Danny and I are lucky to live in an area where there are a bunch of cool local breweries to check out. It makes for such a relaxing Saturday afternoon once the weather warms up and the sun graces us with its presence to head somewhere new, tour a local brewery, and then sit outside, cold beer (on in this case, cider) in hand, for some sun-soaked lounging and people watching. I’m always on the prowl for groupon deals for brewery tours, which as a bonus usually come with free pint glasses. I have amassed quite the pint glass collection, and I am always looking to add to it!
Last Saturday, we headed to Bull City Ciderworks in Durham, NC, for their morning tour (11 A.M., nothing crazy early!) The location, like a lot of breweries, is a little off the beaten path in an area mostly dedicated to warehouses, although it was not at all hard to find. Once we arrived, I let Danny get some pictures of the place while I popped over to the bar to grab us two brimming full pints of crisp and unbelievably refreshing cider. And I mean brimming, when I tried to place them on the table, I sloshed cider everywhere!
I got us a pour of a cider sweetened with local honey and a cider spiced up with a generous amount of ginger. I handed Danny the honey one, and he loved it so much he wasn’t sharing even when I made the casual suggestion we do a sip for sip swap…as he said to me “I know when I have something excellent, I don’t need to try yours.” I liked the ginger one a lot, but once I stole a sip of Danny’s, I understood where he was coming from. He had chosen the winner.
Although the tour is advertised as beginning at 11, they operate on the assumption most people will get there right at 11 and want to order a cider and sip on it for a few minutes before diving in. I really appreciated this, since it gave us sometime to enjoy our drinks in the amazing weather! Around 11:15 they rang a bell by the bar and everyone gathered for the tour.
While the tour leader explained the cider making process and the history of the brewery, which was opened about a year ago, I was highly distracted by the intoxicating, distinctly summer smell of a man cutting fresh North Carolina strawberries and pressing them for an upcoming cider option!
I did manage to listen to some of the man’s tour, and was impressed to hear that they source most of their apples from North Carolina! Although, because the demand has gotten so high, they have had to start using some from upstate New York. The entire brewing process is very focused on keeping everything as local as possible!
Once the tour came to a close, Danny and I had both polished off the precious last drops of our drinks, and Danny suggested we go for a second round before heading off in search of lunch. That was certainly not the sort of suggestion I was going to say no to! Danny went for the same cider he had had before, but I, never able to settle on trying one thing, decided to try the Amer-illo , an IPA style hard cider, which was superb! It perfectly balanced the bitterness of the hops with the slight sweetness from the apples. I could have gone for several more haha!
By the time we finished up, it was a little after 1, and my stomach was definitely getting a little anxious for lunch. Wanting something casual and quick, we headed to Parts and Labor at Motorco, a great outdoor place to grab a bite I had discovered early that week with friends. I was eager to have Danny try the Artichoke Beignets!!
It was one of the best spots I could think of to enjoy a leisurely sunny afternoon. The atmosphere is laid back, the people watching can’t be beat, and there is an open air feel that makes Motorco, Fullsteam Brewery, The Pit, and whatever food trucks have set up shop seem to flow seamlessly together into a one stop shop to eat, drink, and hang out. We ended up springing for a churrasco slider, artichoke beignets, and some good ole french fries. I wouldn’t order the slider again, but that is not to say it was bad, I just think there are other things that are better. One of those things is these beautiful, fluffy, artichoke beignets with garlic aioli. Perfect little pillows of fried dough, artichoke, lemon, and garlic that I would eat endless amounts of in a calorieless world. But even in the sad real world, I managed quite a few! They’re just too good to care.
Satisfied and relaxed, we made our way home with content smiles glued to our faces and still with a good bit of the afternoon still ahead of us! It was such a great way to start off a gorgeous late spring Saturday.