If you’re looking to sample N.C. beer and wine when the N.C. State Fair returns in October, it might just be a bit easier to find.
The North Carolina Craft Brewer’s Guild’s Public House, the only purveyors of alcohol on the fairgrounds, has a new home on the south side of Dorton Arena. Previously housed in Heritage Circle, the guild is the industry association for independent craft brewers in the state, and features a variety of products from local breweries.
Director Rich Greene said that the move will allow the guild to expand its offerings.
“Heritage Circle is a great location, it has that great North Carolina rustic feel, but it’s on the far end of the park. We’d typically see about 18,000 to 20,000 visitors a year,” he said. “We think that at Dorton, where we’ll be on the south side right near the Ferris wheel, we’re going to see at least double that.”
The idea to move the Public House originally came from State Fair planners, and Greene said that the guild was “thrilled” about the change. In addition to the extra exposure, Greene said the move also signified confidence on the part of the fair and the Department of Agriculture that the guild could run the program in a safe way.
Being in Dorton Arena gives the guild more room both indoors and outdoors, which means the guild can expand the kinds of products on offer as well as have a solid backup plan in case of inclement weather.
“We’ll be able to expand the offerings of beer, wine, cider and North Carolina craft soda, so we’ll be able to represent significantly more breweries than we’re accustomed to,” Greene said. “Typically, at the Public House we would be able to introduce about 40 breweries. We think this year that it’s going to be between 60 and 70 breweries that we’ll be able to promote. Because of the extra space and the extra traffic, we’ll be able to put more taps on.”
Greene is excited about the variety the new space will enable. “We’re going to have a craft soda pavilion where teenagers can come as well, so they can have something to enjoy,” he said. “And just in general we’ll be repping North Carolina wineries and cideries, we’ll have some North Carolina seltzers there, and of course we’ll have plenty of really good North Carolina beer.”
As for what’s next, Greene said that the guild is completely focused on making sure this year is as good as it can be.
“The best thing to look at is the present, and right now we’re looking at an opportunity that will potentially double the volume of what we’ve been able to do in the past. We’re just trying to make sure this year runs smoothly and safely, because we’ve still got a coronavirus running around,” he said. “We want to make sure that all the people who work within the Public House are safe and having fun, so we’re really focused in on that right now.”
Tickets for the Public House may be purchased in advance, or during the fair at the entrance of the NC Public House. Beer+Wine tickets will be $10 each, and tickets for craft sodas may be purchased on-site for $5 each. Wine servings are 3 ounces each, and beer or cider servings are 8 ounces each. There is a limit of one Beer+Wine ticket per person (= 2 servings), per visit to the NC Public House.For more information on the Public House and the N.C. Craft Brewer’s Guild, visit https://www.ncbeer.org.