Local Craft Beer is Booming

Written By Cheryl Capaldo Traylor with Cary Living Staff
Photos By Mash Photography

Welcome to the new norm in western Wake. In an area that once fiercely supported prohibition, breweries are popping up everywhere. Cary and many nearby towns were dry municipalities well into the 1960s, and now you can barely go a stone’s throw without seeing a brewery. While each establishment’s offerings and atmosphere are unique, they all share the goal of bringing their communities together in entertaining and meaningful ways. Here’s a short
list of places to visit for suds and socializing:

Aviator Brewing Company

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209 Technology Park Lane, Fuquay-Varina

It started in an airplane hangar at the Triple W airport in Fuquay-Varina; the year was 2008 and, even then, the sky was the limit for adventuresome brewers. Fast-forward to 2019 and you’ll find Aviator’s 24 beers distributed throughout the state, and the operations just keep expanding. 

Bombshell Beer Company


120 Quantum Drive, Holly Springs

Bombshell is the first microbrewery in North Carolina to be owned 100 percent by women. The historical significance of women brewers hearkens back to the account of Ninkasi, the Sumerian goddess of beer. Rooted deep in the Holly Springs community, Bombshell is helmed by owners Ellen Joyner, Jackie Hudspeth, and Michelle Miniutti. They are passionate about creating a wide variety of brews, from easy-drinking ales to bold and hoppy styles. “We make beers that are approachable for craft beer drinkers of all kinds,” Miniutti says. Bombshell is family- and pet- friendly, so plan to bring everyone to the Oktoberfest celebration on September 21st.

Bond Brothers Beer Company

photo by Ginny Williams Photography

photo by Ginny Williams Photography

202 East Cedar Street, Cary

Known for its great ales, lagers, and sours, Bond Brothers is also committed to operating as a sustainable business. The downtown Cary brewery partners with several green companies to reduce its carbon footprint, and visitors to the brewery can feel good knowing that all disposable products are 100 percent compostable. Spent grain is delivered to farms in nearby Smithfield to be used as cattle feed. Drink tasty handcrafted beer and support a sustainable establishment. That’s a win-win!

Brüeprint Brewing Company

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1229 Perry Road, Suite 101, Apex

Dating to April 2014, Brüeprint lays claim to the title of the first brewery to open in Apex—and the loyal following, from runners to cyclists, speaks to its success. Founder and owner Eric Wagner was a process water treatment engineer before he unleashed his creative entrepreneurial spirit in this popular brüe business.  

Carolina Brewing Company

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140 Thomas Mill Road, Holly Springs

The oldest active brewery in Wake County delivered its first signature keg in 1995 to the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh. From that first flagship Carolina Pale Ale, CBC has grown into an assortment of year-round, specialty, and seasonal beers. Now is the time to try their Oktoberfest lager, a smooth amber lager in the Märzen style.

Cotton House Craft Brewers

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307 South Academy Street, Cary

The tagline “From the hops, to the history, to the house—it’s all local,” conveys the core message of owner Brent Webb’s mission for Cotton House Brewery. Local is the optimum word here, and it starts with ingredients. Webb is working with NC State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to breed new strains of hops that thrive in North Carolina—local hops that will be used in the brewery’s popular libations, including IPAs, ambers, and stouts. Where you’ll find these brews is in the taphouse, located in The Pasmore House, a National Historic Site that once served as a boarding house for students attending the original Cary High School. Webb’s vision is to retain the historical nature of the house as much as possible, and pictures of Cary in the early years line the wall. There are also photos of cotton farms in Missouri that have been in Webb’s wife’s family since the 1700s. Another popular attraction at the brewery is an ornately carved tree sculpture on the front lawn. Passersby may stop for a closer look at the intricate craftsmanship involved in this work of art, then find themselves sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch enjoying a cold beer. If you’re looking for community, history, and great brews, this local landmark is sure to please.

Fainting Goat Brewing Company

330 South Main Street, Fuquay-Varina

This downtown Fuquay-Varina brewery is as serious about creating community as it is about crafting high-quality beers. In fact, the taproom doesn’t even have WiFi. There are no televisions. Instead, visitors are encouraged to, as the sign above the bar suggests, “Talk to each other.” There are plenty of great brews to choose from and ample opportunities to meet new friends. Every Thursday at 7 pm they host an open mic night that showcases new talent and welcomes returning popular performers.

 Vicious Fishes Brewery

132 South Fuquay Avenue, Fuquay-Varina

With a second taproom and brewery opening soon in Apex and the original brewery in Angier, Vicious Fishes Taproom & Kitchen complements its tasty beers with a gourmet menu. The Fuquay gastropub features 16 of their beers on tap. Go light with the Following Seas Golden Ale or dive deep and try the Mooncusser Imperial Stout (a bold 10.3 percent ABV). Their signature IPA, Here Be Dragons, boasts “a ridiculous amount of hops.” Owner Ken O’Berry says, “Something that we’ve seen develop is this idea that people are really receptive to change in their beers. The first thing people ask is ‘What’s new?’ Lately it’s been sours, and that opens up a whole other pathway.”

Naughty Penguin Hard Cider

1220 Copeland Oaks Drive, Morrisville

If you enjoy fresh hard cider, put the Naughty Penguin on your list of must-visit places. Technically not a brewery, it is one of the only cideries in the Triangle area. As a small batch ciderworks, it produces beverages that reflect the natural flavors of the apple. “We don’t add artificial sugars. The sweetness comes from honey, apple juice, or other natural sweeteners,” says owner Matt Penguin. Great selection of ciders and fun events with friends—that’s sweet!

Southern Peak Brewery

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950 Windy Road, Suite 100, Apex

Southern Peak is known for its wide range of offerings that include traditional German styles, lagers, and IPAs. In addition to an impressive selection of beers, they host a variety of fun workshops on a range of topics including home design, candlemaking, and metalstamping. The entertaining and educational class schedule rivals a continuing education course catalog, enticing members of the Apex community to gather, learn, and imbibe. “We try to work with all local artists,” says owner Nathan Poissant. It’s a pairing that’s hard to beat: Hang out with friends and neighbors while learning a new skill.