TIME FOR BEERFor the fourth year, N.C. Beer Month will use April to celebrate the state’s craft beer explosion. Expect a busy month of brew-based events. On Friday, at two p.m., Crank Arm taps the first of twenty rare casks from Tar Heel favorites, including Wicked Weed’s Pu-er Saison. And on Saturday, the World Beer Festival returns to the State Fairgrounds for two four-hour sessions, sure to induce Ferris wheel-sized hangovers. Lonerider hosts its brews-and-bands showdown Saturday, too, while Bond Brothers in Cary throws its long-awaited grand opening. Tour de Brew comes to the capital city to raise money for Water for Good, and the third-annual Brewers Olympics kicks off Saturday at two p.m. at Raleigh Brewing Company. And in time for UNC’s first Final Four appearance since 2009, Top of the Hill unveils its seasonal wonder, Blueberry Wheat, April 1. Just take it easy on opening weekend of N.C. Beer Month, as you’ve got four more to go. www.ncbeermonth.com


If you want to balance all that beer with a slightly healthier choice, or if you just want to have your mind expanded by the possibilities of vegan cuisine, the Bull City Vegan Challenge returns to Durham for the fourth time throughout April, coinciding with Earth Month. A record-setting fifteen restaurants will participate, from the rather fancy (Gocciolina, for instance) to the more modest (The Federal and Geer Street Garden). This year’s theme, planet protein, means these dishes should be more filling than a simple salad. So far, Ricky Moore’s smoked oyster mushroom chowder at Saltbox sounds especially promising, as does an exquisite blueberry cheesecake of cashews and coconuts at Beyù Caff. www.trianglemm.com