Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending

4913 South Alston Avenue, Durham, 919-908-9659,

Way down in South Durham, this new kid on the block has carved out a niche in the crowded beer scene by producing organic, fruit-heavy, often funky, wild artisanal-style ales. 

Must try: Fearless Durham Wild Ale (aged in red wine barrels with fruit)

Bond Brothers Beer Company

202 East Cedar Street, Cary, 919-459-2670,

Among the most acclaimed breweries around, Bond Brothers excels at a wide variety of styles, everything from IPAsto sours to saisons to brown ales. You won’t find a bad beer on tap. 

Must try: Obfuscate (American IPA)

Brewery Bhavana 

218 South Blount Street, Raleigh, 919-829-9998,

This brewery—which is also a dim sum restaurant, bookstore, and flower shop—is sometimes overshadowed by its sister elements, but it shouldn’t be. The beers, from the basic session IPA to the mango peppercorn saison, live up to the exceedingly high standards set by Bhavana’s much-heralded food. 

Must try: Wilt (Cherrywood-smoked quad)

Crank Arm Brewing

319 West Davie Street, Raleigh, 919-324-3529,

A bicycling-culture-focused brewery in the Warehouse District, Crank Arm makes high-quality, always-unfiltered beers that are painstakingly produced and never disappointing. 

Must try: BMX Barleywine (American barley wine)

Durty Bull Brewing Company

206 Broad Street, #104, Durham, 919-688-2337,

IPAs might put asses in the seats, but Durty Bull is really focused on sours and barrel-aged ales produced with old-world techniques. That’s a mixed blessing, as Durty Bull makes some damn fine IPAs that aren’t always in production. 

Must try: Bourbon Barrel-Aged Baltic Porter

Lonerider Brewing Company

8816 Gulf Court, #100, Raleigh, 919-442-8004,

This fall, Lonerider will become the first local brewery to jump into the distilled spirits game, and if its bourbon is anything like its beer, it’ll give the state’s best whiskey-makers (for my money, Durham’s Mystic Farm & Distillery) a run for their money. 

Must try: Sweet Josie (brown ale)

Lynwood Brewing Concern

1053 East Whitaker Mill Road, Raleigh, 919-424-7533,

In 2017, Lynwood was ranked the third best brewery in the country (and best in North Carolina) in the U.S. Open Beer Championship, including a gold medal for its Hop on Top IPA, Hop Sauce West Coast IPA, and the Once You Go Black IPA. 

Must try: Hop on Top (American IPA)

Mystery Brewing Company

437 Dimmocks Mill Road, #41, Hillsborough, 919-697-8379,

Favoring innovation and experimentation, Mystery is anything but dull. Its past concoctions have run the gamut from a strawberry lavender saison to a tropical stout with lemons and lemongrass (I have no idea what that tastes like, either) to a clementine rosemary sour. 

Must try: Botanist & Brewery (bourbon- and red-wine-barrel-aged sour)

Steel String Brewery

106 Greensboro Street, Carrboro, 919-240-7215,

Steel String sets out to translate the eccentric vibe of Carrboro into its beer, using local and sometimes foraged ingredients to produce taste-bud-poppers like the Obvious Child, a sour, mixed-culture saison made from local malts and midsummer herbs including honeysuckle and ginger. 

Must try: Poor Laurie (barrel-aged Britt Saison)

Trophy Brewing & Taproom

656 Maywood Avenue, Raleigh, 919-803-1333,

Trophy ranks among the most prolific IPA makers around, and quite possibly makes the cleanest, tastiest session IPA—it’s called Trophy Wife—I’ve ever had.