NC Breweries Ready to Fest and Feast in Carrboro, ‘Tis the Saison!

Since opening in 2013, Steel String Brewery has been crafting community-inspired beers for the Triangle market. As tasty and adventurous as their ales are (Tenderness Honeysuckle Saison and the imperial stout Thickfreakness being two of my favorites), they are gaining a reputation for hosting some incredibly fun and noteworthy events. On May 29, 2016, they are hosting an event in Carrboro and looking to top themselves.

The Cardinal Directions Beer Festival enjoyed great success last year when it celebrated the spring season with a crowd of over 600 beer enthusiasts. The festival has always been driven to pay homage to a particular style of beer, the Saison, a brewing style that always pairs well with North Carolina’s spring weather and seasonal crops. Eric Knight of Steel String Brewery, boasts that Saisons are ubiquitous with springtime, “From local, heritage grains to seasonal fruits, flowers, and fungi, NC brewers have embraced the Saison as a vehicle for showing off the unique bounty of our state.” Such pride in North Carolina’s robust agriculture is why only NC breweries are invited to the event.

What is a Saison? It is a very floral beer that tastes more earthy than hoppy. Highly recommended for fans of Belgian styles, but the occasional fruit and citrus notes make it a friendly option for even the most casual beer drinkers.

The festival has always been about celebrating craft beer, the spring season, and Carrboro’s local community, but this year, the scope of the festival is expanding. Steel String is teaming up with Farmer Foodshare, a local nonprofit that helps feed hungry people in the Triangle through purchasing healthy food directly from farmers and working with other local food distribution organizations.

Steel String Brewery

Cardinal Directions Beerfest (via Steel String Brewery)

Together, they are hosting the event in its new Carrboro Town Commons location. The partnership and larger space means they can include food trucks, local musicians, additional breweries, and expanded crowd capacity. Together, they hope to raise $5000 through ticket sales and event sponsors.

Speaking of tickets! The price of admission is a great value. For $20, you receive admission to the event, five(5) tickets for your choice of beer samples, and a festival tasting glass. Additional beer samples will be available for $1 each.

Tickets are not on sale just yet, but Steel String Brewery will be updating their website and social media platforms with more information as it arises, and so too shall we.


As always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas about the Chapelboro Food, Beverage, and Entertainment scene, feel free to email me at Until then, happy drinking and hearty eating!

This Sunday, Drink! (It’s For A Good Cause.)

Sunday afternoon, head to downtown Carrboro for the fourth annual “Homebrew for Hunger” festival!

The annual event features more than 100 different beers from dozens of local homebrewers and craft breweries, with brews ranging from the traditional to the you’ve-never-tasted-beer-like-this-before. (“Mango Red Chili Cream Ale”? They’ve got that.) It’s all to raise money for a great cause: proceeds will benefit PORCH, an all-volunteer local hunger relief organization that collects and distributes food to families in need in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Learn more about PORCH and find out how you can help the cause.

This year’s event is co-sponsored by Fifth Season Gardening, Steel String Brewery, Beer Study, and the Splinter Group. The last three “Homebrew for Hunger” events all sold out – and raised more than $25,000 for local hunger relief.

Get a list of available brews at this year’s event.

Homebrew for Hunger co-organizer Richard Quinn (of Fifth Season Gardening) and Steve Balcom (of the Splinter Group, who’s co-sponsoring the event) joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Friday.


This year’s event will take place on Sunday from 1-5 pm in front of Fifth Season Gardening Company, near the corner of Main and Greensboro Streets in downtown Carrboro. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and they sell out quickly.

For tickets, click here.

November Short List Winners – The Best Place For A Micro-Brew

short list winners

The votes are in, and it’s official: the winner of November’s Chapelboro Short List for “The Best Place For A Micro-Brew” in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area is Steel String Craft Brewery!

Steel String Brewery in Carrboro might lose its outdoor seating.

Steel String Craft Brewery in Carrboro has been open less than a year, but it has already become a fixture on the thriving local craft beer scene. Two of their aggressively-hopped ales are available year-round, and then seasonal beers are featured as the time and ingredients dictate. The brewers try to use as many local and state-sourced ingredients as possible, in their bid to create true North Carolina beers.

In addition to its popular beer selections, Steel String lives up to its name with regular concerts. The taproom’s founders played bluegrass together in college, and traditional music of all kinds is heavily represented in the offerings.

Also on the Short List

Tyler’s Restaurant and Taproom

Tyler__s_CarrboroTyler’s Carrboro location boasts one of the area’s largest selections of micro-brews, with a rotating cast of 38 craft and specialty beers on tap at all times. From local favorites to international gems, they offer a chance to taste the full spectrum of beer (along with their delicious pub-style food).

Beer Study

beer-studyChapel Hill’s Beer Study is an amazing hybrid, combining the tremendous selection of a bottle shop with the laid-back atmosphere of a draft bar. You can choose from a dozen carefully-selected micro-brews on tap, or dig into their vast library of bottled beers from some of the world’s best breweries. Not to mention access to shuffleboard and video games!

Steel String Session Ale

steel string brewery

Move over, PBR. Your reign as the unofficial official beer of Carrboro may just be over.

Since the 2005 passage of HB 392 (more popularly known as Pop the Cap), a law that increased the alcohol by volume on beer from 6% to 15%, North Carolina started to gain a reputation as the East Coast destination for craft beer lovers. According to the NC Brewer’s Guild, there are now over 60 breweries in the state, several of which are located in the Triangle area. However, until the opening of Steel String Brewery in May, Carrboro didn’t have a beer to call its own.

Seeing a hole in the market and placing their faith in Carrboro citizens’ commitment to supporting local businesses and products, Steel String co-owners Cody Maltais, Will Isley, Andrew Scharfenberg, and Eric Knight decided that it was time to take their home brewing operation to the next level, opening their taproom in the vacant space beside Glasshalfull on Greensboro Street. Every aspect of the brewery has been designed in a way that supports and embraces the surrounding community, from work of local artists that grace the walls (local artist Scott Nurkin’s Soviet-meets-WPA mural decorates the wall behind the bar, while the quilts made by Susan Kobesky that hang on the opposite wall are made from grain bags left from the brewing process and the discarded instrument strings of local musicians) to the 100% American-made Marks steel brewing system in the back. Forty percent of the grain used in their beers is from River Bend Malt House, whose grains are grown in Salisbury, NC and processed in Asheville, and while they utilize some Motueka hops from New Zealand to create interest in the flavor profile of their beers, they also use American-grown Cascade and Columbus hops.

steel string beerSteel String’s desire to support the Carrboro community lead to the decision to make their flagship beer, Rubber Room, a session ale. Session beers, beers having no more than 5% ABV, have been popular in the UK for some time now, but they are only now beginning to come into style with American brewers. Session beers’ lower ABV essentially allows drinkers to continue drinking for a longer period of time without completely losing their faculties — it’s a beer to linger over with friends.

This is what Steel String’s founders have had in mind the whole time. The beer itself is light, yet complex and flavorful — a beer that is enjoyable to drink, but that doesn’t knock your taste buds out for the rest of the night, and the 4.7% ABV means that you can have a few with your friends and remember it the next day. It facilitates a community gathering together, but it doesn’t make itself the entire purpose of the gathering. To encourage that sense of community and to encourage drinkers to stay and hang out with their friends, the TV over the bar is mostly off, and the bar games available are long playing games like Settlers of Catan and Cards Against Humanity.

“Financial Czar” Cody Maltais says that the thing he is proudest of is the variety of people who have visits the pub in its first 60 days; they have seen business meetings, families, groups of friends, and even a baby shower since their opening. That sense of community is something Steel String wants to keep, and they intend to stay small. You can only purchase Steel String Brewery beers and growlers at their taproom at 106A South Greensboro St. in Carrboro, and they want to ensure that their customers have a pleasant experience and make the connection between the beer they are drinking and a sense of place.

More information about Steel String Brewery, its beers, and its events can be found at or on their Facebook page.