Many people who go the N.C. Public House at the N.C. State Fair are simply looking for a place to relax and take a break, according to Lisa Parker, the executive director of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild.
The guild brought the Public House to the fair for the first time in 2017, and in 2021 it moved from the Heritage Circle area to the south side patio of Dorton Arena – the side toward the giant SkyGazer Ferris wheel. People who visit can escape the excitement of the midway and just enjoy a couple of craft beer samples in peace in the beer garden setting. It’s a chance to try a beer produced right here in North Carolina. For many, it’s the first time they’ve tried local beer.
“It’s nice to be able to help lead people to maybe a new favorite or help them explore types of beer that they may not be familiar with,” Parker said. “If we can help people find a North Carolina craft beer they like, and then they can go and support those local breweries, that’s ultimate goal.”
So the folks at the Public House are happy to offer up new options, and then many of the patrons are pleasantly surprised to learn it’s made right down the road. That exposure to local breweries helps people realize they can support local breweries by continuing to drink those beers when they get home.
This year, the Public House is taking things up a notch on the educational front with the N.C. Beer Night at the Fair. It’s Friday, October 14th, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Along with pouring an exciting array of beers from North Carolina craft breweries, there will be a grain farmer on hand to talk about the types of grains that can be grown for beer in North Carolina, in addition to how the grain can be processed and malted and how growers can work with the three malt makers in North Carolina.
There will also be an “Ask a Brewer” question and answer session. Representatives from Wake Tech’s brewing education/certification program and Raleigh’s local homebrew club CARBOY will be on hand too to help people learn about home brewing or even pursuing work in beer brewing. Atlantic Brew Supply will provide a brewing equipment demonstration also.
“We wanted to meet everyone where they are and just provide a little more info overall about what the craft brewing industry looks like in North Carolina and how to plug into,” Parker said. “We wanted to have a night where people not only enjoy the beer but learn more about the industry and how beer is crafted. “While certainly sampling the beers is a great opportunity to learn there are locally produced styles of beer to enjoy – we do that routinely – this is the deeper-dive opportunity.”
On any day at the Public House, North Carolina wine, cider and craft soda are options too, in addition to the craft beer. Patrons will be able to purchase a Beer+Wine ticket which provides for your choice of two servings of wine, cider or beer. More details on serving sizes and links to advance tickets can be found on the N.C. Public House section of the NCStateFair.org website. Tickets can also be bought at the fair for $10 each. (Craft sodas may be purchased on-site for $5 each.) There is a limit of one Beer+Wine ticket per person (again, one ticket equals two servings), per visit to the N.C. Public House.
In addition to the chance to expose patrons to the state’s craft beers, the Public House is the biggest annual fundraiser for the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild. The guild does legislative advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the state’s breweries and also works with tourism authorities and news and lifestyle media outlets to promote North Carolina beer. The guild also provides educational and networking opportunities for the state’s brewers.
North Carolina is home to 350+ craft breweries (and 185 wineries). Parker would love to see you share your experience at the Public House with the hashtag #NCbeer.