One perk of taking long road trips is the ability to visit friends you don’t often get a chance to see. A side effect of having a beer blog is that those friends are eager to share their local breweries with you. Not many complaints here! After a respectable amount of driving we rolled into our friends’ driveway, stretched our muscles in the balmy air, took a quick tour of their new home, said hello to our old friend Roxy (a Great Dane we knew as a puppy), and then hopped in their truck. A short drive through endless pine forests and we arrived at Southern Pines Brewing Company.
I stepped out of the vehicle and looked up at a nondescript brick building with the only sign of Southern Pines Brewing being their logo above the door. We entered to a small taproom with tall ceilings, a wood trellised bar, and a handful of tables. The table we chose was at the far end of the taproom, with a wooden American flag found so commonly in these small town taprooms. It’s also a subtle recognition that this brewery was founded by former Green Berets. I was also able to view some barrels through a small window and caught a glimpse of the production area behind the bar.
I’d put my time in on the road, so I was given free reign to try as many beers as I could handle. As usual, I began with a flight of four. Those first four were the Duck Hook (Cream Ale), Man of Law (IPA), Malty by Nature (Scottish Export Ale), and Blanche de Pines (Witbier). The beer of the flight that got the highest grade of any on our trip was Malty by Nature. It was rusty brown with an ultra smooth caramel character and a roasted malt backbone. Absolutely lovely! Not sure what the Edinburgh yeast did to this one, but it did something right.
While we sipped our beers, we put in an order at the food truck that had setup outside. This was a truly unique ordering experience that fit the area’s character perfectly. What began life as a gooseneck horse trailer had turned into a mobile wood fired pizza truck complete with a rickety screen door, wood paneling, and a makeshift tin roof. I knew it was wood fired pizza because it was written with chalk on some 2×4’s and painted haphazardly on the back gate. It was immensely charming, and the beautiful Australian Shepherd relaxing out front was almost too perfect for the scene. The woman running the truck had notshortage of colorful language! Our friend Addie claimed that she was “cussing up a storm.” She also noted that she’d been seasoning the kiln for two years, and I have to say the pizza was quite good.
It was a quiet day at the taproom, which is not too surprising for a Monday evening, yet there was a steady stream of locals that filtered in and out during our visit. The music was at a low volume and the atmosphere was relaxing. The patrons were an older crowd, with a couple of younger couples here and there. Our group had a toddler with us as well, so they are definitely family friendly.
I had the opportunity to try four additional beers during our visit. The first of those was the Box-o-Barleywine (New World Barleywine). I usually get into trouble by digging into the Barleywines later in the evening so it was a good decision to get a small amount early on! At 13,8% it was understandably sweet, with notes of honey and stone fruit. Be careful with this one, as it goes down smooth! At the recommendation of our friend Ash I also tried their Prioress (Milk Stout) and Mamba Bajamba (Sour Ale). While the Prioress was quite tasty the Mamba Bajamba really stood out for me. It was a deep dark ruby red stout, with a delicious cherry sour tartness. Sort of reminded me of a cherry pie. It went down very easy. I finished with the Apricot de Vigne (Farmhouse Ale). While I recognize that it hit the marks it seemed to be shooting for, I couldn’t get over the heavy Belgian sweetness which really attacked my palate.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from Southern Pines Brewing. Our initial plan was to stop in for a bit and get back on the road. We ended up chatting for over two hours and a primary contributor was the quality of their beer. Top to bottom I was surprised by each and every one and it’s really worth noting that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. There has been much talk about a brewery bubble . While I disagree with those thoughts, it’s places like these that won’t be affected at all. They’re brewing great beer and serving a small region with loyal customers. I hope every small town can one day have their own Southern Pines Brewing Company.