Hop on Highway 70 and head North out of Raleigh for about 10 miles until you begin to see the landmark signs for the Angus Barn. There, nestled between old automobile shops and industrial warehouse buildings, you will find the LoneRider Brewing Company. There aren’t any signs, gimmicks, or flashy advertisements. This place is an office, brewery, and bottling plant, plain and simple.
If the bay door on the loading dock is open, you can walk right in to the brewery from there. As you enter the facility, they have a nice little bar set up where you can purchase samples of their fresh brew for a modest price ($3 a pint last time I was there), but if you ask a lineman for a gratis sample, they will most likely oblige. Don’t bother asking for a brewery tour just yet though, the demand for their product has grown faster than their ability to expand so space is a commodity in the main brewery area. If you are really interested in learning about the operation, anyone standing around the tasting room can give you an ear full.
We were able to get a special tour from the good people at LoneRider with a Groupon that we purchased. Mihir, the company’s CFO, took our group behind the scenes to show us where they brew, ferment, and bottle their beer. We trekked through canyons of beer kegs and pallets of 12-packs to witness the elegant operation. To finish the tour off, we enjoyed a freshly bottled Peacemaker west coast pale ale while Mihir gave us some insight to LoneRider’s expansion strategy.
Overall, I would give this tour two thumbs up! The facility is unique, the beer is nothing short of amazing, and the people are very proud to be a part of the process. Until they expand their operation to allow for regular tours again, I highly recommend a trip out to the unique tasting room.
Other than the heat, which us North Carolinians have become quite used to, Friday night’s pig pickin’ at the beer, bourbon, and barbecue festival was a wonderful experience! Once you get into the festival area, you are greeted at the gate by live bluegrass music and pretty girls serving up cold beer, at which point you turn the corner and enter a world of all you can drink and eat. Not a bad way to end a long week in my book!
As for the event Friday night, I really enjoyed the quaint atmosphere. The venue was not overcrowded, yet you never felt alone while traveling from tent to tent. Beautiful bluegrass tunes echoed across the amphitheater while the myriad of barbecue smokers filled the air with flavors of sweet hickory. The true spirit of southern tradition came alive here in Cary, a place so often criticized for its noticeable population of transient yankees. Leave it to beer, bourbon, and barbecue to serve as the great equalizer!
I was quite impressed with the selection of bourbon and beer available for tasting at the festival. Buffalo Trace showed up with their top shelf: Blantons, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace bourbon. Jim Beam and Heaven Hill also had a nice showing of top shelf delights to share with the attendees. From the beer perspective, the big producers were represented, but in no way overshadowed the local breweries. I was back for a refill of the Big Boss Blanco Diablo to enjoy with my barbecue, one of my favorite beers of the evening.
In addition to the great selection of beer and bourbon, there were a few other liquors and cocktails represented at the festival. The most memorable to me were the Patron XO Cafe, which is a very smooth tequila that is mellowed with coffee, and the St. Germains Liqueur, which is a French spirit that is derived from a rare flower. The St. Germains line was by far the longest at the festival, and it was packed with ladies. I can only assume that they were after the refreshing St Germaine Cocktail, which is a real gem! I had one and loved it!
Overall, the event was well planned and very comfortable. We are headed back out on Saturday, but expect it to be much more crowded and hot. My recommendation for anyone planning to go next year is to hit up the Friday night pig pickin’ and then make a game day call whether or not to go back on Saturday.
The Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue festival in Cary is right around the corner! I don’t know about you, but I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday than mingling with good people while enjoying the three essential B’s!
So what should you expect this year? In a nutshell there will be live music, over 60 beers (most locally produced), 40 different bourbons, a Mrs. Bar-B-Que Babe beauty contest (yep, daisy dukes required), a “beer belly” contest, and a lot of really good people looking to have a fantastic time! Plus, if you are really dedicated to enjoyment of the three B’s, a genuine pig pickin is planned for Friday night, which is sure to be a finger-lickin’-good time!
I know there were a few complaints last year about the size of the crowd and the shortage of top-shelf bourbon samples, but Trigger Agency has addressed these head on. They are selling fewer tickets this year and they have added more booths for vendors to serve from. This means that the lucky few who are smart enough to buy tickets now will have a very comfortable and enjoyable experience this year, but those who wait will be SOL!
For your clicking convenience, the link to the main page for the festival is here: Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue Festival Home Page. Come on out and join us Friday night and Saturday for the fun and festivities! I recommend the VIP ticket if there are any left. Those extra two hours are totally worth the extra change.