Busy Bee Cafe and Raleigh Times Named to America’s 100 Best Beer Bars

Busy Bee Cafe and Raleigh Times Named to America’s 100 Best Beer Bars

January, 15, 2011, by Khaner

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Draft Magazine announced its "100 Best Beer Bars for 2011" today, and the list features two pubs many Raleighites call their home away from home: The Busy Bee Cafe and Raleigh Times.  Featured in the South section of the article, the recognition probably comes as no surprise to the many who frequent both bars.  From the wide selection of brews, from local to exotic imports, to just kicking off early and grabbing a seat outside during the warmer months, both spots have quickly turned into staples of downtown Raleigh.

Joining large metropolitians like NYC, Chicago and Philadelphia, Raleigh was one a few cities to be listed twice in the top 100.  The only other Triangle bar to get a nod was Tyler's Taproom in Carrboro.  Other NC cities to make the list were Charlotte's Growlers Pourhouse and Asheville's Thirsty Monk's Pub. 

Both the Bee and Raleigh Times have a certain homegrown feel that everyone seems to love.  The unique historic buildings, crisp beer and friendly service draw people back time and time again. Chris Powers, co-founder of the Busy Bee along with David "Woody" Lockwood, has had his hand in the beer selection for both venues. Before starting the Busy Bee, he built up the Belgian program of the Raleigh Times for the better part of a year and a half.

The Busy Bee has consistently been highlighted by breweries and beer lovers as the go to place for rare beers in the Triangle. "We try to keep our guests expectations as high as possible," says Powers.  "We want them to be constantly challenging us with their beer tastes and in turn we want to feed their curiosity for new beers, which is why our draft list changes daily.  We love researching and tracking things down so people can get that special beer that they had in a small pub in Belgium or in their hometown."

Along with their tap selections, the Bee produces beer-centric events such as Raleigh Beer Week, hosts cask nights, and beer dinners with various breweries. Powers remarks that "there is a great beer culture in Raleigh, people that care about and know a TON about great beer," and these events continue to drive a thriving beer culture in the triangle.


Draft Magazine's writeup of the Bee and Times:

Raleigh, N.C.
The Busy Bee is one of the brighter spots in Raleigh’s electric beer community. Its exposed brick walls and rafters create an urban draw, but it’s the beer that really fills the seats. Nearly 80 bottles, including highly sought-after brands like Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast and Cascade The Vine, fill the fridges, while 14 taps round out the upstairs and downstairs bars. 225 S. Wilmington St., busybeeraleigh.com (serves food)
Raleigh, N.C.
Situated in the now-defunct Raleigh Times newspaper headquarters, this bar is Raleigh’s Belgian hub. Set your sights on beers like Great Divide Samurai Rice Ale and as many as 100 Belgian bottles from Vichtenaar Oud Red to Troubadour Obscura that pair exquisitely with down-home chow like beer-steamed pastrami on rye. Classy yet casual, this versatile spot’s an easy choice for a first date or just your average beer session. 14 E. Hargett St., raleightimesbar.com (serves food)

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BeerBusy Bee CafeRaleigh TimesDraft Magazine


  • bc
    01/16 11:36 PM

    you mean they sell more than just pbr and high life?

  • frank
    01/16 11:38 PM

    Was there a fee for this?

  • Roi
    01/17 12:09 PM

    Hey has the writer for the Draft magazine heard of the Players Retreat (PR) and Natty Greene’s . The PR"s has the history as the only pub in Raleigh which has been in business for about 55 years.  The Times and the Busy Bee are for the hipsters and they can continue to go there.  I’ll continure to go to the PR.

  • hackles10
    01/17 12:14 PM

    Roi:  I think they have different criteria than you do my friend.  I too love the PR, but its just a bar, there are about 100,000 like it.  Busy Bee and The Times offer a more comprehensive, exotic, and belgian influenced beer menus. Both bars put a lot of work into their beer list.  Much as you may prefer to drink the house wine at Picola Italia, you have to admit that Angus Barn, Second Empire, etc. have better wine “selection”

  • tc
    01/17 01:46 PM

    Busy Bee and Raleigh times is not just for hipsters.  It’s also for beer nerds (they’re the ones not drinking PBR, so….pretty easy to spot)

    I think these bars are well deserving, the Bee has come on strong since it’s opening, with great rotating/limited draft selections, and their food is getting much better too. 

    Ofcourse, Flying Saucer deserves mention too, if it weren’t a chain, it would have made the list. 

    And I’m a bit shocked that Duckworth’s in Charlotte didn’t get mention, it’s the best beer bar there.

  • Ken
    01/17 06:27 PM

    Hardly matters that Flying Saucer is a chain. They helped to jumpstart the whole beer movement in Raleigh. There may only be 1 bar named Raleigh Times but they belong to a corporation larger than the Saucer.  What’s the difference?

  • tc
    01/17 06:45 PM

    I didn’t saying Flying saucer is any lesser of a beer bar because it is a chain, so I’m not sure who you’re trying to argue with. In fact I’d say it’s definitely not lesser in any way, it’s just my theory that this is the reasoning that Draft Magazine used.

  • slaterric
    01/18 10:49 AM

    Glad to see some Raleigh pubs making lists like this. There are so many good bars now compared to 10-15 years ago. When I moved to Raleigh in 1990 Greenshields was the only bar downtown to get good beer.
    I do have to agree with Roi about the PR though. I love that place and go there a few times a week. However, the PR has improved a lot since Gus Gussler and co. bought the place. The selection of beer and wine (and service) was not so good before that.

  • b-fuss
    01/18 01:04 PM

    I gave up good beer years ago, it’s just not worth it. However, I agree that PR should have gotten the nod over RT and Busy Bee. I can’t stand the Busy Bee, it’s like the Cotillion Club with beer. I do frequent RT though, and yes it is for hipsters but I happen to love PBR which RT happens to sell more of than all but about 5 bars on the entire east coast- that’s the kudos they should be most proud of. (god, I hate Belgiums)

  • 150
    01/18 01:09 PM

    ^^ “I gave up good beer years ago, it’s just not worth it”
    What does that mean?  It’s not worth what?

  • Metal Face
    01/18 04:25 PM

    PR doesn’t belong on that list at all.  If you don’t like the beer at the Busy Bee or Raleigh Times (the PBR doesn’t count), then you’re also not part of Draft Magazine’s demographic, and neither are the other frequenters of PR.  It’s America’s 100 Best Beer Bars, not sports bars.  There is definitely a difference. That being, there’s nothing I like to drink at a sports bar, and there’s nothing you like to drink a beer bar.

  • Woody
    01/18 04:28 PM

    This is such a huge honor for us at the Bee.  Just wanted to say that the Saucer is amazing and so are the guys that run it.  There is actually a link at the bottom of the Draft magazine article to another article where they are regarded as the chain that all other chains are compared to.  Thought Ken and anyone else interested might want to know that they were looking at us in different categories and that the Saucer does get the recognition that they definitely deserve!

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