Like many young boys, I was captivated by trains. These big machines pulling huge weights long distances with seemingly little effort. As I grew older I was more fascinated with the romance of where those trains were going and all the places they have been. The dark beers of Rail House Brewery captures those attributes that trains represented “powerful”, “strong” and “adventurous”.
Rail House Brewery can be found next to the railroad tracks of downtown Aberdeen. Like so many breweries Rail House is in a former industrial warehouse, the loading docks are used as a patio for some outdoor space. This brewery first opened in 2010 and in just six years it can now be found in stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and (I’m told) South Korea.
The taproom is dimly lit with a dark wood; it is kind of a roadhouse-style bar. The taproom is decorated with military memorabilia, and one wall honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The décor of the taproom is a nod to its owners who also served our country. The staff were friendly, no one at the bar appeared to go thirsty and the two servers was available if you had questions. Dartboards and bar games can be found to help entertain patrons. My Brew Crew spent much of our visit engaged in a heated dart game. Accusations were made and cheating was denied but all was forgotten by the time of our next beer. It is easy to have a good time in a place like this.
I understand that they sometimes have live music, however I have visited Rail House Brewery no less than six times and never been lucky enough to see a band. The taproom does serve a selection of pub food, which is good if you get hungry.
The darkness doesn’t end in the taproom; Rail House is well known for its mastery of dark beers. Now might be a good time for me to admit that while I enjoy and appreciate almost all kinds of well-made beers, I am slightly biased toward ambers and dark beers. Rail House has two flagship beers Ka-Bar (an English Brown Ale) and Mastiff (an Oatmeal Stout). Some beers of note that I sampled are:
Winter in the Pines: A seasonal beer that is very interesting and which I enjoyed. When I sampled this beer, the first thing that came out of my mouth was “there is a lot going on in this beer.” It smelled like graham crackers but had a number of flavors you can identify, such as nutmeg and cinnamon. I’m told it was brewed with pinecones but I was unable to pick that flavor out. It is a fun beer to sample.
Ka-Bar Brown: This one is a great example of an English Brown. Here is where the Rail House brewers start hitting their stride. It is a very drinkable beer with a nutty flavor.
Mastiff Oatmeal Stout: In this taster’s opinion, it is the smoothest oatmeal stout I’ve sampled at any North Carolina taproom. Mastiff is an outstanding example of the exciting beers being produced right here in North Carolina.
Barley Wine: This is an old English Style beer most popular around the holidays. Dark red in color high in ABVs and sweet are hallmarks of this style. Rail Houses version of this style is quite good and last year a post-Thanksgiving meal treat at my house.
Rail House Brewery is a fun place to have a pint or two with your buddies. If you’re a fan of dark beers, it is a must that you sample the mastery of the brewers at Rail House. If you’re like me and you love Dark malty beer, Rail House is a must visit brewery.
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