2009 in Review: The Year in Local Beer, Local Brands

December, 20, 2009, by Khaner

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2009 must have been a depressing year for those with gluten or barley allergies. A few freshmen breweries opened their doors this year, catching Raleighite’s eyes, noses and taste buds. The number, quality and most importantly, availability of these home-grown beers gave many of us beer hounds a reason to be proud of the 919. So raise your glass and enjoy a quick recap of the year as we run down some of New Raleigh’s favorite, local brews.

Lone Rider Brewing Co.

photo from LoneRider

It was late December 2008 when I was at a Tweetup hosted by Edge Office. There in the back was a quiet, polite man pouring beers out of a small corney keg. Little did I know that Shotgun Betty and Lone Rider Brewery would quickly become one of my favorite local treasures.

That man’s name was Sumit Vohra, CEO of Lone Rider Brewing Company and I haven’t stopped seeing him (or his beers) around Raleigh since. Lone Rider’s aggressive, grassroots and social media marketing coupled with the great, unique tastes of their brews has caught like wildfire in the Triangle. Their first beer and mainstay, Shotgun Betty, instantly grabs you with its hazel eyes and fruity aroma. A hint of banana and smooth texture make this hefeweizen one of my favorites.

Lone Rider has gone on to release three more beers in the past year, including Sweet Josie Brown Ale, Dead Eye Jack (Porter) and just recently Peacemaker Pale Ale.

Boylan Bridge Brewpub

For whatever reason, it seemed like Boylan Bridge Brewpub was never really going to open. However, the long-anticipated wait finally ended in early ‘09 and the joint has quickly turned into one of Raleigh’s downtown favorites.

Operator Andrew Leager knew that good beer plus a kickass location would keep the crowds coming - and he was right. Normally with six or seven beers on tap and a breathtaking view of downtown Raleigh’s skyline, Boylan Bridge Brewpub is the perfect place to spend the afternoon with friends or the night with friends. Its spacious patio, large picnic tables and the frequent breaking of a glass from being knocked off the brick wall make for a great atmosphere to kick back, lounge and relax.

Aviator Brewing Company

While it opened in 2008 (November) Aviator Brewing over in Fuquay-Varina took off in 2009. Housed in a small airplane hangar, Aviator has a few beers that are regulars but the brewery is known to create new beers almost weekly.

The company has hosted many cask nights around the Raleigh area with these one-off-brews and opened their own bar on the brewery site just a few months ago. 2009 also saw Aviator obtaining their “beer truck license” for Cooke Street Carnival, meaning that you will definitely see more of them around Raleigh (especially street festivals) in the year 2010.

Big Boss Brewing Company

Ahh Big Boss. While it began in 2006-2007, I’d be remiss to not mention it here. It’s become incredibly easy to pick up a six-pack of Big Boss (thank you Harris Teeter) lately, that it deserves a spot in the ‘09 recap. The brand’s catchy design lures you in while its two ladies Hell’s Belle and Bad Penny make sure you stay. As well, the brewery on Wicker Drive just off Atlantic Boulevard, constantly has fantastic new brews on tap.

Local Cask Nights

2009 also brought with it an increased number of beer events (no, not the World Beer Festival) - cask nights. Local establishments like Raleigh Times or the Busy Bee and The Flying Saucer tend to host a beer tasting at least once a month by cracking open a cask or two of an exotic brew. Sometimes the casks are filled with local Raleigh and North Carolina brews, but mostly the cask nights are a welcome chance to taste a beer not commonly found in the Triangle, so try one out.

Looking to 2010 - Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing

photo by John Morris

If you’ve never been to Greensboro and downed a few at Natty Greene’s, you’re missing out. Luckily a drive down I-40 for the establishment’s famed beers won’t be necessary anymore as one opens up on Glenwood South in January 2010. The new restaurant/pub will be only the second location for the Greensboro company and looks to be a great way to continue to the spirit of local beer, local brands in 2010. For more on the new pub, click here.

Read More

Restaurants, Other posts by Khaner.


BeerBig BossAviator Brewing Company2009 In ReviewLoneRider BrewingNatty Greene's


  • Andrew
    12/21 11:05 AM

    Anyone know if that Tyler’s Taproom in Seaboard is ever going to open? It’s still listed as “Coming soon” on their website but I haven’t seen/heard anything about it lately.

  • hackles10
    12/21 11:52 AM

    I would love to know about the roof top ale house on Glenwood South as well. 

    I wish that location in Seaboard would open back up as a community grocery store, but I hear good things about Tylers, so I guess something is better than empty space!

  • gd
    12/21 12:42 PM

    I’ve only been to Tylers one time (the one out in Durham at the American Tobacco Campus) and it was ok at best.  Just another bar w/ a good beer selection and nothing better than average food.  You’re definitely right though, better that than an empty building.  I’d def. be willing to try it again.

  • Les James
    12/21 03:26 PM

    gd… you obviously have never had Tyler’s french dip. Hands down the best I have ever had.

  • gd
    12/21 04:30 PM

    I believe that is what I had actually.

  • Cydney
    12/21 05:19 PM

    Last I heard, Tyler’s was back online to open sometime in the spring.  I heartily support all our local brews!

  • TSnow27604
    12/21 08:59 PM

    Angry Angel is my top pick for reducing my alcoholic carbon footprint but growing up in Gboro has me ready for Natty Greene’s too.  If ever you’re over there, check out Natty’s and the whole growing downtown Elm St. scene.

  • Woody
    12/21 11:36 PM

    FYI, we are having a cask of Aviator Winter Warmer tomorrow evening at 6pm at Busy Bee Cafe.

  • Harry Seaward
    12/22 05:52 PM

    you couldn’t pay me to drink free beer at that shitbox bar.  by far the worst meal/experience dining out in raleigh in the last 5 years for me.  i can’t wait till they go under.

  • hackles10
    12/22 05:58 PM

    Harry…which bar are you referring to?  Natty Greenes? Busy Bee?  Tylers?

  • Andrew
    12/23 01:39 AM

    He’s obviously not referring to Natty’s since it isn’t even open yet.

  • Holy
    12/23 06:08 AM

    Wow this is fantastic, ! You are certainly multi-talented. What an inspiration! Really like this series! Amazing all outdoors!Great work! That looks so relaxing and peaceful. Perfect actually!! I am now thinking to plan my next holidays to this place, all are wonderful pictures and places. Great work from you. Thanks for sharing this beautiful blog and information with us.

    dsi r4

  • Harry Seaward
    12/23 05:06 PM

    my bad hackles, busy bee.

    i am looking forward to natty greenes.

    by the way we missed you friday night.

    you are such a good boyfriend.

  • gd
    12/23 05:30 PM

    I agree wtih you there Harry.
    Terrible food and bad bartenders.

  • Harry Seaward
    12/23 05:37 PM

    glad i’m not the only one.  i am telling everyone i know how awful it is.

  • Chris Powers
    12/23 07:59 PM

    Hello Harry,
      First I would like to apologize for your poor experience.  I assure you, we strive to make every guests experience here a positive one.  I wish you would have asked to speak to myself or my partner before you left so we could have fixed the problems before they ruined your perception of the Busy Bee.
      Opening a business is extremely difficult.  We have spent countless hours writing the menu, hiring a staff and training that staff so we can put our best foot forward.  I am sorry if the food, drinks or service disappointed you, but we cannot fix problems that we don’t know exist.

      As an owner of a small business we depend on the feedback of our employees and guests to identify problems and fix them. 

      I assure you that ourselves and our staff are professionals that take pride in doing a good job.
      I ask you to come in for dinner and let us alter your perception of the job that we do here. 
      Just ask for myself (Chris Powers) or my partner Woody and we would be more than happy to take care of you.

  • Harry Dickwad
    12/24 09:10 AM

    What could they have done to you that was so bad you’d go on a web site and campaign for their business’ failure?  Did they piss in your beer and smack your wife?

  • AI
    12/26 12:21 AM

    Thanks for mentioning the new Natty’s locale!!!
    I’ll be working there and can’t wait ‘til we’re open!

    ps- they’re still hiring!

    Natty’s LOVES NewRaleigh.com

  • tired of complaining
    12/26 12:53 AM

    Al, wait until you have been open for a week, that’s when the NR “foodies” start complaining.  Just guessing here, but I bet your ingriedients are not fresh enough, the atmosphere is noisy, and it’s way to expensive for small portions.

  • Todd
    12/30 06:19 PM

    Chris, my wife and I enjoy going to the Busy Bee. You have a choice beer selection and the food we’ve ordered has been great. Bartenders have been friendly and exuberant talking about the draft selections too.

  • Sean W
    01/16 10:33 PM

    My wife and I, plus colleagues at Red Hat, dine at Busy Bee quite often and have always found the food, service, and beer selection to be top notch.

    A great local eatery, and we hope for many more to come.

    We are loving the smoking ban too,

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