I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a big beer drinker, but when I do drink it, I want a really good, locally crafted beer. One of my favorite places to go these days is Fullsteam Brewery in Durham. Durham is the home to many tremendous local, independent restaurants and this brewery fits well with the food scene.The most admirable thing owners Shawn Lilly Wilson and Chris Davis are doing is to create a southern-style beer.
Fullsteam has a fun, family friendly feel to it. There are long picnic tables in the main room, where people sit together and mingle with their neighbors. The beer is brewed in the back room, but there are large windows where you can see the stainless steel tanks of beer. There is a separate room where there are video games and pinball machines. The building was just a shell building made of brick when they bought it and Rigsbee Avenue was an area you wouldn’t want to go near just a few years ago. But thanks to Fullsteam and its neighbor across the street, MotorCo, this is now one of the cool and trendy neighborhoods of Durham. The building still has an industrial feel to it and there is no air conditioning in the building reminding you, which is a lot like other parts of downtown Durham – mixing the old and the new together. Fullsteam is not only a place to bring the family, but also the family dog. Fullsteam is dog-friendly, which gives them a double thumbs up in my book! There is also a nice, outdoor beer garden area.
Fullsteam’s beers change with the season. The other day, I went with my nephew and his girlfriend to try out the Wanderlust, a brew that features fresh-from-the-farm Rainier cherries. Last year, the brewery used the cherries to make a dark stout beer, but they decided this was not the right pairing, so this year brew master Chris Davis used a sour mash beer and worked with the folks at Cheerwine (a famous cherry cola maker in North Carolina) to make a signature cherry beer. It was amber in color and was quite sour. I was expecting the beer to be a bit more sweet than it was because it was described as a Berliner Weisse. You most certainly could taste the cherries in it though.I’d say it was not my favorite beer, but was still fun to try.
I also tried the summer basil farmhouse ale. This is a light beer and the basil was quite prominent in the taste. It was a perfect summer beer. I highly recommend it, if you like a lighter brew. Think of an herbal beer and you get the idea of what this beer tastes like. It has some hoppiness to it, but it is not too bitter or overwhelming.
I have also tried the El Toro Cream Ale and really enjoyed its mellow taste. This is on their year-round menu and features corn grits. The corn adds a bit of sweetness to the beer. It’s another beer that I think is a really good choice for the summer.
I am still anxious to try the Carver beer, a beer that has sweet potatoes as its featured ingredient. They claim to use 250 pounds of sweet potatoes per batch. I guess this gives me another excuse to come back again soon!
Fullsteam is a popular hang out in Durham and every Wednesday some of the food trucks such as the Parlour Ice Cream and Pie Pushers serve food. It has been a great symbiotic relationship between the brewery and the food trucks.
Fullsteam is located on 726 Rigsbee Avenue near Foster Street and is open Monday – Thursday from 4pm to midnight, Fridays from 4pm to 2am, Saturdays from noon to 2am and Sundays from noon to midnight. You can follow Fullsteam on Twitter: @Fullsteam, or “like” them on Facebook to find out the latest events and new brews.