The Old Mill Closed But Many A Yarn Is Still Spun

Haw River Farm House Ales- Saxapawhaw NC

Saxapawhaw is a small former Mill town with a population of about 1,500. For over 150 years life centered around the textile mill it served as the lifeblood of the community. In 1994 tragedy stuck this community when a tornado severely damaged the textile mill and it never reopened. Today the old Mill has been reimaged into a new center piece of this hamlet.  The former Mill is home to a four star restaurant, Residential condos, Ballroom, butcher shop and this top notch brewery.

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Haw River Farm House Ales fits perfectly in this picturesque setting, sitting atop a hill overlooking the Haw River. The taproom is cozy rustic and very cool. The tap handles are repurposed textile spools, and a few other reminders of the past life of this structure are tastefully displayed. Behind the bar windows the stainless steel brewing equipment where textile were processed. The servers were great, they worked hard the evening we visited and still were friendly and patent. It is probably not worth mentioning but both of the two servers had shaved heads and big reddish brown beards (not likely a company uniform). This brewery also has a patio area, with a view of the river and close enough to the outdoor amphitheater to hear the Saturday night performances.

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This was by far the friendliest brewery we have encountered to date. We met so many friendly patrons eager to talk beer with others who share their passions. It was comparable to going to a friend of a friends party where people feel free to mingle and strike up conversations with strangers. This is an apparent Mecca for beer lovers. Everyone we met were knowledgeable craft beer fans. We meet two young ladies who live in Durham but have a close friend in Morehead City preparing to open a brewery there. A couple from Raleigh, who are self-described hardcore home brewers , they made the bold claim that this brewery and Wicked Weed brewing are in a class of their own. A small group of three people from Apex who told me they make the trip to Saxapawhaw to come here once a month.  We talked to another couple who live in Greensboro, this wasn’t their first time in this taproom. No one we talked to were local to this brewery instead it seems that this is a brewery worth traveling to for a flight of their brews.

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A brewery doesn’t draw a crowd from so far away without having a great selection of great beer. This brewery has such a selection. The brewery specializes in Belgian traditional beers using local ingredients.  Let me just say there wasn’t a single beer at this establishment that I didn’t enjoy.

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St. Benedict’s Breakfast Dubbel– With it’s smooth rich coffee flavor this Dubbel is twice as good as one might expect. It comes in both a gluten free version and a with gluten version. We tried them both and truly enjoyed the gluten free form, however I must admit the gluten version had more flavor. It was like tasting in HD rather than regular.

Regent’s Rye Tripel– This is my favorite of the selection we sampled; it is dry and nicely blended. A tasty beer but I need to cation you at 8% ABV this beer can sneak up on you.

The Ghost of Blanche Devereaux– A classic Belgian witbier, with a little citrus accent. A drinkable brew everyone can enjoy. I should have asked the story behind the name.

Newlin’s Original Belgian Oatmeal Pale– I must admit I have enjoyed many oatmeal stouts however this was my first oatmeal Pale Ale. I loved it. This is one of those must try beers.

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If you are a serious craft beers fan. You will find no better place to meet like-minded beer lovers who enjoy chatting about breweries they enjoy.   So I’m about to make a bold statement… You will not likely find better Belgian style beers in North Carolina Than those poured at Haw River Farmhouse Ales.

Michael Cole lives in Sanford, NC, and loves great food and beer. His taste tends to favor malts over hops so he’s an avid fan of ambers and dark beers.   Follow him on Twitter @barbqguy44 

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