North Carolina might not exactly be top of list of places to hit on a classic USA road trip but I am pretty sure it deserves more of a look in than it gets. NC first came to my attention when I saw that both Sierra Nevada and New Belgium were building their east coast breweries in the Asheville area. That was good enough for me. Two of the most inspiring and socially conscious breweries in the world moving to the same town. I definitely had to take a look.
Asheville didn't disappoint. Taking a walk on the first day I sat on a park bench to take a rest (I was still recovering from NOLA). From that bench I was able to hear not one but two different buskers strumming/plucking their souls out on banjos. A lunch of biscuits (scones) and honey black eyed peas, grits and easy over eggs fuelled me for a day of exploration. A drive north took me through some magnificent countryside though a detour due to a downed bridge took me in circles a few times. No matter, nothing so insignificant causes anyone in NC any kind of bother. They take it as it comes down there, you will arrive when you get there. When I did arrive, it was worth it. A quick 45-minute hike brought me to a crystal-clear rapid and a stunning waterfall surrounded by beautiful woodland. However, as the song tells me, I couldn't just go chasing waterfalls: I had a tip off for a fantastic award-winning brewery that I "had to get to!"
The little brewery turned out to be a great tip off. Fonta Flora, a nano brewery in Morganton, makes beers inspired by the culture and cuisine of the local region. From foraged wild flower grissettes to tumeric and local miso saisons to dandelion root dark ales, their beers were brilliant and showed the best representation of terroir I have seen from a brewery. The best part was the people of Morganton had embraced their new brewery wholeheartedly. In a town where until a few years ago craft beer was unheard of, I was being led through the tap list by an 80-year-old local man and taught the past and future plans of Fonta Flora by a middle-aged local lady. (This was while the bartender was busy serving the Thursday after-work crowd of tradies, bankers and young families.) Neither of them worked there or had an interest in the business, they were just so proud to share their local brewery with an interested traveller.