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Hickory Hops showcases North Carolina beer; competition winners announced

With about 40 North Carolina breweries and dozens of rare offerings Saturday, the Hickory Hops Brew Festival reaffirmed its status as one of the state's best craft beer festivals.

About 2,000 craft beer lovers attended the six-hour event in Hickory on a gorgeous sunny day in the downtown square -- including a number of familiar faces from the Triangle area. Bill "QB" Quattlebaum said the event appeals to the true craft beer enthusiasts and is well worth the drive from the Triangle.

The festival showcased the true explosion of new breweries in North Carolina with at least a dozen rookies attending, including Deep River in Clayton and Trophy in Raleigh.

A number of local brewers took home medals in the Carolinas Championship of Beer, a competition for breweries at the event. (Read more below for full list of winners.)

Pintful: New Clayton brewery embraces its local roots

My N&O colleague in Clayton, Amanda James, gives us the latest on the area's newest brewery: Deep River Brewing Company.

"Husband-and-wife owners Paul and Lynn Auclair say the Deep River Brewing Company in Clayton will be open within the next 30 days. The Auclairs have taken time to think about what will make this brewery stand-out, and how it can represent Johnston County. Freshly chopped wood that was repurposed from an old tobacco barn lines the bar wall of the tap-room from the floor to the ceiling. There are also unique ingredients in the beer flavors that rely on produce from locals.

“We will be getting blueberries, honey, white sweet potatoes, and watermelon from local farmers,” said Auclair. There are six beer flavors that will rotate on tap. Two of the beers will be year-round, and there are four seasonal beers. The summertime beer is called Double Don Golden Lager. It is made with watermelon from Johnston County, and won first place in the 2011 Piedmont Brewer’s Cup for Fruit Beer. The winter time beer, JoCo White Winter, relies on the white sweet potatoes and toasted marshmallows, as well as spices for its signature flavor.

"The year-round brews include the Twisted River Wit, a belgian witbier, with hints of citrus, and the Riverbank Rye-It, an amber pale ale with subtle hints of rye. Some of the beers are aged in old Jack Daniels whiskey barrels." Read the full story here.

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