Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery and the Triangle Brewing Company began their first-ever collaboration brew, A Beer Divided, on Wednesday. The brew will be unveiled the week of the next Duke-UNC matchup in March.
The beer is a joint effort between Chris Atkins and Aaron Caracci, head brewers for TOPO, and Rick Tufts, head brewer for Triangle Brewing Company.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Atkins said. “We were just talking about basketball and other things when the idea was suggested.”
Atkins said A Beer Divided will be a pale ale with a 5.5 percent alcohol content.
He said the beer was brewed for six hours Wednesday and takes two weeks to ferment, condition and finish the brewing process.
“The entire process takes two weeks from grain to glass,” Tufts said.
“We’re calling it the bitterest beer in North Carolina, but not because the beer itself is bitter — it has to do with the rivalry,” he said. “It will be a smooth drinking beer with full hop flavor.”
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt was present in the afternoon Wednesday to help add some of the hops to the brew.
“It’s more than just about basketball,” Kleinschmidt said. “It’s about two universities, two communities and, just like on the court, competition tends to increase the quality of a lot of what we do. This is an example of how the rivalry elevates us.”
Dana McMahan, a spokeswoman for TOPO, has been a part-owner and investor in the brewery since 2012 and is also a professor in the UNC School of Journalism.
She said 34 kegs will be brewed, the equivalent of 4,080 pints, and will only be available on tap. The unveiling of A Beer Divided in March will be held at both TOPO and Pint & Plate in Durham, the taproom for Triangle Brewing Company.
Timothy “Doc” Harvey, a spokesman for Triangle Brewing Company, said the brew will be available at select bars around Chapel Hill and Durham after its unveiling.
Despite the collaboration, Atkins said the two breweries still have a healthy sense of the intense rivalry.
“There’s a friendly bet on the second Duke-Carolina game,” Atkins said. “The brewery on the side of the losing team will be bartending at the opposing bar in the winning team’s colors.”
Although the final brew is still weeks away from its unveiling, both TOPO and Triangle Brewing Company hope to make it a yearly event to accompany the basketball rivalry every spring, Tufts said.
McMahan said the beer will serve as a testament to the spirit of the basketball season.
“It pays homage to one of the greatest rivalries in basketball,” McMahan said.