The Six-Pack Project: Beers from Around the Country

six pack-beerWith Memorial Day in the rearview mirror, we’ve entered the (unofficial) start of summer. Barbecues, beaches and vacations lie ahead.

But what’s a trip away from home without throwing beer into the mix?

Enter the Six-Pack Project. It’s a new, collaborative effort between beer bloggers from around the country to highlight a six-pack of our state’s native brews that we believe best represent what the beer culture of our respective states offer. If someone is coming to visit, what bottles or cans would we want to share?

Here are our rules:

  • Pick a six-pack of beers that best represents your state and/or state’s beer culture.
  • Beer must be made in your state, but “gypsy” brewers are acceptable, so long as that beer is brewed with an in-state brewery and sold in your state.
  • Any size bottle or can is acceptable to include.
  • Current seasonal offerings are fine, but try to keep selections to year-round brews as much as possible. No out-of-season brews preferred.

Welcome to the inaugural round of the Six-Pack Project. I hope to include bloggers from across the U.S. in future versions, so contact me on Twitter if you or someone you know may fit the bill.

Some quick notes to about selections for my state, North Carolina:

1. I approached this task as if I were building a flight of beers for you to try. Because of that, I’ve picked six different styles of beers that would (hopefully) take you through a great North Carolina beer experience, although subjectively selected by me.

2. All of these picks can be found year-round in NC beer shops.

Without further adieu, let’s find out what North Carolina has to offer…

Mother Earth’s Endless River from Kinston, NC

This kolsch offers a good start to your North Carolina beer journey with light touches of lemon and grassy hops. It’s thin in body and with plenty of carbonation to start your journey on a refreshing note.

Triangle Brewing’s Belgian Golden Ale from Durham, NC

Purposefully brewed to maximize fruity esters of Belgian yeast, you might find some citrus notes to pair with typical peppery spice. At 8 percent ABV, it’s nothing to laugh about, but it’s light enough not to weigh you down while you prepare for the state’s hoppier offerings.

Highland Brewing’s Gaelic Ale from Asheville, NC

My go-to pale ale from North Carolina, which matches enough malt body to stand up to the use of Cascade and Willamette hops. The balance is ideal for any beer drinker who won’t be put off by too much sweetness or bitterness.

Foothills Hoppyum IPA from Winston-Salem, NC

Much like Gaelic Ale, this is a must-have NC beer, which uses a healthy dose of Simcoe hops to provide resinous citrus flavor. A great IPA that will never leave your taste buds dry or spent, this is a brew that satisfies hop heads but isn’t so bitter it would turn others off. If you want to get adventurous, try Hoppyum’s big brother, Seeing Double IPA.

LoneRider Beer’s Sweet Josie from Raleigh, NC

I’ve found this to be the standard when it comes to brown ales in NC, especially around the Triangle, which LoneRider calls home. You’ll find flavors and aromas you’d expect – toasted malt, caramel, coffee, chocolate – but at 6.1 percent ABV this brown is a little different than others. Hop usage gives this just a touch of bitter to balance it all.

Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout from Farmville, NC

If not the best-known North Carolina beer among drinkers, it’s near the top. This beer may be among the best milk stouts in the U.S. – just ask this guy. The lactose keeps it sweet, but the roasted malt keeps it grounded with a hint of acidic bitterness. You may be surprised by a jab of vanilla.

Traveling this summer? Don’t forget to check out other entries in the first round of the Six-Pack Project (links posted as available):

Contact me on Twitter if you want to talk NC beer or offer up selections for your state in the Six-Pack Project. Debate is welcome!


44 thoughts on “The Six-Pack Project: Beers from Around the Country

  1. I’ll keep my eye open for all of these when I’m down there in July. I’m especially interested in trying the Milk Stout.

    1. When I talk about NC beer to visitors, the milk stout is always the first one I mention. I feel like it’s a must, which is even better since you can find it anywhere around the state.

  2. I’ll do a Maryland 6-pack, if you’ll have me.

    1. Oliver, are you interested in doing a combo post? We each make our picks and see where we matchup and differ? Maybe combine it all into one post so we can garner some new readers from each other. Brian, it’s your show. Would you be cool with something like that?

      1. And forgive me for misspelling Bryan 🙂

  3. NC puts out beers that are three and four times better than those listed, although most are only available in tap rooms or in 750ml bottles. Mother Earth Windowpane Series, anything from Wick Weed, Olde Hickory Event Horizon and Lindley Park are among the best beers to come out of NC. Their Redeemer IIPA is delicious as well as their imperial stout with honey. Foothills Jade IPA. I suppose you’re limited in what you can put if you’re only picking up 12 oz. beers, but those are the flagship beers that aren’t too great

    1. Nick – you hit the nail on the head. The rules were purposeful in limiting selections to play off the idea that if someone were visiting, they could easily find any of these in a beer store. In limited releases alone, I’d argue NC could be put against any state. The brews you list are very, very good.

      It’s unfortunate I couldn’t include an offering from Fullsteam in Durham, which goes out of its way to include North Carolina ingredients in many of their beers. They only bottle some of their brews, almost all of which are seasonal runs. I can’t think of a “more NC beer” selection than that, honestly.

  4. Great job and thanks for organizing this little project. It was fun to participate. Difficult but fun.

    1. I hope it didn’t stress you out TOO much. Options abound like crazy for you. Really glad you could help out!

      1. Actually, once I decided to only go with breweries that distributed to several other states, things fell into place … especially when I decided “Eenie-meenie-miney-mo” was a valid method to make the final cut.

      2. I’ve often found that approaching things as a 5-year old would leads to good results.

        (This doesn’t include drinking alcohol.)

  5. mouldsbeerblog May 29, 2013 — 8:30 pm

    I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure of trying ANY beers from the breweries you included, never mind your specific choices. Great job setting this up Bryan. I’m going to need a care package from each of the states now!

  6. Thanks for organizing this. Pretty cool idea. I’ve had the Hoppyum (a friend from Charlotte made his wife tote three of them up here to me while she here on business), the Highland (of course it’s good…Highland was started by an ND grad), and the Duck Rabbit (which I was surprised wasn’t as sweet as a lot of other milk stouts…but tasty, for sure). The other three sound pretty dang good, too. Hope to try them someday. Thanks again!

  7. This is all kinds of awesome. Would love to do NY next round if you’ll have me!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I think this will be a really fun project.

      … and of course you’re welcome to share. I’ll contact you by email and we’ll iron out details.


  8. Too bad you got NC covered, I’d be all over this…

    1. Want to offer a rebuttal list? Debate and discussion encouraged!

      Shoot me an email and let’s chat.

      1. No, I think your list is pretty solid. Looks like you’ve got good variety stylistically and geographically.

  9. So why did Charlotte get slighted? We have some excellent breweries here. Is that just more Raleigh attitude towards the Queen City… 🙂

    1. I promise no terrible bias. I actually like Charlotte breweries quite a bit! Aside from OMB, are there any others that bottle regular releases? I know Triple C and NoDa have bottled some limited runs.

  10. Hello Bryan. I heard about you and this project through a mutual friend’s site – ithinkaboutbeer. I was wondering if there’s any more room in the Six-Pack Project and if so, I’d like to represent the province of BC Canada. I have a list already made up, largely for fun, which I’d love to share.

    1. And fyi, I’m signed in here as storiesbywilliams, but I’d be participating as The Great Canadian Beer Snob, which can be seen here:

      1. Sounds great to me! Just dropped you an email.

  11. I’m going to be in North Carolina next week on vacation. I’m spending two nights in Asheville to check out the local beer scene there and then a week with my family at a place called Emerald Isle down on the south coast. Obviously your 6-pack list here is a great start, but any other tips or suggestions for beers or breweries not too miss.

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