Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who's the Big Boss?

I know. I know. It's a terrible pun. But it illustrates my point: too many people know too little about North Carolina's craft brewing scene.
That scene includes Big Boss, one of the best breweries in North Carolina, if not the East Coast.
I've been a beer fan for years, but it wasn't until I moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., that I became a craft beer enthusiast. It was breweries like Foothills, Carolina Brewing Company, Duck-Rabbit and Big Boss that showed me why craft brewing is such a special endeavor.
Think about it like this: Anheuser-Busch brews millions of gallons of Budweiser in a state-of-the-art plant in St. Louis, Mo. Basically, it's beer by HAL. Big Boss Brewing Company is a group of guys brewing beer in a warehouse in Raleigh.
The warehouse is also home to Big Boss' brewpub, Horniblows Tavern (admit it, you love the name).
Despite being located in an industrial park in north Raleigh, Horniblows is one of the best bars in the city. It better be, it's a pain in the ass to get to.
Earlier this year, the missus and I swung by Horniblows with our friend Val. After a couple wrong turns, we pulled into Horniblows' parking lot, a bar closer to a tire store than another watering hole. If it weren't for a trailer parked out front with the Big Boss logo painted on the side, we would've driven right by the place.

It's a good thing we didn't. Inside, the industrial park gives way to a dimly lit, dark wood bar. And as you'd expect at a brewpub, where the mash tun is churning away in the next room, the selection of beer is tempting and unique.
In addition to Big Boss' popular Bad Penny Brown, Hell's Belle and Angry Angel lines, Horniblows had a Holly Roller II IPA and its Belgian style Surrender Monkey Farm House Ale on draft.

They also had Galaga.

Last weekend, Big Boss brought its seasonal creation -- Black Diamond Express -- to the World Beer Festival in Durham.

Black Diamond is an IPA infused with blackberries. As horrible as that sounds to someone who hates fruit-flavored beers (me), Black Diamond is a solid beer. The blackberries are a subtle compliment to the hoppy flavor of the IPA. If more breweries would take such a restrained approach to fruit flavors, their fruity beers might turn out better (looking at you, Abita).
Toss in the quality beers, a great bar, and friendly staff eager to show off their beers, and it's easy to like Big Boss and the craft beer scene.
But here's the rub: unless you live in North Carolina, Hell's Belle, Angry Angel and the rest of the craft beers brewed in North Carolina are out of your reach. Hopefully, as the craft beer scene continues to grow and evolve, more great beers become more widely available.
In the meantime, I'll be loading the trunk every time I visit the Tar Heel state.

No comments: