with live piano Christmas carols and ... a Christmas cookie competition!

Saturday, Dec. 2 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Burntshirt Vineyards located in Hendersonville, will be hosting Winemaking 101 - Holiday Blending Session. At this event, guests will be able to blend their own holiday wine with Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc and Merlot led by the winery's winemaker and general manager. Light hors d'oeuvres will be included. The seminar is $30 for general admission. To buy tickets, call Burntshirt Vineyards at 828-685-2302 or email 

Saturday, Dec. 2 from 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, will be hosting an Ugly Sweater Day. Come to Starrlight Mead decked out in your ugly Christmas sweater and get a free mead tasting!

Sunday, Dec. 3 from 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Junius Lindsay Vineyards located in Lexington, will be hosting its annual Christmas Open House complete with Christmas carols, light snacks and mulled sangria.

Sunday, Dec. 3 from 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Adagio Vineyards located in Elkin, will host its monthly violin duet series featuring Christmas music. Look to celebrate the season with music, wine and of course Christmas cookies.

Saturday, Dec. 9 from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Parker-Binns Vineyard and Winery located in Mill Spring, will be hosting its Holiday Appreciation Party. There will be heavy appetizers, music, fellowship and fun. And any holiday  party is not complete without the ugly Christmas sweater for a chance to win and of course, Secret Santa. This sounds like a fun event at one of our favorite wineries. This party is RSVP only.

Saturday, Dec. 9 from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, will be hosting it 8th Annual Holiday Open House. You can look forward to Samhain Faerie Creations with their crocheted creatures, Shades of Nature with jewelry and Burning Sphinx Studios with their fairy wings and accessories. There will be live music from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Mead Wenches and Cork Knaves serving up warm Spiced Apple Mead.

Sunday, Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Raffaldini Vineyards located in Ronda, will be hosting An Afternoon of Holiday Cheer. Holiday music, refreshments, and storytelling. This is a family-friendly event, admission is free but an RSVP is requested. Raffaldini is also sponsoring a gift drive "Fill the Barrel with Toys" to be donated to the Children's Home of Winston-Salem. To RSVP, stop by the tasting room, visit, call 336-526-1078 or email for more information or to reserve your spot.

Thursday, Dec. 14 from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Honeygirl Meadery located in Durham, will be hosting Honey of a Holiday Open House. You can expect hot mulled Honeygirl Chai cider, mead tastings, and truffles from GerDan Chocolates! You will also have the opportunity to make some cork ornaments, decorate cookies and more!

Related Story: Raleigh candy-makers win Good Food Awards

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
RayLen Vineyards & Winery located in Mocksville, is hosting its Holiday Open House serving up sparkling cider sangria, a hot chocolate bar and Carronni's Handcrafted Creations selling their products. This event is complimentary and open to the public.

Related Story: Carronni's Hand Crafted Creations have N.C. wineries in mind

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Round Peak Vineyards and Skull Camp Brewing located in Mt. Airy are hosting a Jingle Dog Vineyard Stomp 5K & 2.5K Dog-Friendly Fun Run/Walk! The 5K is a human-only race, followed by a 2.5K dog-friendly run/walk. Costumes are encouraged and awards will be given out. After the run, you are welcome to hang out around the bonfire and relax. Proceeds will be donated to a combination of the Mt. Airy Museum of Regional History and to local dog rescue organizations.

Saturday, Dec. 16 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Chatham Hill Winery located in Cary, will be hosting a Holiday Open House Riedel Wine Tasting Experience. Tickets are $30 per person and the Riedel glasses are yours to take home.

To sign up for the 1 p.m. session, click here.
To sign up for the 3 p.m. session, click here.

Saturday, Dec. 16 from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Starrlight Mead located in Pittsboro, is hosting Sounds of the Season, featuring flutist Andrea Luke playing holiday tunes.

Be sure to like Triangle Around Town on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and follow our adventures.

Related: Christmas at the NC Wineries 2016

Related Story: Rating some of our favorite North Carolina wineries

Related Story: The Best Wineries of North Carolina in 2016

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Broadway's Ramin Karimloo and members of the Avett Brothers team up for charity

Ramin Karimloo, center, performs with members of the Avett Brothers and The Dives.

By Jennifer Primrose
Monday, November 27

On Sunday, November 19, King's nightclub in downtown Raleigh was host to a night of Bluegrass versus Broadway. It was a one night only special performance that brought together Broadway sensation Ramin Karimloo along with members of Hickory-based The Avett Brothers.

The collaboration was put into place this past February during the annual Triangle Wine Experience Gala, where proceeds go to help the children of the Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center. 

The two "lots" in the gala's live auction program, "Dinner with the Band" and "A Little Night Music," raised around $36,000 for the foundation. But just what was included? 

In "Dinner with the Band" a total of 56 hungry guests paid a total of $600 each for a 4-course meal cooked by Cheetie Kumar and Paul Siler of Garland restaurant. Joining in for the dinner were Karimloo along with Joe Kwon and Tania Elizabeth of the Avett Brothers and Sergio Ortega of The Dives. Although we were not there for the dinner, we heard TWE chairperson and matriarch, Eliza Kraft Olander, brought some wine to dinner. Bottles of Arista, Hirsch, Bodegas la Tercera and Dom Perignon (Bjork and Chris Cunningham label) few just a few of the libations.

After dinner at Garland, guests made their way upstairs to King's to take in the performance. The intimate concert featured a medley of Broadway hits blended with subtle hipness of Bluegrass. Karimloo has appeared in many leading roles such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

Karimloo and friends performed a total of 15 songs that evening including "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis, "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," from Oklahoma and "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. The encore to end the evening was a fun cover of Darius Rucker's "Wagon Wheel," which had the room of 120-plus singing along with the performers.

It always makes your heart feel good when you see all the people that step forward and help out special needs children – but there can always be more. If you are interested in learning more about the foundation and how you can help, please get in touch with Ken Place at

Related Story: 2017 Triangle Wine Experience: Sip, Shop 'n Sign

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Bourbon County Brand Stout: Do You Collect or Criticize?

NOTE: This blog was originally published on Nov. 25, 2017. This year, we'll be spending less time going out to pick up any BCBS and variants, being that most of the variants won't be hitting our state due to the ABV being higher than 15 percent. We plan on making one stop this year – but won't tell you where, because we don't want to diminish our chances of picking up a few bottles this year. For now, you can read on how we felt about the BCBS love it or hate it phenomenon that happens every year.

It’s funny to see how people react in the beer world, at least here in North Carolina, when Black Friday rolls around.

It's the annual release of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Brand Stout and its variants.

You have some craft beer loyalists who will drop some form of an F Bomb saying how InBev owns Goose Island and they’d rather spend their money on something else … until they’re at their next bottle share when a bottle of Coffee Stout or Proprietor’s pops open. … but you didn’t buy it, right?

Related Story: Bottle Shares: The Do's. The Do Not's. And when do you consider yourself an alcoholic?

I prefer buying locally from my state, with so many great breweries from the mountains to the coast, but I still collect beers from all over the U.S. And that’s what I do with BCBS on the day after Thanksgiving. 

You have some that set their day on who is getting the beer first and scoping out Total Wine distances. Total Wine at 8 a.m. Bottle Rev at 9 a.m. Another Total Wine at 10 a.m. BottleMixx at 11 a.m. Greenway at 3 p.m. Hop Yard at 5 p.m. And so on, and so forth. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m just too old to be hunting down beer.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of InBev and its practices, and I was one that voiced some opinions on the collard green stank of the Wicked Weed buyout earlier this year. But I didn’t let that stop me from going out this past Friday to look for a beer that I enjoy drinking.

My only alert came around 10:30 a.m. as I was at our local grocery store, and a friend text me. “Are you at home? Total Wine off Capital has around 6 cases of BCBS.” Since I was 5 miles away I thought to myself – why not go get a few? By the time I showed up, the 6 cases was down to 9 bottles. We picked up six.

I figured last years debacle with the tainted bottles filled with Lactobacillus acetotolerans was just that – a rare debacle. There were two ways to test that. One was to head to Greenway Beer & Wine, where owner Annette Henson had 2017’s BCBS on draft, as well as 2016 BCBS and the Northwoods Stout (with flavors of blueberry and almond). They all tasted good. And while I was there, she still had a few tickets left, so I picked up a ticket and purchased 4 more. The other was to crack open a bottle, which we did at the end of the night. No tainted beer this year.

So I’m good with 10 bottles – a couple bottles going to a friend who picked me up some of Mother Earth’s Silent Night variants and some Java BA Ten Fidy. I didn’t get any of the barleywine variants that were sold this year – but have no doubt I’ll be able to sample one sometime.

Dilly. Dilly!

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