Category Archives: Greenville

Jolly Skull Beer Fest 2011 – Greenville

Last Friday, I drove down to my ol’ college stomping grounds, Greenville, NC, to attend the 1st annual Jolly Skull Beer Festival. It was my first beer festival so I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into but I was pretty excited for it. The list of breweries in attendance at the Jolly Skull was pretty strong ranging from newcomers like Good Vibes Brewing out of Wilmington, NC and Craggie Brewing Company out of Asheville, NC to America’s oldest brewery, Yuengling, in Pottsville, PA.

The parking lot was packed and people were filing into the convention center as the festival began. I saw a lot of excited faces heading into the festival talking with their friends about their favorite breweries and the various beers that they were excited about trying at the festival. The festival goers were a mix of ages from the young 21 to 25 year old college crowd to members of the baby boomer generation. Even though there was a huge age gap, everyone at the festival was motivated by one common thing: good beer.

The state of North Carolina is known for a variety of things around the nation including the fictional Mayberry, pork barbecue, college basketball and the furniture industry but it is quickly becoming known as one of the top craft beer producing states in the southeast and the nation. In 2009, Asheville shared the title of BeerCity USA with Portland, OR as voted by the readers of In 2010, Asheville took the title by a little over 824 more votes than Portland. This is a huge step for North Carolina’s craft beer industry.

That is where “The General” Dustin Canestorp and his Beer Army come in. Canestorp has been a strong force in raising the awareness of craft beer throughout eastern North Carolina with festivals and beer dinners. Beer Army’s mission is to develop a robust craft beer scene and community in eastern North Carolina. Canestorp feels the best way to accomplish this goal is by hosting premier festivals like the Jolly Skull Beer Festival and the Brew Bern Beer Festival in New Bern during July.

Beer Army is a philanthropic organization and used the Jolly Skull Beer Festival as an opportunity to support local charities. Beer Army raised money for Give 2 The Troops which is a non-partisan, non-political, patriotic organization aimed at supporting the physical, moral and spiritual health of America’s armed forces in combat zones around the world through letters and packages prepared and shipped by caring volunteers. Beer Army also donated money to the North Carolina Brewer’s Guild. The North Carolina Brewer’s Guild’s intent is to support the beer communities in the state and guide the craft beer aficionados by providing the one source that allows access to the breweries, brewers and their beers  where ever they are served, presented and celebrated.

At the Jolly Skull Beer Festival, each festival goer received a four ounce tasting glass with the Beer Army logo on it, a Beer Army pen and a festival program with a map of all the booths at the festival & a checklist with information about every single beer at the festival. Tickets were $30 in advance and $40 at the door but if you were able to try half of the beers then you got your money’s worth.

Breweries weren’t the only businesses in attendance. Some local restaurants and bars showed up like Winslow’s Tavern in Greenville, the Weeping Radish Deli in Grandy and TieBreakers Sports Bar & Grill in Greenville. All of them were serving up some food that smelled delicious but I never got my hands on. G-Vegas Magazine, the local nightlife magazine in Greenville, and Beer Magazine had a table as well as Coastal Beverage Company, one of the top beer distributors in the state, and a few of Beer Army’s philanthropies (Project Guardian Angel & Give 2 The Troops).

Here is the commercial for the Jolly Skull Beer Festival:

Here are the breweries in attendance (North Carolina breweries in bold):

  • Widmer Brothers Brewing Company
  • Redhook Ale Brewery
  • Lonerider Brewing Company
  • Kona Brewing Company
  • Wolf Beer Company
  • WM Magner Ltd.
  • Michelob Brewing Company
  • Kind Beers
  • Thomas Creek Brewing Company
  • Good Vibes Brewing Co.
  • Tommyknocker Brewery
  • Starr Hill Brewing Company
  • Brooklyn Brewery
  • Abita Brewing Company
  • Carolina Brewery
  • Blue Point Brewing Company
  • Gordon Biersch Brewing Company
  • Sweetwater Brewing Company
  • Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Matt Brewing Company
  • Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
  • Foothills Brewing
  • New Belgium Brewing Company
  • Anchor Brewing Company
  • Blue Moon Brewing Company
  • Green Mountain Beverage
  • St. George Brewing Company
  • Yuengling Brewery
  • Heavy Seas Beer
  • Spoetzl Brewery
  • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
  • Magic Hat Brewing Company
  • Pyramid Brewing Company
  • Harpoon Brewery
  • Great Lakes Brewing Company
  • Craggie Brewing Company
  • Pabst Brewing Company
  • Front Street Brewery
  • Weeping Radish Farm Brewery
  • Down East Alers

I had a great time at the beer festival but I think that the one of the major highlights was Foothills Brewing debuting their very delicious and sought-after seasonal stout, Sexual Chocolate, at the Jolly Skull Beer Festival. Each year, Foothills only releases a limited amount of this beer. They bottle a very, very limited amount only sold out of their brewery and distribute the rest to the top tier restaurants & bars that also serve other Foothills beer throughout the year.

The Down East Alers, a local home brewing club in Greenville, had a long booth with about 9 different types brews that they were letting people taste. They had four different types of mead (honey wine) and a variety of different beers. I really enjoyed talking with the guys in Down East Alers as I tried their beers because their passion for their beer was unmatched by anyone else at the festival. I also enjoyed finding out about Good Vibes Brewing Co. which started a few months ago down in Wilmington and had a great flagship I.P.A. called The Experience.

At the festival, I got the chance to talk to almost all of the North Carolina breweries about the state of the North Carolina craft beer industry and where they think it going over the next few years. I’ll be doing a series of short posts about the conversations that I had with these North Carolina breweries over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

If you like craft beer, you should definitely try to make it down to New Bern in July for Beer Army’s 2nd annual Brew Bern Beer Fest in July or try to make it to next year’s Jolly Skull Beer Festival in Greenville this time next year.

REVIEW: Marabella Old World Pizza – Greenville

I was distraught to hear that my favorite pizza restaurant from college, Big Apple Pizzeria, had closed down. It was always there for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I was craving some $0.99 New York-style cheese slices. They closed the doors about a year after I graduated so it wasn’t as painful as it could have been because I only had to deal with the pain during football seasons and occasional random weekends when I would make the trip to Greenville to feel young again.

It sucks that it is closed but I was happy to see a new pizza joint open up in its spot. It is the second location for Marabella Old World Pizza based out of Little Washington (about 35 minutes from Greenville) and I was told before going there that their pizza wouldn’t disappoint. I got into Greenville late and hadn’t eaten dinner so I headed up to Marabella to grab a slice or two while I waited on my friend, Hot Sauce, to get back to his house.

Marabella didn’t really change the set up of the restaurant at all. They pretty much just moved into the Big Apple space and painted the walls, tossed up some Italian decor and installed some flat screens which were much needed. Since it was a Thursday, I was hoping that they were running the same cheese slice special as Big Apple but they weren’t. However, they do have a student special on Mondays and Tuesdays which is two slices and a drink for $5.00 which I think I would be hitting up if I was still in school there. Sadly, this might be reason enough for me to think about going back to graduate school.

I got two slices: cheese and pepperoni. The crust was a bit thick but had a great consistency throughout it including a great crunch in every bite. The sauce and cheese were what stood out the most. Marabella is using top of the line ingredients and you can tell from the first bite until the last. The pepperoni slice was a little greasy but that is what you expect when ordering it.

We ended up ordering some more Marabella on Sunday before NFL kick-off as we all laid crippled on the couch from imbibing a little too much at the bar the previous night. Thank God they delivered because I don’t think any of us could have made it off the couch. I split a steak & cheese with my friend, Bumgeez, and it was decent but I don’t think I would order it again.

If you like pizza, Marabella is a great stop. It is definitely one of the best by-the-slice places I have been to in Greenville and the fact that they deliver should be on top of any college student’s mind.

Marabella Old World Pizza on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: B’s Barbecue – Greenville

I am pretty sure that both B's & all of eastern North Carolina spell barbecue correctly but it looks like someone in Pitt County's municipal system messed it up and tossed a Q in it's name.

Since the late 1970’s, B’s Barbecue and the McLawhorn family have been serving some of eastern North Carolina’s finest barbecue to the locals and everyone else that has had B’s recommended to them as one of the best examples of what eastern North Carolina barbecue should be. Located about 5 minutes from downtown Greenville, B’s Barbecue is housed in an old building that a lot of people consider a shack.

Each day, B’s Barbecue cooks up a limited amount of pork and chicken (I think about 40 hogs and 240 chickens per week). After the last plate of barbecue is sold each day, they close up shop. If you aren’t in line at the restaurant before 11:30 a.m., chances are that you won’t be eating B’s that day.

The whole hogs are cooked by Dexter Sharrod and the chickens are cooked by Dallas Moore in a building just behind the restaurant on an open pit with charcoal using wood to add a flavor to the meat. The barbecue smell from B’s permeates the air for miles and probably attracts about as many customers as they get from word of mouth.

Ham’s – The Houdini of Restaurants in North Carolina

Ham’s has been a part of my life for about as long as I can remember (minus the 4 years that I lived in Chattanooga, TN in the late 90s and early 2000’s). After baseball practices for Little League, our entire team would head up to the Ham’s on Skeet Club Road in High Point to have team meetings and devour basket after basket of their homemade chips with ranch. My parents would take me and my brother up to Ham’s another High Point location and I would sit entranced as the model train went back and forth along the tracks in the restaurant. #easilyamused

In college, there was a Ham’s Brewhouse, God rest its soul, in downtown Greenville, NC where they served some of the better microbrews that were around before the recent microbrew boom occured…especially for an 18-year-old kid whose license made him three years older. For the past few years, I have lived just a mile or two down the road from the original Ham’s where it had stood for 75 years, until recently, on Smyres Place off of Friendly Avenue in Greensboro and drive by it (but seldom eat there because it isn’t the cleanest place) daily to and from work. Needless to say, Ham’s and I go way back.

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