Father’s Day gift guide

A good book always makes a great gift, don’t you think? We at Blair sure do!  Here are a few suggestions for the pater familias in your life on Father’s Day this Sunday:

For the foodie:

It’s summertime! What man doesn’t love barbecue and beer? Bundle a copy of Erik Lars Myers’s North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries with a six-pack or a growler from one of the brewpubs or breweries touted in the book. Or couple a copy of the new Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue with a sample from one of the 100 barbecue establishments reviewed in the book? (Or make Dad’s day with both books, dinner at his favorite barbecue joint, and a pint of a North Carolina summer ale.)

Bob Garner's Book of Barbecue

For the musician:

If your dad loves the music of the “first” Hank Williams, give him a CD of the original Hank’s greatest hits along with a copy of Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s Hank Hung the Moon and Warmed our Cold, Cold Hearts (NewSouth Books). Johnson writes about Hank, his life, his music, and the influences his music had on the baby boomer generation.

For the amateur sleuth:

If your dad is looking for a good summer mystery, try Murder on the Outer Banks (Upper Ohio Valley Books) by Joe C. Ellis. The discovery of a drug designed to reverse the aging process in human cells leads to a trail of bodies from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Washington, D.C., to the Upper Ohio Valley.


It’s American Craft Beer Week!

In celebration, we’ve put together some trivia on North Carolina’s craft beer scene, including an abridged timeline that dates back to the first mentions of locally brewed beer, based on Erik Lars Myers’s North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. We know some new breweries are popping up across the state, so if we’ve missed one, please let us know in the comments. And while you’re at it, check out the American Craft Beer Week events happening near you.


Click the image to view full size.

Q&A with Dan Warfield of Carrboro Beverage Company

This Wednesday, Erik Lars Myers will be at Carrboro Beverage Company to talk beer and sign copies of his new book, North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. Carrboro Beverage Company, the bottle shop associated with Tyler’s Taproom next door and the Speakeasy around the corner, is warm and bright, with hardwood floors, fully stocked coolers to build your own six packs, and an assortment of treats—coffee, wine, specialty sodas, and LocoPops—for those less inclined to beer. In warmer months, the door to the Shop is usually propped open, and pedestrians wander in off Carrboro’s Main Street to see what’s on tap and chat with the Shop’s seriously knowledgeable staff. Below, Dan Warfield, Carrboro Beverage Company employee and friend of Blair, tells us a little more about beer and working at the bottle shop.

Carrboro Beverage Company

Some of the wares at Carrboro Beverage Company. Photo credit: Carrboro Beverage Company website

What is your favorite thing about working at Carrboro Beverage Company?

Without a doubt the best thing about working at the Shop is being surrounded by people—staff and customers—with a great enthusiasm for good beer. The staff is great at being knowledgeable without being snobby, and has attracted a clientele that fits that bill, too.

How do you help people decide what to try?

Personally, my initial question is if there’s a style (or styles) someone gravitates towards. If someone doesn’t dig hoppy beers, I won’t try to sell them on a Double IPA; if they’re not into dark beers, Imperial stouts probably aren’t their jam. Conversely, sometimes people who’re really into a particular style want to try something on the opposite end of the spectrum. Other criteria are what the beer’s for: gift? Food pairing?

What are the best beers to try as a novice?

I think the best beers to try as a novice are “as many as possible.” You won’t know if you love Scotch ales until you try a Scotch ale. That’s definitely one of the benefits to being able to build six packs.

What can you recommend now that the weather is getting warmer?

I’m a big fan of drinking seasonally. That’s not to say I might not have an oatmeal stout or two during the summer (in air conditioning, anyway), but some buzzwords that come up a lot in the summer months are “after yard work” and “by the grill.” To that end I’m really into lagers and pilsners. Sometimes people can be a little put off by the suggestion because their minds—and taste buds—automatically go to the sort of American macrobrews they’ve come into the Shop to get away from, but if they take a chance to get acquainted with a really well-crafted lager, they’ll typically be happy they did.

Do you sell a lot of North Carolina beers?

We do indeed. We have a whole section of NC beers. Foothills [of Winston-Salem] starting to bottle was met with as much staff enthusiasm as just about anything else that’s happened in the year and a half that I’ve worked there.

What is your best-selling beer?

The best-selling style is probably India Pale Ale. Within said style, Bell’s Two Hearted, Founder’s Centennial, and Uinta Hopnotch seem to duke it out for the top spot. A lot of craft beer enthusiasts are self-proclaimed “hop heads.”

Carrboro Beverage Company

There are a lot of good choices. Photo credit: Carrboro Beverage Company website

How did Carrboro Beverage Company get started?

Tyler [Huntington, owner of local restaurant chain Tyler’s Taproom] obviously has an affinity for great beer, so the Shop was a logical next step. The idea was to provide Carrboro and Chapel Hill with a place to get great beers. A bonus is that if patrons of Tyler’s or the Speakeasy try something the love on tap, they can pick up the beer (or something similar) to take and enjoy at home.

What makes Carrboro a good place for a bottle shop?

Carrboro’s a great location for a host of reasons: the sense of community, the passion for supporting local businesses, the pedestrian-friendly nature downtown, and a populace full of folks with pretty sophisticated palates.

Tell us about some of the events you guys host at the Shop.

We have a scheduled free Thursday night tasting (7 to 9), and have started to do ImprompTuesday tastings, as well (7ish to 9ish), since Tuesdays tend to be the day new stuff comes in. Starting this year, we’ve put an emphasis on larger, extracurricular events (so far, they’ve been hosted at the Speakeasy, although tickets are sold through the Bottle Shop). January was an Imperial IPA tasting, coinciding with the release of Bell’s Hopslam (easily one of the most anticipated releases throughout the year). February was an Imperial Stout tasting, in honor of Foothills’ Sexual Chocolate. March and April were lumped together under our annual Beernament, a blind tasting tournament that put 32 beers in a bracket (8 each from the West, Midwest, East, and South regions) to crown a champion. The people’s palates spoke, and Lonerider’s Sweet Josie Brown came out on top. The best way to keep up on events and special beer releases is to follow the Shop on Facebook and Twitter.

How would you characterize the craft beer community in North Carolina?

The craft beer scene in North Carolina is really strong and getting better all the time. New breweries are starting up, established breweries are getting better recognition for the great work they do, and more and more breweries are bottling (and canning) which makes it even easier for people to discover them. (There’s a huge network of beer nerds that trade, nation- and worldwide.)

North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries by Erik Lars MyersThanks, Dan! To learn more, check out North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries by Erik Lars Myers. Myers will be at Carrboro Beverage Company on Wednesday, April 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by, taste some beers, and see what the Shop has to offer! Copies of North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries will be available.

Join us Saturday for the Raleigh World Beer Festival

It’s not often we get to attend beer festivals and call it work, but–lucky us!–we have that chance this Saturday, April 14. Join us at the Raleigh World Beer Festival, where we’ll be selling North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. Grab a cold beer (or several), get your copy of the book, and have author Erik Lars Myers sign it right there (he’ll be at the Mystery Brewing booth nearby).

Raleigh, North Carolina
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Moore Square, Downtown Raleigh
Afternoon Session: 12 PM – 4 PM
Evening Session: 6 PM – 10 PM

What folks are saying about the book:

“The book is an essential resource for anyone wanting to explore the state’s beer scene or plan a few suds-inspired road trips this summer.”
—Andrea Weigl, Raleigh News & Observer

“Every beer enthusiast should be ashamed not to have a copy of this for his or her own home library, and those looking to finally get up-to-date and hitch a ride on this craft beer wagon should look no further than this book. As Myer’s writes in his opening sentence, “It’s an exciting time to be a fan of craft beer in North Carolina.” And his book is the perfect segue into that scene.”
—Laura White, Raleigh Public Record

“Erik has done an amazing job in this book telling the story of the craft breweries throughout North Carolina…This isn’t your typical book filled with just pure facts; it’s a book that paints a picture about the love and determination that people have for the product they create and the personal stories and relationships that have grown not just between coworkers, but between breweries themselves…this book does a great job in showing the passion these people have for the beer they brew and the breweries they work for.”
—Eric Waters, All Malt America

“Author Erik Lars Myers has done an admirable survey of the blazing hot North Carolina scene and added [the] human dimension [of] the people behind it.”
—Sean Inman, BeerSearchParty.com

“Erik’s passion for the craft, culture, and heritage of beer is unrivaled. This collection of portraits . . . delivers both the information and the romance of this exciting young industry. Don’t read it without a good North Carolina craft beer to go with it.”
—Daniel Bradford, president of All About Beer magazine and producer of the World Beer Festival

“Erik Myers had to capture one of the country’s most vibrant and explosive beer centers. Lucky us: he’s done a great job!”
—Lew Bryson, author of Pennsylvania Breweries and New York Breweries

“Erik Lars Myers captures the spirit and soul of today’s craft brewers in this thoughtful and gorgeously illustrated tour of North Carolina brewing. Read this and you’ll understand why contemporary American brewing is about more than beer.”
—Maureen Ogle, author of Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer

“The American South has become an exciting destination for ‘beercations’— nowhere more so than North Carolina, where beer geeks plan pilgrimages to Asheville. But what Erik Lars Myers’s North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries shows is that truly soaking up Cackalackee suds requires an epic road trip from the mountains to the Outer Banks. . . . With so many exciting new breweries in the works, including his own Mystery Brewing Company, I’m already looking forward to his sequel.”
—Brian Yaeger, author of Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey and founder of beerodyssey.blogspot.com

“Erik Lars Myers offers not only an excellent primer on North Carolina brewers big and small but keen insight into a brewing community overflowing with personality. Profiles and interviews with dozens of brewers—every craft brewery in the state, in fact—make for an eminently readable and truly comprehensive guide. Round things out with a blitz through the Old North State’s three centuries of brewing history and an overview of brewing processes and beer styles, and you’ve got an indispensable regional beer handbook.”
—Josh Christie, editor of brewsandbooks.com and writer for RateBeer.com

Book trailer: “North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries” by Erik Lars Myers

Tap into local brew

Remember when I promised you something special for North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, by Erik Lars Myers? Here it is, Erik’s very own book trailer! Enjoy!

It was such a pleasure to work with Erik and his friends, particularly our videographer, to create this. North Carolina has the cutting edge beer culture in the country right now, and we love exploring it. “No matter where you live, you’ve got great beer just around the corner,” says Chris Sheilds, Assistant Brewer at Mystery Brewing Company. With more than 50 breweries across the state, how right you are, Chris!

So what do you think? Does this inspire you tap into local brew?

Kick off your weekend with a North Carolina craft beer

If you haven’t heard the news yet, we at Blair are thrilled to be publishing North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries, by craft brewer Erik Lars Myers, coming out this April. The book profiles nearly 50 craft brewpubs and breweries across the state and offers a look into the history that has created a vibrant N.C. beer culture. If you’re a fan of Foothills, Natty Greene’s, or any of the many craft brewers in our area, you’ve got to check out this book.

Erik invited us to a private get-together this past weekend to celebrate his new brewery, Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, N.C. We were lucky enough to take a private tour of the facilities and schmooze with some of the greats of N.C. craft beer.

Erik Lars Myers, author of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough

Erik graciously let us sample two of his first official brews. I’m partial to Gentlemen’s Preference, a blonde ale, but our VP of sales Angela preferred Queen Anne’s Revenge, an English-style IPA. If you get to try Six Impossible Things, an oatmeal stout with notes of cocoa and coffee, please let us know how it is! We’re dying to try that.

Erik Lars Myers, author of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough, N.C.

Erik Lars Myers, author of North Carolina Craft Beer and Breweries, at Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough in NC

Ready for your own tour of the brewery? Mystery Brewing will host a weeklong grand unveiling event that is open to the public at the end of the month. The official grand opening will take place February 29 at 7 p.m., including hourly tours and a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens. The rest of the week is full of events, from movie night and live music at the brewery to Q&A sessions at local bars. It’s bound to be a good time, and there will be great beer! (Seriously, you have to try the Gentlemen’s Preference).

If you can’t make it to Hillsborough for the festivities, don’t sweat it. Erik will travel across the state in April and May, making stops at brewpubs and bottle shops to sign books and talk about what makes North Carolina craft beer so great. We’ll post details once we finalize his book tour.

We’ve got something special in store for this book, so check the blog next week to find out more!