Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Inaugural NC Wine Blogger Summit brings Winemakers and Bloggers together

Jeff Frisbee, Addison Farms Vineyard
By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

On a cold, drizzly and gray Saturday March morning, we packed up our bags, laptop, iPad and cameras and headed out to Hanover Park Vineyards in Yadkinville to attend the inaugural North Carolina Wine Blogger Summit hosted by the NC Wine Guys on March 24. A day where winery owners and wine bloggers alike came together to discuss the state of NC wine and how we can help each other promote the industry – sure to become the Napa Valley of the East – or so we hope to see one day.

We sat beside Jen and Bob Aycock of Wine Carolinas, with Jeff and Dianne Frisbee from Addison Farms Vineyard behind us. At the table in front of us were the two Jessica's from the Wine Mouths.

The group of around 30 discussed topics in wine ethics to wine vocabulary and just how to describe that latest glass of Cabernet – something we sometimes find ourselves struggling with from time to time. Then came social media tips and the importance of using those pesky hashtags and finally an afternoon of collaboration between the bloggers and wineries on promoting this fast-growing industry right here in our own backyard.

During lunch we were able to sample wines from some the wineries in attendance. These wines, such as Addison Farms' Barbera and Daveste Vineyards' Rkatsiteli, gave us a sample of some of the wineries we have yet to visit for our "Road to 100 NC Wineries" this year. This also gave us an opportunity to talk Becky Muhlenburg, co-owner of Haze Gray Vineyards, who plans to open in 2019. But there was one winery that might change our minds about some Muscadine wine, and that is Wagram's Cypress Bend Vineyards. Chatting with Andrew Nauss and learning more about how the winemaker crafts her wines makes this a winery we'll be visiting in the near future.

The summit featured a total of 9 wineries as well as 7 blogs represented. Not to mention members of NCWine.org, Surry Community College and UNC-Greensboro. Some of our discussions were very lively and informative. Murray Catton, an avid wine drinker and supporter of the industry, was pretty impressive, having visited all but three wineries here in the state. Catton goes so far as to use the ABC permit listings to find some of those hard-to-find wineries, but even with this additional tool, the numbers remain skewed. We, too, have taken this route to try to dig up data on why NCWine.org says there are over 180 wineries, but only list a total of 134 on their website. Maybe we were hoping to get some insight as two members were present, but we were left holding our wine glasses in our hands.

Many of the wineries admitted they struggle with their own blogs and looked to us bloggers for advice while we offered up suggestions on how they can follow us and share what we post. The bloggers also offered up tips on using the hashtag #NCWine and to reach out to us to share events or if we publish a blog that perhaps does not fit their brand, please let us know. We are here to help. 

Discussing the state of the industry and how we can all pull together to help promote and market NC Wine did get lively with some great discussion … and a little frustration. During one topic on how to better highlight the industry, Dathan turned to Jen and said, “should I mention the discussion we had yesterday with Jöhan?” Jen nodded and said, “Go for it!”. Playing devil’s advocate, Dathan asked the winemakers in the room how wine shops can carry their wine when store owners say NC wines are too expensive to carry. We just had this conversation the day before with a local store owner in Raleigh. He really enjoyed the wine and was impressed with what this state is turning out, yet said he could not afford to stock it on his shelves at this time.

Jen suggested doing more tastings and education, but the struggle remains that when put up against a $10.99 California Cabernet, where will the consumer turn first? Even if that California Cabernet is mass produced versus small, local boutique wineries. We feel that it's safe to speak for all the bloggers in attendance, that we want to help change the stigma of the wineries here in North Carolina. Having visited close to 80 wineries, we can personally speak for the quality of the wine being produced here in the state and would love to see it offered more in local bottle shops and restaurants.

At the end of the summit, we think we all walked away feeling a little more motivated, with new connections and ideas. From a blogger perspective, we covered a good part of the state with bloggers from Raleigh, the Triad, Charlotte-area and even from Virginia.

The next day, the bloggers were treated to wine tastings and tours from Raffaldini Vineyards, Piccione Vineyards, Laurel Gray Vineyards, Shadow Springs Vineyard, Windsor Run Cellars and Dobbins Creek Vineyards all in the Swan Creek AVA. 

Blogger Wine Tasting Tour (L-R)
Kim Myers from Laurel Gray, Triangle Around Town, Ben Myers from Laurel Gray, Wine Carolinas, Jamie Johnson from Shadow Springs, NC Wine Guys and the Virginia Grape

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Hidden Gem in Trinity: Zimmerman Vineyards



Zimmerman Vineyards is located in Trinity, North Carolina, approximately an hour and a half west of Raleigh off I-85 in Randolph County. This winery was literally our hidden gem the day we visited. After a slight GPS glitch, we found our way, turning down a gravel road amongst rolling hills, past the vineyards until we came up on a rustic tasting room. 

Located on 140-acres, Zimmerman Vineyards overlooks the Uwharrie Mountains. This family-owned vineyard opened its doors on June 1, 2007, as Randolph County's first commercial vineyard. This county used to be a dry county and the theme surrounding Zimmerman is the uphill battle it took to make this dream become a reality.

You will see this theme throughout the tasting room and displayed on their wine labels of the Greek mythological King of Corinth. It was interesting talking to our host that day taking us back to the days we studied mythology. King of Cornith was forever condemned to push a great boulder uphill, only to have it fall back down again. The Zimmerman's correlate this mythological character to their own battle in the efforts to become a vineyard. The winery also displays this mythology in other wines such as Persephone. Persephone was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and queen of the underworld. 

While the grapes are all grown on-site, the wine is made off-premises at Childress Vineyards in Lexington. The tasting room has a rustic feel to it, as does the entire area. 

We did the classic wine tasting for $7.50, which included the following: 

2016 White Merlot, 2015 Chardonnay, 2014 Merlot, Persephone (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot), White Persephone (Viognier/Chardonnay blend).

We ended up buying a bottle of the Persephone to enjoy out on the terrace overlooking the mountains. This wine was little on the sweet side, at least for our tastes, but enjoyable nonetheless.

In addition to wines, Zimmerman also sells local chocolates by Mama Laura's, cheese products by Goat Lady Dairy and other items by local artisans. If you're looking for a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon getaway, Zimmerman may just be the answer you are looking for.

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷choice: We found the 2016 White Merlot interesting, new and a refreshing twist on a Rosé wine. This wine is a Provence-style Rosé and is considered a dry wine and perfect on a hot summer day in NC.

Wine tastings include 5 wines for $7.50, includes souvenir glass.

Premium wine tastings take place the last Saturday of the month.

Hours are Saturday 12-6 pm or Sunday 1-6 pm | March through December.

Visit their web page at http://www.zimmermanvineyards.net/ or Facebook for upcoming events


By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Getting to know the man behind JOLO Winery

JOLO Winery's owner and winemaker JW Ray.
Over a Glass is a new series where we sit down with local and regional wineries and discuss how they got their start, the state of and insights into the future of the wine industry and anything that may come up over a glass of wine. For our first installment, we caught up with JW Ray, owner and winemaker of JOLO Vineyards located in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting JOLO or meeting JW yourself, you are truly missing out. Aside from how good the wine may be, one aspect of visiting wineries that we enjoy is the hospitality and personality each winery or winery owner brings to the table. JW is the type that not only makes an entrance, but will work the room shaking hands with his guests making everyone feel welcomed. On several occasions, we’ve also witnessed him working in the kitchen alongside his staff, ensuring his guests are served their meals in a timely manner. Not only will you see JW, but his entire family, helping out around the winery.

We caught up with JW the day after the unveiling of the second-year release of RaRa Sisboombah, the collaboration wine made with Jay Raffaldini of Raffaldini Vineyards in Ronda. We wanted to learn more about how this winery, in its short time in the state, has soared in popularity and continues to win awards and bring home the bling. As the staff prepares for Sunday brunch, we sat down to ask JW a few questions.

Below are excerpts from Triangle Around Town’s interview with JW Ray.

I’ve always been in the food and beverage industry and the catering business. The whole family grew up washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, working with cured meats. So it was kind of in my blood since I was a young lad. What’s interesting is, since I was 18 years old, all my family and friends were drinking Mad Dog 20/20 and Haffenreffer and all the junk. I just wanted a nice wine. So it’s been in my blood for as long as I can remember. My best memories with my family, or my wife and friends, is always with a vineyard vacation – all the best meals and best wines we'd have. That's what I remember most. I love opening up a beautiful bottle of wine, and be like, 'Oh my God!,' this was made over 50 years ago, and the guy who made the wine ... his grandfather planted the vines we're drinking today.

Related Story: New N.C. Winery in Pilot Mountain impresses with wine, food and scenic views

My wife and I are both from Massachusetts, so we narrowed our search down to North Carolina and Virginia. We kind of figured if Virginia was going to be the new Napa East, it would have done so already. So we thought it would be better to get in on a place at the ground floor and be part of shaping an area. We wanted to be in the Yadkin Valley, and didn’t want to be too far away from a big city. So we thought the proximity to Winston-Salem was important. But it really came down to the school system, because Joey and Logan were going into the 5th and 6th grade, and it was very important to get them into a good school system.


Once we settled on this area, we bought the property next door (to the tasting room). In 2010 we planted our first vines. We came here full-time in June of 2011 and planted more vines. We then bought this property in 2012, so our property is a big “U” shape. This property (the tasting room) sat in the middle, so we also own half of the lake. The guy who owned this place lived in Durham and was renting it out. The tasting room used to be a two-story house with a family of six living here. The metal rods you see above used to be the floor of the second level. We had to put in those metal rods so the A-frame wouldn’t collapse. The dining room used to be the garage, and you used to pull into the garage by coming behind the building near the crush pad. Believe it or not, you weren’t even able to see Pilot Mountain from the tasting room due to all the trees. You could barely get through the parking lot with a mule!

Everything here on the winery side is Vidal Blanc, except for the top of the driveway is Chambourcin. It’s such a beautiful wine with such a gorgeous color. We make great wine out of it. It’s part of our Crimson Creek and the RaRa. The main block of Chambourcin is at our house. We had planting parties, where all the rows are planted by family members. We gave them 40 or 50 vines and their names are on the rows on stainless steel plates. We also have another block of Chambourcin across the lake … just a total of around 4 acres of the grape. Total we have just under 13 acres (total).


We like growing grapes that thrive. They grow like weeds. Other folks are struggling to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Manseng or Sauvignon Blanc here … things that should not be here. That’s why they’re not winning awards in California. We decided to grow the grapes and varietals that thrive in this area. 

Sean McRitchie, my mentor (of McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks), he let me shadow him while my grapes were growing, and I’m forever indebted to that guy. He shared so much knowledge with me when he didn’t have to. He gave me really good advice really early on. He said, “I don’t care how good of a wine maker you’ve become. I don’t care if your vines are 100 years old in North Carolina. No one is ever going to confuse your Cabernet Sauvignon with something from Stag’s Leap or Opus One.” It’s just never going to happen. I didn’t want to do all this and get 5s and 6s on a scale of 1 to 10 with my wine. I wanted to make 9s and 10s.

Related Story: Awards: JOLO Winery wins award for wine in California competition

In 2013 we only had 4 wines. My first harvest was September or October of 2013. Then we probably had around 40-50 members by 2014. Then it went to 150 between 2016 and 2017. Last year we added 670 wine club members. We’re currently under 900 members. Last year exploded, probably due to the quality of our wines and all the awards we won in California. We had seven wine club parties this last quarter, each one with 120 guests.

Jay Raffaldini, left, and JW Ray at the release of their collaboration wine, Rara Sisboombah.


Virginia wines are OK. Some are really good like Barbersville, King’s Family Vineyards and Chrysalis Vineyards. There are a few others, but other than that, it’s just OK. But if you open up Wine Enthusiast magazine, they have features on Oregon, California, Washington state. Or it’s New York or Virginia. Maybe the latest write up on NC wines in Wine Enthusiast will start helping us get rated in there.

Related Story: Made in Heaven? N.C. winemakers blend award winning wines in collaboration

We use to self distributed, but we don't anymore. If you look at all the big wines, they distribute to restaurants. And places like Shelton, Biltmore and Duplin are on the bottom shelves (at wine shops and grocery stores). If they want to do that, that’s fine. I’d never do that. We probably have one of the highest priced bottles in the stores for North Carolina wine. In North Carolina we sell our wines at Angus Barn. We’re a feature there as well. Henk Schiutemaker told me that he’s never sold so much of a featured wine in his 32 years of being there. They sell about two cases a week at Angus Barn. We've actually have some restaurants in Durham calling us to get our wine.


By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

Monday, March 19, 2018

Salisbury's Oldest Winery: Old Stone Winery



Old Stone Winery is located in Salisbury, North Carolina. This urban-style winery was founded in 2001 and later sold to Darin and Naomi Griffin in 2009. Having both served in the military and then entering the workforce, they decided it was time to try something new and enter the winery business. With 130 acres of Muscadine grapes, Old Stone also sources its grapes locally and produces both dry and sweet wines. 

Not being a fan of sweet or Muscadine wines, we opted for the dry-wine option on the tasting menu. 

We decided to share a tasting and sampled the following: Chardonnay, Lucky (dry white blend of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Viognier), Fling (Rosé wine blend of white Merlot and Cabernet), Risque Red, Pomegranate Wine (100 percent all natural pomegranate).

In addition to the tasting bar, Old Stone also features two tank rooms, an outdoor pavilion and gift shop featuring local artisan chocolates and homemade jellies and cheeses.

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷 choice: Our favorite of the day was the Pomegranate wine. This wine started out quite tart and softened with each sip. It was different than what our normal tastes are which is one reason we love tasting an array of styles of wine.

Wine tastings start at $5 for 5 wines and includes a souvenir glass .

Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11 a.m. -  6 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.; Closed Monday

Hours are Saturday 12-6 p.m. or Sunday 1-6 p.m. | March through December

Visit the web page at Old Stone Wines or Facebook for upcoming events.


By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Durham's first food truck rodeo venue on the horizon

Saturday, March 17, 2018

If you have driven by the Lakewood area in Durham anytime in the last several months, you probably noticed a distinctive red barn being constructed along Chapel Hill Rd. This is the home of the soon-to-be open County Fare. 

Owners Gil Scharf, Steve Frasher, Peter Savarino and Richard Savarino hope their unique concept perfectly blends all that is the Durham food and drink scene.

County Fare will have anywhere from 3 to 5 food trucks onsite that will rotate daily. “The idea is to not only let customers eat from some of the best food trucks you will find anywhere, but to also allow new experiences every time you come,” says Peter Savarino. “You could come on a Tuesday for a work dinner and bring your family back on a Friday and have totally different trucks and different food options.”

County Fare will open in April and will serve as a permanent venue where people can eat from the wide variety of quality food trucks that are based out of both Durham and Raleigh. The project consists of a large barn that will house a bar, offering 30 different beers, ciders, and wines as well as plenty of seating. Additionally, there are 2 large covered patios and a big outdoor area for seating and games. 

The unique property even features old oak trees that the owners say provide great shade in the summer. Along with the trucks and bar, County Fare will have a small kitchen of their own. “We want to offer a super-casual and easy experience for our customers. At County Fare we are offering the Food Truck Rodeo experience that everyone loves, but making it even better by offering tons of seating, drinks, and other amenities that rodeos often can’t provide,” added Richard Savarino.

“We hope that the Triangle starts to think of us as a hub where you can go to experience the area’s acclaimed food truck scene whenever you want," Steve Frasher added. “Our focus is on great food and an amazing atmosphere you can’t get anywhere else.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Beer Dinner Review: Oak & Dagger Public House

By Jennifer Primrose | March 15, 2018
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town
Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT 
Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

On Thursday, March 8, Taylor's Wine Shop and Oak & Dagger Public House teamed up for a beer and food pairing dinner. This 5-course meal was set to showcase the food offered by Oak & Dagger as well as the craft beer made by head brewer Pete McCabe. The simple, yet powerful, German-style beers created by McCabe really paired well. And it all started with something as small and traditional as beer and pretzels.

Course 1
Course 1: Bavarian Pretzels and House-Made Beer Cheese paired with Mil's Pils Traditional Czech Pilsner. The brightness of the Pilsner cut with Saaz hops, with that nice herbal and spice notes paired well with the fattiness of the cheese and saltiness of the fresh baked pretzel. When referring to Bavaria, head brewer McCabe said it best, "That area of the world got it right when they made this combo."

Course 2: Spätzle and vegetables with bratwurst meatballs paired with A Little Bit of Everything Dunkelweizen. "We call it A Little Bit of Everything because we threw in a little bit of everything," says McCabe. "We threw in a little bit of rye, a little bit of wheat, a little bit of unmalted wheat, biscuit malt, victory malt. That's what we call playing around with the depth of character."

Course 3: Brat Bomber Slider with braised cabbage, whole grain mustard and beer cheese paired with Lator Hator Doppelbock. The dark malts and toffee flavor of this beer paired well with the bratwurst and mustard. Probably the best pairing of the evening.

Course 4: Shrimp & Grits paired with So Many Hoptions (Summer) IPA. The fruitiness of the IPA paired nicely with the shrimp. "Summer has a lot of nice, fruity notes that aren't necessarily citrus," says McCabe. "Summer has a little more melon and apricot in it ... and it works."

Course 5: Bread pudding with Cooler Beans (Imperial Coole Beans). The bread pudding paired well with this brown ale that gave off strong aromas of coffee. Perfect for the coffee drinker, it is reminiscent of pure cold press coffee. Great combination to end the evening.

This night couldn't have happened without the help of these two ... Ben Cash of Taylor's Wine Shop, who teamed up with Pete McCabe and his staff at Oak & Dagger Public House.

For more events hosted by Taylor's Wine Shop, visit the web page here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

In The Kitchen: Tradition prevails for St. Patrick's Day with Corned Beef and Cabbage

It's been a tradition in our house for years – corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day. So for this edition of In the Kitchen, we decided we weren't going to stray away from that tradition. It's such a simple dish to prepare, but we decided to do something a little different. 

Usually we boil or slow cook some green cabbage, but this time around we used Savoy cabbage instead. The waffle-knit texture of this cabbage makes your dish look striking. So we picked up some corned beef at our local market and tossed it in the slow cooker along with 1/4 cup coffee, 1/4 cup white wine and rubbed the beef down with some whole-grain mustard. And 8 hours later it is ready.

We boiled whole cabbage leaves and transferred them into iced water and dried them off. Laying the leafs out we put a nice cut of the corned beef on one side along with onions, mustard and a splash of lemon juice and tightly rolled them up. Violá.

The beverage pairings were pretty easy. For the beer, we grabbed a couple North Carolina Kölsch-style beers. The first was a Kreamsicle Kölsch from Rail Walk Brewery and Eatery out of Salisbury. And the second was a traditional-style Kölsch from White Street Brewing Company out of Wake Forest. Both were light, refreshing and crisp and paired well with the fattiness of the corned beef.

For the wine, we selected Jones von Drehle's Viognier. The hints of floral notes and apricot on the nose cut down the salt of the meat and paired better than we originally thought it would. 

For dessert, we decided to stay on the healthier, yet festive side. We made No Bake Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Squares. This dessert is billed as low carb and sugar free. Very easy to make, these cheesecake squares were just sweet enough to end our St Patrick's Day feast. For the recipe, click here.

Related Story: In the Kitchen: Chicken, Cupcakes & NC Wine for Valentine's Day

Monday, March 12, 2018

Kill Two Birds With One Stone: Morgan Ridge Vineyard & Brewery



Morgan Ridge Vineyards & Brewhouse  is located in Gold HIll's Piedmont region. What makes Morgan Ridge stand out is the addition of its brewhouse, similar to the likes of Westbend Winery & Brewery and Round Peak/Skull Camp. What we did not know before we arrived is that they also serve Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. as well as lunch Wednesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. - 3 p.m. 

With friendly hospitality, a pen in hand and a tasting sheet before us, we strategically chose our wines for tasting ensuring between the two of us we could try as many wines as were on the tasting sheet. As we learned about the wines we also learned a lot about Morgan Ridge and like so many other wineries in our state, the stories from farming to growing tobacco and turning that land into a winery holds true here as well.

Amie Baudoin inherited 33-acres of farmland from her father and alongside her husband, Tommy, decided to dive into the winery and vineyard business in 2000. This beautifully landscaped land, with a private pond and open air pavilion overlooks the Uwharrie mountains and makes for a nice Sunday afternoon sipping wine. They began planting grapes on-site in 2004 on seven acres with seven different varietals. Several years in the making, Morgan Ridge wine was officially ready to make its debut.

We decided on two tastings of 5 wines for $5. The current offerings were: Chardonnay,  Syval Blanc, Blush, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Syrah, Applelicious (fruit wine), What The Fruit (fruit wine).

We enjoyed all we tried, although with some differing opinions between us. Morgan Ridge produces approximately 1,500 cases per year with all being made and bottled on-site.

Morgan Ridge also has a brewhouse. They saw the need to incorporate craft beer into their business plan to appease both the wine- and beer-drinker alike. 

Following our wine tasting, we split a flight of beer.  

For our flight, we sampled the Caramel Coconut Cream Ale, VaCa IPA, Creek Bottom Brown and the Almond Stout.

Just recently, Morgan Ridge Brewhouse opened another location, the RailWalk Brewery in Salisbury. 

Triangle Around Town's top 🍷 choice: Chambourcin
Triangle Around Town's top 🍺 choice: Hands down the Caramel Coconut Cream Ale with its lightness and coconut flavor we described this beer as a "cruise beer"

Wine tastings are either 5 wines for $5 or 10 wines for $10 with an option for a full tasting of all wines in a Riedel "Ginormous" stemware for $20 

Beer flights are 6 for $8 or 4 for $6

Hours are 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday 

Visit their web page at www.morganridgevineyard.com or Facebook for upcoming events


By Jennifer Primrose & Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT | Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

North Carolina's highest-rated stouts according to Untappd

By Dathan Kazsuk
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: trianglearoundtown

I live by the motto, "Love it or Hate it" when referring to Untappd. I like being able to keep track of my beers in one place so I can look back and see how I rated everything I've sampled. And of course I like collecting the badges.

But not once has the app's rating system caused me to either not want to try a beer because of its low rating, or made me leave the house that very moment to go buy a bottle before it's gone. I just don't buy into that hype.

A couple months ago I decided to find out the highest-rated IPA according to Untappd and its weighted average formula, that rates all beers against each other. Each of its top 50 beers in each category must have 150 ratings or more to qualify.

Related Story: Higest-Rated N.C. IPA's according to Untappd

So where did our NC stouts wind up on the top 50 lists? Let’s find out!

Burial Beer Company
Skillet Donut Stout (ranked 12 out of top 50)
8% ABV  |  17,010 ratings  |  Average rating: 4.18

Wicked Weed
Dark Arts Espresso (ranked 2 out of top 50)
15% ABV  |  594 ratings  |  Average rating: 4.14

Highland Brewing Company
Black Watch (ranked 31 out of top 50)
8% ABV  |  5,876 ratings  |  Average rating: 4.18

Wicked Weed
Barrel Aged Milk & Cookies  (ranked 20 out of top 50)
9.5% ABV  |  3,830 ratings  |  Average rating: 4.21

Wicked Weed
Cuban Coffee Dark Aged Stout  (ranked 28 out of top 50)
12% ABV  |  462 ratings  |  Average rating: 3.96

Southern Pines Brewing
Drunken Vigils (ranked 1 out of top 50)
14% ABV  |  2,073 ratings  |  Average rating: 4.28

Free Range Brewing
Sea of Companions (ranked 8 out of top 50)
8% ABV  |  460 ratings  |  Average rating: 3.78

Untappd lists five other "stout" categories: American Imperial/Double; Imperial Double; Imperial Oatmeal; Irish Dry and Russian Imperial. In those five categories no North Carolina beer wound up on the top 50.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Learn beer from scratch & sniff stickers – a beer lover's companion

By Dathan Kazsuk | March 2, 2018
Twitter: TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town
Instagram: trianglearoundtown | Pinterest: TriangleAT 
Email: trianglearoundtown@gmail.com
It doesn't matter if you are new to the beer world or a veteran, The Scratch & Sniff Guide to Beer is sure to teach you a thing or two about the heavenly suds we all enjoy.

"This book's an easy approach to becoming a well-informed beer drinker," says Master Cicerone Rich Higgins in the forward of this beer lover's companion written by Justin Kennedy.

Starting off with a brief history of beer and how it's brewed to some exciting beer quests around the world, this book has everything you need – from the novice all the way to the professionals.

The Scratch & Sniff Guide to Beer has a series of 10 scratch and sniff stickers scattered throughout the pages. They provide a sensory blast of aromas discussed on the pages within. Hops, Cloves, Pine, Cedar and more.

The author also discusses beer styles, with a little history of each, from original India Pale Ales to traditional porters and stouts. Kennedy helps out by even giving examples of these styles. Want to sample a Saison? Be sure to try Saison Dupont. How about one of the great Trappist Ales out there? Sample a Orval or a Westvleteren 12 (if you can get your hands on one).

You say you like more of the new world beers? Kennedy goes over such favorites as West Coast IPAs, California Commons, American Barleywines and American Sour Ales. 

In one section of the book, he goes into the hops that hail from different countries.
Did you know that two of the biggest hop growing areas of the United Kingdom come from Kent and Herefordshire? That's where you'll find Fuggle and Golding hops. Or in New Zealand they grow a total of sixteen different hop varieties. That is where you'll find the Nelson Sauvin  – a hop that's name is a mash-up of the city of Nelson and the grape, Sauvignon Blanc.

One of the most helpful items in the book turns out to be the Hop Stats. This chart shows a total of 18 popular hops, and tells where they are grown, its alpha and beta acid levels, total oil and its distinct flavors.

The back of this companion features a few pages devoted to cooking with beer. Beer can chicken, beer cheese, beer candied bacon and a flaming Dr. Pepper are some that are shared with the reader. 

The Scratch & Sniff Guide to Beer is 162-pages and published by Harper Design. The book retails for $9.99 through Amazon or Barnes & Noble book stores.