Without complaint the truck tugged and tugged, pulling our new Road Trips and Brew Pubs travel trailer up and up into the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
Our third brew-venture for 2015 brings us to Blowing Rock Brewing Company, a craft brewery nestled in the heart of this beautiful mountainous countryside.
Blowing Rock Brewing Company opened their doors in 2013 in downtown Blowing Rock, an historic little town not far from Boone. During the American Civil War Blowing Rock served as a safe haven for families of men leaving to join the Confederate Army. After the war many men returned and settled in Blowing Rock with their families.
As time went on the scenic mountainous beauty of Blowing Rock became a regular vacation spot for visitors from nearby areas, as well as travelers from afar, and remains one of the prime locations for vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina.
The area is close to numerous hiking trails, scenic overlooks and drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain, The Blowing Rock, and assorted attractions, restaurants and wineries as well. Visit BlowingRock.com for more information on things to do in the area.
The town of Blowing Rock itself boasts nice little streets to stroll about, lined with little shops offering art, souvenirs, teas, chocolates, wines, cheeses and more. Winding your way down to Sunset Drive you’ll find our target for this trip, the Blowing Rock Brewing Company.
We lagged behind during a brewery tour, which they offer on Saturdays between 1 and 5pm, and met with Luke in the brewery as he was wrapping it up. When we told him about Cryptobrewology and what we’re all about he called to Ali, who was serving beer to patrons outside on the patio, and she brought us a couple of beers to drink as we talked.
Blowing Rock Brewing Co is an impressive example of what is possible with a solid plan, a good team and a great product.
In 2013, after several years of perfecting their signature styles and recipes, and building a team to work with in creating their product, co-owners Jeff Walker and Todd Rice opened the brewery in Blowing Rock, and within the same year opened the Blowing Rock Ale House & Inn on the same property.
A year later, as demand grew statewide for their beers, Blowing Rock Brewing Company opened a second larger brewery in Hickory, NC. Though preparation took a number of years, the success and rapid growth after the grand opening of their micro brewery speaks to the quality of the product as well as the dedication and efforts of the folks involved.
The brewery in Blowing Rock consists of a 5 BBL brewing system where the Ale House series of ales and lagers is crafted and available on tap at the Blowing Rock Ale House and at other select locations.
The Hickory brewing facility is responsible for brewing the Legacy Series as well as four seasonal offerings. Beers produced at the Hickory location are canned and kegged here for wider distribution across North Carolina, including select beers for the Ale House not brewed in the smaller Blowing Rock facility.
After our chat with Luke we headed over to the Ale House just a few steps from the brewery, across the patio, where folks were dining and being entertained by Klee Liles performing a great solo-acoustic selection of rock and folk tunes. Good stuff.
The Blowing Rock Ale House is a first class dining establishment. It has a great atmosphere where you can enjoy creative dishes that accompany their unique beers. The porter-balsamic dressing served with many of their dishes is actually made with the Blowing Rock Big Chocolate Porter, and it is delicious.
We ordered a flight of their brews which included their Blowing Roclk IPA, Belgian Pale Ale, Double IPA, Extra Special Bitter, Big Chocolate Porter and Imperial Stout. All very good. Of course the Double IPA and Porter got Cindy’s seal of approval.
Our menu selections were light. I almost got the Bison Burger but wanted to leave room for our pudgie pie wraps later over the campfire, so I decided on the Grilled Flatbread which is made with their High Country Ale and drizzled with the Porter Balsamic. That was tasty. Cindy had the Baby Arugula Salad.
We sat in the main dining area, but there are a few other places to enjoy a meal and libations at the Ale House. There are picnic tables out front and on the side of the restaurant, as well as seating around back on the patio near the brewery.
Around the corner from the cozy bar area is a quiet, comfortable lounge where you wait for seating, enjoy a drink or peruse their growler and six pack offerings in the fridge if you want some beer to go.
I have to say that our visit to Blowing Rock Brewing Co. was a highlight of our trip. The people we met there are very friendly and helpful, the food is excellent and the beer is top notch.
Do what their beer can says, “Go to the Mountains.” It’s a great stop for any craft beer enthusiast visiting this area of the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. Bring your hiking shoes. And don’t forget to take some beer home with you.
Visit the Blowing Rock Brewing Company website for more information on their breweries, beers, Ale House and Inn.
HICKORY NC — The first beer brewed at Blowing Rock Brewing Company’s new brewery in Hickory is almost ready.
Blowing Rock Brewing Company’s founders, Todd Rice and Jeff Walker, were at the brewery Wednesday to sample their first brew at the new location, christened Boone Brewery at Hollar Mill.
Brewmaster Ray Hodge brought Rice and Walker a sample of the High Country Ale from the fermenter, which was filled with 930 gallons of beer, destined for packaging in 374 24-pack cases.
Read more here.
From The Mountain Times:
Check out this great article about the best burgers in Boone.
By Jesse Wood
June 25, 2013. Nearly five years after the journey began, Blowing Rock Brewing Company is now utilizing its own brewer and equipment to brew and serve award-winning beers in the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn in downtown Blowing Rock.
Yesterday, the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn held a soft opening, inviting guests, supporters, town officials and media to “test drive the kitchen and work out any kinks” before the official grand opening of the brewery, restaurant and lodge takes place on Thursday and on into the weekend, according to BRBC co-founder Todd Rice.
The atmosphere is warm and fun in the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn that opened today. Photo by Ken Ketchie
The Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn is the former Maple Lodge, a historic bed and breakfast that was built in the ‘40s and purchased last year by Rob Dyer and Lisa Stipling, co-owners of the nearby The Inn at Ragged Gardens and Best Cellar.
While BRBC will operate the brewery, Dyer and Stipling will run the operations of the restaurant and lodge, which features eight bedrooms and is a block from Main Street.
Dyer said that not only will the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn compliment the Best Cellar and The Inn at Ragged Gardens with a lower price point and overflow for weddings, parties and other gatherings, but it will also compliment downtown Blowing Rock in general.
“We are really proud of this property,” Dyer said. “It’s going to be great. Blowing Rock is already a walking town where you can walk into shops and walk into restaurants and have lunch and everything is within a one-mile loop.”
Before the former Maple Lodge became the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn, a seven-month long renovation took place. Involved in the renovation process was architect Larry Greene. Cliff Baldwin of Baldwin Builders was the head contractor, and Gaines Kiker of Gaines Kiker Silversmith built all the copper bars in the restaurant and pub.
Nearly two years ago, Dyer and Stipling began discussions with Rice and Jeff Walker, the other co-founder of BRBC, about the brewery concept and joint venture at the former Maple Lodge, and today the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn opened for its first lunch.
“We are ecstatic,” Dyer said, adding that last night’s successful soft opening was a “huge relief.”
This has been a long time coming for the Blowing Rock Brewing Company, which was established by Rice and Walker as the Great Recession endured.
For years, the Blowing Rock brands have been brewed in Pennsylvania and distributed to the High Country and elsewhere, something the local company took flack for from local beer connoisseurs.
But the two, who have lived in the High Country for a longtime and are raising families here, had a long-term business model in mind and knew all along that the company would brew beer locally eventually.
The copper bars were custom made by Gaines Kiker, a silversmith and goldsmith in Blowing Rock. Photo by Ken Ketchie
“All from the beginning, we set out to get our distribution rolling first and then open the brick and mortar second. A lot of people do it the other way around and when they open the brick and mortar, no one has ever heard of them,” Rice said. “We decided to get the brand established first and then open.”
Because Blowing Rock Brewing Company supplies more than 500 stores across the state including Harris Teeter, Walmart, Whole Foods, Lowes Foods and more, the company, like many other brewers, contracts with another brewer to handle large-scale commercial accounts of its Legacy Series, which features a competing price point.
Currently, the Blowing Rock Brewing Company is brewing its own beer with its own equipment in Lenoir, and Ray Hodge, who has a “long history as a respected brewing trailblazer,” is the company’s brewer. But soon the brewing will take place in the back of the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn – as soon as the company receives its federal brewing permit. Rice expects that to arrive in the next four to six weeks.
The Ale House Series, which Rice dubbed “more artisanal,” will be produced in Blowing Rock, using local ingredients where possible, and will change with the seasons for different beers at different times of the year. It will be brewed with a five-barrel system and double batched in a 10-barrel system to double production. Rice said many regional and local restaurants and pubs have already expressed interest in acquiring the local series.
Rice said half-gallon glass jug growlers will be for sale for folks to take to tailgate parties, camping and so forth. Also, kegs will be for sale for other restaurants that want to put its beers on tap or for individuals having a gathering.
Eight beers are on draft currently, and Rice said they are building up to have 12 rotating beers that fit the seasons.
The Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn is now open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all days of the week except for Wednesday and features a menu that evolves with the season and features entrees, desserts and a family-friendly menu. Graduates of the Texas Culinary Academy, Erick and Jenny Virt are the chefs.
“I think as you will find from the feedback from yesterday – the food is outstanding, the service is excellent and the beer is outstanding, all in a fun, warm atmosphere,” Rice said.
For more information, click here.
Beer Advocate is a well know online beer forum. People from around the world offer there advice, tasting notes, and reviews of small batch and micro brewery everywhere. Blowing Rock HIgh Country Ale is proud to be a part of that review process.
With more breweries than any other state south of Pennsylvania and east of Texas, North Carolina is truly the South’s beer stronghold. To celebrate the state’s craftsmanship and the destinations where it’s nurtured, breweries, hotels, restaurants and other businesses combine forces for the inaugural NC Beer Month this April. read full post →