Not far from Charlotte, nestled serenely in the North Carolina foothills, is a place where the history of craft beer is as rich and regionally fascinating as the brews themselves. While many areas of NC have become well known brew aficionado meccas, some of the best secret gem brew houses have sprung up in Rutherford County. This weekend, take a journey to experience craft brewing innovation and artistry that’s sure to leave you wanting to come back for more.

The brewing of beer in North Carolina dates back to Native American brews made from cedar berries and corn; even homemade malts were reported to be a mainstay of the foothills area’s local colonial diet. Fast forward to current day. The nation’s craft brewery business that began booming in the late 1990s now places NC near the top of the list with over 300 breweries and brewpubs; the most in the American South. That means that some of the best local, innovative brews are only a couple hours trip at most from your front door! (Seriously, that’s less than the time you spend in rush hour traffic during the week)

Whether you’re into outdoor adventures like hiking and horseback riding, you’re an antiques and gifting shop-a-holic, or simply a group of friends just looking for a fun time, Rutherford county has a place for that!

For the Outdoor Enthusiast: Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery

If you’ve worked up a thirst in the great outdoors, Hickory Nut Gorge Brewery is a perfect rest and hydration spot. Located in the village of Chimney Rock, NC on the banks of the Rocky Broad River, this brewery and taproom offers a selection of original cask and keg ales in addition to small batch seasonal brews, served with one of the most captivating views on the river. Multi-level deck and riverside seating makes for a scenic escape from the everyday humdrum of life, and pets are always welcome at this picturesque spot.

Founded by husband and wife team Marc and Merri Fretwell, these two Lake Lure locals bring an artistic nature-driven passion to the art of craft brewing, blended with a splash of English-style flair. Try the Brew Island Wheat that boasts a hint of peaches and ginger, or the Nature of the Beast Wild IPA made with locally harvested yeast culture and citrusy hops.

For the Weekend Shop-a-holic: The Twisted Pear

Beers and wines and gifts, oh my! They may not brew it themselves, but this unique bottle shop and taproom offers one of the largest selections of local craft beer and wine in Rutherford county. Located in Forest City, deep in the foothills of NC, it’s a go-to spot for locals and visitors alike. From live music Friday evenings, to weekly drink and paint evenings with the Twisted Palette (check their website for themes and times, registration is required), it’s should be a definite stop on anyone’s travel itinerary that enjoys great beverages in a laid back, fun atmosphere.

This nifty little spot is more than just a comfortable venue to sample the latest local wine or beer. It includes tables for board games, multiple seating options, and TVs to catch the latest sports updates. Located in the midst of downtown Forest City, its location rubs shoulders with a variety of shops full of local artisan wares. The Twisted Pear really is a destination that everyone can truly have it all!

Good Friends, Great Times: Yellow Sun Brewing

Kicking back with the crew is a weekly necessity, and anyone who enjoys small batch brews paired with some of the best pizza in the state will love this brewpub. Located in charming downtown Rutherfordton, NC, Yellow Sun Brewing is a local favorite for its fun casual atmosphere, fantastic original brews, and its artisan pizza. A cozy, warmly lit spot with rustic outdoor seating, it’s the perfect place grab a beverage and a bite.

Even though YSB is still a newcomer to the Rutherfordton town lineup (they just opened in January 2019), the owners and staff take great pride in the quality and service of the brewery and pub, in addition to their role in the community. Additionally, this location sits only a block away from Main Street, Rutherfordton, near a multitude of wonderful local shops, museums, and activities that will thrill even the most finicky of travel junkies. Only 5 months old and already rated 4.5 stars by Tripadvisor, this place is a must stop for everyone!

Memorable Moments: The Beer Collection

No matter what your cup of tea, or in this case your pint of beer, Rutherford county boasts the brew knowledge and creativity to entice the most discerning of aficionados. From smooth lagers and ales to sumptuous porters and sweetly bitter IPAs, the local artisans in this area extend far beyond run of the mill malt beverage. Made with local ingredients and southern pride, these craft brew offerings are nothing short of exquisitely craveable. But don’t take our word for it. Hit the road and see for yourself! Your ultimate thirst indulgence is only a short ride away.