Did you know?

Ready to explore the world of craft beer? — Here’s your Passport

By Paul Viau | Apr 12, 2017
Photo by: Carol Viau BE A 'PINT HOUND' — 'Pint Hound' passports are available at all North Carolina craft breweries the entire month of April. Start earning your NC Beer Month 'swag' today. Pictured is the passport at Boojum Brewing's Waynesville taproom and restaurant.

Many beer drinkers have a favorite beer. Whether it’s Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, PBR or Old Milwaukee, they are satisfied drinking the same beer — day after day, night after night and year after year.  It’s a lifetime commitment.

Their beer choice is personal, satisfying and comfortable — and they certainly enjoy a strength in numbers. Then along came craft beer.

It began with homebrewers, trying to duplicate the variety, depth, and complexity of the beers they discovered during their international travels. Those beers surprised them, delighted them and broadened their horizons. As they shared their creativity with friends and family, their hobby took root — and the more adventurous and enterprising of the homebrewers found the courage to start their own craft breweries.

This all-American trend began in the 1980s, picked up steam in the 1990s and exploded in the new Millennium.

Did you know? There are more than 5,000 breweries in America — the vast majority of them, smaller craft breweries.

That’s a daunting number, even to the most enthusiastic of craft beer aficionados.

Bringing it closer to home — Did you know? — ‘The Tar Heel’ state (congratulations, NCAA basketball champions!) proudly boasts 173 craft breweries.

Did you know? — 32 of those breweries are located ‘in our neck of the woods,’ including 12 breweries in Western North Carolina, 12 breweries in Asheville, six breweries in the Foothills region and seven breweries in the High Country.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me want to embark on a road trip, with my lovely, designated-driver wife, Carol, by my side.

Venturing a little farther from home, there are 32 craft breweries to choose from in the Charlotte area — soon to be 33, when Catawba Brewing opens in Charlotte.

Oh yes, and there are another 43 craft breweries to explore in the Raleigh/Research Triangle area. It’s a perfect place for craft beer research.

“So many breweries, so little time.” That’s my predicament. But I now have a new resource to guide me on my quest to discover new sources for craft beer.

In celebration of April — North Carolina Beer Month — The North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild and Visit North Carolina have created a Web page detailing the many events happening, this action-packed month — www.NCBeerMonth.com.

This Web site will help you: (1) zero in on your beer personality; (2) give you more information about craft beer events; and (3) even suggests ‘beer trip’ ideas throughout North Carolina to broaden your horizons.

You’ll also learn more about a ‘Pint Hound’ Passport ‘ — good the entire month of April, that you can use as a ‘tour guide’ to the ‘The State of Beer’ in North Carolina.

Unlike the USA passports that take months to acquire, the North Carolina Beer Month ‘Pint Hound’ Passport’ is available at all craft breweries in the state. My wife and I got our first passport stamp at Boojum Brewing Company’s tasting room at 50 N. Main St. in Waynesville. That’s one craft brewery down, and 172 to go.

We’re heading to Asheville this weekend to share our love of craft beer with houseguests.

As a result, we should have accumulated at least 10 passport stamps each by the time this column runs, which earns each of us NC Beer Month keychain. Five more stamps (easy-peasy) and each of us will earn an NC Beer Month T-shirt.

If you are a craft beer enthusiast, you know how easy it is to acquire 10-200 craft beer T-shirts. They seem to multiply in my closet while I’m sleeping.

Back to the NC Beer Month and the ‘beer swag.’ For 30 ‘Pint Hound’ passport stamps, you can also earn an NC Beer Month ‘Freaker.’ What’s a ‘Freaker,’ you might ask? It’s an all-purpose, insulting ‘sweater’ that fits both bottles and cans.

I’ll have more news about April — North Carolina Beer Month next week. In the meantime, get yourself a ‘Pint Hound’ Passport (available at participating NC craft breweries) and drink responsibly.