Deep in the Umstead Industrial Park, something stirs. Amid the clank of modern machinery, a group of workers busy themselves with one of the world's oldest crafts: brewing. At Gizmo Brew Works, this meeting of contemporary technology and ancient know-how produces a tempting slate of small-batch beers. Inside tanks that hold the equivalent of 1,000 pints each, brewers prep favorites including the smooth and sweet Black Stiletto Stout and the complex Palisade Wasp India Pale Ale with the same care that has earned many of their past beers medals at the Carolina Championship of Beer. They also save room for seasonals, carefully adding a sweet caramel flavor and spicy Noble hops to their altbier, which they serve in a traditional stange glass or a large mug in celebration of Oktoberfest. These beers and more make frequent appearances in the brewery's taproom, gracing pint glasses for impromptu toasts or filling up growlers for at-home sips. Never ones to shy away from curious guests, brewers also open up their facility for Saturday tours, walking groups through the beer-making process during 30-minute explorations.
Aviator Brewing Company's dedicated brew architects collaborate with a premium selection of seasonal ingredients to craft 16 varieties of pint fillers. Since taking root in 2008 with two 300-gallon tanks in a decommissioned airplane hangar, the suds factory has grown to include four tanks, each of which contains 3,100 gallons of award-winning libations. Inside the tanks, frothy brews such as the Devils Tramping Ground Tripel—a golden Belgian ale with a fruity, spicy, sweet flavor—wait for year-round sampling. They also concoct seasonal brews for Oktoberfest, spring, and winter, as well as rotating beers such as McGritty's Scotch Ale, which they brew from Maris Otter barley malt and crisp malt imported from the United Kingdom in an oversize kilt.
Nearby, on Broad Street, Aviator also operates a tap house, which serves up their draft brews at a temperature of 47 degrees Fahrenheit thanks to a micromatic dispensing system with glycol cooling. Down the street, they also operate a smokehouse that serves up smokehouse ribs, North Carolina chopped-barbecue sandwiches, and pulled pork that has been featured on RaleighLifestyle.tv's Dining Destinations.
Ethiopian main courses divide into two parts: injera, a thin flatbread, and wot, a stew comprising mostly meat or various beans. Ashee Ethiopian Cuisine adheres to tradition, serving stews of chicken, beef, or curried lamb and goat atop spongy slices of injera. Beyond its carnivorous dishes, Ashee caters to vegetarians with heaps of lentils cooked in berbere sauce and split peas cooked with mild green peppers. Feasts are served atop a mesob, a round table designed to encourage sharing among diners. Beers and Coke products can complement meals, though for a more authentic experience Ashee recommends ordering coffee, which is served during a traditional ethiopian ceremony.
April Schlanger, a 15-year wine-industry veteran, believes that the words “organic” and “eco-friendly” are not mutually exclusive when relating to affordable wines. She and her husband Josh opened Sip... A Wine Store in the hopes of sharing their passion for and knowledge of organic wine and beer, earning the young store a glowing feature on CaryCitizen. Respect for the planet oozes from every design detail in the quaint shop, be it the VOC-free wall paint, reclaimed-wood display tables, or complimentary wine carriers given to customers upon arrival. Those hoping to challenge their palates and forego the day's to-do lists can sidle up to the tasting bar or partake in formal wine classes, focusing on specific producers or varietals.
Barley & Vine's wine aficionados demystify the art of fruitful grape-juice guzzling during wine-tasting classes that borrow sips from the shop's bountiful collection of adult elixirs. Throughout the tasting session, knowledgeable instructors funnel wine-swilling tidbits into inquiring noggins, such as the beverage's basic components, how to check for body, and techniques to decipher a good wine from a bottle of Listerine. After sipping, students learn how to articulate the flavors and notes radiating from each sample, and which styles best suit their palates.
The building has been there for generations, beneath a neon "Restaurant" sign that used to serve as a beacon of sustenance for WWII-era soldiers stationed nearby. Decades later, under that same sign, people still show up in search of food, and more importantly, in search of drink. This historic spot is now the home of Brewmasters Bar & Grill, a taproom that celebrates North Carolina brewers with its selection of nearly 100 craft brews. "Beer geeks," as Brewmasters likes to call them, can discover local suds from Big Boss and Crank Arm mixed in with nationally renowned beers such as Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.
Of course, beer is also integral to the food menu. On it, guests will find pork belly braised in brown ale and beer-battered onion rings. The kitchen makes many of their ingredients in-house, including spinach dip forged from a family recipe and Brewmasters' signature candied bacon with jalapeño-apple jelly. As guests tackle their meals, they can study a state map that pinpoints North Carolina's best-loved breweries and least-invisible rivers.