Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Visiting a Trio of Winston-Salem Craft Breweries

Over a decade ago, Foothills Brewing launched the Winston-Salem craft beer scene with a solid core lineup including People's Porter, Torch Pilsner, and Hoppyum IPA. The brewery is still a major player today with three locations and abundant seasonals and limited releases. They have also been joined by eight fellow breweries including three we recently visited: Wise Man Brewing, Fiddlin' Fish Brewing Company, and Small Batch Brewing.

Wise Man Brewing opened a few years ago after renovating a vacant 90-year old structure where they offer a large portfolio of craft beer in multiple styles.  Each staff member is a certified cicerone so be prepared for an excellent experience as they explain or suggest appropriate beers.  I chose a sampler consisting of the Liquid Measure w/ Blueberry, Peach, & Raspberry IPA; Circumstances of Collision Sour IPA; Thousand Chords Grisette; and Bound To Get Down Brett Pale Ale.   The first two were loaded with fruit, creamy berries for the first and blood oranges, pomegranates, and tangerines. Fantastic.  The second two were funkier with spices in the Grisette and tart fruit in the second. Fortunately, a staff member suggested the Krankies Shape Shifter Blonde Ale, an interesting beer where green coffee beans were aged in red wine barrels then returned to Krankies to be roasted.  The coffee beans elevate the otherwise soft ale with a concentrated aroma and long finish. A crowler, please.

Fiddlin' Fish Brewing Company reflects the lifestyle of the Blue Ridge Mountains: hiking, fishing and enjoying great music. The brewery is located on historic Trade Street near the downtown Arts District and provides a spacious environment to sample and watch the Nationals in the World Series. I chose another quartet sampler starting with the Hardy Bear Helles Lager - a refreshing beer with the expected minerality. Next was the Raspberry Black Currant Sour, a tasty beer that was deliciously tart. This led to the Cherry A Tune Cherry Rye Blonde where malted rye was added to a blonde ale grain bill and dark cherries infused after fermentation. Very complex. The sampler was filled out with the Pine Barren Pale Ale, a collaboration with the North Carolina Zoo and named after the Pine Barren Tree Frog. There is a decent amount of hops creating a robust yet clean beer and portions of the proceeds benefit the zoo.  Once again a staff member suggested an additional beer, the Black Mountain Chocolate Stout where cocoa nibs from neighboring Black Mountain Chocolate is brewed into the milk stout. A delicious creamy beer.

Small Batch Brewing was our last stop, located directly downtown and offering a full food menu, shakes, spirits, and craft beer. Here we stayed on the darker side starting with the Porter in the Rye and the Percolator Mocha Stout. Both were complex and tasty. But also check out their full range blonde to pilsner to gose to IPA.

And as always, theCompass Craft Beverage Finder will guide you to these destinations. Cheers.

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