North Carolina has a history of producing bootleg booze, and in the early 1900’s Johnston County, NC (JoCo for short) was known as the “Banner Whiskey County.” Fortunately for visitors and entrepreneurs, you no longer have to “know a guy” to get your hands on some “real deal” hooch, or hide your still in the basement. Those pesky liquor laws have loosened up, and Brewmasters, Winemakers, and Distillers have gone legit.
Local JoCo establishments are now offering folks a taste of a trifecta of libations on the Beer, Wine, and Shine Trail. Take a self-guided weekend tour of the five stops (two breweries, two family owned wineries, and a moonshine distillery) on the trail next time you’re headed along interstate 95 or 40. If you plan on doing more than a little sippin’ along the way, B.Y.O.DD.
Deep River Brewing Company: With a nod to the county’s history of illicit booze production, the Deep River Brewing Company has adopted the title of Johnston County’s first legal brewery. Located in Clayton, NC, this brewery occupies a converted cotton spinning mill in the cities downtown. Owners Paul and Lynn Auclair do their best to use locally sourced ingredients in their brews. Their flagship beers are a Belgian Witbier (Twisted River WIT) and an amber pale ale (Riverbank Rye-It). You can enjoy a pint, some live music, and grab a bite from a food truck Thursday-Sunday (here’s their hours and music schedule).
Double Barley Brewing: This brewery in Smithfield can credit its existence to Cheryl Lane’s gift of a homebrew kit to husband Larry for his 40th birthday. That sparked the labor of love that is Double Barley Brewing. Grab a beer out in the walled beer garden and enjoy a snack from the taproom menu. Try a flight of flavors or sip on a popular brew like Thrilla in Vanilla Porter or SteakCake Stout. Take note of the alcohol content of some of the beers on tap. The SteakCake Stout has an ABV of 10% (they don’t play in North Carolina)!
Hinnant Family Vineyards: This 100-acre vineyard is the oldest and largest muscadine vineyard in the state of North Carolina. For only $5, guests will receive a souvenir wine glass and a chance to try a selection of the vineyards wares. Daily tastings start every 15 minutes, and tours are scheduled Wednesday-Sunday (subject to staff availability, calling ahead is advised). A big front porch beckons, and crackers and cheese are available in the gift shop for paring with Hinnants award-winning wines.
Gregory Vineyards: Skip the sweet tea on the front porch rocking chair and sip a sweet wine instead. Award-winning muscadine wines abound in JoCo. The Mary Elizabeth and the Lee Love from Gregory Vineyards are must trys for muscadine lovers. Stop in for a meal at Lane’s Seafood & Steak House, and pair it with a local wine!
Broadslab Distillery: Jeremy Norris, Broadslab Distillery’s owner and master distiller, is a fifth generation moonshiner with a recipe that’s over 100 years old. At Broadslab he preserves the craft, skill, and technique of his moonshining forefathers without having to contend with the issue of legality … mostly. Broadslab products were recently unavailable for purchase directly from Mr. Norris. But the North Carolina Distillers Association is celebrating the new “one bottle, per person, per year rule”, which is making it easier for visitors who want to buy their souvenir southern liquor directly from the source.
Hotel: Area hotels have embraced the craft beverage movement that brings new and frequent overnight guests. Many offer discounts and deals to those in town for the trail.
Coupons: For coupons, download the electronic Beer, Wine, and Shine brochure here.
Kids: Just because there’s booze doesn’t mean kids can’t enjoy this road trip. The machinery and science in the production of the craft beverages on the trail are fascinating enough to keep kids entertained even though they don’t sample the product.
Ready to get your Beer, Wine, & Shine Trail road trip started? Head to BeerWineShineTrail.com for more details. Happy sipping!
Photos courtesy of Johnston County Visitors Bureau