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.
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.
Carafe's micro-wineries brew and bottle their own grape blood on-site, harvested from the fruit of the world's many vine varieties. Tapping into the thrills of kiddie chemistry experiments, the wine-masters at Carafe custom-mix each bottle of inebriation-fuel at their creation station, imbuing brews with the extra love and care that enables them to mature into responsible citizens of stomachs everywhere. Not to be outshone by the contents, bottle labels are similarly customized, bearing personalized messages from bottler to bottlee. Label designs from the Raleigh wine-wranglers are printed on water-resistant gloss paper, ensuring that your birthday, anniversary, or Tuesday wishes are clearly conveyed. The stock does vary according to availability, so before promising the gift of pinot, make sure you call or stop in to check on your favorite varieties.
Vinos Finos y Picadas serves an assortment of delectably cured meats, fine cheeses, and bite-sized gourmet morsels sourced from far-flung culinary destinations. The Vinos Finos y Picadas meat and cheese combo platter (a $30 value) abounds with a multifarious assortment of tidbits to complement your vintage of choice (wine not included). Like members of a California Raisins cover band, dried fruits, nuts, and a warm baguette make sweet epicurean music with meats and cheeses. Meat choices consist of hard salami, ham, prosciutto, and mortadella with pistachio; Argentine sardo, cambozola, pecorino, crucolo, and jarlsberg round out the cheese roster.