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Pintful: Carolina Brewery wins top honors in State Fair beer competition

Carolina Brewery in Chapel Hill took home top honors in the N.C. State Fair beer competition, winning best of show and seven categories.

The brewer's Flagship India pale ale took home the top prize. Carolina Brewery's other winning beers included: Sky Blue Golden Ale, the No. 2 overall beer, Oktoberfest, Copperline Amber Ale, Firecracker Pale Ale and Old Familiar Barleywine.

Aviator Brewing in Fuquay-Varina and Fullsteam in Durham each took home three. Fullsteam's First Frost Persimmon Ale took No. 3 overall.

Pintful: An insider's guide to the World Beer Festival

This year’s World Beer Festival in Durham will showcase North Carolina beer more than ever.

Daniel Bradford, publisher of All About Beer Magazine, which organizes the event, recently told me one of the festival’s biggest challenges this year is finding a big enough tent for all the North Carolina craft breweries. There were so many.

Get a primer on the festival -- the new beers, the must-tastes and the list of casks -- in this week's Pintful column. Also get more information on Big Boss' Casktoberfest on Thursday. Read it here.

Pintful: How to judge a craft beer

It sounds glamorous, but judging a beer competition is serious work, I learned. In this week's Pintful, take a look inside my experience as a guest judge for the N.C. Brewers Cup, the State Fair's homebrew competition:

The first bottle opens with a hiss just before 9 a.m. A clear, soft golden Munich Helles pours into the cup. It feels too early to drink craft beer. Not even the college football fans tailgating nearby in Chapel Hill are popping tops this early.

To drink at this hour requires a professional. And more than 20 of them are gathered Saturday at Steel String Brewery in Carrboro to judge the the N.C. Brewers Cup, the State Fair’s homebrewing competition. Read the full column here.

Click below for upcoming beer events and more industry news:

Pintful: Raleigh Beer Week, new beer tastings and a homebrew event. Oh my!

Between Raleigh Beer Week and the busy craft beer calendar, there's more than enough opportunities to drink well this weekend.

Raleigh Beer Week starts Sunday and runs through Sept. 1. Find a list of all the events at -- and don't miss the Mon Cheri collaboration beer tapping at noon Sunday at the kickoff. See a list of a few premier RBW events and get a list of many other craft beer tastings below.

Pintful: Cool down at NC beer events this weekend

The North Carolina beer scene is hot this weekend with big events across the state. Here's a taste of what's to come:

Wet-hopped Cask Party: Carolina Brewing Company in Holly Springs is hosting a party at the brewery Friday for its first wet-hopped beer. The hops are 100 percent North Carolina grown and organic, picked hours before going into two casks of the brewery's India Pale Ale. The event starts at 4 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m. More information here.

Big Boss Brewery Tour: 2 p.m. Saturday at Big Boss Brewing, 1249 Wicker St., Raleigh. The monthly brewery tour is a 30-minute journey through the Raleigh beer maker’s workshop. Following the tour, try three for $1 each and enjoy the labyrinth taproom and all its toys. Tour is free. More information here.

NoDa Beer Release Party: NoDa Brewing in Charlotte will debut the limited release of its Hot Pistol, a chocolate raspberry habanero stout. NCBeerGuys, Dave Tollefsen and Glenn Cutler helped craft the beer after winning NoDa's Hop Pro-Am Best in Show award. NoDa will make the beer available at noon Saturday and a limited supply will make it to Raleigh and Durham area bottle shops. In honor of the beer, NoDa will host a habanero eating contest. More information here.

Pintful: A wild yeast gives Haw River's farmhouse ales a special taste

Ben Woodward at Haw River Farmhouse Ales spent more than a year cultivating a secret ingredient for his beers – a wild yeast he captured underneath a fig tree on a hill near the brewery’s forthcoming home in Saxapahaw.

The native yeast produced flavors and qualities that allow Haw River to make its Belgian-styled beers unlike any others. Think of it like a pitmaster’s special barbecue sauce recipe, the one with those unknown spices that draws enthusiasts from across the land.

But a few months ago, Woodward took a chance many would consider unthinkable – he gave away his secret. “We don’t have any secrets, I guess,” he said with a chuckle during a recent interview. Woodward isn’t afraid to take chances. Collecting native yeast is a growing trend in the industry and one that fits Woodward’s brewery in particular. Read this week's full Pintful column here.

Pintful: Clean a lake, get cold beer

The Wisconsin-based Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company is partnering with its Raleigh-based distributor Mims and North Carolina Big Sweep for its “Canoes for a Cause” campaign to Wake County on Saturday.

The two companies are working with North Carolina Big Sweep to host a volunteer cleanup day at Lake Wheeler. Organizers need about 100 volunteers to walk the banks and paddle canoes to collect trash at the lake. The reward is cold Leinenkugel’s beer at the end.

The details: 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Lake Wheeler (Shelter 6). Organizers need volunteers to sign up at An appreciation party featuring Leinenkugel beer will follow from 4-6:30 p.m.

Read more about the event and SweetWater's "Save Our Water" campaign in this week's Pintful column

Pintful: Can you drink 500 different beers in a year?

For years, Chet Bliss considered himself a “beer wuss.” The 42-year-old IT professional who lives outside Charlotte rarely ventured from his mainstay six-packs, Newcastle Brown and New Belgium’s Fat Tire. “I didn’t have a palate that could even take different kind of beers,” Bliss told me recently. “When I had a hoppy beer, it made me want to spit it out.”

His situation mirrors many newcomers to craft beer who are expanding their taste horizons and helping to propel to industry’s rapid growth right now. But what sets Bliss apart is his journey. He set a goal: taste 500 different beers in a year. Read more about the beer challenge in this week's Pintful beer column.

What’s On Tap: beer tastings at Lonerider, Busy Bee, Village Draft House

Here are a few beer tastings from our Pintful columnist John Frank:

Big Boss Tap Takeover
Friday at Village Draft House, 428 Daniels St., Raleigh
A few specialty Big Boss beers and cask offerings are the featured guests at a tap takeover event, including a six-month aged Countess Raspberry Ale and a limited batch Monkey Bizz-ness, a delicious Belgian ale. Info:

Lonerider Release Party
5 p.m. June 26 at the brewery’s taproom, 8816 Gulf Court, Suite #100, Raleigh
The new Hangman Barley Wine from Lonerider Brewing features twice the malt, hops and yeast of the average ale. It debuts at the Hideout at the brewery. Info:

June 27 at Busy Bee Cafe, 225 S Wilmington St., Raleigh
Once the purview of bottles, sour beers are getting a tap showoff at the craft beer bar in downtown Raleigh. More than a dozen sour beer kegs will fill the lines, including a few select offerings, such as Thirsty Dog’s Cerasus Flanders and Bruery’s Sour in the Rye. Info:

Tune in tomorrow to read John Frank's column about a Charlotte man who tried to educate his palate by tasting 500 different beers.

Pintful: Beer tasting events, Tour de Fat on the calendar

A number of local beer events can help cure those midweek blues and mark your calendars for New Belgium's Tour de Fat later this month.

Mystery Brewing Tasting 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Bottle Mixx in Raleigh

The Mystery team from Hillsborough will pour three beers for $10 at the Raleigh bottle shop in the Brennan Station Shopping Center, 8111 Creedmoor Road. Info:

Fruit Beer Tasting 7-10 p.m. Wednesday at James Joyce Irish Pub in Durham

The bar is offering a chance to taste the fruits of the season – in beer form, of course. Six pours for $12. Info:

Paradoxos beer event 5:30-10 p.m. Thursday in downtown Durham

The Paradoxos conference is hosting a live music and beer tasting event at 201 Corcoran St. downtown. Sixteen craft beers will be available to sample. Eight-ounce pours are $3. Fullsteam, Lonerider, Bull City, Triangle, Raleigh, New Belgium and Carolina Brewery are participating.

New Belgium’s Tour de Fat 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 15 in Durham

Hosted at the Diamond View Park, this event from the Fort Collins brewery features all sorts of beer revelry, including a parade of bikes. It also raises money for local nonprofits.

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