After Dustin Canestorp returned home from his tour of duty in Iraq, he and his Marine Corps buddies would gather to play poker and sample the beer Canestorp brewed at home. His dream: to brew beer professionally by opening a microbrewery in eastern North Carolina, a beach-filled haven with a craft-beer desert. That dream came to fruition, though with one additional element: Beer Army would raise funds for local charities and communities. Now, Canestorp holds festivals that introduce revelers to local and regional craft beers while gathering money for those in need. He also runs the brewery, which currently pours four of its own brews, and manages the Beer Army Outpost, a 3,000-square-foot store with a plethora of craft brews for purchase.
In 40 years, Hinnant Family Vineyards has had time to grow 87 acres of muscadine grapes that have been turned into succulent wines, some as old as the vineyard itself. While the wines are the specialty, the team also opens its gate to visitors seeking to learn about winemaking, picnic on the wraparound porch, celebrate their weddings, or attend a summer music festival.
Owner and vintner Dr. Lane Gregory and his staff of merry winemakers harvest their wine grapes from the fertile muscadine vines that flourish on Gregory Vineyards' 120 acres of lush farmland. The winery's Old-World tasting room and wood furniture lend a rustic atmosphere to samplings of cleverly named wines such as Sly Fox, Ruth Walton, or the dry white known as Bald Eagle. Like North Carolina's banana trees, the regional muscadine grape thrives from late August until early October, giving Dr. Gregory and company only a matter of weeks to harvest the tough-skinned fruit.
In addition to tastings, the handsome property plays host to weddings and other special events. And, on an average day, visitors may be spotted in the vineyard with Dr. Gregory, or exploring the vineyards.
Wine 101 has allied with Raleigh roastery Larry's Beans to offer the rich aromas and complex favors of organic, fair-trade coffee. Housed comfortably in resealable bags with helpful flavor summaries, Larry's blends precisely target your individual coffee sweet spot. With selections from the roasted peanut richness of the Malabar Triple X blend to the bittersweet silkiness of the Bean Martin, Larry has traveled the world to find the best representatives from every quadrant of the coffee flavorscape. Larry's Beans even provides its own documentation to prove its coffee is genuinely fair trade.
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.