Nothing evokes the burgeoning foodie spirit of Chapel Hill and Carrboro quite like a highbrow beer tasting in a barn.

The 2nd Sour Barn Bash, held on December 10 at Rock Quarry Farms, was organized by Steel String Brewery and held to benefit Benevolence Farms, a local non-profit that works to help women leaving prison to “grow food, nourish self, and foster community.”

“Initially, Eric [Knight, the “Hoopla Czar” of Steel String] had approached us about doing a ten percent day at Steel String in Carrboro,” said Tanya Jisa, the founder of Benevolence Farms. “He’s such an amazing entrepreneur and philanthropist kind of guy. So, we kind of established a partnership then, and he was in the process of planning the first Sour Barn Bash. He asked us if we wanted to come on board … we said we absolutely would love to, not just for us but to support him and our local friends.”

Being a part of the Sour Barn Bash has “really increased the exposure” of Benevolence Farms since their involvement. Extending beyond community engagement and a general public awareness, a presence at Steel String’s Sour Bash has resulted in much more direct forms of involvement.

“The sales rep at Wicked Weed, Sam, found out about Benevolence Farm through this event and now is taking on the role of our volunteer website manager,” said Elly Goetz, Executive Director of Benevolence Farms. “She’s wonderful. It’s really gathered some more community presence beyond Steel String. There are really tangible benefits to being part of this event, and that speaks to how beneficial this event is for us.”

Tanya Jiza, Emma Mankin, and Elly Goetz of Benevolence Farm

It’s these kind of interactions that build up not only the connections Benevolence Farms has to the community around it, but also the reputation that Steel String and the Sour Barn Bash have of being positive places that highlight the best parts of the craft beer community.

“I went out and actually did a work volunteer day where we were shoveling compost and manure and getting the farm ready for their next spring,” said Samantha Prentice, a sales representative for Wicked Weed Brewery. “We hooked up, I asked them what they need the most, and they said help with their website. I have HTML and CSS background … it’s something we could devote a few hours of our week to help out and try and do something amazing.”

Breweries from across North Carolina showed up to the Sour Barn Bash to put their best brew forward. Wicked Weed will be celebrating its fourth anniversary on December 28, and brought a special brew to the barn bash: the Benevolence Sour Ale. Haw River Brewery, with its delicious Belgian-style brew, also offered a standout in the form of Pineapple Tomatillo Sour Blonde, a lightly spiced beer with subtle and mild warmth. Trophy Brewing Company shut the barn down with its fittingly titled farmhouse ale: “The Bret Favrehouse.”  Burial Beer showcased their Key Lime Pie concoction – a beer that tasted exactly like the genuine article.

Samantha Prentice, of Wicked Weed Brewery

“My favorite beer was the Hee-Haw [from Free Range Brewing],” said Camille Andrews, the owner of Rock Quarry Farms. “It’s made from foraged items. They take from nature what they can find and it goes in the bottle. It’s remarkably delicious.”

Camille Andrews has lived on the property for more than 17 years. The farm itself is over 137 years old. Her family once owned a Andrews & Rigsby’s Tractor Company, a successful business once located where Open Eye Cafe now stands. She’s a local through and through, and this is her second time holding the Sour Barn Bash on her farm.

“I think this event is fabulous … We love to support local businesses, local brewers, and anyone that’s local,” said Andrews. “I was just talking to Tanya Jisa, and she said they’re having their very first resident staying at the farm. It’s up and operating and ready for the women that need to go there. It just feels really good to help in some small way to support something like that.”