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Gov. Cooper announces NC Beer Month to highlight local businesses

Governor Roy Cooper declared April state beer month. Top of the Hill is a participant in state beer month.
Governor Roy Cooper declared April state beer month. Top of the Hill is a participant in state beer month.

More than 100 breweries statewide are participating in North Carolina’s fifth annual beer month, including Chapel Hill’s Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery and Carolina Brewery. Carrboro’s YesterYears Brewery and Steel String Brewery are also participating.

Cooper highlighted North Carolina’s brewery success in a statement.

“Thanks to North Carolina’s thriving brewing industry, our state’s entrepreneurship and craftsmanship can continue to shine,” Cooper said.

State breweries expanded from 45 in 2010 to over 200 in 2017 — with 50 more breweries expected to open by the end of the year, according to the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild.

Dave Tollefsen, of the NC Beer Guys, a duo that travels throughout the state in search for new local breweries, said this month is about bringing together small breweries.

“Craft breweries only make up around 12 percent of the market, so they collaborate together as a way to conquer the big guys,” he said. “Breweries are almost like cooperatives. Old breweries help out new breweries when they open with things like equipment.”

Two N.C. Beer Month events will take place on April 22 — Charlotte’s Moo and Brew Fest and Hickory Hops, one of North Carolina’s oldest beer celebrations.

A third event, Brewgaloo, will take place in Raleigh the same weekend. While not associated with N.C. Beer Month, the event will support local vendors. Last year, Brewgaloo attracted 30,000 people from all over the state.

Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh and head organizer of Brewgaloo, said she expects 99 local breweries to participate this year.

“Brewgaloo is the only event that’s 100 percent North Carolina breweries only,” she said. “We try to promote local, independently owned businesses. We have local beer, local vendors and local bands.”

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Martin said brewing beer requires business and artistic skills.

“Behind the art of brewing is the entrepreneurial talent,” she said. “Local brewers craft their products; they are artisans. We love entrepreneurs and supporting small businesses in the area. It’s exciting to celebrate a person’s success, especially when you know the people behind the product.”

Tollefsen said craft brewing is an art form.

“Everybody celebrates chefs,” he said. “Everybody celebrates how great chefs are at putting stuff together, but they don’t realize that with beer, you have to put grain together and make it taste good.”

Tollefsen said people do not drink craft beer to get intoxicated — they drink it out of appreciation for the process.

Martin said Brewgaloo will encourage responsible drinking.

“We have Safe Ride Home on site and are working to get Taxi Taxi on site as well,” she said. “We encourage people to pace themselves and drink water.”

Brewgaloo has had offers from national sponsors, but Martin said organizers want to keep the event’s focus on North Carolina businesses.

“I think there’s nothing better than being in your capital city, celebrating local beers from all around the state, all on Fayetteville street.”