With So Much Drama in the L-B-C: Lynnwood Brewing Concern

IMG_20150629_170135729Lynnwood Grill and Brewing Concern in North Raleigh is in a pretty nondescript shopping center off of Furniture Row (Glenwood Ave.) with a Lowe’s, a Cineplex, and a Food Lion. And the interior–while certainly not nondescript–evokes a happy hour and sports bar feel, in the vein of a Carolina Ale House or Tyler’s. But you wouldn’t expect them to be brewing their own beers. And if they were brewing their own beers, you certainly wouldn’t expect them to have a dozen of their own beers on tap.IMG_20150629_170912244

But Lynnwood Grill & Brewing Concern is all about the unexpected: they have solid, standard beer styles with a few unexpected twists, they make their own sodas (ginger beer, root beer and orange creme were on tap when we went), they have a few naughty puns in their names, they have an outdoor, upstairs patio, music trivia, a solid food menu (Italian-themed grill), have a pretty surprising domestic tap line-up (PBR, Bud Light, Miller Light and Coors Light: seriously), while offering mixed drinks like a Cheerwine Shot, Dirty Bongwater and Breakfast at Denny’s. It’s spacious around the bar, there are plenty of booths and tables, and almost everywhere has a view of a television. Oh, and they’re pretty prolific: the Brewing Concern (started in 2013, before which it was just the Lynnwood Grill) had 12 of their own brews on tap.IMG_20150629_170319938

Our bartender, Joe, was enthusiastic about sharing his favorite beers with us: they offer $1 tasters, so you can taste their whole line-up for between $10 and $12, depending on what’s on tap. He was also committed to serving the flights in proper beer-tasting order, which was appreciated.

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  • Lynnwood Light: The Lynnwood Light (4.5%) is an approachable entree to craft beer, as a full flavor light beer. You could play beer pong with it, but it’s better than any beer you’ve actually played beer pong with. And with this at $12 a pitcher (same price as the PBR pitchers and less than the Miller Lite, Bud Lite and Coors Lite pitchers), there is absolutely no reason to touch the traditional domestics here.
  • Czech Yourself Pilsner: We tasted it expecting it to be the blonde (It wasn’t on the menu just yet), and it was light and bitter but not fulfilling. Pilsner isn’t my favorite style, but I’d still order this one over the domestics on tap.
  • Blonde Moment: The Blonde Moment, at 6.25% ABV, could sneak up on you — it’s nearly 2% higher than many blondes you’ll run across. Fragrant and floral with citrus, this was a fun blonde that you might want to home to mom.
  • Helluva Hefeweizen: The Helluva Hef (5%) had a light hops floral nose with strong ripe banana notes, but lighter on sugars (more banana bread than banana pudding). It was one of the first on our line-up to disappear.
  • Raspberry Wheat: I’ve been wanting to like a raspberry wheat. As in, really, legitimately, like a raspberry wheat. So far, they haven’t worked out for me. This one was off to a strong start with a strong rose hips and cherry nose, a hibiscus amber color, but followed with a bitter raspberry syrup flavor (5.25% ABV). Still not the Holy Grail of Raspberry Wheats I Want An Entire Pint Of, but it hits some promising notes.
  • Bad Leroy American Brown: This brown (5%) has a coffee nose, a medium roast and a slight bitter finish. “I could drink a lot of these,” my tasting partner noted. So could I: it was one of my favorite’s from LBC.
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Amber: Aside from the Excellent Name, this is an interesting amber. Rather than malts-focused, it was a hops-forward amber. The strong hops were unexpected–starting with the nose–and full of distinctive Amarillo and Cascade hops. Joe (our bartender) has taken to calling it a Hamber for the hops twist. He also recommends two that weren’t on tap today: Hubris and their Big Papi Porter, but as a hophead he ranks this one up there as a favorite (and so did my tasting partner).
  • Hop on Top IPA: Strong hops nose was expected, had a more layered start, with a strong bitter finish. A solid, alcohol-forward (7% ABV) effort that hopheads will enjoy.
  • Mosaic: The Mosaic (5.25%) was a bit more well-rounded than the Hop on Top and more complex. An easier drinking beer that pairs well with food.
  • Once You Go Black IPA: The Black IPA (7%) won a Silver for the style at World Beer Cup. It’s a solid beer that Lynnwood is justifiably proud of: really nice, very drinkable with balanced hops throughout.
  • 70 West: The 70 West Rye is a collaboration with Gizmo that was just being tapped at Lynnwood. If you like a Terrapin Rye Pale Ale (and who doesn’t), this one is a local session-style version with the rye flavors you know and love.
    The tasting went a bit like this:
    Spouse: “I can’t quite put my finger on what I’m tasting…?”
    Me: “Rye?”
    Spouse: “Yes! That’s what it is!”
  • Kiss My Irish Stout: Having mocked my husband’s palate on the previous beer, I will own up to snootily attempting to get a deep whiff of the nose, inhaling quite a bit of the taster and snorting it out onto the bar. It’s OK, I’m a professional. (A professional amateur. Or something.) This stout (4.75%) has an Irish coffee nose (I committed to that analysis), a dry coffee flavor, not hoppy, but a light roast and a little bitter.Over all, there was a lot going on at LBC. While it can be a little overwhelming, there’s one thing for sure: here, there’s a little something for everyone. Let us know what you like at Lynnwood.

Virginia Fitt lives somewhere on the border of Orange County and Durham city limits, and loves risk-taking brewers who use local ingredients, sours, Bretts/wild ales, strange collaborations, and all good beers.

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