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Beercation: The Triangle, North Carolina

This region of North Carolina is a worthy, if not requisite, addition to your beercation bucket list.

Emily Hutto Aug 28, 2017 - 14 min read

Beercation: The Triangle, North Carolina Primary Image

Asheville gets a lot of attention for its status as a bona fide beer town and home of mammoth satellite breweries. While that attention is well deserved, North Carolina beer tourists shouldn’t forget about what we’ll boldly call the next big beer scene: The Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill). Its farm-centric and community-minded cities welcome and celebrate artisanal, independent breweries. Not to mention The Triangle’s bottle-shop culture is thriving. This region of North Carolina is a worthy, if not requisite, addition to your beercation bucket list.

It’s called “The Triangle” for the geometry that connects the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, but this historical farmland turned cutting-edge center for engineering and research on the edge of North Carolina’s piedmont has proven to be fertile ground for craft breweries. The area benefits from North Carolina’s statewide agriculture with year-round farmer’s markets, farm-to-table restaurants, and booming agritourism, plus a plethora of processed-minded engineers educated by Duke, UNC, and NC State. It’s the recipe for a great beer town, but only when mixed with state beer laws that support the cause. Most of North Carolina’s craft-beer scene didn’t open until after House Bill 392 was passed in 2005, lifting from 6 percent to 15 percent the ABV cap on beer sold in the state.


The “Pop the Cap” movement to modernize North Carolina’s beer laws was spearheaded by Sean Lilly Wilson, the president of its lobbying organization who now owns Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery. “That was my starting point. I didn’t think I would start up a brewery, but I was just a beer geek who was annoyed that we couldn’t get these styles I was learning about in craft beer,” he says. “We thought lifting the ABV cap would have a good impact on the economy, encouraging brewers to brew to style and, maybe, more breweries to open. It was one of our state’s last great remnants of Prohibition, and it had to go away. It was a big honor to have a part in that.”


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