Best Breweries of the Carolinas: Top 10 Places for a Pint

Skip your local watering hole this year and celebrate National Beer Day on April 7th with a trip to a Carolina microbrewery. Luckily, the Carolinas are a hotspot for the ever-growing craft brewery trend. The demand for locally brewed beers continues to rise, as does the sophistication of today’s beer aficionados’ palates. Here are some unique, local breweries where you can celebrate:


1) Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s first legal brewery since Prohibition, is one of the largest craft brewers in the South and has had 21 years to perfect their beers. From their nationally known Highland Gaelic Ale to the more aggressively flavored Highland IPA, the Highland Brewing Company has a taste for every palate. Highland Brewing offers tours, private events, free live music, and much more. 


2) With a brewpub located in downtown Asheville, NC, Wicked Weed houses a full restaurant, downstairs beer bar, bottle shop, and an original 15-barrel brewery. Since 2009, Wicked Weed has focused on crafting drinkable brews while pushing the boundaries of craft beer. Enjoy a lighter fruity ale like the apricot flavored Golden Angel, or taste one of their innovative sour beers from Wicked Weed's sour and funky Funkatorium taproom. If unique beer flavors are your niche, Wicked Weed is a must visit.


3) Lost Province Brewing Co. in Boone is a destination microbrewery with a gastropub serving wood-fired pizzas and other innovative cuisine. As a small, family-owned business, Lost Province strives to provide gracious hospitality to their guests in addition to some of the most innovative craft beers in the High Country. Try the Parkway Pale Ale if you want a rich malty amber, or taste the Chill Pilz if you want a light but infinitely drinkable pilsner-style lager. 


4) Don’t miss Westbrook Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, SC, located just outside of Charleston, SC, where real beer connoisseurs go for a flight. With a tasting room and outdoor patio in a relaxed atmosphere, Westbrook Brewing is a fantastic neighborhood spot to try lots of different specialty brews. With several house beers on-tap, including the White Thai and the Mexican Cake Stout, you will surely find a brew to suit your tastes. 


5) Two local entrepreneurs founded Conquest Brewing Company, thus giving Columbia, SC its first authentic production brewery. Conquest Brewing makes its beer with the notion that the history of beer brewing is one of the chief building blocks of civilization, and they take this crafting tradition very seriously. With beers like Artemis Blonde and Warrior Heart IPA, Conquest Brewing pays homage to days gone by and produce beverages based on history and taste, not hype. 


6) With humble beginnings in a garage in 2011, Charleston's Holy City Brewing has become a local favorite. Holy City Brewing's brewery and taproom are located in North Charleston and feature an onsite kitchen, live music, and of course, pints brewed on site. With beers like Belgian Strong Pale Ale and a bacon porter on the menu, it’s hard not to put this place on your pub tour.


7) In downtown Kinston, NC, Mother Earth Brewing opened in 2008. Not only is the beer excellent, but downtown Kinston is a must-visit destination. Born from a desire to meld fresh garden ingredients with small town life, a profound respect for the time-honored craft of brewing, and a little bit of rock 'n' roll, Mother Earth Brewing has grown from a lofty idea to a brick-and-mortar establishment worthy of any beer lover. Enjoy any of their local handcrafted beers, including the Porch Pale Ale or the Old Neighborhood Oatmeal Porter. 


8) With two locations in Asheville, North Carolina's River Art's District, Wedge Brewing Co. serves as a gathering place for neighborhood folks to get together, exchange ideas, and enjoy a locally brewed pint. These two locations are the only places serving up the brewery's wares, and the Wedge Studios location also functions as a creative space for artists. With rotating food trucks supplying the fare, grab a bite to eat while sampling one of their many small batch beers, like the Dragul Strong Dark Ale or the the Standard Bearer Cider.


9) Plan a visit to the Birdsong Brewing Company taproom in Charlotte, NC to experience unfiltered craft beer influenced by West Coast styles. Birdsong Brewing prides themselves on their ambiance, surrounding you with handmade bar tables showcasing metalwork accents, local art on the walls, daily food trucks, and a pet-friendly, family-friendly atmosphere. With 12 beers on tap from the Lazy Bird Brown Ale to the Jalapeño Pale Ale and the Doin' Thyme Witbier, Birdsong Brewing will have you singing its praises.  


10) If there is a local brewery where you can spend an entire day, it is the Sierra Nevada Brewery in Mills River outside of Asheville, NC. The impressive and vast compound nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains houses a spacious restaurant, taproom, and the brewery's eastern bottling distribution plant. Sample their classic pale ale or experiment with one of the other 23 beers on tap, like the seasonal Summerfest Lager or the West Coast Style Stout. 

Remember, if you are not within walking distance, you will need a designated driver or an Uber driver. It's never OK to drink and drive, so if you have had a few drinks, stay safe and get home with Uber. Just tap a button and Uber will be there in minutes. AAA members get their first ride free!

Before you embark on your craft beer adventure, let AAA be your guide. Visit your local AAA Car Care Center for a pre-road trip inspection for all of your car maintenance needs, including battery checks. AAA offers premium batteries with the best service in the business. Make sure to download the AAA Mobile App before you set off so you find the lowest gas prices, GPS navigation and discounts along your route. You could also rent a car for your trip. AAA members save 10-20% from Hertz. Visit your local AAA travel agent to help make trip planning easy with countless discounts, reservations, and TripTiks, AAA's exclusive travel planner. AAA members receive discounts at thousands of hotels, so if you are traveling overnight, you will always have an affordable and comfortable place to stay. You can easily manage your AAA membership online or call 1-866-593-8626 while on the road.

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