With race weekend approaching Richmond County, many people are stocking up on beer for their cookouts. So what is Richmond County’s most beloved brew?
Hudson Brother’s Deli and FATZ Cafe in Rockingham agree that Bud Light takes the cake. They have ordered extra cases this week to prepare for ThunderFest and the tourists getting ready to swarm the county.
“Hands down, Bud Light is the favorite,” said Diane Masterson at Hudson Brother’s. “I ordered double or more cases for ThunderFest. People love the taste the most. It’s our number one selling beer — nothing else compares.”
Masterson said they offer all sorts of brew from other popular beers to darker ales with more robust flavors like Sam Adams.
Betsy Cluff, manager at FATZ, said last year’s race weekend was a very busy time at the restaurant located on E. Broad Avenue in Rockingham. Coors and Bud Light are the top favorites, but according to Cluff, Bud Light beats out the other beers.
Brewing a new tradition, North Carolina rings in spring with its inaugural Beer Month — April — as a testament to the state’s influence in the craft beer business. Sponsored by the North Carolina Brewers Guild and the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Beer Month takes in special tours, tastings, dinners, classes, festivals and lodging packages celebrating local variations on this heady beverage.
Just up the road in Moore County, the Railhouse Brewery sits off of Highway U.S. 1, and features house brews and drafts of all kinds. To celebrate Beer Month, brewery owner Mike Ratkowsky will hold several events. The first will be a beer dinner, four courses served at the Bell Tree Tavern in downtown Southern Pines. Another will be a home brewers tutorial, free to the public, on April 20. At the event, attendees will learn what they need to make 10 gallons of beer.
Ratkowsky said he will be camping at the Rockingham Speedway on Saturday and he is a race fan. The track on Sunday will host the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine.
North Carolina is home to nearly 85 breweries — more than any other state south of Pennsylvania and east of Texas, according to a Beer Association survey. The newly released “State of the Craft Beer Industry” report for 2013 shows North Carolina setting the pace for growth of new breweries with a 23 percent increase in 2011.
Three major craft breweries have chosen the Asheville area for East Coast expansions: Oskar Blues (which opened in Brevard in December), Sierra Nevada (Mills River, opening mid-2013) and New Belgium (Asheville, opening 2014).
In the space of a year, Charlotte saw three breweries — NoDa, Birdsong and Heist — open within half a mile of each other in the lively NoDa neighborhood. Asheville has reigned as Beer City USA since 2009, either winning the poll or tying for the top spot every year. The city has 14 breweries, half a dozen beer festivals and the popular Asheville Brews Cruise. North Carolina is home to the nation’s first solar-powered brewery (Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills) and the first LEED Gold brewery (Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston).
North Carolina has become synonymous with craft beer, from Spring Brew, a 2012 World Beer Cup Gold Award winner from Wilmington’s Front Street Brewery, to First Frost, a Good Food Award winner from Durham’s Fullsteam Brewing, and a host of “bucket list” beers.
Visit www.NCBeerMonth.com for details and more activities.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.