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:
BUSY BEE CAFERaleigh, 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)THE RALEIGH TIMES BARRaleigh, 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)