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2020 The Times They are A-Changin'

The new decade will being many changes to the craft beer industry. The above title, from a Dylan song almost 60 years ago, still rings true for our industry. Every year brings change and more are in store. One lyric says change or get out of the way. (Sink or swim) True but hopefully breweries will retain their character and quality as the changes progress. As my home page says "it's all about beer". I have become more adamant about this as I see breweries make beverages other than beer. Sorry people, beer matters; not FMBs (industry speak for 'flavored malt beverages'), hard seltzer or flavored water. Many of these changes have come due to consumer preferences. This is fine but we need to keep the 'craft beer movement' going with beer! I don't buy the 'healthy' bit for these as they still contain alcohol, just not as much. Some create the drink with sugar being fermented into the final product. How 'healthy' is this? Beer, made with the 4 ingredients is still the mainstay. Adjuncts do seem to have become more acceptable in craft beers. Originally, if an adjunct 'improved'; the product it was OK. This is being stretched to include much more than fruit or vegetable additions. (Think pumpkin ales or coffee stouts) Some of these trends are national and some of the big guys have to answer to shareholders. This doesn't apply to most of the over 8000 breweries now operating in the US. Most are family owned and local. If they brew great beer people will come. If a brewery has a loyal local following they will continue on without resorting to making anything other than beer. So, in the coming year(s) there will be closings and plenty of success stories. The industry looks way different now than in 2010 and we can expect more in the new decade. Who knows what we will see in 10 years but I have a feeling it will be based on top quality, great beer. Currently, IPA is the best selling style in craft. The style is changing as brewers use new ideas and formulas for the style. The New England Hazy IPA is big as are other 'juicy' IPAs. New hops are being introduced all the time. Change happens fast here; Brut IPA's were all the rage a year ago. When is the last time you had one? Changes happening already in 2020: 40 year old Boulder Brewing is closing Jan. 18, 2020. Then there is another article about 10 new breweries that plan to open, in Denver, in 2020. This just in: Bruisin' Ales the 13 year old classic beer store in Asheville, NC is closing in late February! For the latest changes see my Twitter feed.

In 2019 I experienced over 20 new breweries which are on my 2019 page. It was a great year and included visits to several New England breweries and Greenville SC has become a great beer town. Florida and NC both have over 300 breweries. I visited a new brewery in Miami in December. I hear of more coming and the same for western NC. The year will start, once again, in Jupiter with two festivals in one weekend. I am making plans for new brewery visits this year and also will hit some old favorites. The times are a changing' but some things never change! See you at at a brewery soon.

Late 2020 notes. The above was written in January, well before the COVID pandemic changed everything. The reviews after March all reflect #beerhistory as it happened. There is a 'theme' of various Covid protections / precautions that were taken by the breweries. This wasn't intentional; it is what happened and will change the industry for years to come. As the year closes, the pandemic continues although the first vaccine has now been approved So, there is light at the end of the walk in cooler! Unfortunately, not in time to see the Jupiter events of the last 13 years canceled or changed for the first time. (They has been the first review here each year since they started.) The Field of Beers is canceled and the festival is moved and downsized for Covid reasons. Hopefully both will be back in 2022. Most breweries that I know have managed to survive and hopefully can stay open until the Covid virus is defeated. I visited over 15 breweries in 2020 and Mills River Brewing is my brewery of the year for 2020. MRB has great beer and the facility to match. They 'get' good beer and have created something special in western NC. (Review below.) Here's to 2021!

Cheers, Larry

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Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival and Field of Beers Logos
Field of Beers 2020 Photos
Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival 2020 Photos

Field of Beers / Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival

The Field of Beers is rated as number four of the top ten beer festivals in America. I agree and think the idea of food paired with beers should be done more often. Here, the infield and dugouts of Roger Dean Stadium are taken over by 15 breweries. Each has a special beer and food pairing just for the occasion. This isn't your fathers' beer and hot dogs game here! Here are a few of the pairings. Pulled Pork Tostones, Serrano Chili, Cilantro Schmear paired with Cigar City Fancy Papers Juicy IPA. BBQ Duck Breast Lychee & Lotus Skewers with Monk in the Truck Organic Amber Ale. The Rincon Heat guys come out each year and had fresh shucked oysters which were great. (Thanks again for a sample bottle I get each year.) Rincon is the best hot sauce I have found anywhere. Bold City (Jax) had their 100th batch Centennial Barleywine paired with "Sander Clegane's" Roasted Chicken. The 'perfect pairing' "Best in Show" goes to Barrel of Monks 2019 Organic Red Ale paired with "Hunters" Chili made with a variety of meat including elk and wild boar. Dessert was Caramel Brownie Trifle paired with Copperpoint Don't Tell Reese peanut butter brown ale. of course no FOB would be complete without Cider Mini Doughnuts right next door to Copperpoint. The 12th FOB was great as they always are. The weather cooperated and so did the brewers and chefs! See you next year.

This years Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival could also be called the Hazy / NE IPA festival as most every brewery had some versions of it. I like the style and tried that if the brewery had one. Most breweries have from two to five different beers at the festival. This year was one of the best as the weather was perfect, the crowd was reasonable and the beers were great. The crowd size made it easier to get to different booths without any really long lines. As I entered first up was NOBO Brewing of Boynton Beach. Next Sailfish Brewing had Scurvy Serum Hazy IPA which worked as I didn't get scurvy! Around the corner was Hell 'n Bl;azes of Melbourne with MLB Born Hazy IPA. This one was very tasty and I would like to visit the brewery one day. The Palm Beach Draughtsmen had quite a variety of mostly Belgian styles. The Instant Trump Tripel was good and 9.5% ABV. (The joke was that you had to wash your mouth out with soap after feeling the effects!) Next Hop Life Brewing of nearby St Lucie had Zero Viz NE IPA and a Double IPA as well. I enjoyed these from a brewer that started out home-brewing and now has a taproom that I need to visit. Bone Hook Brewing of Naples was in the back corner serving a great IPA. Nearby Coppertail had Hop Skull IPA which was a good one like most of their brews. I like the old looking copper buckets they use for serving. Next was Tequesta Brewing and their two sister breweries with a hops covered table and several good brews. Honey,I got Stuck at the Bridge Hazy IPA was a good one and gets the best name of the day! Proof had Lala Land IPA and Bold City had some good beers available. Pareidolia Brewing had Rocket Sled to Buzzville IPA which had three hops and six malts which combined for a West Coast IPA. Reve Brewing of Atlantic City had It Could be an Illusion DIPA which could be true. By this time some places were running low of completely out of beer. The crowd was enjoying the day and band. Victory and Southern Tier had a big truck out in the middle which was a good spot to enjoy the last of the 20/20 festival. The music was fun and there were plenty of booths open nearby to finish the day. This is one of the better beer festivals and I have been there for all 14 of them. See you at the 15th. Website: There are some pictures of this day on the GBL FB page album.

Mastry's Brewing St Pete Beach Image of  Fonrt / Image of Larry, Mitzie and Tito


Mastry's Brewing St Pete Beach Tank Image / Taproom Taps Image


Mastry's Brewing Co. - St Pete Beach, FL

Mastry's Brewing Co. is in a converted gas station on St Pete Beach. I visited there, with friends on a picture perfect mid February day. The building conversion was done well with plenty of seating inside and out. Most of the former garage area is now the brewing area complete with all of the assorted tanks and storage of a small brewery. Mastry's has a good selection of styles; several that most breweries don't make. Grisette is a 'lost' style that has been rediscovered. It is from the area of Belgium along the French boarder. The style is similar to a Saison a refreshing easy drinking farmhouse ale. Another style, Bière de Garde, is from the same area; it's my Thanksgiving beer as it pairs well with most everything on the table. The Grisette was most popular at our table; My favorite was Spring Cleaning Bière de Garde. Other beers included Pineapple Pandemonium a rum barrel aged ale fermented with pineapple. Total Zero Brut IPA was easy drinking; I have almost forgotten the style as many quit making it for some reason. Boca Ciega Bay was an IPA hopped with Sultana and Idaho 7 hops. Sultana is a newer hop which went well with the Idaho 7. Wailing Winter Wind was a tasty 'autumn' ale with pumpkin and related spices. Not That Heavy Bro is a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale. At 76.4% ABV it lived up to it's name. For a small brewery to have 15 brews available is amazing. These folks have an interesting, different beer menu and it's a great place to visit as well. The menu also has some sours and other Belgian styles; there is something for everyone. Website:
Biscayne Bay Brewing Co Photos of Taps and Building
Biscayne Bay Brewing Photos around the Tap and Barrel Room


Biscayne Bay Brewing Co. - Doral, FL

Biscayne Bay Brewing Co is located in Doral, FL., tucked away amongst the areas many warehouses. It's just off the Palmetto expressway and NW 25th Street. After your first visit, you will know how to find it. (Hopefully) Once found the Tap and Barrel room has a wide variety of beers complete with several barrel aged selections. I have enjoyed BBB for several years and never reviewed it. My favorite beer, Siren's Saison is brewed with several types of Malts and dry hopped with French hops. Next up is the Double 9 IPA brewed with Scotch malts and 3 hops. It is the best brew they make but at 9% ABV I don't want to have too many! There are two lighter brews on the core menu; a Kolsch and a Pilsner which are both easy drinking and have more taste and character than any large corporate beers of the same style. Miami Pale Ale and La Colada an English Porter round out the core series. The limited release series have many different barrel aged stouts like Buenas Noches an imperial barrel aged stout a perfect "good night" cap. Recently there was a version of the Saison hopped with Amarillo hops. The taproom has a great happy hour daily and food specials as well. The regular food menu has many different types of bar food each with BBB's take on the item. On Taco Tuesdays BBB has become the unofficial "Mug Club West" with many of Titanic Brewing's retired mug clubbers enjoying an early evening of special tacos and half off core beers. BBB is located west of Titanic therefore the name. BBB is in many venues all over town. The latest is at Marlins Park where they will have a smaller taproom offering great beer to fans instead of the usual overpriced corporate stuff! Website:
Unbranded Brewing Co Photos
Unbranded Brewing Co Photos

Unbranded Brewing Co. - Hialeah, FL

As it turns out, Unbranded Brewing would be the last 'normal' brewery visit to date. (Sept 2020) This visit took place on March 7, 2020 about 10 days before the world was turned upside down by the Covid 19 virus. The rest of the reviews this year have some Covid mention as this is how it is / was. It's not an intentional theme but reporting things as they are. With that said, Unbranded provided a good new brewery for Miami. The brewery had been open a few weeks but already was packing them in. The facility is of modern design with everything looking top notch. The building is huge so future growth will happen without a move. There was a BBQ food truck just outside. The place was jumping and I managed to find a seat at the bar. My first beer was Bojack Jack Jackman a Saison brewed in collaboration with Tripping Animals brewing of Doral. It is pictured to the left and was a 'hoppy Saison' It was fermented with a hybrid Belgian strain and dry hopped with 4 types of hops. It had the familiar 'funky' taste of a Saison and the dry hopping mellowed that out making it a quaffable ale. Unbranded had several unusual styles this day; that's what many want now; something different every-time they come in. IPL (India pale lager), Tres Gringos Pale Ale, Guava Wheat and more. Hazy 01 was the first of a series of canned Hazy IPA's. It was triple dry hopped with five varieties of hop. The result was a very citrusy, 'juicy' IPA which poured well. This series will be canned so patrons can take some home or find it at stores locally. On the lighter side was a California Common (not a steam beer), a Golden Ale and a Helles Lager. Also four different 'fruit beers'; Experimental series batch # 1 was a strawberry 'creamsicle' flavored ale. a hard seltzer was also offered; they have something for everyone. My group all found several we liked and most folks there did too. there was a DJ this night; they will have live music in the future. Overall a good visit and I look forward to returning to try new and different brews and to see how they have handled the Covid world. Website: Pictures from this evening are on the GBL FB album page.

Kettell BeerWorks Photos of Bar and Beer Menu

Kettell BeerWorks Photo of Beer Flight and taps


Kettell BeerWorks - Banner Elk, NC

On a recent trip to Boone, I discovered Kettell after a day of hiking, with a friend, at nearby Roan Mountain. Formally Banner Elk Brewing, Kettell has created some great brews. The brewery and tasting room are housed in a single story, wooden faced building that could be any small roadside store. For Covid, they have some outdoor seating where I was able to get a table away from the crowd. Our server was masked. There isn't table service; we ran a tab and were able to sample all the beers and get some to go. Crabbie Louie Double IPA was the winner here. It was hoppy and not too bitter. I got a nice light bitterness along with smooth fruity (pineapple) tastes. Supernova IPA was also tasty with low bitterness and fruity notes. Copper Elk is an amber ale with malty tastes and nutty aroma. Velvet Panda is a smooth, dry Oatmeal Stout that stout lovers will enjoy. I had read about The Speakeasy a Baltic Porter aged in bourbon barrels. This was bottled in 22 oz bombers and was the best beer of the weekend. We took this one home and enjoyed it on the front porch of the cabin. It was perfect out that night and Speakeasy didn't disappoint. We were texting friends about it; here is some of what was said. It's a liberation of life, a birthday of beer and a graduation of grain. An elixir of elation. A giddy glass of goodness. Flavor full throttle in a bottle. These were just a few is the messages that went back and forth. Did I mention that that Baltic Porter was 10%ABV? Defiantly the beer of the weekend. We thought of getting more on Sunday but they only open Wednesday through Saturday. (Thank to Covid, I'm sure!) I sense a theme of Covid related issues with all breweries. Read on..Website: More pics on the GBL photo album page.

Photos of Blowing Rock Brewing Bar / Taps

Pictures of Blowing Rock Brewery and Tanks

Blowing Rock Brewing - Blowing Rock, NC

After a long hike to Hebrum Falls off the Blue Ridge Parkway we headed to Blowing Rock Brewing to try the beer and have a snack. It's been years since I have been to Blowing Rock and it has changed quite a bit. Just walking to the brewery I noticed that the town has been fixed / cleaned up and there are flowers everywhere. Nice scene and BRB fits right it. The taproom and outside tables had only been open for two weeks due to kitchen renovations and upgrades. Everything went well for us; we got a table, well spaced, right in the front yard of the building. Later I found tables outside in the back parking lot; a response to Covid spacing, I'm sure. They were full. Behind that area is a small brewery where they make one off brews and more for local consumption. BRB has a larger brewery down in Hickory that makes most of what is distributed, in cans, around the state. Between the two BRB is a good sized operation. Looking at the beer menu we started with Cloud Rise Hazy IPA and the Big Chocolate Porter. Both were good; the IPA had a mellow bitterness and some citrus taste and aroma. The Porter was a good one; smooth and the ABV of 6.9% was well masked with malty tastes. Next, I tried the Scotch Ale which was the winner here by far. Scotch ales are rare; a good one is always great to find. At 7.8% ABV it was the real deal; the maltiness was authentic and worked well. The Blowing Rock IPA was good but not memorable. Red Rider Amber is a good one but following that Scotch ale didn't help it! A pop-up rain storm drove us inside which is the disadvantage of all that outside seating for Covid spacing. We still had good space and all servers wore masks. They had masks with their logo available; this will be part of #beerhistory and the theme continues. Website: More pictures are on the GBL photo album page

Photos of Boonshine Brewing Front and Bar / Taps

Photos of Booneshine Brewing Sampler Tray and Masked Dog




Booneshine Brewing Co - Boone, NC

The pop-up storm ended so we headed over to 'East Boone' to Booneshine Brewing. Of the four local breweries BBC probably has the highest amount of Covid precautions. When we arrived, signs point to see the hostess for seating. At the entrance there were a masked deer and dog! Masks are required whenever not at your table. They were 'slammed' this evening so we were directed to the nearby large outdoor seating area. After a short wait we goto a table that was well spaced form the other. There is a lot of room outside so spacing is much more than most. We ordered beer at the entrance which appeared almost immediately. Food was another story. We asked when entering and were tole that someone would come by to take our order in about half and hour! I think the rain and many customers contributed to this. My sampler tray was all hoppy beers. Tropicale is a hoppy pale ale an easy drinking ale with different citrus flavors. Palate Painter IPA is more bitter than the pale ale with a strong, dry grapefruit taste and aroma. Space Pegasus NE IPA is brewed with an amazing amount of hops. It still was true to the NE style with big hoppy flavor but not bitterness. The best of the bunch was Trail Mojo Imperial IPA. Dedicated to the outdoors people and the AT, this brew would be welcomed after a day on the trail. The 8.2% ABV is not evident and is has a pleasant bitterness in the after taste. I ordered a pint which, again, appeared quickly. We did order dinner but it was getting chilly as darkness approached. I could see that the inside was clearing and we were able to move in just as our food was ready. I had a Botick Burger Brookshire Style which means they add caramelized onions, beer cheese, candied bacon, and chives to any sandwich. Hard to go wrong there! We both agreed that Booneshine had the best food of the breweries visited this weekend. Overall Booneshine has a good selection of beer and food. We will return in the future. The interior is a modern industrial design using plenty of woods and steel. A great facility. Website: More pictures are on the GBL photo album page.
Photos of Lost Province Brewing: Beer Flight and Front of Building
Photos of Lost Province Brewing View from above and Brewing Tanks

Lost Province Brewing Co. - Boone, NC

After a walk on the Cascades Trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway, we headed into Boone. Soon it was time for beer. We 'found' Lost Province Brewing in the downtown area. It was Saturday afternoon and fairly busy. There is a small outdoor area and a two level indoors complete with the brewery. LPB was following the current Covid restrictions which limited indoor seating. Outside was full and we were able to score a well spaced table near the bar. My flight was going to be all IPAs but they were out of their regular IPA so I went for Fat Bastard Stout. I was able to try the regular IPA as they had it in cans. The Guava and Grapefruit IPAs were similar; we both made that same comment. Hipster Juice NE IPA was the favorite here. The canned house IPA also was a good one; I would have liked to have it in tap. The stout had coffee and dark malt tastes. (BTW Fat Bastard was the name of a stout by, now closed, Stoudts Brewing of PA.) LPB is also known as a wood fired gastropub. The big pizza oven looks like a copper brewing kettle, nice touch, and the pizzas were popular. We ordered a charcuterie board that was one of the best in recent memory. The brewery is behind the bar, but far more viable from the upstairs area. They weren't brewing this day but the equipment looks like they can produce plenty of beer for house and outside sales. My visit was good and everyone was following the various protocols; we felt safe and at ease throughout our time there. I would like to return to try the pizza and that IPA. Website: More photos are on the GBL photo album page.

Frog Level Brewing Photos of Taps and Tanks
Frog Level Brewing Photos of Outside and Inside

Frog Level Brewing Co. - Waynesville, NC

After a damp walk up Waterrock Knob off the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, it was time for a late lunch and brew. I visited Frog Level a few years ago and enjoyed the beer and taproom then. It still is a cool place with a good vibe. Walking into the long taproom the bar on the right has a wide variety of beers available. Due to Covid issues some of the house beers were out. (Too much demand?) I decided on the appropriately named Quarantine 15 Rye IPA. It was 'quarantined' in the tanks for 15 weeks. My friend ordered the house lager which was a good one. Most seating was on the outdoor patio which is alongside a moving creek with plenty of shade. This outdoor area is the best place to sit; with plenty of space and food can also be ordered. It was a nice day outside and we got a shady seat. During 'normal' times Frog Level has small bands and other entertainment outside. Looking at their calender it looks like some groups are starting to come back. On my prior visit you could walk next door and order form the restaurant there. Now, servers form the brewery take orders and deliver to your table. The food was good; they share the kitchen with the established restaurant next door which has a reputation of excellent food. I had a pulled pork BBQ sandwich which hit the spot. It had turned into a sunny day and we enjoyed our time there. After another round we were ready to leave. I was able to try a Blueberry Sour which was tart and quaffable. I'm not a big sour guy but I could enjoy one of these. I didn't try too many brews which means that I will have to return another day. Website:

Photos of Satulah Mouuntain Brewing Coasters / Brew Kettle
Photos of Satulah Mountain Brewing Taproom

Satulah Mountain Brewing Co. - Highlands, NC

Satulah Mountain Brewing has been open in Highlands for 5 years. Time goes by quickly; I was there one of the first days they opened. Highlands is a hard place to gauge for any business. Winters are very quiet with summers being far busier. This explains SMB's varying hours over the years. Many times I would want to take visitors there and the closed sign was up. Recently,the Covid virus has thrown yet another curve at SMB. They are now canning and distributing several brews to surrounding counties. To facilitate production, part of the taproom has been repurposed into the canning area. With all the closures and with an uncertain future, selling beer off premises is the best way to get more product out into the market. The taproom is currently open only on Saturdays with hopes of a few more days soon. It is a well furnished taproom with a new patio area adding safe space just outside. Of course, when open, there isn't any production (canning) going on. I tried several house beers with the Cullahaze being my favorite. This NE IPA has been brewed 5 or 6 times; each with a different hop selection. It was quite tasty and hazy as expected. It is pictured to the left. The outside area was full so we got seats at the window looking out at the patio area and beautiful mountains beyond. I asked about where the haze come from; ether wheat or oats and Dale, the owner and brewer, said he used a bit of both. I remember back to that first year, Dale was brewing with oats, well before the current 'hazy' trend began. He was ahead of his time. Originally there was only a kettle and "plastic buckets" for brewing. Now he has full fledged brewing equipment that does take up more space. It's well worth it as beer quality and quantity has improved for SMB. As for future growth; SMB needs more space but the area market makes it hard to get affordable space. Dale has adapted and changed to keep the small brewery going. Whatever happens the brewery will survive and prosper. - Cheers. Website:
Pictures of Innovation Station Brewing
More pictures of Innovation Station

Innovation Station Brewing - Dillsboro, NC

Way back in 2014 I visited and reviewed Innovation Brewing in Sylva, NC. That was the first of many visits. Everything I said then is still true and then some. Ownership is the same and the folks I mentioned then, Meghan and Brian are still there! In this business that is an accomplishment. As recently as last summer things were status quo. Over the winter several important things have occurred. They have opened a second location in nearby Dillsboro which will serve as a second taproom and production facility. Canning has also been started with four of the mainstay brews. They now distribute in western NC and NE Georgia. All of this occurred just as the Covid closures / restrictions happened. They have done some excellent planning here; product in stores all around with increased capacity to satisfy demand. Also the addition of lots of outside seating at the new place worked out very well. Many small breweries are having various problems staying open and producing product. Not here. I wanted to take a friend to what I call the best brewery in western NC and we were not disappointed. The reason, of course, is the beer. I had thought of heading to the original location but the road was torn up so Innovation Station made our day. It's a big metal building with porches around three sides. Covid set up is one way line to get beer and cleanup of the well spaced outside tables. The inside was open before Covid but the decision was made to keep it closed and just use the outside. Another smart move. Michelle was working the window; she gave us good friendly service. She updated me on what was up at the brewery and some of what is above. The beer selection is great; over 25 brews available! Innovation has always had a huge selection. I got the Red IPA and my friend got the Circumnavigation Double IPA. The red was a good one; new to me, with a good hop / malt mix. The Double IPA is one of the best beers anywhere. My friend commented that it was the best of his trip. I got one and still like it as much as the first time. It is light colored, hoppy with a nice bitterness in the finish. I have taken away a growler of this IPA many times and today was no exception. Innovation Station also has different food trucks scheduled and recently has been having a Farmers Market on Wednesdays. With so many great beers, food and things to do, what's not to like? The laid back atmosphere also adds to the experience; I can't wait to go back! Website:
Dry Falls Brewing Photos of Front amd Taps
Dry Falls Brewing Photos of Taster and Tanks

Dry Falls Brewing Co. - Hendersonville, NC

Hendersonville has put itself on the craft beer map in the last few years. There are now several breweries in the area and I wanted to try a few. I met a friend at Dry Falls Brewing which was a great place to start. It was a perfect August day; cool enough that the open indoor and outdoors areas were comfortable. There was also a BBQ food truck; perfect for the beer tasting. I got a sampler flight with four brews. Paddle Faster Pale Ale is an updated pale ale; not to bitter and stronger than pale ales back in the day. Simply Citra IPA uses Citra hops for a smooth 6.9% ale with good bitterness. Mt Delay IPA was the winner here for me. It is an American IPA with 7.1% ABV and 71 IBU. This is the classic 'new' IPA that has become popular. I like it because it is an IPA made like they have been made for years; no adjuncts, haze or juicy properties. It was nice to see this; there are so many 'new' varieties of IPAs these days. Finally HVL IPA was the hazy offering here; it was a good one and, looking at the full glass, not too hazy. The haze can go away in these as the beer settles out in the tanks. I can live with that. Some of these look like thick milkshakes! We also tried the Blond ale and the Amber Waves Red Ale. Both were tasty and enjoyed. The food truck provided a great BBQ beef sandwich, which was a good idea for my beer tasting jaunt. The facility here is large and the tables were well space for Covid purposes. The outside allows for more to be served safely. The service is at the bar only; put on a mask and walk up to order your beer. It was a Sunday and the TVs had what limited racing was on then. I really like the place and will return in the future. Remember their motto above the bar: "It's all fun and games until the beer runs out!" I like it. Website:

Oklawaha Brewing Photos of Bar and Brewing areas
Oklawaha Brewing Photos of Taps and Tap Room

Oklawaha Brewing Co. - Hendersonville, NC

Just a few blocks from Dry Falls is Oklawaha Brewing. The street in front of Oklahoma was either being worked on or the big barricades were there to protect the sidewalk seating out front. There is ample parking; we were able to park right across the street. Situated in a large old building, Oklawaha's home is a cool old place with lots of original furnishings all around. There are two large areas of seating; one side has some large tables and the other has the bar and more seating. Oklawaha is a nano brewery that has 16 of their brews on at any time. This is a wide variety of beers; I was able to try several IPA's. There were no flights today; so i tried a few small samples and enjoyed a pint or two. The winner,for me, was Haziversary an Imperial IPA clocking in at 8.4% ABV. The Hop Pig, an American IPA was a classic west coast IPA. The four hops types gave a good citrusy aroma and tastes. The full beer menu shows what was on that day. It's a good selection and it would be nice to try more in small sizes. Everyone was masked when away from the tables and the tables were well spaced. This is also a music venue; there had been nothing playing since they closed for Covid. Looking as i write this (December 2020) some music has come back. I hope they can keep it up as the latest surge in Covid cases is causing some states to close inside venues and any larger crowds. It looks like fun and the groups are glad to be back on stage I'm sure. We enjoyed the brews and atmosphere of Oklawaha and will return for music one day. Website:

Mills River Brewing Co Photos of inside bar
Photos of Mills River Brewing Co Outside / Tanks

Mills River Brewing Co. - Mills River, NC

Mills River Brewing started out in a small local strip center in 2015. The current facility was purpose built and they did a great job. The planning probably predated the Covid closings but sure looks like they planned for it. The place is huge in all ways. Big parking lot, large taproom and a really well laid out outdoor area that could seat many, well spaced. The outdoor area goes up a small hill where there is a stage for musical performances. This is so spaced out that they could have had music all during the closings. They are making some great beers here. I wanted to try a sampler but they still haven't started that back up. We were served in the clear plastic pint cups which leaves them nothing to try to clean up for Covid standards. The taproom is huge and well laid out for when it is crowded. (One way lines for beer etc.) For me, I had the beer of my summer / fall in NC. The Bad Fork Rye IPA was outstanding. The rye grain stood out with a great taste. It was an IPA but not too bitter. (53 IBU) The combo made for a highly quaffable lunchtime brew. I tried a few samplers but the Rye IPA beats everything. I'm not sure if it's a full time part of the beer menu but it should be. The wine list looks good and liquor is also available. It was Thursday and very quiet. It was probably too chilly to sit outside as the first real cold of the season was upon us. Juju's Craft Cookery is serving "Beer friendly food, Handcrafted with Heart". This is true; the Bent Creek Burger has a great mix of tastes and more bacon that should be legal! After that lunch it looks like a small dinner later. I usually enjoy all the breweries reviewed but one or two stand out each year. This is one of those; truly a legit candidate for my 'Brewery of the Year' designation. Thanks to all who made this place happen; I will return many times I'm sure! Mills River Brewing Website. More photos on the GBL photo album page.

Burning Blush Brewing Photos of Beer Flight/ Tanks
Photos of Burning Blush Brewing Interior Art / Outside Seating

Burning Blush Brewery. - Mills River, NC

Burning Blush Brewery looks like a medieval / Victorian church building just off the highway in Mills River. It's faced with rock and the theme continues inside. The seats and tables all are very heavy and almost hard to move. That's why I thought Medieval as the stuff has that kind of look and the construction might be how the old stuff was made. It is a new building, purpose built for the brewery. Outside, there is a small porch and huge area with picnic tables all well spaced, working well for the latest Covid requirements. The design is cool and will lend itself to conversations and fun for family and friends alike. The beers were good with some unusual styles and recipes. There was Square Your Luck a 'Juicy' IPA It was hazy and not too bitter at 35 IBU. Triple Your Luck was a Triple IPA at 10.4% ABV and 35 IBU. Both of these were tasty and have low bitterness for IPAs. The alcohol in the triple was not evident. The Gunky a Dopplebock Lager was excellent with good aroma and taste of the style. My favorite was a Bier de Garde; Long Walk Shortened by Two. This brew was just in time for Thanksgiving as the nutty tastes go well with everything on the table. At 9.3 ABV and 30 IBU it was similar to some of the other brews with high ABV and low bitterness. They look ready for big crowds when that is possible again. I was there on a weekday afternoon and there weren't many people there. There were some locals that looked like they come there all the time. A visiting group was up from South Carolina. BBB looks like they are off to a great start and I look forward to trying more of their brews. Website:

Whiteside Brewing Cashiers, NC Photos
Whiteside Brewing Co Cashiers, NC Photos


Whiteside Brewing Co. - Cashiers, NC

Located just north of the Crossroads of US 64 and 107, Whiteside Brewing has the perfect setting for a mountain brewery. It has a ski lodge feel interior with a large wrap around outdoor porch for all seasons. (Really good heaters for winter.) Outdoors there is a pavilion, with seating, and a large field area for pets to run around and play. Throw in the associated Lauralwood Inn for a complete fun mountain experience. i visited several times this year with the last in November. They have plenty of space for Covid safety purposes. On a cool day I sat on the the porch and those heaters made ti work. There are 10 plus brews on at any time. My favorite beer here was only there once: Ebullient Orange Imperial IPA. it was citrusy but the orange tastes didn't dominate. A very easy drinking brew and the 10.5% ABV wasn't evident. On subsequent visits the Cobra Chicken IPA became my go to brew. It was a 'juicy' IPA; at 7% ABV and 53 IBU it was satisfying and quite tasty. Izzie's Amber Ale is an extremely quaffable English Pub Ale at 6.5% ABV and 21 IBU. I didn't get to try everything as no tasters were being offered. (Thanks Covid.) Small samples could be had at the counter service line if requested. Two stouts, Chili ale and several lighter brews were also available. They had a house cider as well. This is a great place to take friends after a day in the mountains hiking, leaf looking or any of the wide variety of outdoor activities available in the area. The inside area is beautiful; I never sat there since there was always plenty of space outside. Website: More photos on the GBL photo album page.

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