FL > NYC Roadtrip, Part 3 – Raleigh!

5 Nov

Knowing, as we left Charleston, that we were a little behind from where we should be on our drive back to NYC, we made the decision to push for Raleigh, NC Saturday night, as it was an achievable end-point for our first day of driving, would provide reasonably priced accommodations, and would likely have some nightlife of which we could avail ourselves! It also “worked” in terms of our first goal for day two… Rehoboth Beach, DE… Gee, I wonder what’s fun in that little town? 😉 More on that later…

SO, again, as Jayd was driving, I turned to Twitter for some recommendations! I asked for good spots to get craft beer, as well as budget hotels in the downtown area. A few fine folks got back to me with haste, recommending (among others) the Busy Bee Café, Raleigh Times… and the Clarion hotel! A few tweets and a phone reservation later, we had secured lodging within walking distance of those two bars for under $100, and made connections with the Busy Bee Café! Many thanks to @BMoreBirds Nest, @benwilderv & @MikeBouffard for their help!

Once we made it to Raleigh, we checked into our hotel, freshened up a bit, & headed out to check out the scene! At first glance, Raleigh seemed to be a bit deserted… but as we got closer to where the bars were, the place livened up! Imagine our surprise, coming from NYC, to see people hanging out on the sidewalk outside of a bar holding full pint glasses… and standing! I know this might not seem like such a shocker, but I occasionally waitress the outside tables at one of my local bars on West 4th, and people can only be outside with drinks if they are seated at a table… or the bar risks getting fined! So… was kinda funny to see people just milling about on the sidewalk with drinks in hand!

Anywho, we made our way over to the Busy Bee Café & were pleasantly surprised to find out that the huge line outside was for the place upstairs & that we could go right in!

Better news, yet… once inside, we found, almost immediately, what might have been the last 2 available seats at the bar… right in front of the taps 🙂 How fortuitous! So, being the good little social media HopsHoney that I am, I had Jayd snap a pix of me with my first beer – a New Belgium Belgo IPA… YUM!

A short while later, Woody came up & asked if I was the Hops Honey, and introduced himself as the gent who had been manning their Twitter account, as well as one of the owners! We had an absolutely lovely conversation with him, during which he explained that the place upstairs was actually their sister bar, called the Hive, with more of a dance club vibe, but that they had 6 separate taps up there. When I asked if they had anything hoppily delicious on tap up there that we should go check out… he generously offered to go get us a taste of the Terrapin So Fresh & So Green, Green from upstairs! This edition was made with challenger hops, and while it wasn’t super hoppy on the nose, there was a really unique, sticky, complex hoppy flavor to it… very different, but very good 🙂 Jayd said it seemed like a bit of a ‘reverse finish’ that she’s never experienced with an IPA before!

After he brought that to us, we chatted some more, and then Woody headed back to work. A little time went by & then another guy came up & asked if I was Genevieve, and then introduced himself as Chris, the other twitter-manner, and co-owner! I mean, I know that twitter is an incredible vehicle for connecting craft beer-lovers, and that the craft beer community is tremendously warm and welcoming… but to have the two owners each come over to say a personal hello was really pretty awesome!

He also introduced us to a very interesting tasting technique! He asked us if we’d had the Black IPA yet, & we said no… which, once we found out that it was on cask wasn’t a big surprise, as I’m not much of a cask person. It was the Olde Hickory Black Raven IPA, made with Nelson hops… bitter, & dry on the finish to me, and Jayd smelled raisins! After our initial taste, Chris poured us a small taste of a savingon blanc. He told us to take a sip of that, & then taste the IPA again. It was so cool – the flavor totally changed! I liked it better, & both Jayd & I noticed that it helped to bring out some grassy notes!

Chris even offered to take us on a tour of the place! We went down to the basement where I got super jealous that I wasn’t going to be there in a week or so, ‘cause they had a lineup of kegs from Mikkeller that were all different barrel-aged beers! They also had a big, wooden keg that had recently held a specialty Raleigh cocktail that involves whiskey and cherries… that they’re planning to give to a local brewery!  Upstairs was, in fact, more of a dance club vibe… but once you made your way through the crowd, you came upon a roof-top outdoor space, complete with climbing vines of hops, natch!

Chris even gave us a little history on the place, and in a brilliant and respectful decorating move, they’ve hung photos of the original space around the bar!

Speaking of the physical space of the Busy Bee… it’s pretty great! There’s exposed brick as well as exposed pipes hanging from the ceiling, giving it a bit of a loft feel, with vintage track lighting over the bar. There’s colorful, funky, local artwork on the wall that gets rotated regularly, and the music was adult alternative – not top 40 – and created a really good, obnoxious-free vibe 🙂

When we finished up our walk-about with Chris – and thanked him and Woody for their amazing hospitality – we had about an hour or so until closing, and said we were heading over to check out Raleigh Times. Chris & Woody steered us to the left side of the bar, where their friend Bobby would be working, & told us to tell him they’d sent us over 🙂

BIG, BIG thanks to Chris & Woody for showing us such a great time at the Busy Bee… and folks, if y’all are ever in Raleigh you must definitely stop in & have a beer & a bite!!

And so, we continued our Raleigh adventure by heading over to the Raleigh Times! Again, we lucked out in finding two seats at the bar right by the taps, and quickly introduced ourselves to Bobby… who, in addition to being pretty great, is from Long Island! Go figure… lol

Also? The reason we were able to find seats is likely because everyone else was outside on the sidewalk – this was the bar we walked past earlier that I marveled at! 🙂  So, in keeping with the local quest, I started off with a Mother Earth Brewing Sisters of the Moon IPA!

Seriously, how great is their bottle list menu?!?! I love how the sections are broken up by Local NC news, US news, International news… and below the fold is the Belgian news! Fabulous idea & execution 🙂

While I sampled a canned offering from Mother Earth Brewing (the Second Wind Pale Ale), Jayd fell in LOVE with the Sweet Josie Brown Ale, from Lonerider Brewing Company.

The reason for the sad face below, is that Jayd learned that Lonerider does not (yet?) distribute outside of North Carolina… It’s a tricky thing when you find a beer you love while on vacation & then realize that you can’t have it again at home!

Somehow we managed to last until closing time at 2am… and then walked our tired tootsies back “home” to our hotel to try & squeeze in a few hours of precious sleep before making an early break for Delaware Sunday morning!

Raleigh? It was short. It was sweet. And we loved you. 🙂 Can’t wait to come back for another, longer, visit… but for now, we’re moving North & setting our sites on Delaware!


2 Responses to “FL > NYC Roadtrip, Part 3 – Raleigh!”

  1. the lushers (@thelushers) November 5, 2011 at 8:58 PM #

    Isn’t Busy Bee the best?! It’s one of our favorite places in town & Chris & Woody always have some really great stuff on tap, like next Friday they’re having a Dogfish Head tap takeover…which is where I’m guessing you’re headed next 🙂

  2. Hops & Hickory (@hopsandhickory) January 21, 2012 at 11:13 PM #

    Give me a heads up the next time you swing through Raleigh. Always up for having a few beers, and there’s always plenty of great beer here.

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