A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[caption id="attachment_159867" align="alignright" width="300"] You might meet Winston the pug at Hi-Fi Records.[/caption] When Jon Guza opened Hi-Fi Records in Graham three years ago, he just wanted to sell records.

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[caption id="attachment_159867" align="alignright" width="300"] You might meet Winston the pug at Hi-Fi Records.[/caption] When Jon Guza opened Hi-Fi Records in Graham three years ago, he just wanted to sell records.

Glasses Up: Breweries on the Rise in Alamance County

You might meet Winston the pug at Hi-Fi Records. Photography courtesy of Alamance County Visitors Bureau

When Jon Guza opened Hi-Fi Records in Graham three years ago, he just wanted to sell records. As Guza began to imagine his clientele, however, he thought beer might be a perfect pairing. Guza found a kegerator for sale, and the next thing he knew, he had a bar to go around it. Hi-Fi now serves six different varieties, from a watermelon beer to a brown ale, for customers to sip as they shop.

North Carolina boasts more than 300 breweries, and nearly half a dozen in Alamance County alone, so Guza has plenty of local beers to choose from when selecting which beverages to serve. “As the popularity of craft beer grows, I’ve noticed that people are a lot more willing to try different types of beer,” he says. “Everyone loves to talk about the breweries they’ve found, how much fun each one is.”

Whether or not you’re record shopping, it’s easy to sample craft beer from Alamance County’s breweries. From ales and lagers to sours and IPAs, you’ll find your new favorite within a 15-mile radius.


Haw River Farmhouse Ales are often brewed with local ingredients.  Photography courtesy of Alamance County Visitors Bureau

Haw River Farmhouse Ales

Ben and Dawnya Woodward opened Haw River Farmhouse Ales on the banks of the Haw River in Saxapahaw in 2014. On the first floor of the former mill town’s old cotton mill, the Woodwards brew Belgian-style beers using ingredients from nearby growers. “We like to spotlight local vendors and local farmers and artisans,” Ben says.

They recently released a beer to go with the Paperhand Puppet Intervention, which makes giant puppets just across the street and uses them at an annual summer show. This year’s theme, The Meanwhile Clock & Other Impossible Dances, focused on time, so Woodward toasted fennel during all parts of its lifecycle to make a Belgian lager.

Woodward also makes a stout and the Bourbon Barrel Aged St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel with local coffee. They serve 14 beers on tap in Saxapahaw and 24 at a new soon-to-be-open location in Carrboro. It’s the perfect stop after a paddle down the river.


Forgotten Road Ales

When Janee Farrar and her husband, Ben, went on their first date 13 years ago, they bonded over their love for craft beer. Soon, they began to go on “beer-cations” and talked about one day opening a brewery of their own. Beer, they found, was “the glue that started our relationship.”

The opportunity arose eight years ago when they moved to North Carolina. They opened Forgotten Road Ales in Graham in a former service station. In the taproom, they serve a variety of beers, some of which are flavored with the fruit and hops grown on the property. Though they don’t have any official flagship beers, Citra Sunshine has proven to be a fan favorite. The brewery hosts a food truck rodeo on the third Saturday of each month and an annual birthday party for the brewery dog, Mac.


At Bright Penny Brewing, try a flight — a deviled egg flight, that is. Photography courtesy of Alamance County Visitors Bureau

Bright Penny Brewing

In Mebane, Bright Penny Brewing serves 19 beers from the taps installed in a former mill building. The brewery can host dozens of people in the tap room and dozens more in its newly renovated beer garden, which has picnic tables, cornhole, an interactive mural, and gas fireplaces.

Not Your Momma’s Sweet Tea, a sour, is one of general manager Tory Williams’s favorites. “It’s something pretty unique, and we sell a ton of it,” he says. Head brewer Lance Furer also recently brewed a Belgian strong dark ale aged in cherry brandy, a cucumber saison, and a sour made with pineapple puree.

The brewery also serves food, including pizzas, salads, and a flight of nine different types of deviled eggs, a dish that started as a joke and has turned into a best-seller. Enjoy live music every Saturday, trivia on Wednesdays, or host a private event there.


Burlington Beer Works is the first beer co-op in the state. Photography courtesy of Alamance County Visitors Bureau

Burlington Beer Works

The first cooperatively owned brewery in North Carolina, Burlington Beer Works opened three years ago. It now has 2,300 owners and 12 beers on draft. IPAs tend to be the most popular, says head brewer Jeremy Hunt, but he loves to experiment. This year he’s brewed a saison and an amber ale, and last year he brewed a Mexican lager for the first time. They also serve wine.

Those who work in the brewery’s farm-to-table kitchen make nearly everything from scratch, and the menu includes a mean burger and market fish. “We are trying to be the anchor for what downtown Burlington can be,” says general manager Tracy Schmidt.

Burlington Beer Works hosts private events in addition to diners and drinkers, and anyone interested in owning a part of the brewery can purchase a share for $100. Buy shares online to receive an official stock certificate, owner number, and invitations to future member-only events.


Little Oblivion Brewing Company

Just down the street from Hi-Fi Records in Graham, Eric Lesback brews small batches of beer at Little Oblivion Brewing Company, a brewery, taproom, and beer garden. Using his one-barrel brewing system, he brews many styles of beer, including a honey Kolsch made with North Carolina mountain honey, a hazy IPA, and an oatmeal porter. Lesback says that he and his business partners set out to create a community space that lets them connect with their guests, showcase live local music, and display local artists’ work on the walls.


Little Brother Brewing

Also in Graham, Little Brother Brewing sells the beers that they brew in Greensboro at a taproom on West Elm Street. Co-owner Josh Coe grew up in Saxapahaw and always thought Graham had a cool downtown, so when he was approached about bringing his business there, he jumped on it. Now he often hosts live music events while selling his ever-popular Low Gravity Hazy IPA or lagers. “A sense of community and entertainment and arts are a huge part of our business,” he says.

Ready to drink local? Alamance County makes that easy. All you have to do is decide which taproom you’re heading to first. Cheers!

This story was published on Oct 07, 2022

Susan Cosier

Susan Cosier is an independent writer and editor who loves exploring NC towns.