CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Erik Lars Myers has built quite a career out of beer. Since the 36-year-old Maine native came to North Carolina a decade ago, his home-brewing hobby turned into a business — Mystery Brewing in Hillsborough and Nash Street Homebrew, also in Hillsborough, which last year began selling ingredients and equipment to aspiring home brewers.
This year he topped off his portfolio with "North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries" ($16.95, John F. Blair), a guide to 45 microbreweries, from Kill Devil Hills to Bryson City.
There are omissions, of course: Myers excluded chain operations such as Rock Bottom and Hops; he didn't mention his own craft brewery (mysterybrewing.com). Plus, since he finished writing his book, the number of independent craft brewers has continued to grow.
"There are many types of beer made across the state, and craft breweries do different things quite well. ...
"Olde Mecklenburg, in Charlotte, focuses almost exclusively on German-style lagers; their Captain James Jack Pilsner really stands out," Myers said.
"In Asheville, Wedge Brewing Co.'s Iron Rail IPA is unbelievable, with a really good malt body, the hallmark of a good India pale ale. It's good, bitter and hoppy, with sweet elements. It's well put-together, one of the best IPAs in the state.
"I like a lot of the innovation Fullsteam is bringing to Durham. They're working with a fair amount of Southern ingredients, like local corn grits, or their sweet-potato lager.
"Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery in High Point has some of the most well-made beers around. You can't get it in bottles, and they don't distribute. You can only get it there (or their Myrtle Beach location), but they have, beer for beer across the menu, some of the best. All are well-balanced and clean. Their brewmaster is wonderful."
"If there's a 'beer trail' to drive, it's almost entirely along Interstate 40. Aside from those in Charlotte and Fayetteville, you can hit almost every brewery."
For something unusual to sip, he suggests Craggie in Asheville, which makes an Antebellum Ale with molasses, ginger and spruce tips along with the standard barley and wheat.
Bull City Burger & Brewery, 107 E. Parrish St., Durham. bullcityburgerandbrewery.com
Carolina Brewing Co., 140 Thomas Mill Road, Holly Springs. carolinabrew.com
Catawba Valley Brewing Co., 212 S. Green St., Morganton. catawbavalleybrewingcompany.com
Craggie Brewing Co., 197 Hilliard Ave. Asheville. craggiebrewingco.com
Foothills Brewing, 638 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem. foothillsbrewing.com
Fullsteam, 725 Rigsbee Ave., Durham. fullsteam.ag
Huske Hardware House Restaurant & Brewery, 405 Hay St., Fayetteville
Lexington Avenue Brewery, 39 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville. lexavebrew.com
Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery, 914 Mall Loop Road, High Point. libertysteakhouseandbrewery.com
Natty Greene's Pub & Brewing Co., 345 S. Elm St. and 1918 W. Lee St., Greensboro; 505 W. Jones St., Raleigh. nattygreenes.com
Olde Mecklenburg, 215 Southside Drive, Charlotte. oldmeckbrew.com
Outer Banks Brewing Station, 600 S. Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills. obbrewing.com
Pisgah Brewing Co., 150 Eastside Drive, Black Mountain. pisgahbrewing.com
Triangle Brewing Co., 918 Pearl St., Durham, trianglebrewery.com
Wedge Brewing Co., 125-B Roberts St., Asheville. wedgebrewing.comCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times