Saison. Gose. Gueuze. Weisse. Doppel. Dunkel. Bière de Garde.
If you know what these are — and bonus points if you know the proper pronunciation — it’s probably a result of the remarkable beer culture we have in Raleigh.
While Asheville may be the first North Carolina city people mention when listing the nation’s beer cities, Raleigh continues to build its case for being part of that conversation. Where Raleigh’s beer claim to fame used to be that one downtown location was hailed as the number three seller of PBR in the nation, today Raleigh offers a host of breweries, beer bars and bottle shops. And most of those are walkable from downtown.
Many people have contributed to Raleigh’s beer renaissance, but few have played as significant a role from the beginning as Chris Powers and David “Woody” Lockwood of Trophy Brewing.
Their bar, The Busy Bee, is one of America’s top beer bars, and they’ve now given us Trophy Brewing (including a second location on Maywood, an expansive new brewing facility near the State Farmer’s Market), State of Beer bottle shop, and most recently, Mash and Lauter, a Belgian beer and food focused location in the former Hive space above The Busy Bee.
But from the beginning, their passion for beer has been something they’ve wanted to share with the city.
“We wanted to open up the Bee because we wanted to open a place that was approachable, was reaching out to people to educate them about beer and had a great selection that was constantly changing,” said Powers.
And at the time in 2009, a general lack of access to craft beer in Raleigh forced the duo to get creative. This included one of their first projects of working with a local brewery to brew a Berliner Weisse, back when nobody local really knew what a Berliner Weisse was, including the brewery that made it for them. It didn’t come out well, but Powers and Lockwood made it work.
“Thinking and dreaming up things and asking brewers to do it and promising them that we’d buy the whole batch if that’s what it took,” explained Lockwood. “That’s what lead to Trophy becoming an idea. Why are we pulling our hair out trying to get people to do things. We want to do more.”
Today, their success, beyond expanding Trophy brewing from a three-barrel system to a second 20-barrel system at their Maywood location, is evident in our city’s far more refined beer palette.
On any given day, you’ll find Raleighites enjoying sours, stouts, saisons and everything in between. They’ll be dressed in yoga pants, khakis and Sperrys or with skinny jeans and mustaches, but they are all welcome — the appreciation (or simple enjoyment) of our city’s beer culture is something that brings us all together.