Author: chris

Hoppin’ Frog Barrel Aged Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale

Well, life as a blogger is hard.  As I do not blog as my living, living seems to want to slow my blogging down.  However, intrepid readers, I am far from stopping my search for great beer and places to enjoy it!

After an enjoying walk around one of my local park’s lakes, here in Raleigh, I had the pleasure of swinging by, with my drinking pal Alan, Raleigh’s Hop Yard, located in the Durant area of North Raleigh.  See, here is one of my weaknesses.  Tired, hot, and definitely thirsty, I enjoyed a beer from the tap (Great Divide’s Yeti Imperial Stout) and then searched for a couple of bombers to bring home for my wife and I to enjoy.  Wow.  Today, I cracked the wine priced bottle of Hoppin’ Frog’s Barrel Aged Turbo Shandy Citrus Ale.

Hoppin Frog Turbo Shandy

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

Not only is the name a mouthful, but this sweet citrus ale is smooth and complex.  Minuscule bubbles bring a light effervescence with minimal head over a slightly cloudy hay colored ale.  Yes, my wife and I drank it out of wine glasses (white wine glasses, to be exact) and it was the right choice.  A lemon zest and honey nose, this smooth and velvety ale stayed nice and chilled, as we used the stemware, leaving an almost homemade lemon drop flavor across our palate.  At an ABV of 7%, it’s not too strong, nor is it too light.

What a way to help the missus unwind after our Sunday routine.


Rating 5/5

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Compass Rose Logo

Compass Rose

Here I am, waiting on a friend to join me at one of our new favorite meeting spots.

Compass Rose Logo
Alan & Chris


Compass Rose Brewery is building a decent clientele by offering beers from thier brewery as well as many guest taps. Hidden back in an industrial area off Gresham Lake Rd in Raleigh, NC, the tap room is spacious, open and inviting, with a clear view to thier brewery floor. Tables with various games scattered about invite folks to stay, socialize and let stress disappear.

Sixteen taps that the staff keep pouring are topped with custom pulls reminiscent of globes seen in old adventure films.


Flight of the Beers, CR style

Of their beers, it is obvious that some of them have been polished while others are still in development, but all pleasant to drink. Currently, they don’t bottle, but will fill your growlers right up.

The night I typed this up, I sat happily nursing a flight of six, half Compass Rose, half guest beers. The Saison was light with citrus notes and the floral nose expected of the style. I followed this up with their Sweet Stout. What a treat this was, with a chocolate mocha nose, dark chocolate taste that finishes with a hint of mocha or espresso. I finished with the Compass’ beers with the Molasses Amber. This was a smooth amber, sweet but not cloying, that had a wonderful malt forward take. This went down as easily, leaving a feeling of having almost a toffee or butterscotch after taste.

At the bar, beautiful pulls

Overall, I rate their beers a 3.5 out of 5 on average, the tap room a 4.5 out of 5.

Make the time to adventure here before exploring the world outside.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Small Town Brewery – Not Your Father’s Root Beer

Wow, Happy Labor Day!  I’ve been trying so many beers lately, I’ve gotten behind on writing about all the one’s I’ve found.  To get back into the swing of things, we’ll talk about one that so many people have recommended to me.  Not Your Father’s Root Beer by Small Town Brewery.

Not You Father’s Root Beer

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

Let us start with the basic overview.  First, the body looks just like a traditional root beer, from the dark caramel color, to the bubble structure and brief head.  When the glass comes up to my face, I can smell the distinct aroma and blend of spices that most root beers share.  Up to this point, I am so excited.  I have visions of home-made Bailey’s or Kalua ice-cream for the grown-up version of a Root Beer float.  One that I’ll have to have when I am not driving so I can over-indulge.  Then I take that first sip.

Many of my friends know my habit of sharing anything I’m excited about.  Frequently past the point of good taste.  This beer is very much like my enthusiasm at times.  Quite a bit of talk, somewhat past the point of good taste.

The first sip seems to live up the hype, causing my inner child to raise his head, look to the heavens and shout out in joy.  Then the artificial flavor of added alcohol and flavors (read the label!) hits the back of my throat almost as bad as an aspartame back note of a badly sweetened diet cola.

Whether or not this impression is due to me not being a regular soda/cola drinker anymore, I’m not sure.  However, I am definitely soothing my inner child with a marathon of some sort: probably animated and from Japan, requiring a game controller, or eating up my bandwidth so I can see ALL the episodes in full 1080p.

At least I think I may be able to recover it with enough ice cream.


Rating: 2.5/5 only due to the potential for those who don’t mind cola after-tastes.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Nickelpoint Brewing

Nicklepoint Brewery

Wow!  It’s been some time since I’ve posted a review.  This is not due to lack of beer or visiting places!  Now that I do have a moment or three to catch up, let me tell you about this small, neighborhood, micro-brewery that recently opened in the Five-Points area of Raleigh, NC.

Nickelpoint Brewing

Nickelpoint Brewing is a fairly recent addition to the craft beer scene of North Carolina, focusing on recipes that are more traditional, primarily European and the Brewmaster has over 10 years of brewing experience, and it shows.

Opening about eight months ago (from time of review), the folks at Nickelpoint have done their best to provide a welcoming atmosphere.  All staff, from the owners on down, are friendly, spending time talking about life, neighborhood activities, brewery activities and all of our shared passion, beer.

Nickelpoint is family and dog friendly, having a monthly competition for “Dog of the Month” and putting together small batch, craft sodas for those of us with kids.

Parking is on the street surrounding the brewery.  When you first walk into the main taproom entrance, Lauren or other staff, greets visitors with a smile, will give your puppy a treat,  and then happily offer you a taste (or more) of their phenomenal brews.Nickelpoint Pulls

Seating is inside and out, including taking part of their brewing area, enabling you to enjoy a pint while surrounded by all the brewing equipment.  Normal activities, Giant Jenga and cornhole, are available and they schedule many great activities and special events, from local wrestling matches in a ring built in front of the brewery, to frequent food truck visits and much more.

One of the best things, in my opinion, is their beer.  I am not the biggest fan of the current trend to see who can have the highest IBU and prove their beer is actually a salad made from hops, hops, hops, and more hops, and Nickelpoint does not fall into this trap.  For those who do enjoy higher IBU, there are options, but do not expect to have your palate cleansed with enough hop flavor and astringency that you can use the beer in a hospital as an antiseptic.  No, more complex flavor profiles and purposeful balances between hops and malt are more Nickelpoint’s style.  I could drink their porter ALL day long, happily.  Any of their beers, really.

If you want to have their beer, they can be found in various local stores and restaurants, but you generally have to order growler and kegs direct.  I have not longed for a kegerator as much as after my visit here.


506 Pershing Road

Raleigh, NC 27608


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Crafty Beer – Lafayette Village, Raleigh, NC

Crafty Beer Shop logoNext on our hit list of places to visit, Crafty Beer Shop!  They currently have two primary locations, one at Five Points in Raleigh, the other at Lafayette Village on Falls of Neuse Rd, also in Raleigh.

Crafty Board
Crafty’s Beer Board

I had the pleasure to visit their North Raleigh store on Falls of Neuse with one of my friends.  Upon walking in, the atmosphere was very inviting, warm and pleasant.  Plenty of places to sit, at their bar, at individual tables and outside.  Everyone who was there was very social.

Looking around, there is a very large selection of beers, sold generally by the bottle, not the case or six pack.  On Wednesday, they usually have sampling from various breweries (Aviator the evening I visited) and encourage exploration.  The store also carries some great “craft” snack food from small businesses.  I will tell you, the Ghost pepper peanuts, so worth the burn!

Mike from Crafty Beer
Mike from Crafty Beer

Mike was our bartender for the evening and was very knowledgeable as well as very affable.  What’s on tap is displayed on a bright tv panel and kept up-to-date.  I had a hard time choosing, so Mike offered a flight, so I could try many beers for a reasonable price.  Eight dollar flights?  So worth it!

What a Crafty Flight
What a Crafty Flight




Friendly to families stopping in, as my wife and I have swung by on weekends, the staff are always happy to answer questions that you may have.

If you have a chance, I definitely suggest if you are looking for a spot to be a regular, this is absolutely in my top list.


Lafayette Village location:

Phone: (919) 703-0874
8450 Honeycutt Rd,  Suite 108
Raleigh, NC 27615


Sunday:  12 pm – 8 pm
Monday:  Closed
Tuesday:  12 pm – 10 pm
Wednesday:  12 pm – 10 pm
Thursday:  12 pm – 11 pm
Friday:  12 pm – 11 pm
Saturday:  10 am – 11 pm

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Abita Brewery – Root Beer

Hey all!  As my wife and I are finally getting our home computer system back up and running (don’t ask) our kids have been busy.  They’ve watched our friends and family join us in tasting various craft beers, and as kids are want, have asked to try blogging about drinks.  After explaining the age limitations to craft beer, they asked if there were any craft drinks that they were allowed to try.

Then there was root beer.

Our household generally sticks with healthy drinks, not much in the way of sodas, but we’ve run into a few breweries that make their own craft root beer, ginger beer and the like.

Today we will have the first kids review of Abita’s Root Beer.  Yes, as an adult, I like it as well, and we will not talk about the sugar.

Kids rating root beer. @abita 5/5 with the family

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

So, my three boys, ages 11, 9 and 5, all jumped for joy with drinking this soda.  My wife and I walked them through the same process we use for trying a new craft brew.

Regarding the smell, the youngest could not grasp “nose,” it has a classic root beer smell.  Noticeable black licorice comes through without being too strong, but with a sweetness that it does not seem to be biting.  A nice dark brown, almost black body, with plenty of bubbles, but no real head, the kids loved the flavor.  “It’s root beer, dad! Nothing too fancy!” 

Right on, little buddies, right on.

When asked how it felt to drink, comments like “bubbly, but not too sweet” and “smooth and just barely stays after swallowing” were very common.  How right they were.  A nice clean finish, leaving a mildly sweet licorice back note, it summed up “root beer” very well.

Thanks, Abita!

Kids Rating:  5/5

Parent’s Rating: 5/5

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Aviator Brewery – Wide Open Red

Next on our Aviator run, we are looking at Wide Open Red.

Aviator Brewery Wide Open Red

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

A dark, amber red body and tight, small bubbled head, characterizes this beer on our pour. When bringing the beer up for our first taste, we had a mild hop bitter nose, with an underlying caramel malt undertone.

The hop was noticeable, but not biting, when drinking, leaving a sweet mid-note and a clean finish.

Comments made were, “Very drinkable” and “Great go-to for a regular beer.”

Rating 3.5 / 5

Recipe ideas:  Would love to use this to make a beer bread or beer batter for fish and chips.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Wine 101 in review

Shelves of beer at Wine 101's Beer Library
Shelves of beer at Wine 101’s Beer Library

One of the reasons I started this blog is the level of excitement I get from discovering new beers and new places to get them. My friends laugh at the almost child like behavior I exhibit when I find something they like as well, or a place where they agree with my love of. The Raleigh/Durham area is full of such places and I have only scratched the surface so far.

For my inaugural location review, I want to focus on one of my favorite locations that friends and family enjoy as much as I do, if not more so. Wine 101 is such a place.

Started in the Fall of 2008 by a gentleman named Joe, Wine 101 initially had a small craft beer presence, with that being secondary to wine. Thank goodness that’s changed! As time progressed, in response to his customer’s desires, Joe has expanded to carry a large selection of craft beers as well as a solid selection of wines. If you love good drink, he and his staff will help you find it.

Wine 101 Beer Library
Beer Library

Recently, the Wake Forest location expanded into nearby storefront space, creating what is now referred to as The Beer Library, which has a great tap tender by the name of Rufus (@BeerLibraryWF on twitter).

What can I say about the staff? They are always friendly and helpful with loads of knowledge to share. The clientele are the same, as Joe and his team make Wine 101 all about the community.

There are two locations you can visit, both with great selections of beer, and wine, taps with fresh kegs, and they do growler fills. They frequently will host events, like Tap Takeovers, where a brewery will be featured for tasting, frequently with a representative there to speak about it and sometimes share swag.  They also have regular tastings on Fridays, 5-7 and Saturday 2-5 in both stores.

Wine101 pulls
Wine101 pulls

Joe has set up membership programs called the Beer and Wine clubs that have great benefits, particularly for those who buy frequently and are well worth the membership fee.

For more information, check out their website at

Store locations:

Wake Forest:

3325-104 Rogers Road
The Shoppes of Heritage
Wake Forest, NC 27587


5910 Duraleigh Rd
Raleigh, NC 27612

A great big THANKS goes out to Wine 101 for being there for all of us who love good drink!

Wine 101 Beer Library
Wine 101 Beer Library

EDIT NOTE: Thanks to the folks at Wine 101 for the pictures!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Aviator Brewery – Frostnipper

It’s the time of season when Fall beers are finishing their runs and this article will start our first brewery run with Aviator Brewery.

Aviator has produced a wonderful fall beer, aptly named Frostnipper.  With an ABV of 7.2 and a grim specter on the can, you should be wary, but not afraid.

Aviator brewery Frostnipper

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

On first pour, you can see a nice dark brown body that, held up to the light, has a slight red tint.  The light tan head was brief, but with a tight bubble.

With a lightly sweet spiced coffee and chocolate nose, this beer was an absolute joy to drink.  Sweet and mildly spiced chocolate, this beer finishes cleanly, leaving a slight coffee or dark chocolate bitterness on the back note.  This goes down very smooth, with a creaminess that makes it very easy to drink.

Rate:  4/5

Recipe idea:  Use this in stews of beef, venison or lamb; gravies; or even in cupcake recipes.  Very delicious!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Haw River – St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel

The second beer my wife and I chose for this past week was Haw River Ales’ St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel.

Haw River Ales St Benedict’s Breakfast

A photo posted by First in Flights (@1inflights) on

What can I say about this beer? That was a good question, as I was left speechless on the initial tasting, in a great way!

The body of this beer was a nice coffee color with a tiny bubbled tan head. Aromatically, there was a slight sweet fruitiness with an underlying spice, backed with a coffee note. When tasting, there was a light and sweet toffee on the front with a wonderfully smooth coffee note midway to finish. Unlike many dark beers that coat the tongue and lingers, this was velvet smooth, light and clean.

From my wife, who was a self-professed non-dark beer drinker, “Oh, wow! This is completely drinkable!”

Rating: 5 / 5 (originally 4.5/5, but as we went through the growler, it has become one of our favorite so far!)

Recipe ideas: Lava cake! Using this in a recipe that calls for Guiness will produce a lighter flavor with a bit of a spice note. I have got to find time to try this.


Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather