Food & Beverage
Your favorite pubs-breweries are open and in good cheer.
By Steve York
Cheers! Salute e’ Cin Cin! Skol! No matter how you say it—whether in English, Italian, Scandinavian, or other language—the sentiment expressed when raising your glass in spirited toasting is the same worldwide. And, now that local pubs and breweries are welcoming you back to more normal operations, those salutations are more jubilant than ever.
In almost every culture, the traditional toast is “to your health, long life and happiness.” Cheers, for example, is short for “Be of good cheer!” Salute e’ Cin Cin is an Italian phrase toasting, “To your health, and may you live 100 years!” Whatever the language, many of these toasts share a common theme, community setting and roots.
Historians credit Rome for establishing the first tavern (“Tabernae” in Latin). As Rome conquered Gaelic-speaking Celtic Europe, they built roads to transport their armies and traders. Every 20 miles or so they constructed hostels to feed and shelter their legions. Naturally, their native drink was wine. But, during their northern European occupation they were introduced to local grain-based ales and began serving those to their tavern guests.
Although the Romans were ultimately driven out, one favored institution that endured was the local tavern where proprietors brewed and served their own distinctive ales and lagers. Because those establishments were eventually opened to the full public, they became known as “public houses,” a term later shortened in the late 17th century to “pub.”
This was the community hub for food, drink, song, dance, weddings, wakes, political debates and so on. Soon, pubs spread far and wide across what is now England, Ireland and Scotland. And, with every lift of their drink, whether in joy or sorrow, those Celtic kin toasted to good health and long life. A resounding, Gaelic “Sla’inte!” (slahn’-cha) was the common cheer.
Today’s High Country pubs still play the same role of “community hub,” serving as a social gathering spot, creating a rich variety of distinctive craft beers, contributing to area economic growth and generously giving back to numerous community charities and causes.
In Boone, two that come to mind are Booneshine Brewing Company and Lost Province Brewing Company.
Booneshine’s theme is in its name, as in “Boone truly shines!” Located at 465 Industrial Park Drive, they’re big on being local and friendly, and in honoring the area’s adventurous, creative and entrepreneurial spirit. They believe that the community thrives on celebrating mountain living and that sitting down and enjoying a beer with friends can be a sacred moment full of joy, laughter and camaraderie. As owner Tim Herdklotz puts it, “Our mission at Booneshine Brewing is to make the High Country a better place by making and serving great approachable beers and great food with attentive service…all in a beautiful East Boone setting.”
Their new tasting room and beer garden provide plenty of space inside and out for socializing and dining, plus a live summer music series and their Wednesday Trivia Nights. Distribution has expanded into both the NC Triad and Triangle areas. And their food truck is a big hit.
Some favorite Booneshine seasonal brews include: East Boone Pils, Subtropic Pale Ale, and Palate Painter IPA.
Lost Province Brewing Company’s name dates back to the late 1900s when Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties were known as The Lost Province due to the mountains and poor roads isolating the region from the rest of North Carolina. Lost Province Brewery warmly boasts of being a destination microbrewery featuring authentic and innovative craft beers and serving Neapolitan wood-fired pizza plus local farm-to-table foods.
Owner Lynne Mason, when asked about recent changes at Lost Province, shared, “We actually decided not to increase the number of seats except at the bar, as some distancing between tables makes the dining experience more enjoyable. Instead, we have created more options for different size groups in order to seat more guests. We also added a rooftop deck over the porch with bar service, which offers a view of Howards Knob.”
In addition to their original location at 130 North Depot Street, downtown Boone, Lost Province has a second taproom and production site at 289 Daniel Boone Drive, adding both indoor and outdoor covered porch space. It features 24 taps with their brand beers, several wines and the popular Molley Chomper Cider, a hard cider madein Ashe County, NC, using heirloom apples grown here in the High Country. Live music Friday and Saturday nights, game nights, and their Beer 101 beer/food pairings round out their rich pub experience.
Newer seasonal brews include: Boone Moon, A classic Belgian-style Witbier served with an orange slice; I Really Love Your Peaches, a peach and apricot infused cream ale; Honey Bear, a brown ale brewed with local honey and malt.
The Blowing Rock Brewing Company incorporates the Blowing Rock Ale House and Inn in downtown Blowing Rock, featuring dining and lodging plus their local brewery. In addition, they opened a second location in Hickory featuring their Blowing Rock Draft House, brewery and distribution hub at Hickory’s historic Hollar Mill Plaza. Their Hickory venue features delicious appetizers, pub food, wood-fired pizza plus a large rustic Beer Garden for their live music series.
Founding partners Todd Rice and Jeff Walker had an expansive vision from the start to create a high-quality brand of craft beers that would authentically represent Blowing Rock and the North Carolina mountains, and to then spread that brand far and wide across the state. True to vision, they now have over1,200 retail accounts state-wide.
“We’ve remodeled our historic Blowing Rock location and tripled the size of our bar so that we can now offer our beers to both local patrons and destination travelers,” noted Walker. “With full seating capacity restored, we’re able to present the elevated experience to all of our patrons.” Brewing Manager Rocky Justice added, “We’ve also cultivated a natural, landscaped space around our taproom for increased capacity. By focusing on simple appetizers and snacks in addition to using an outdoor pass-through bar service window, we’re able to encourage socially responsible groups to enjoy our beer garden and the mountains they love.”
Seasonal favorites include: Plunge Pool Peach Wheat Ale, their classic IPA Cloud Rise Hazy IPA, and their first-ever sour ale, Gose to the Mountains watermelon Gose, served with a slice of fresh watermelon.
Beech Mountain Brewing Company over in Avery County is owned and operated by Beech Mountain Resorts and is perched amidst the year-round recreational attractions of Beech Mountain village. Live music, outdoor movies, holiday festivities and a summer concert series are all part of the mix. And, like other area pubs and breweries, the return to normalcy for the summer of 2021 means locals and visitors can come together again in that traditional spirit of recreation and celebration.
“Our operation consists of two facilities,” notes Marketing Director Talia Freeman. “The Brewhouse offers a small setting, perfect for sampling beers, with windows overlooking the brewing area. It’s perfect for watching the brewers in action while sipping your favorite beer. The Taproom and Grill is our larger facility featuring a full bar and a variety of foods. Our beers are also available at other facilities around the resort, including 5506′. Patrons often grab to-go food from the Taproom for a picnic at the 5506′,” she added.
Seasonal brew specials include their clear barley Beech Mountain Lager, their ‘hoppy’ Downhill IPA, a new Tropical Lager, plus a light bodied summer Saison. And look for their American Wheat Ale.
Now that group socializing has opened up, your local “public houses” are, once more, a center of community celebration and camaraderie. And, in any language, they extend their warmest greetings of “Welcome Back and Cheers!”