For the third year, people at the N.C. State Fair will be able to taste samples of beer, wine and cider from the Old North State. New this year, craft soda will also be available, which means children and anyone else under age 21 will now be allowed in the picnic or “beer garden” area around the Our State Public House.
The Public House is still relatively new. Our State magazine has sponsored it since its first year in 2017. It’s located in Heritage Circle, not far from the tobacco pavilion, the grist mill or the flower and garden show.
The folks at the North Carolina Craft Brewers Guild put in the hard work to organize the Public House and everything it has to offer. Their goal is to introduce you to a variety of beers, wines or ciders from around the state, and maybe help you find a new favorite. You’ll need to be selective about which ones you want to try because there are strict limits on how much you can be served. So don’t expect to have several drinks, but do expect to find some options you would normally have to travel out of your way to get.
Lisa Parker is the operations manager with the guild, and she’s a pretty busy lady these days as we get closer to opening day of the fair. I did catch up with her for a few minutes to learn a little more about craft soda.
Parker’s brief explanation is that craft soda is often produced in small batches and usually is considered to be local. Most craft soda producers don’t sell their product very far from home. Parker said the guild made sure to find craft soda manufactured in North Carolina. For logistical reasons they also needed to find craft soda in cans as opposed to bottles.
A company called Devil’s Foot fit the bill. The operation in North Asheville started out focusing on ginger beer, and the knobby and gnarly shape of ginger root inspired the company’s name.
The full list of offerings isn’t complete yet, but if you stop by the Our State Public House you can expect some sparkling lemonade and Cheerwine for sure. Yes, Cheerwine – the cherry-flavored Carolina classic since 1917. The company may have grown a good bit in more than a hundred years, but it’s still family-owned and still based in Salisbury.
Getting a craft soda will involve buying a $5 ticket at the Public House, similar to buying a ticket for beer, wine or cider. Only people aged 21 or older are allowed inside the Public House building though, so anyone younger will need someone of legal drinking age to go inside to redeem the soft drink ticket.
If you’re looking for the beer, wine or cider options, you can buy a $10 ticket at the Our State Public House. That gets you two beverage coupons, good for two 8-ounce beers, two 8-ounce hard ciders, or two 3-ounce wines.
The N.C. Craft Brewers Guild will use a portion of the proceeds for research and marketing to benefit the state’s craft beer industry. North Carolina is home to 280 craft breweries and 185 wineries.
The Our State Public House is open from noon to 9 or 10 p.m. depending on the day. You can find the schedule and a way to buy tickets in advance if you look under “Attractions” on ncstatefair.org.